Smithville, the county seat, is situated on the Lebanon and Smithville pike, eighteen miles from Alexandria,
and has a population of about 800. The town was founded in 1838 by the commissioners appointed by the county court
to locate a permanent seat of justice. W. W. Wade, Sr., Samuel Chandler and P. M. Wade were the first
merchants. Following, in the order given, the merchants were P. G. Magness, John L. Dearman, George Beckwith,
J. Y. Stewart, S. B. Whaley and Elijah Whaley. Dr. G. W. Eastham was the first hotel-keeper,
and he was succeeded in turn by James Ervin and Bernard Richardson. In 1846 a stock company erected
a frame hotel building, which is now conducted by Joseph Bozarth. The other hotel is conducted by Mrs.
N. G. Tyra. The present business of Smithville is as follows: R. B. West, G. R. Smith& Son, Smith Bros.,
Black & Bond, T. B. Potter, S. D. Blankenship, all general Merchandise; W. B. Foster, C. Parker,
Groceries; Hooper & Bros., Hardware; D. S. Harrison, F. Z. Webb, drugs; A. L. Foster,
saddles and harness; R. B. West and E. J. Evans, Livery stables.
Among the early physicians of Smithville were Drs. G. W. Eastman; Charles Schurer, J. C. Buckley, -- Barnes,
J. C. Cox, and E. Tubb. Those of the present are Drs. J. Z. Webb, P. W. Eaton, M. L. Wilson and James
The early schools of Smithville were of little consequence, and of them there is no record. In 1842 a brick
building was erected and Fulton Academy established. This school was a very good one, and continued intil 1883,
when it was succeeded by Pure Fountain College, for which a large three-story brick building was erected, at a
cost of $12,000. Prof. T. B. Kelley has charge of the college at present, and is meeting with success.
The first church erected was a brick, put up in 1848 by the Methodists. A frame building was erected in its
place in 1856, and is in use at present. The next church was the Baptist, erected in 1858, the next the Christian,
erected in 1873, and the next the Cumberland Presbyterian, erected in 1886. Before the Methodist Church was built
log houses were used for churches.
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Alexandria, is the largest town of the county, with a population of about 900, is on the Lebanon and Smithville
pike, half way between the two places (eighteen miles from each), and was founded about 1815, by ---- Alexanderia
who named the town after his native town in Virginia. A charter of incorporation was secured in 1846, and the town
was incorporated until 1879, when the charter was surrendered and the "four mile" temperance law given
authority and force, in order to close out saloons.
Among the early merchants were Joshua Coffee, ---- Alexandria, Samuel Young, Church Anderson, Jacob Fite,
James Goodner, William Floyd, J. D. Wheeler, Bone & Bros., Thomas Crompton, Reece & Ford, Turner Bros.,
Wheeler & Jones, John F. Moore, S. W. Pearce, Lawrence & Ray, William Geltford, L. D. Fite, J. D. Beard,
and Beard & Goodner, all of whom were in business prior to the war. During the latter part of the war
the only firm in business was that of Dexter Buck, J. M. Beard, Stokes & Wood, Edward Turner & Bros.,
Dinges & Lincoln, Hurd & Co., Bridges & Smith, George Evans, and M. F. Doss. Between 1870
and 1880: Dinges & Co., Rutland & Goodner, S. W. McClelland, Ray & Zergin, John Jost, John Garrison,
Edwards & Rutland, and L. Tubb. The merchants of the present are as follows: Dinges & Co.,
Rutland & Goodner, S. W. McClelland, general merchandise; J. W. King, Edwards & Rutland, and
Gould & Newman, drugs; Tubb & Schure, hardware and groceries; John Jost, confectionery;
John Garrison, fancy groceries; L. Tubb, dry goods; Batts & Garrison and H. C. Flippin,
Undertakers; D. W. Dingess, livery stable, and B. F. Bell, hotel.
The early physicians of Alexandria down to the war were as follows in the order given: Drs. John Overall,
George Gray, ---- Dougherty, William Sales, Cornelius Sales, William and Richard Blyth, T. J. Sneed, T. F. Evart,
and T. J. Sneed, Jr. Since the war: C. L. Barton, O. D. Williams, T. A. Gould and Thomas Davis.
Present: O. D. Williams, T. A. Gould, and Thomas Davis. The first school was taught by John Collins
in a frame house. The first building erected expressly for a school was a frame, about 1840. The Masonic Academy
was next, in 1856, and in 1858 T. M. Lawrence college was erected, the latter two being in operation at
In about 1820 the Methodists erected a log church, and in 1835 the same denomination erected a frame church,
and in 1885 put up their present handsome frame church. In 1835 the Christians erected a frame church, and the
present frame church of that denomination was built in 1851. In 1881 the Cumberland Presbyterians erected a frame
building, which they use at present. There is a Baptist organization but no building.
The Alexandria Patriot, a weekly paper, was established in 1860 by W. H. Mott , which was published
until 1861, when it suspended. In 1882 the Alexandria Enterprise was established by J. W. Newman,
and published for about two years.
Liberty, situated on the pike, seven miles from Alexandria, has a population of about 500, and was founded
in about 1800 by Adam Dale, and names in honor of the founder's home in Maryland. The first house was built
by William Givens. ---- Walk was the first merchant, and was followed by Fite & Duncan, ---- Young,
Moore & price, Benjamin Bloyds, Joshua Bratton, and Leonard Moore, all of whom were in business
before the late war. Since the war, Eli Vick, Fate Hale, Overall & Hale, Columbus Vick, and Elija
Bratton were the merchants, and at present the business is conducted by the following firms: Hale &
Son, William Vick & Son, and James Pritchett, General merchandise; D. D. Overall, drugs,
etc.; James Pritchett, hotel.
The Liberty Herald, the only newspaper published in Dekalb County, was established April 1, 1886, by
Will A. Vick. The Herald is a neat and newsy weekly, well edited and extensively patronized. A power
press for the Herald is among the probabilities of the near future.
One of the first, if not the first, school taught in Liberty was that taught by --- Gay, at a very early
date, in a log house. Other schools were taught afterward, but all were of an inferior class, and it was not until
about 1870 that a good school was established. At that time a substantial two-story brick house was erected and
the Masonic Normal School founded, which is in successful operation at the present.
Salem Baptist Church was erected in 1810, being the first church built at Liberty. This denomination erected
a new frame house in 1849, and a third frame house in 1880. The other church of Liberty is the Methodist, the original
house being erected in 1825 and the present one in 1869.
Dowelltown, two miles from Liberty, on the pike, has a population of about 300, with a good frame Methodist
Church, built in 1880, and a frame schoolhouse erected in 1885.
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