Decatur County History

by Renea Burkholder

A large portion of this information was obtained from The Goodspeed History of Tennessee and History of Decatur County Tennessee by Lillye Younger. Some information has come from various newspaper articles and the Tennessee Gazeteer and Business Directory of various years.

Early History


Decatur County Officials

Early Decatur County Settlements

Landings along the Tennessee River

1850 Census Occupations

Early Decatur County Churches

Decatur County Schools

Early History

County Formation

In 1845, citizens of the portion of Perry County which lay on the west side of the Tennessee River petitioned for a new county. An act of the General Assembly in November, 1845, created Decatur County. It included all the parts of Perry County which were located on the west side of the Tennessee River. This new county was named for Commodore Stephen Decatur who had served in the United States Navy with distinction during the War of 1812.

Samuel McLead, Samuel Brasher, Balaam Jones, and David Funderburk were responsible for selecting the new county seat. They obtained 25 acres from John McMillan and 10 acres from Burrell Rushing.This land was located in the south central part of the county and they named the new county seat Decaturville. A cabin was used for a courthouse for a short while until a two-story frame courthouse could be built.


Most of the settlers in this county were from Middle and East Tennessee or North Carolina. They used overland routes as well as the Tennessee River, choosing sites near the river or along the smaller streams.


The first courthouse for Decatur County was a cabin on the west side of the square in Decaturville. Soon a new two story frame building was built. This building was burned on July 3, 1869. All records except those in the Register’s office and the Clerk and Master’s office were lost. This fire was thought to be the work of an arsonist whose purpose was to destroy the records.

On July 12, 1869, a committee consisting of J.W. Mayo, W.C.Fryar, D.M. Scott, and others was appointed to plan for a new courthouse. To replace the burned building, a new two story brick building was built.

In 1927, this building was also destroyed by the work of an arsonist for the purpose of destroying records. All records were destroyed except those in the County Clerk, Register’s and Clerk and Master’s Offices.

A new fireproof brick and concrete structure was completed in 12 months. This building received a “facelift” in 1975, but is still in use today.

Decatur County Officials

Circuit Judge
The first Circuit Judge was Judge Joshua Haskell who served in 1821 while we were still a part of Perry County. Judge James Scott was the first Circuit Judge after the formation of Decatur County and Robert A. Hill was the Attorney General. Judge Scott was followed by Judge Elijah Walker. Both Scott and Walker were natives of Savannah. Walker served until the outbreak of the Civil War. After the reorganization of the county, Fielding Hurst of McNairy County was appointed Circuit Judge and served until 1867. He was succeeded by J.W. Doherty who served until 1869. Judge Elijah Walker was then re-elected and served until his death in 1873. He was succeeded by T.P. Bateman who served until 1886. Levi Woods then served from 1886 until 1908.

Chancery Court
Chancery Court was established at Decaturville in 1854 with Stephen C. Pavatt as Chancellor. He served until the closing of the courts by the Civil War. R. H. Rose was Chancellor from 1866 until 1870 when George H. Nixon was elected. He served until 1886 when he was succeeded by A.J. Abernathy. Rose and Nixon were residents of Lawrenceburg and Abernathy was a resident of Pulaski. Abernathy served until 1903.

Circuit Court Clerk
D.B. Funderburk
was the first Circuit Clerk serving until 1856 when he was succeeded by Hiram Lacy. Lacy held the office until 1860 when he was succeeded by Samuel Akin. Akin held the office until the outbreak of war. After the reorganization, C.S. Brandon and P.O.Roberts held office until 1870 when D. M. Scott was elected. In 1878, J.P. Rains was elected to the office. P. W. Miller served from 1890 until 1894. He was succeeded by Joe Jennings who served until 1898 when John McMillan was elected.

County Court Clerk
Samuel Yarbro
was elected in 1846 to serve as the first court clerk. He served until 1856 when he was succeeded by M.J. Fisher who served until 1860. J.R. Carmack was elected and served until the outbreak of war when courts were closed. When courts re-opened, he continued serving until 1866 when he was succeeded by J.C. Roberts. In 1868, John P. Rains took office and served until 1870. Rains was succeeded by John McMillan who served from 1870 until 1882 when J.E. Dees was elected. Dees served until 1902.

Decatur County Trustees
1869 – 1876 John Blount
1876 – 1878 W.P. Bray
1878 – 1884 John A. Long
1884 – 1890 W.P. Miller
1890 – 1896 J.T. Roberts
1896 – 1902 J.J. Austin

Decatur County Register
1846 – 1848 John A. Rains
1848 – 1857 A.M. Yarbro
1857 – 1858 Samuel Brasher
1858 – 1863 William G. Bright
1863 – 1864 J.G.W. Christenberry
1864 – 1866 William H. Milam
1866 – 1870 John J. Lacy
1870 – 1882 William M. Pratt
1882 – 1886 T.R.Brasher
1886 – 1894 G.B.D.Rushing
1894 – 1897 Jesse P. Veal
1897 – 1898 J.W. Blount
1898 – 1906 R.W. Raney

Decatur County Judge
1870 – 1872 J.E. Brasher
1872 – 1882 Houston Roberts
1882 – 1886 C.A. Alston
1886 – 1890 J.C.P. Myracle
1890 – 1892 John W. Clift
1892 – 1900 J.C.P. Myracle

Decatur County Tax Assessors
1890 – 1892 J.T. McMurray
1892 – 1894 John Evans

Clerk and Master
1845 – 1872 D.B. Funderburk
1872 – 1879 D.C. Kennedy
1879 – 1887 J.A. England
1887 – 1894 L.T. Smith
1894 – 1923 P.W. Miller

1846 – 1852 Hiram Lacy
1852 – 1858 John McMillan
1858 – 1862 G.W. Haynes
1862 – 1866 Benjamen Tuten
1866 – 1868 J.C. Barnett
1868 – 1870 J.C. Houston
1870 – 1872 D.C. Kennedy
1872 – 1874 Issiah McMillan
1874 – 1876 W.R. Tuten
1876 – 1882 Issiah McMillan
1882 – 1888 E.E. Arnold
1888 – 1890 G.W. Boggan
1890 – 1896 Joe Blount
1896 – 1898 Ben McMillan
1898 – 1900 J.M. Rains

Decatur Countians Serving in the Legislature
T.C. Taylor – 32nd Assembly
Taylor represented both Decatur and Perry Counties from 1857 until 1859. Born in Williamson County in 1824, he and his wife had 5 children. He was a farmer at Swallow Bluff.

Marvin J. Fisher – 34th Assembly
He was the son of Jacob F. Fisher. He was the father of 3 children. He was killed in Decatur County in October, 1862 by Carroll Graves, reputedly over political differences.

John Stegal – Reconstruction
John Stegal was born in 1813 in North Carolina. He was married first to Elizabeth and later to Sarah E. He was the father of 10 children. John owned much land and many slaves.

George W. Walters – 37th Assembly
George served from 1871 to 1873, representing both Decatur and Perry Counties.

Samuel W. Riggs – 38th Assembly
He represented both Decatur and Hardin Counties from 1873 to 1875. Born in Alabama in 1838, he was a Republican. He was married twice. The first marriage produced 9 children . However, the second marriage to Mary J. Bryant produced no children.

G. W. Haynes – 40th Assembly
G.W. served from 1877 to 1879, representing both Decatur and Hardin Counties. He was born in Tennessee in 1822 and was a Democrat. He was married to a Susan.

H.B. Neely – 42nd Assembly
A Republican, he served both Decatur and Hardin Counties from Jan 1881 until April 1881 when he was granted a leave of absence due to bad health and died before the next session. Neely was born in Carroll County in 1858, the son of Andrew Neely. He practiced law in Decaturville. On September 5, 1881, he died having never married.

James J. Warren- 44th Assembly
Representing Decatur, Lewis, and Perry Counties, he served from 1885 until 1887. James was born in Humphreys County February 18, 1840 , the son of Albert and Elizabeth Warren both natives of Virginia. He married Heedy E. Reynolds November 2, 1873 and practiced medicine at Bath Springs.

John F. Akin – 47th Assembly
John represented Decatur , Perry, and Lewis Counties from 1891 to 1893. Born January 1, 1838, he was the son of W.V. Akin and Margaret Akin. He married Leantine L. Hancock and was the father of 3 children. He was a farmer and operated a grist mill and general store in Bath Springs. He was also a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and a Free Mason.

Early Decatur County Settlements

This information is from a variety of sources : The Goodspeed History of Tennessee, History of Decatur County, Tennessee by Lillye Younger, and Tennessee Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1860-1861 by John L. Mitchell.

Bath Springs
This town located in the southern portion of Decatur county was named by Dr. William Hancock who settled here after discovering the sulphur water. He built a health resort for others so others could come and take advantage of the “cures” of the sulphur water. A post office was established in 1877 with Nathan C. Davis serving as first postmaster. Before the Civil War, a tanning factory operated in Bath Springs.
One of the early families was William Kindale who fought in the Revolutionary War.

This town, according to Mrs. Younger, was first known as Moray. When the Tennessee Midland Railroad Company line came through Decatur county, the town’s name was changed. Early settlers included Chumneys, Wallaces, Longs, Hayes, McCormicks, Douglas, O’Guinns, Keens, and Myracles.

Bible Hill
This community is located in the northern part of Decatur County. At one time there was a cotton gin, blacksmith shop, grist mill, stave mill, post office, churches, a school, a doctor’s office, and a mercantile store. The post office was established in 1876 and R.M. Brown was the first postmaster. Wid and Hood Long had a general store in which the post office was located. The Longs also operated a cotton gin. The Longs sold the store to Dr. Brown and his sons Milt and John operated it. The stave mill was run by Harve and Tom Lewis. Two churches were in this community, the Methodist Episcopal South Church and the Baptist Church. In the early 1930’s the Methodist Church closed its doors due to lack of interest. The Bible Hill Baptist Church is still in existence today. In 1952, a tornado hit Bible Hill destroying a large portion of it. The Baptist Church was blown down, but rebuilt. Ansi Delong’s grocery and home blew away. Jim Hampton’s house was destroyed, but rebuilt. The school building was destroyed and was not rebuilt.
Early settlers were the Frizzell, Smith, Jennings, Box, Patrick, Baker, Fiddler, Gulledge, Long, Pettigrew, Hendrix, Tubbs, Hamilton, Haggard, Rains, McMurry, Taylor, Perry, Brown, Still, Duke, Arnold, and Dodson families.
The Bible Hill Baptist Church Cemetery is located across the road from the church building.Not far away is the Long Cemetery, a family cemetery.

On October 17, 1821, John Blackburn, John Johnson, Worley Warrington, J. W. Hunley, and William B. Ross were appointed by the legislature to “lay off” a town to be called Carrollville in honor of William Carroll of Reeves Ferry.
At the time that a decision was being made concerning the permanent capitol for Tennessee, Carrollville was one of those chosen to “be in the running” for that honor.

Located north of Parsons, this community was first called Old Norford. There was a blacksmith shop and a grocery store before 1904. Lonnie Boyd ran the blacksmith shop and Bunch Miller ran the general store.

On May 7, 1847, twenty five acres was purchased from John McMillan and ten acres was purchased from Burrell Rushing. It was deeded to Samuel McLead, Samuel Brasher, Balsam Jones, and David B. Funderburk for the purpose of establishing the county seat for Decatur County. After the town plot was laid out, lots were sold to the following: Pettigrew and Coats, John Garrett, L. C. Friendly, Daniel McLead, P. H. Fisher, E. E. Tate, Lawson Kelley, E. E. Jones, John McMillan, W. H. Bennett, J. W. Delaney, G. N. Gains, and H. C. Frayers.
In 1876, the population was 200. Tobacco, cotton, grain, peanuts, potatoes, butter, and eggs, were exported.

List of Tradesmen:
Barnett, S. H. and W. L. – grocers Brasher, P. R. – general store
Bevel, W. H. – physician Fryar, J. M. – grocer
Jones, T. W. – druggist King, G. W. – grocer
McMillan, R. and R. – general store Maidin, G. A. – grocer
Murphy, C. B. – grocer Raines, W. G. – physician
Roberts and Bros. – grocer Smith and Stout – general store
Steagald, H. A. – general store Tate, J. L. – grocer
Williams, White, and Newsom Young, Storm, and Smith
carpenters general store

First settled in 1821, by 1876, there was a general store, 3 churches ( Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian ), and a common school. A. P. Spencer was the Postmaster.

Dickey, D. C. – physician Fry and Wesson – general store
Hamer, W. R. – physician Lamrock, John – tobacco manufacturer
Sagner, Henry – preacher, Smith, A. H. – physician
Methodist Church Spence, G. W. – tobacco maufacturer
Sullivan, J. D. – preacher, Wesson, H. A. – tobacco manufacturer
Methodist Church

Evans Town
Located in the northwestern part of Decatur County, it received its name from the Evans family. At one time a country store operated by Claude Evans and later Connie Evans was located here. Gus Evans ran a grist mill.

According to some, this community was originally known as Howesville

A post village located on the west side of the Tennessee River, near the river. Three churches were located here in 1860, a Methodist, Baptist, and a Cumberland Presbyterian. There were 2 general stores, 1 grocer, several saw mills, and various mechanical trades. The district population in 1860 was 500. The post office was established in 1854 with Jerome B. Howe serving as postmaster.

5th district officers:
Common School Commissioners – B.G. Baker, T.I. Miller, and Wm. Bryant

List of Professional Trades:
Arnold, James – planter
Baker, B.G. – planter
Bohannan, J. H. – general merchant
Boman, E. – woodyard
Bostick, E.D. – physician
Brewer, James L. – water saw mill and justice of the peace
Brodie, C.S. – salt dealer and justice of the peace
Budde, Wm. – boot and shoe maker and tanner
Chaney, L. – planter
Conrads, J. I. – blacksmith and planter
Dickison, N. – planter
Doyle, John – stave manufacturer and dealer
Elder, Rev. S. P. – Methodist Episcopal
Gillam, Rev – Cumberland Presbyterian
Haines, Eaton – justice of the peace
Haines and Miller – grocers
Hale, Andrew J. – cabinet maker
Harris, Joseph – water saw mill
Hendrix, H. V. M. – tobacco manufacturer
Hill, C. – brickyard
Hill, John P. – stave manufacturer and dealer
Hill, Rev John P – Freewill Baptist
Howe, J. B. – auctioneer, planter, real estate agent, stave dealer
Howe, J. B. general merchant
Jennings, H. – planter
Leonard, George H. – physician
Lewis, Wm. L. – justice of the peace
Rice, I. G. W. – tanner
Shill, A. J. – physician
Thomas, I. H. – stave manufacturer and dealer
Thomas, Jesse – planter
Thompson, — – stave manufacturer and dealer
Wood, George – Planter

Advertisement :
Howe and Co. has opened land on the TN River 6 miles below Perryville. There are 2 large warehouses and a wagon yard for receiving, forwarding, and commission business. A good ridge road goes through Farmville, Pleasant Exchange, Independence, and Cotton Grove to Jackson.

Lick Skillet
This community is located in the southwestern part of Decatur county. In early days it is said that gypsies roamed Decatur County camping in the woods. One such group had cooked a meal and then consumed it. A late arriver finding no left over food, “licked the skillet”. From then on the area was called Lick Skillet.
Early settlers were the Montgomerys, Pattersons, Scates, Kelleys, Moodys, Clenneys, Ivys, Wyatts, and the Averetts.

Parsons Flat/Parsons
Parsons was first known as Parsons Flat. Although not the oldest, Parsons is the largest town in Decatur County.Before 1889, Henry Myracle owned a large flat piece of land which became the town of Parsons. He deeded 143 and 1/3 acres to the TN Midland Railroad Company in order to start a town.The town is thought to have gotten its name from Dock Parsons, son-in-law of Parsons. L. H. Burke was the chief road builder. The streets running east and west from Main were numbered First through Tenth Streets. Those running north to south were named for states. The majority of the streets in the northern section are named for old settlers. These are Readey, Long, Rains, Ezra, Jennings, Buckner, Aiken,Goff, Miller, Evans,Garrett, and Hays. Streets named for families in the southern section are Wheat, Holley, Marshall, Morgan, Price, Newsom, and Penticost.
Parsons was chartered in 1913 with the help of G. W. Partin.

Sections of town:
Located in the Northeast part of town, this section was named by a chance remark of George Scott who was a hunter. In the early days, there was one A. M. E. church and later some businesses. Among the early settlers were Edd Clay and his son Charley Clay who worked for G. W. Partin. Others included Guy Williams who worked at Holcombe Produce, Henry Fisher who worked at Partin’s Flour Mill, Square Faulkner, Henry Scott, Pete McDonald, Jim McElrath, Wes Ashcraft, and Henry McLemore.
Gun Town
This section was a result of the Phosphate Rush. A commissary was located in Parsons and Mr. Gun erected many shotgun houses for the men working the mines.
China Town
In the 1930’s, the west section of town on Main Street gained this name. It could be compared to the Old Wild West. There were fist fights and guns were shot. There was a big dance hall and it was said to be dangerous for a lady to travel there even in the daytime. This was a time of prohibition , but liquor could be purchased. There were “gaming devices” available as well as “wheels”.

This was a forerunner of Parsons. George Washington Partin, a Ringo, GA sewing machine salesman purchased a number of acres near Bear Creek. Soon after arriving, he married Maggie Rushing and settled September 24, 1882 at what was to become Partinville. He opened a general merchandise store. Hop Steed put up a cotton gin as did also Samuel Houston. A Doctor Bostick settled here and had an office. A post office located here November 13, 1885. G. W. Partin became the first postmaster.

Perryville was described as a post village on the west bank of the Tennessee River, a shipping place.This is the oldest town in Decatur County. It was selected in 1821 to serve as county seat for Perry County. Charles Miles, John Rasser, James Dickson, Charles Graham, W. S. Britt, and William Patterson were appointed to locate the county seat. Before being incorporated in 1825, it was known as Midtown Community. One of the first merchants was Samuel McClure. James M. and Curry Pettigrew of Armagh, Ireland came to Perryville in 1825 and ran a mercantile business. William Stout of Forfar County, Scotland, met the Pettigrews and was persuaded to join them in business. He later moved to Decaturville. Perryville Academy, the first school, began in 1825. Early teaches were Elias Blount, Elias Deaton, George Beard, Green B. Rushing, Houston Roberts, Calvin Rushing, W. M. Dalton, and B. H. Southerland. It became one of the most extensive shipping points on the Tennessee River. It was the commercial as well as the political center of the county. The notorious John A. Murrell’s band operated here in 1830 to 1832. Great politicians such as James K. Polk, Andrew Jackson, and David Crockett visited Perryville
With the division of the county in 1845, began the decline of Perryville. However, for a time the railroad brought new business to the area. Holcombe Produce and Shaw’s Produce located in Perryville. W. R. Dennison built the Dennison Hotel in 1897. Mr. and Mrs. Henry Teague kept travelers in their home. The railroad brought grocers such as John Adolphus, John Young, Knight Brother’s Grocery, J. M. McMurray’s Grocery, and Lemuel Rickman’s Grocery. Striegel and Blount Co., L. M. Hearst General Merchandise, and the Cole Brothers Store were established. A livery stable and a stockyard for animals coming in on the train and for those being shipped out of the county were built. Two ferries were kept busy transporting people and goods to and from Perry County. Early blacksmiths were Nathaniel Moore, John Dellinger, and Claude Dellinger.
The building of the Gilbertsville Dam flooded the old town of Perryville. On November 26, 1971, the Perryville Post office closed. there are still a few stores, a marina, and other small businesses in the area.
In 1876, the population was 50. There was a steam saw and a grist mill. I. P. Veal was postmaster.

Tradesmen of 1876:
Andrews, C. G. – physician Cole, Calvin –
Andrews, J. H.and Co. – grocer Johnson and Veal – commission
Jones, G. W. – school teacher Moore, A. L. – justice of the peace
Wall, Mrs. H. – hotel White, E. G. – fisherman
Wright, William – grist mill and saw mill

Scotts Hill
This town is located half in Decatur County and half in Henderson County. In 1825, Micajah Scott moved form North Carolina and settled in this area. He opened the first store and the town was named for him. The old stage road ran through this town. It carried both passengers and mail. The first postmaster was Ephram Austin. He also built the first grist mill and the first cotton gin. In 1880, a hotel was opened by Mr. Riley. Other hotel operators were J. S. Turner, George Davis, Mary White, Elsie Auston, and Ellar Mitchell.
About 1895, the Scotts Hill College was built. Students came from near and far to attend this then famous school. B. A. Tucker headed the school until his death in 1903.

Sugar Tree
Sugar Tree is located in the northeastern corner of Decatur County. It was named for the Sugar Maple Trees which lined one side of the businesses. Fry and Wesson was an early business. It carried everything. A small drug store located in the community and doctors came from all over to fit glasses and make teeth. The town’s hotel was operated by Wylie Coble and Joe Odle. Mrs. Nattie Fisher also kept boarders. The blacksmiths were Jack Bates, Dol Spence, Tom Bates, John Farlow, and Bill Terry.
Early teachers in a College located here were Dub Wesson, Zack Amerson, Mrs. Nattie Fisher, Mrs. Stella Britt, Mrs. Zeda Fowler, Mrs. Opal Odle, Mike Spence, Mel Tucker, and Mrs. Bess Wesson. There was a barber shop and two grist mills were run by Clifford Henry. In early days the primary crops were peanuts and cotton. The first post office was established in 1874 and the first postmaster was Joseph Fry. The first post office was established in 1874 and the first postmaster was Joseph Fry.
In 1876, Fisher and Wesson were millers, J. H. Fry had a general store, W. R. Hamer was a physician, A. H. Smith was a physician, J. D. Sullivan was the Methodist preacher, and N. A. Wesson had a general store.

Swallow Bluff
A post office situated on the Tennessee River. There was a general store, a select school, flouring mill, etc. The district population (1860) was 400. The post office was established in 1854 with John J. Sharpe serving as a postmaster.

Professional Trades, Etc. of 1860
Akins, W. R. – justice of the peace
Kelley, A. – physician
Pleasant Grove Academy, C. R. Scott, principal
Sharpe, J. J. and W. H. – general and commission merchants and salt agents
Stephens, J. H. – saw mill
Wade, M. F. – justice of the peace

By the 1876 gazeteer, the population was 25. There was a Methodist Church and 2 stores. John Smith was the postmaster, J. L. Keeton was a physician, J. Luton had a general store, J. J. Warren was a physician, and White and DeBerry had a general store.

Tie Whop
This community is located south of Decaturville between Turnbow and Stumans Creek. According to tradition, this community gets its name from the action of an Alabama fisherman. This fisherman, friends, and foes consumed too much “White Lightening” one foggy night. The Alabama fisherman was so strong that he would grab his opponent and “whop” them to the ground. The area became known first as Tie Whop Bottom and later when it became a community, the word bottom was dropped.

Landings Along the Tennessee River

These landings were located on the west side of the Tennessee River. Large warehouses housed the merchandise for inland merchants as well as the River Landing merchants.

Crew’s Landing
Located near the Benton County line

Parker’s Landing
Jim Buck Warren ran a store here in 1908.

Bohannon Landing
Scott Bohannon had a large warehouse and store here in early days.The L.K. Yates family lived here later.

Brodie’s Landing
Charles S. Brodie, an early settler who owned 5000 acres of land, gave his name to this landing. The big warehouse and store belonged to B. M. Maxwell and Poolie Bateman and later was operated by Frank Houston. The 1876 Gazeteer says that Brodie’s Landing was located in the Howesville Precinct. Cotton, corn, wheat, and peanuts were shipped from here. This area was first settled about 1830. In 1876, the postmaster was J. F. Wood, I. N. Houston was a physician, W. T. Morgan had a general store, J. H. Thomas was the preacher for the Free Will Baptist Church, Walker and Wood had a general store.

Bateman Landing

Perryville Landing

Fisher’s Landing
It is thought that this landing was named for Jake Fisher who lived here. Later Jake Reynolds had a big store here.

Martin’s Landing

Brownsport Landing
This landing was created in the 1860’s to service the Brownsport Furnace.

Swallow Bluff Landing
This landing was 5 miles southwest of Bath Springs between Eagle Nest Island and Dickey Island. It received its name in 1862 because of the swallows which built nests under the limestone rocks. The first store was built here in the late 1800’s by Troy Simmons. Other store owners have been Hollis Hitchcock, Cliny Tuten, H.D. Pevahouse, Ben Tuten, Marvin white, Enis Brasher, and Jahue Boggan.

Garrett’s Landing

Elkin’s Landing

Vise Landing
The Smith-Vise Company owned and operated a big warehouse and store there. W. G. Smith also owned a cotton gin.

Double Island Landing

Martin’s Landing
Located a short distance from Bath Springs.

Point Pleasant Landing
This landing was located in Clifton Bend.

Bob’s Landing
This was the last landing in Decatur County. It was first named Shannonville for Bob Shannon. With the coming of the postal system, the name was changed to Bob’s Landing to avoid confusion with an already existing post office named Shannonville.

1850 Census Occupations of Decatur County

George W. Tucker, 48, NC
John Jones, 22, NC
John Beaver, 42, NC
Alfred Haggard, 50, NC
John Weaver, 22, GA
W.W. Herndon, 21, TN
Gilbert McMillian, 66, NC
Sampson Essary, 51, TN
Elijah Goodnight, 41, TN
Carroll M. Snodgrass, 18, TN
Dempsey Veal, 80, VA
Joel Hensley, 37, TN
Wiliam B. Herndon, 50, NC
S. B. Campbell, 25, NC
John Brazile, 53, NC
Burriel Ivy, 31, NC
Thomas J. Essary, 41, NC
Nathaniel Moore, 62, NC
John Olfin, 45, NC
John McKnight, 39, LA
J.W. Louis, 33, TN
J.D. Louise, 25, TN
Joseph J. Livingston, 25, TN
Samuel Walker, 37, NC

F.L. Fowler, 22, KY
Sam A. Yarbro, 30, TN
John C. Yarbro, 39, TN
F. M. Bennett, 16, TN
W. L. Morrow, 18, TN
John A. Burrow, 22, TN
Robert N. Hill, 27, Ireland
Thomas A. Noel, 38, TN

Iron Masters
F.R. Lanier, 21, TN
James A. Fall, 20, TN

Henry C. Locket, 28, TN

Hiram Haines, 42, NC

Stone Masons
Edward Crane, 34, New York
H. A. White, 21, TN
John M. Weaver, 44, VA

County Court Clerk
D. B. Funderburk, 45, SC

Thomas Fisher, 34, IL
William Wesson, 42, VA
John Thornton, 48, VA
Wm. T. Wesson, 29, NC
H.H. Wesson, 37, NC

John Williams, 32, TN
John L.Brasher, 22, TN
William Stacy, 26, TN
John Stacy, 22, TN
Calmon Holy, 49, VA
James N. Hambleton, 28, NC
Henry Eichor, 39, PA
Harmon Tartomyon, 27, Germany
Frederick Gathart, 36, Germany
Alexander Walker, 15, TN
Robert Raney, 28, TN

John Turner, 69, VA

Tobacco Growers
Robert Campbell, 32, NC
James Walker, 17, TN
E.H. Reamey, 27, VA
Nathaniel A. Wesson, 24, NC

School Teachers
Elias Jones, 30, NC
Brian Peter, 40, TN
Council Goodman, 48, NC
C.M. Cotham, 33, TN
Sam H. Kerr, 26, TN
W. W. Shell, 21, TN
Benj. H. Southerland, 31, SC
Edward Morgan, 26, NC
G.B. Rushing, 23, NC
Thos. McMurray, 31, TN
John B. Davidson, 41, TN
Geo. W. Sawing, 29, MA
C.D. Hicks, 27, TN
Jas. W. Lockwood, 24, New York
Andrew McGill, 30, PA
Evan White, 43, VA

Wagon Maker
John Price, 54, NC

Hotel Keeper
John W. Delany, 35, TN

Ellis L. Roberts, 32, NC

John J. Jenkins, 43, KY
Thomas M. Brown, 21, TN
Jonathon Luton, 26, TN
Anderson Smith, 38, TN
Wm. H. Russell, 38, KY

Joel L. Ashcraft, 42, NC
L.G. Findley, 35, TN
Jas. H.Watson, 50, TN
Martin Clark, 42, Ireland
Jas. H. Moore, 35, NC
Joab Wilson, 35, TN
Calvin Westerman, 26, TN
Abijah Veach, 47, TN
Jahu Miller, 37, TN
A.L.Moore, 34, NC
H.W. Poor, 45, GA
Wade H. Shelby, 49, NC
E.E. Pate, 25, TN
Joseph Higgons, 51, SC
Elisha Stevens, 32, TN

William W. Dolton, 44, RI
A. Cummings, 30, VT
D.E. Mcrath, 34, NC
J.M. Hill, 21, TN
John I.J. Shelby, 24, TN
John Bruce, 56, NC
John McMillan, 27

Willie Jones, 58, SC
Jacob Tucker, 57, NC
M.W. Gale, 49, VA
William Walberton, 63, VA

Cabinet Maker
Jas. W. Gilberth, 41, NC

Jeremiah Tubbs, 29, TN

Robert Keeton, 49, IL
J.H.Clardy, 24, TN
Joel C. Hancock, 44, TN
I. Smith, 32, VA
B.W. Raney, 35, NC
Amos M. Yarbro, 32, TN
Lawson Keney, 28, TN
Henry C. Fryar, 43, NC
G.H. Derryberry, 34, TN
R. L. Gainus, 55, VA
John Parsons, 44, NC
Joseph S. Douglas, 50, SC
Wesly Doss, 41, VA
Samuel Hill, 80, Ireland
John Henderson, 44, NC
Priar H. Smith, 33, TN

Thomas H. Oensly, 39, NC
James Yarbro, 35, TN
John H. McPhearson, 65, Scotland
J.W. Baker, 29, AL

Thos. B. Garrod, 30, AL
C.H.J. Brisco, 26, AL
Paul H. Fisher, 28, TN
W.H. Bennett, 24, TN
Wm. H. Johnson, 29, TN
Robert Young, 32, PA
John Coats, 28, TN
A.A. Shelby, 16, TN
J.M. Pettigrew, 52, Ireland
Chas. S. Brodie, 48, SC
J.B. Howe, 37, KY
Jas. R. West, 28, KY
Curry Pettigrew, 50, Ireland
H. Bradberry, 50, Ireland
William Martin, 23, KY
John P. Nixon, TN
Wm. Stout, 25, Scotland
U.T. Cole, 36, TN
Thomas H. Peacock, 30, TN
F.J. Pavatt, 34, TN
E.J. Inglehart, 28, MD

Phillip Ivy, 33, TN, Methodist
John W. Fisher, 33, NC, Methodist
Thomas Hay, 48, Ireland, Methodist
Priar Hill, 49, NC, Baptist
S.M. Steed, 45, GA, Baptist (should be L. M. Steed according to a descendent)
Hugh N. Rose, 51, NC, Cumberland Presbyterian

Hiram Lacy, 39, NC

Early Decatur County Churches ( Pre 1900 )

There were three predominant church denominations in Decatur County in 1887. These were the Methodist Episcopal South, Missionary Baptist, and Cumberland Presbyterian churches.

Methodist Church

Corinth Methodist
Located between Scotts Hill and Saltillo, this church dates back to the 1830’s. According to Blanche Strawn Tuten, this church was established by Mary Dougherty Creasy; her 4 sons Stephen, John, Jeremiah, and Ambros Ranson; and her 2 daughters Judy and Polly. They traveled to Decatur Co in 1830 from Goose Creek, VA.

Methodist Church
Built in Decaturville in 1854, the first trustees were L. B. Stanfield, Lewis Garrett, S. Singleton, Henry Singleton, and Joseph Kelley.

Concord United Methodist
On August 7, 1869, Ruben White deeded to Henry Welch, Cory Pettigrew, George W. Smith, John Coats, Nicholas D. White, David M. Scott, and George W. Harlem all trustees, 2 acres of land for promoting the Methodist Episcopal Church South.

Mt. Nebo Methodist
This church began in 1845. Land was deeded by John Akin. The building served both church and school.

Suttles United Methodist Church
According to a deed, this church was organized on January 8, 1897. It is thought by some that this church received its name from William P. ( F ? ) Suttles who once owned the land.The original building was a one room log with hewed log seats. It originally served a dual purpose of both a subscription school and church. There is a cemetery. The oldest marked grave is that of William F. ( P ? ) Suttles born 30 January 1776 and died 6 August 1856.

Cedar Grove Methodist Church
This church was located near the John Garrett Yarbro farm in the southern part of Decatur County. This early church also served a dual purpose of both school and church.

Methodist Episcopal Church South Church
The first services of this church were held in the Parsons school building. In the early 1890’s a church building was constructed at East Third Street. The land was donated by Henry Miracle. Among the charter members were Mrs.W.G. Rains, Will Warden, Mrs. Laverne Warden, Sam Warden, Mrs. Tense V. Arnold, Mrs. Ad Pettigrew, Mrs. Fannie Patron, Mrs. Mini Rains, Mrs.Ethel Houston, Mrs. Liz Terry, and Mrs. Maggie Warden.

Northern Methodist Church
Construction began on this building in 1893 about the same time that the Methodist E. Church South was being completed.


First Baptist Church
This church was organized in the home of Mrs. Mary Buccaneer. Charter members were Mrs. Mary Buccaneer, Mrs. Clime Cognizes, Ice Buccaneer, Ollie Buccaneer, Maim Buccaneer, Anna Fondle, W. G. Fondle, David Fondle, Mr. and Mrs. De Gosh, and Jack Rigs. Nick Duke served as their first preacher. A building was completed in 1893.

Sardis Ridge
On July 7, 1884, W. Calvin Cole and his wife Claris gave 5 acres of land for a church and cemetery.

Thurman Creek Primitive Baptist Church
This church was established on the 27th of July 1833. A log building was constructed on 3 acres of land from H. B. Kelly. Located 11 miles south of Decaturville, it served as both a church and a school for the community. The first deacons were Temple Hicks, Elias Deaton, and William Woolverton. There were 13 members.

Bath Springs Baptist Church
This church was erected during the Civil War on land which is now across the Highway ( 114 ) from the Dr. B. M. Brooks home. Dr. J. F. Hancock was instrumental in its beginning. Around 1880, a new building was built on Dock Davis’ land It served as both church and school.

New Hope Baptist Church
In 1848, John S. Sullivan deeded 6 acres of land for this church. There were 86 charter members, among whom were E. Blount, Asa Rushing, James Lomax, Stephen Moody, William Myracle, William Griffin, John Bartholomew, James Deere, Elizabeth Myracle, Riley Johnson, Leroy Moore, Greenbury D. Rushing, and Jacob Smith. The first preacher was L. M. Stead followed by E. Washburn.

Bear Creek Baptist Church
Dating back to 1842, this church is thought to be the oldest Missionary Baptist Church in the county. Located 1 mile west of Parsons, it is located on land deeded by Matt Houston. Its name was from the name given by the early settlers to the community, Bear Creek. The original log structure was used as both church and school. Early church records date back to August 1842. Pioneer members were L. M. Stead, James K. Hall, Jacob Conder, Polly Bray, Samuell Bray, Catharyn Wilson, Harvey Fredda, Maude Turner, Lastima Houston, Sam Rains, Edmon Pettigrew, Isaac Rains, Calvin Watson, Austry Hays, Daniel Brown, A. C.Rains, Henry Myracle, and 11 slaves. In 1842, 2 deacons were chosen, Issac Rains and B. Graves. An early preacher Stark. In 1849, Balcom Rains was chosen as deacon.

Bible Hill Missionary Baptist Church
This church is located in the northern part of the county in the community of Bible Hill. It was organized in 1858 and was one of the 8 churches which met and organized the Beech River Baptist Association.

New Pleasant Ridge Church – Cub Creek Hall Missionary
This church was organized in 1890.

New Prospect Missionary
This church was located in the north end of the county near the 3 county lines – “County Corner”. According to an old minute book, the Southwestern District Missionary Baptist Association was held here in 1851.

Cumberland Presbyterian

Wesson Chapel
This church which is located in Sugar Tree, was established in 1896 and named to honor Capt. Nathaniel A. Wesson, CSA. Wesson and his wife Sarah donated the land for both the church and the Wesson cemetery.Those who helped with its construction were Joe Odle, John Farlow, Edd Walker, J. K. Agnew, Sam Robertson, W. G. Fry, and Tom Robertson.

Liberty Church
During the “religious awakening” years of 1840 – 1845, people in the county would congregate and camp together in order to worship and increase their knowledge of the word of God. One such place was on land owned by William Gilbert Rushing. In 1847, this land was donated by Gill Rushing and a log building was constructed by 28 members. It was located on the Decaturville Beacon Road. The oldest known grave in its cemetery is that of William Graham dated October 26, 1855.
By September, 1885, this church had ceased to exist. In March, 1886, it was reorganized under the name New Liberty Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In 1909, it again went out of existence to be reorganized again in 1932.
According to old minutes, D. W. Blankenship and I. W. Fitzgerald were preachers in 1870 and 1876. Some of the first elders were : W. G. Rushing, James H. Curry, James H. Holly, James M. Robinson, and J. C. P. Myracle.

Beacon Cumberland Presbyterian Church
This church was organized by A. M. C. Gossett in 1893. The land was deeded by Kit Thomas.

Decatur County Schools

The first school to locate in Decaturville was called Decaturville Academy. Lot 99 was purchased for its location. The Trustees were J.L. Houston, J.A. Rains, H.C. Fryar, William Henry, and David R. Funderburk. Early teachers were Elias Blount, Elias Deaton, George W. Beard, Green B. Rushing, W.M. Dalton, and B.H. Southerland.

The Academy of Perryville was built in 1821 of logs. This building later became the home of B.F. Striegle.

One of the first county schools was Mt.Tabor School. Constructed of logs, this one-room school was used as both a school and a church. Among teachers for this school wee Sam Duck, J.C. Duck, Naomi Jones, Lelia Conder, Thelma Odle, Vesta Morris, Roy Duck, Eunice Gooch, and Cora Gooch.

Mt. Nebo was established shortly after Decatur became a county. Its log building was used as both a school and a church. Some of the teachers prior to 1928 were Ernestine Tuten Keeton, Jessie Akin Fisher, Steve Eason, Ben Lentz, Guy Butler, Andy Steele, Bertie Dailey, Henry McKinney, and Eula Martin Rogers.

The first school at Bath Springs was built during the 1860’s. George Brooks was one of the early teachers.

By 1929 almost every community had a school. There were 53 one-teacher schools, 4 two-teacher schools, and 4 three-teacher or more schools. In 1945 there were still 41 schools in the county. However, between 1945 and 1950, consolidation began and in 1975 there were only 5 schools in Decatur County.

Other early teachers in the county were Houston Roberts, Calvin Rushing, John Tinker, Milt Houston, Hyder Smith, Nattie Fisher, John Tucker, J.C. Duck, B.A. Tucker, Mrs. George Bell, and John McIllwain.

Copyrighted by Renea Burkholder
All Rights Reserved
© January, 1998, 1999, 2000


  1. Rachel Dayhuff on December 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm said:

    Thank-you for all you have done.I was so thankful for the info of the Singletons helping to build The Methodist Church in 1854 in Decaturville

  2. Joan Shaw on July 26, 2017 at 1:17 pm said:

    Enjoyed reading bout Decatur Co history. I have a question – as a young girl my family told me that 3 brothers can for Tenn. to Texas I any sure after the Civil Was because my GGrand Father John McDonald Rains married my GGrand Mother in 1872 in Texas. I don’t have clue what his father’s name is. I was told that he came from Jackson Tenn don’t know if that is the town or the county. If anyone could help me. Have a blessed day. OH also am told he could have preached in some churches in Texas.

  3. Joan L. (Rains) Shaw on July 26, 2017 at 1:19 pm said:

    My name is Joan (Rains) Shaw forgot to give that info.

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