Goodspeed’s History of Houston County
Originally Published 1886
Transcribed by Susan Knight Gore
The geology and topography of Houston County are both interesting and peculiar. A great portion of the county is included in the river basin, while a still larger portion belongs to the siliceous group of the lower carboniferous period. An interesting phenomenon occurs in this county, known as Well’s Creek Basin, which is an area of six or seven square miles, touching the Cumberland River, while the creek by the above name runs through it. The rocks in the basin dip at a very great angle, and in some places are nearly vertical. [The views of the State geologist and of eminent scientist who have visited this locality, disapprove the usual theory of novices that this basin was formed by volcanic action. On the contrary the better opinion attributes its origin to the denudation or erosion which, at the close of the glacial period, stripped nearly all of Middle Tennessee of its upper strata. If the lands outside of the basin be penetrated to a sufficient depth the same strata will be found which appear at the surface in the basin. For further information see chapter on geology in the State history.] Some of the best building stone in the State occurs within the county, not more than a mile distant from the county seat. Iron ore, lime, rock and fire-clay are all found in this county, the two latter in paying quantities. Natural gas is supposed to exist in the county, as there is an abundance of surface indications.
The county is traversed north and south by Tennessee Ridge, which rises many feet above the general level, and forms the water-shed between the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. Erin on the one side and Stewart Station on the other of this ridge are 425 and 484 feet respectively above the sea level, while the gap through which the Louisville & Nashville Railway passes is 755 feet. For a distance of nearly five miles the grade of the railroad over Tennessee Ridge averages ninety-five feet to the mile. The lands of the county are rolling, except in the river and creek bottoms, and the soils, though thin on the broad, flat ridges, are generally fertile enough to repay cultivation. Numerous streams and springs of pure water abound. Among the streams worthy of mention are White Oak, Yellow, Wells, Cane and Hurricane Creeks.
The early settlement of what is now Houston County dates back to about the years 1797 or 1799, at which time the State of Tennessee had just been organized. At that time the country was a wild, unbroken stretch of thickly wooded hills and hollows and dense canebrakes, where roamed game of every description in abundance, including bears, catamounts, panthers, wild cats, wolves, deer, and all the smaller game, and the Indians had undisputed possession of the hunting grounds. A number of years previous to this the hard times which prevailed in Europe, and particularly in Scotland, induced many of the better class of these honest, sturdy people to leave their native land and seek to better their conditions in America, and large numbers of them settled in North Carolina. From that State a few of them wandered into Tennessee and located in this section. Probably the first man to settle in Houston County (or what is now Houston County), was Henry Edwards, who, with his family, located at what is now Stewart’s Station in the year 1798 or 1799. A short time afterward, Walter Stewart settled on what is now the Brigham farm, two miles east of the present town of Erin. Stewart, it is claimed, was a nephew of Charles Stewart, heir to the Scottish crown. A log building erected by Stewart on this farm still stands. Archibald Cook was another pioneer, he settling on a tract of land about one mile from the Brigham farm. Another of these very early settlers was Derry Adkins, who came from Virginia in the year 1806 and settled on Barton’s Creek. Later on came the Gills, McMillins, McLeods, McKinseys, McAuleys, McDonalds, Brighams, Buchanans, Whiteheads, and still a few years later, the Locketts, Grahams, Boones, Milans, Williamses, Ellises and Wilsons, all of whom came and settled all along between 1810 and 1825. These people, as their names would indicate, were all, or nearly so, of Scottish birth or descendants of that nationality, and a more upright and religious class of people could no where be found. They were not squatters, their lands being purchased before settling on them, and are to-day in possession, in most instances, of their heirs or descendants.
The first house in the Yellow Creek Valley was built by James Salmon, at the mouth of the creek which bears his name. Two houses are standing at the present time on Wells Creek, the dates of the building of which cannot be ascertained, but they are supposed to have been erected some time in 1799 or 1800. They were standing when the pioneers of the twenties came, and were old houses then; one is now occupied by Thomas Lockett as a residence, and the other, which is on the McCauley farm, is in very good repair, having been used at one time recently as a dwelling.
By treaty between the Indians and the Government a line [See Indian chapter in State history.] was blazed out on Tennessee Ridge, between the waters of White Oak and Wells Creek, which was a dividing line for the hunters of each race. The locations of this line is still observable. Many rumors of threatened attacks from the Indians led to the erection by the settles of a block-house or fort, to which they would remove their families when alarmed, where they would keep the women and children for several weeks at a time. This block-house stood about two miles north of the county site. The only encounter between a settler and an Indian occurred at the mouth of White Oak Creek, about the year 1800, when an Indian who had been guilty of committing numerous depredations against the whites, was overtaken by a posse of men who had gone in pursuit, and seriously wounded him; he was afterward released, his wounds being deemed sufficient punishment. All over the county may be found traces of the Mound-Builders and the Indians; bleached bones, earthenware, tomahawks, arrow-heads, etc., have been unearthed from time to time, and many curious relics are to-day in the possession of the citizens. On the Fentress farm, just below the mouth of Salmon Creek, stands a singular mound, which was one of the burial-grounds of the Mound-Builders before the coming of the pioneers. Some years ago the mound was excavated and several skeletons were discovered; the graves were arranged in a circle, with the heads or feet coming together at a point in the center. Decaying skeletons, curious images, pottery, bows and arrows, etc., were found, it being a custom of barbarous tribes to bury all the property with the owners, that they might have them for use in the happy hunting ground. Similar mounds may be seen in other parts of the county.
A number of the first settlers remained only a few years in this county, and leaving their farms went to West Tennessee, where they expected to find cheaper and better lands. For many years after the coming of these first settlers, and, in fact, up to the present, the settlement of the county was slow and gradual, there being no great inducements offered by this section to those seeking homes, other than that of a healthy and salubrious climate, plenty of pure water, and a moral, religious community. One of the most prominent of early settlers was William Brigham, who was born in 1776, twenty days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He was the father of Dr. J. W. Brigham and Alfred Brigham, both of whom are now living. [To these gentleman the author is under obligation for valuable assistance in the preparation of this chapter.] Dr. Brigham is perhaps the oldest citizen now living in the county who has been here continuously. He is a refined and hospitable old gentleman, whose great delight is to entertain all who may come to his door.
Probably the most noted of the pioneers, because of his long life and varied experience, was Christopher Buchanan, commonly called “Uncle Buck,” who died at his home in Arlington on the 15th of January, 1886, at the ripe old age of ninety-six years and six months. Mr. Buchanan came here with his parents from North Carolina in 1801. He fought with Gen. Harrison in the Northwest in the war of 1812, and was mustered out of the service at Sackett’s Harbor, N. Y., at the close of the war, and furnished transportation as far west as Pittsburgh, Penn., from which place he walked to this county, arriving at the house of Malcom McLeod, two miles north of Arlington, on the 15th of May, 1815. This log house still stands, and is one of the very few connecting links between the past and present. Some time after the young soldier’s return he became enamored of the charms of McLeod’s daughter Isabel. The love was mutual, and one hot day in June, after Isabel had prepared dinner and the family were seated around the table, she put on her bonnet, and without saying a word, walked to the upper end of the horse lot belonging to the late John L. McMillin, a neighbor, where she met young Buchanan by appointment, and the two were quietly joined together in holy wedlock. They lived happily together for over seventy years. Another old pioneer was Angus McAuley, who moved his family from North Carolina in 1821, and settled at the head of the west fork of Wells’ Creek. He was a veteran of the war of 1812. The switch of weeping willow used to drive the horses on the journey West was planted, took root, sprouted, and eventually became a large tree, which stands at the present time an object of much curiosity. Mr. McAuley’s son Daniel still lives on the old farm, and is one of the old citizens, being over seventy years of age. Joseph Gill settled with his father when a mere boy on Gill’s branch of Well’s Creek in 1800. He afterward moved to Nashville and became a member of the supreme bench. One of the old citizens who but recently passed away was N. H. Belcher. He attended the funeral of Gen. Jackson, at Nashville, and assisted in lowering into the grave the remains of the “Hero of the Hermitage,” a fact of which the old gentleman was ever afterward proud. Dred Boone, the celebrated North Carolina hunter and trapper, and a relative of Daniel Boone, was for many years before his death a resident of this county.
Probably the most remarkable of the many pioneers of Houston County was Daniel Buchanan, a brother to Christopher. Daniel was a most powerful man and, physically, had no match in the settlement. When splitting rails he would go into the forest, fell a tree, chop it into proper rail lengths, and then shouldering the logs, would carry them to an accustomed place and split them into rails. On one occasion while traveling on foot through the woods night overtook him. He built a fire and went to sleep, but was soon aroused by a large black bear. He was unarmed, but as the animal, desperate with hunger, made a dash at him he seized a large fire-brand and thrust it down the bear’s throat, and then in the struggle that followed, beat its life out with his fists and feet. The next day the carcass of the bear was striped of its hide, when it was found that nearly all the ribs were broken, and the flesh had been beaten into a jelly. Buchanan was scarcely scratched in the encounter. He was a great religious enthusiast. The only physician who practiced in Houston County in those early days was Dr. Marable, who served the entire county.
The early mills were but few in number and very inferior in quality, being simply for corn. The mode of crushing corn before the introduction of horse and water-mills, was to fell a tree about two feet in diameter, then cut from it a log about three feet in length. This was upended and a hollow burned into the center, in which the corn would be placed, and then crushed into meal by means of a club or maul. Corn-mills worked by hand were afterward invented, which were used for a number of years. So far as can be traced, from recollections of people now living, the early horse and water-mills were only three or four in number, and were situated on Yellow, White Oak and Wells’ Creeks. One was built by Benjamin Young, at Jackson’s Forge, on Yellow Creek; another by Robert West, about three and a half miles below, on the same creek; another was built by the Wilsons on White Oak Creek, and still another was built by Col. Goren, at the head of Wells’ Creek. All of these mills were built along between 1800 and 1815, and have long since been abandoned and nothing save an occasional millstone is left to show they ever existed. In later years mills were owned by Jesse Brunson, John Matthews, and at a still later date corn-mills, at which flour was made, were established at various places all over the county. An excellent steam flour and corn-mill was erected a few years since near Erin by Messrs. Lockett & Boone, which supplies the entire county with breadstuffs.
Houston County had its quota of distilleries, or “still-houses” as they were generally known. These were very ordinary affairs, however, with a limited capacity, in some cases amounting to less than a barrel per day, while even the larger ones had an output of not exceeding two or three barrels. The first still probably was established some time early in the twenties, and was located at Col. Gorin’s mill, on Wells’ Creek. Then followed the erection of others on Weaver’s farm, on Gill’s branch of the above creek, one on Well’s Creek below Erin, owned by David Moore, and one on a branch above Sam Allen’s farm, in about the order named.
Houston County has quite an iron history. Iron ore in paying quantities and qualities was found in different parts of the county, and at one time the prospects for this industry were bright and promising. Along in the forties numerous forges and furnaces were erected and worked for a number of years quite extensively. Byron Iron Forge was the first, which was put in operation by J. L. James some time in 1845. This forge was situated about four miles north of Erin and continued in operation, though under different ownerships, for a period of about twenty years, when it suspended. During the year 1851 Hollister & Phillips erected Ashland Furnace, which was located about four miles northwest of Erin. In the same year Union Furnace was erected on Thomas’ branch on Wells’ Creek, and Eclipse Furnace on Hurricane Creek, all of which were in full blast for a number of years, but shut down before the war of the Rebellion. In later years an excellent article of limestone was discovered in the rugged hills around Erin, Arlington and Stewart Station, and during the past twelve or fourteen years the manufacture of lime has been the chief industry of the county and the main dependence of a large number of laborers in and around those towns. Lime works are now operated at Arlington, Stewart Station, and at the Erin Lime Works, about a mile southwest of Erin, the total number in the county being seven, with a combined capacity of about 750 barrels per day, and work altogether about 300 men. The lime manufactured at these kilns is of a superior quality and meets with a ready sale in between twelve and fifteen different States in the Union.
The postoffice at which the people of Houston County received their mail during the forties, was first at the Cumberland Iron Works. Robert Caldwell was the postmaster in those early days. The next and nearest postoffice established was at Cumberland City; Nathan Allman was the postmaster. In 1868 an office was established at Erin Station, of which Andrew Holliday was the first postmaster. Offices were afterward established in Houston County as follows, in the order given: Danville, Tennessee Ridge, Stewart Station, Yellow Creek, Metcalf and Omega. A very disastrous flood occurred in the Yellow Creek Valley in August, 1836. Among the early slave-holders were William Brigham, William Fentress, Isaac West, George Stacker, Abner Skelton, William Cooksie and James Wilson. During the year 1812 this section of the country was visited with an earthquake. In places the earth seemed to have cracked open in great seams, and then partly closed, leaving great sink holes, several of which yet exist in this county. These sink holes cover in some instances a space of fifty and sixty feet square and are fifteen to twenty feet in depth.
Houston County is bounded on the north by the counties of Stewart and Montgomery, on the east by the counties of Montgomery and Dickson, on the south by the counties of Dickson and Humphreys, on the west by the Tennessee River, and has an area of 340 square miles, with a population of about 4,330. The total number of acres of land in the county is 166,400, of which 25,660 are improved. The total value of property assessed for taxation in 1885 was $1,581,730, and the average value per acre assessed was $3.77. The tax levy of the county for 1885 was as follows: General purposes, $2,335.87; school, $5,031.64; special $778.62; highways, $351.36; making in all a total of $8,497.49. The number of horses and mules in the county in 1885 was 1,275; of cattle, 2,436; of sheep, 2,242; of hogs, 7,872. The general products of the same year were Indian corn, 231,311 bushels; oats, 13,846 bushels; wheat, 3,062 bushels. Marriage licenses to the number of 707 have been issued altogether by the county court clerk, as follows: During the year 1871, 37; 1872, 53; 1873, 51; 1874, 47; 1875, 37; 1876, 23; 1877, 49; 1878, 36; 1879, 59; 1880, 59; 1881, 53; 1882, 43; 1883, 53; 1884, 54; 1885, 56. There were 1,284 votes polled in Houston County at the presidential election in 1884, out of which the Democratic ticket received a majority of nearly 500. The vote of the county for President since its organization has been as follows: November, 1872–Greeley and Brown, 459; Grant and Wilson, 94; Democratic majority, 365. November, 1876–Tilden and Hendricks, 502; Hayes and Wheeler, 110; Democratic majority, 395. November, 1880–Hancock and English, 522; Garfield and Arthur, 127; Democratic majority, 395. November, 1884–Cleveland and Hendricks, 630; Blaine and Logan, 174; Democratic majority, 456. Houston County was named in honor of Gen. Sam Houston, of Mexican war and Texas fame, who was a native, and at one time governor of the State of Tennessee. The territory which now comprises the county formerly belonged to the adjoining counties of Stewart, Dickson and Humphreys, and was created out of fractions of those counties by an act entitled “an act to establish the county of Houston,” which was passed by the Legislature of Tennessee on January 21, 1871. Section 1 of this act provided that a new county be created out of the fractions of Stewart, Humphreys and Dickson Counties, to be known as Houston County. Section 2 provided for the establishment of the boundary lines of said county as follows: Beginning at a mulberry about six poles below the mouth of White Oak Creek on Tennessee River, running east eleven miles with the old Stewart and Humphrey’s county line, to a point due north from Waverley, eleven miles; thence east with a circle, keeping eleven miles from Waverley, seven miles; thence east six miles to the Dickson County line; thence north twenty-one degrees east by Morris’ Mills, three and a half miles to a sycamore on the right bank of Bear Creek, about 350 yards from Maj. Shelton’s residence; thence north seven miles to the Montgomery County line; thence west with said county line four miles to the southwest corner of Montgomery County; thence north nineteen degrees west with said county line to the Cumberland River; thence with said river and its meanders seven miles tot he residence of Capt. Naylor, on the bank of said river opposite the “Checkered House,” and about eleven miles from Dover; thence south seventy degrees, west eleven miles with a circle, keeping eleven miles from Dover to a stake eleven miles due south of Dover, and one-quarter of a mile west of the residence of John Barnes, deceased; thence north seventy-three degrees west with the same circle, six and one-half miles to the Leatherwood Creek; thence down said creek with its meanders to the Tennessee River; thence up the said river with its meanders to the beginning, twelve and one-half miles, containing 340 square miles. Section 3 provided that John Brown, W. M. Blake and J. W. Lewis, of Humphreys County; Abner Shelton, A. J. Parish and Dudley Clymer, of Dickson County; Ransom Dudley, John L. McMillin and J. J. Pollard, of Stewart County, should be a commission to organize the new county of Houston and set in motion the wheels of government; a majority of the commission could transact business and fill vacancies of their number. Section 17 provided that the county court could issue county bonds bearing 8 per cent interest, running not less than ten years, for an amount not exceeding $20,000 interest, payable semi-annually; the same to be sold for not less that 80 cents on the dollar, said money to be used in the erection of a court house and jail; also provided that the court should have power to assess and levy taxes to meet the interest on said bonds and provide a sinking fund. Section 18 provided that the following part of Montgomery County be attached to Houston: Beginning at the point where the eastern boundary line of Houston County strikes the south boundary line of Montgomery County four miles from the southwest corner of Montgomery County; running thence due north to the Cumberland River; thence down said river with its meanders to the point where the west boundary line of Montgomery County crosses Cumberland River; thence south nineteen degrees east with said line to the southwest corner of Montgomery County to the beginning, containing about thirty-two square miles.
The commission met in Union Church, at Erin Station, January 31, 1871, and were duly sworn, according to the provisions of said act, by Thomas McIntosh, acting justice of the peace for Stewart County, and at once organized by selecting J. L. McMillin, chairman, and J. J. Pollard, secretary. An election was ordered to be held on February 22, 1871, for the purpose of submitting the above act to the voters, and polls and precincts were designated as follows: At the residences of J. C. Lockhart, on Well’s Creek; Allan Barnes, on Cane Creek, and Mrs. Keziah Vickers, on Hurricane Creek, in the Stewart County fraction; at the residences of B. W. Swift and John Brown, on White Oak Creek, in the Humphreys County fraction; at the residence of A. B. Skelton, on Yellow Creek, and at Bethany Cumberland Presbyterian Church, on the Dry Branch of Yellow Creek, in the Dickson County fraction; at the mill of Levi Myers, on the east fork of Yellow Creek, in the Montgomery County fraction. The election was held on the appointed day, and resulted as follows:
|FRACTIONS OF COUNTIES||For.||Against.||Majority.|
The commission met in Erin on the day following the election, and the required two-third vote having been cast in favor of the new county by all the fractions save that of Montgomery County, Houston County was declared established from the fractions of Stewart, Dickson and Humphreys Counties, with boundaries as provided in Section 2 of said act. The county was then divided into ten civil districts, and an election was called for March 17, 1871, for the purpose of voting on the selection of a county site, and also for the election of the county and district officers, as provided for by said act. The selection of a county site was a question of great importance, as many advantages would necessarily accrue to the locality so selected, and much contention of a friendly nature was occasioned, the result of which was the placing in nomination several tracts of land to be voted upon, as follows: Hollister’s field (now Erin), and the McMillin farm at Arlington, and the Bateman and West farms. The election was held, but no place receiving a majority of all the votes cast a second election was ordered to be held for the same purpose on April 21, 1871. Hollister’s field and the McMillin farms having received the largest votes at the first election, those two were the only sites voted upon at the second election. At this election McMillin’s farm received the majority, and the county seat was ordered located at Arlington. The county and district officers elected on March 17, 1871, were as follows: County court clerk, J. S. Lee; circuit court clerk, G. W. Rushing; sheriff, J. M. Newberry; revenue collector, S. T. Allen; county trustee, J. W. Hall; register, C. S. Humphreys. District No. 1–Justices of the peace, N. McKinnon and W. J. Vickers; constable, D. C. Wilson. District No. 2–Justices of the peace, Jerry Mobley and F. M. Turner; constable, J. Pitty. District No. 3–Justices of the peace, Thomas McIntosh and John Chadwick; constable, Gideon French. District No. 4–Justices of the peace. J. W. Knight and J. Shelton; constable, William Shelton. District No. 5–Justices of the peace, J. Y. Knight and N. H. Belcher; constable, William Knight. District No. 6–Justices of the peace, H. J. Dickson and W. H. Rice; constable, J. C. Dickson. District No. 7–Justices of the peace, L. D. Tatom and J. H. Russell; constable, J. M. Russell. District No. 8–Justices of the peace, Jacob Parchman and W. R. Griffin; constable, J. M. Keel. District No. 9–Justices of the peace, Robert Steel and R. E. Thomas; constable, J. I. Allman. District No. 10–Justices of the peace, J. W. Richardson and H. H. Buquo, constable, T. J. Reynolds.
A series of injunction suits were instituted against Houston County by the counties of Stewart, Humphreys and Dickson in regard to the jurisdiction of the first named county over certain territory included in the boundary lines of that county. Stewart County filed her bill against Houston County in the chancery court at Dover on September 18, 1871. The bill charged that in organizing Houston County Stewart was reduced below the constitutional number of square miles (the constitution prohibiting the old counties from being reduced by the formation of new counties below an area of 500 square miles), and that the line of Houston County approached within nearer than eleven miles of the county seat of Stewart (which was also prohibited by the constitution). A decree was rendered against Houston County on November 29, 1872, by which that county'[s boundary lines were ordered changed, and the county was also taxed with the costs of the suit. Houston County took an appeal to the supreme court, where the decree of the Stewart Chancery Court was affirmed, and the suit was finally settled by agreement. The same charges were made in substance in the injunction bill filed by Humphreys County against Houston County. This bill was filed in the chancery court at Waverly October 14, 1871. A decree was also rendered against Houston County in this instance, and, as in the Stewart County case, was appealed to the supreme court, and the chancery court decree was affirmed, and Houston County was thrown into the costs. A similar bill was filed in the Chancery Court of Dickson County against Houston County on August 4, 1876, but in this instance Houston County was successful, and the bill was dismissed.
By the above suits Houston County was materially lessened in area, and the county was redistricted into eight instead of ten civil districts. The boundary lines of the county were altered, and are at present as follows: “Beginning at the mouth of White Oak Creek on the Tennessee River, running thence east eleven miles with the old Stewart and Humphreys County line to a point due north from Waverly; thence east with a circle, keeping eleven miles from Waverly seven miles; thence east six miles to the Dickson County line; thence north twenty-one degrees east by Norris’ mill on Yellow Creek, three and a half miles to Sycamore on the south bank of Bear Creek, and about three hundred and fifty yards from Major Shelton’s residence; thence north seven miles to the Montgomery County line, thence west with said line four miles to the southwest corner of Montgomery County; thence west from near this corner to the Tennessee River; thence up said river with its meanders twelve and a half miles to the beginning.”
The county court met at Erin April 3, 1871, when the above elected officers appeared and qualified, and entered upon the discharge of the duties of their respective offices. In the absence of a court house, the first courts were held in Union Church. The county court is composed of the justices of the county. At the October term, 1871, of the county court, it was ordered that a frame court house be erected on the county site at Arlington, at a cost not to exceed $1,500. It was further ordered that the money with which to defray the cost of said building be raised by the sale of county bonds, redeemable at the will and pleasure of the county. J. J. Pollard, H. H. Buquo and J. L. McMillin were appointed as a commission and instructed and authorized to draw up plans and specifications for the court house, advertise for and receive sealed proposals for the award the contract for the material and erection of the building, and superintend the same, and also to purchase a lot upon which to locate the court house. The contract for the erection of the court house was awarded to G. W. Buquo, at the sum of $1,440, and lot No. 26 of the public square was purchased upon which to erect said building. Twenty county bonds of the denomination of $50 each were sold at 80 cents on the dollar.
The court house at Arlington was completed and accepted in the spring of 1872, and the county court convened its first session in the new building on the 6th of May of the same year. But the county seat question was not yet settled. Arlington was not without its disadvantages, chief among which was the fact that the railroad company declined to locate a station at the town, the grade of the road as it runs by Arlington being so great that trains could not make a stop either going or coming, and Erin was the nearest station. This was quite an inconvenience to people traveling to or from the county seat by rail. The citizens of Erin were not slow to take advantage of this fact, and so vigorously and persistently died they agitate the question of removing the county seat that the county court ordered an election held on the 1st of August, 1878, at which the question of removal to Hollister’s field at Erin should be voted upon. The vote stood 530 for to 219 against. The ground for the public square was donated to the county by M. Hollister and Jacob Buquo. On the first day of November, 1878, courts and records were removed to Erin. The court house at Arlington was afterward used as a schoolhouse and church, and finally abandoned. The old building remains standing at the present, but is in an advanced stage of decay and dilapidation. Upon the removal of the courts to the new county seat, the circuit and chancery courts held their sessions on the second floor of Jacob Buquo’s store, while the county court met over the store of N. O. Thomas.
The county court passed an order at its November term, 1881, for the erection of a new court house, the cost of which was not to exceed $10,000, and J. M. Collier, N. H. Belcher, J. W. Richardson, J. S. Lee and S. M. Wilson were appointed a building committee to superintend the letting of the contracts and erection of the building. The court house was completed during the following year at a cost of about $7,000 and the sessions of the courts have since been held therein. The building is a large, handsome brick structure, surmounted by a cupola, around which is an iron railing. The building has four entrances leading into a large hall, opening from which are the different offices and to the court room above, which room occupies the entire second floor. The several offices are provided with fire-proof vaults. The plans and specifications for the building were prepared by Mr. H. H. Buquo, of Erin. At the April term, 1883, of the county court, an order was passed for the building of a county jail and sheriff’s residence combined, at a cost not to exceed $7,000. The building was erected during the same year at about the above cost. It was a substantial one-story brick, situated on a hill overlooking the entire town of Erin. Previous to the erection of the jail, Houston County’s prisoners were taken to Clarksville for safe keeping. At each session of the county court the magistrates report the poor of their respective districts, and appropriations are made for the support and maintenance of said poor, no asylum for the poor being in existence. In cases of extreme pauperism, the keeping of such is awarded by the court to the lowest bidder.
The chairmen of the county court since the organization of the county have been as follows: N. McKinnon, for the years 1871-73; N. H. Belcher, 1874-75; R. E. Thomas, 1876; Daniel McMillin, 1877-78; J. W. Richardson, 1879-80; S. M. Wilson, 1881-82; W. H. Rice, 1883-84; John Largen, 1885, and is the present incumbent. J. S. Lee was elected county court clerk in 1871, and is the present incumbent, having served continuously since the organization of the county.
The first session of the Houston County Circuit Court met in the old Union Church, at Erin Station, beginning on the 15th of June, 1871. By the provision of the legislative act establishing the county, the court was presided over by Judge Thomas W. King, of the Criminal Court of Montgomery County. The business of this first session was of a merely routine nature, nothing of interest transpiring. Judge King presided over each term of this court until the April term, 1873, before which time he fell ill, and his place was supplied by Judge Henry C. Merritt, of Clarksville, who was commissioned to act as judge by Gov. Brown. Judge King’s illness terminating in death the governor commissioned Judge Charles W. Tyler to fill out Judge King’s unexpired term of office. Judge Tyler continued to hold the Circuit Courts of Houston County during the years 1875-76, holding the last session in December of the latter year. An election was held before the next session of the court, and Houston County having been attached regularly to the Tenth Judicial Circuit, and Judge James E. Rice having been elected judge of said circuit, that gentleman presided over the courts during the years of 1877-78, at which time the present incumbent, Judge Joseph C. Stork, was elected to the judgeship, and held the courts to the present uninterruptedly. F. O. Anderson, Baker E. Johnson and R. L. Burney, all of Clarksville, were the attorney-generals of the circuit courts of this county, the order named; the latter gentleman being the present incumbent.
G. W. Rushing was the first circuit court clerk, but failing to qualify, J. J. Pollard was appointed to fill the office until the next regular election, in 1872, at which John W. McDonald was elected to the office. Mr. McDonald filled the office until the end of the term of which Rushing was elected, serving for a period of two years. At the August election, 1874, John D. Allman was elected. Mr. Allman qualified and filled the office until June 1, 1876, at which time his bondsmen refused to remain longer on his official bond, and being unable to supply a new one the court appointed I. F. McMillin to serve as clerk until the next election, which would occur in the following August. At this election C. S. Humphreys was elected to fill out the balance of the unexpired term of Allman, and at the August election, 1878, Humphreys was elected for a full term of four years, but died before qualifying and taking his office, when John W. McDonald was again appointed to fill the office until the next election. At the August election, 1880, Mr. McDonald was elected to fill out the unexpired term of Humphreys, and in 1882 was re-elected for a full term of four years, and is the present incumbent and a candidate for re-election.
The local attorneys who have practiced before the bar of Houston County, and continue, with one or two exceptions, are Messrs. W. J. Braddus, H. H. Buquo, J. S. Lee, I. F. McMillin, John L. McMillin, W. C. Shelton and J. B. Turner, all of whom stand well in their chosen profession. The first named gentleman is an ex-attorney-general, and has presided as special judge on several occasions.
The first grand jury ever summoned in the county met at the August term, 1871, of the court, and was composed of the following citizens: J. C. Lockhart, W. G. Powers, M. B. Patterson, J. W. Nichols, Jesse Parchman, H. H. Blanks, Thomas Patterson, A. B. Skelton, G. W. Bell, J. S. Smith, William Robins, Merideth Yarborough and Joseph Smith; J. C. Lockhart was selected as foreman. Quite a number of indictments were found against the law breakers of the county by this grand jury. The first one returned was against William Davis, who was charged in the indictment as follows: “That the said William Davis, on the 23d day of April, 1870, in the State of Tennessee, and County of Houston aforesaid, did feloniously take, steal and carry away one coat, one vest, one shirt and one pocket-purse of the goods and chattles of one G. M. Dennison, and of the value of $38, with the intent to deprive him, the said G. M. Dennison, the true owner thereof, against the peace and dignity of the State of Tennessee.” Davis was brought to trial at the December term of court, 1871, when the indictment against him was nollied. The above were the first proceedings of the court in the matter of the dispensation of justice.
The first murder case was that of William Irvin, which came up for trial at the December term, 1872. Irvin was charged with the unlawful, premeditated killing of Taylor Williams, of the county of Houston, State of Tennessee, on the 2d of June, 1872. The defendant was discharged for want of testimony.
The grand jury at its April session, 1872, indicted Orville Lashley for breaking into and burglarizing the mansion house of Mrs. Ann Brigham, on October 10, 1871, of $800 in bank notes of different denominations. Another indictment was returned against Lashley and John Ruff jointly, charging them with committing highway robbery upon the person of S. S. Glitton, in October, 1871. Lacily and Ruff both eluded arrest by leaving the county.
In December, 1881, quite an extensive robbery was committed in Erin. Early one morning the safes in the stores of Harris & Buquo, George E. Ranscher and Moore & Atkins were blown open and robbed of altogether about $1,500. Two strangers who had been loitering around for several days, and who disappeared the night of the robery, were suspicioned. Officers at once started in pursuit of the two strangers, but they were not captured. About two years afterward the same two strangers appeared in Erin again, and before arrested succeeded in again robbing Mr. Ranscher’s safe. The burglars were arrested the following day at McKinsey, and gave their names as James Allen and Frank Moore. Indictments were found against the two men for both the robberies, and Allen was tried at the December term of court, 1883, and being convicted was sentenced to the penitentiary for nine years. At the April term, 1884, Moore pleaded guilty, and was sent to the penitentiary for three years. Shelby Malone was tried at the August term, 1884, for the murder of G. W. B. Marable, and was acquitted. Alf Duffle was tried and acquitted at the December term, 1884, for the murder of P. P. Brigham.
Houston County belongs to the Sixth Chancery District of Tennessee. The chancery court consists of a chancellor and clerk, and holds sessions twice each year. This court has concurrent jurisdiction in all cases of equity. The first session was held on May 15, 1871, in Union Church, at Erin. Hon. C. G. Smith presided over the deliberations of this session, with John L. McMillin as clerk. The chancellors of the Houston County Chancery Court have been as follows: C. G. Smith, H. H. Lurton, B. J. Tabor and George E. Seay, the present incumbent. The chancery clerks have been as follows: John L. McMillin, for the years 1871-75, when he died, and J. N. Nesbitt, the present incumbent, was appointed by Chancellor George E. Seay. Mr. Nesbitt is a candidate for re-election. Registers: C. S. Humphreys, elected in 1871, served during the years 1872-74; Jeremiah Mobely, elected in 1875, served until the time of his death, which occurred in September of the year in which he was elected; M. P. Millin was appointed by the county court to fill out the unexpired term for which Mobely was elected. Mr. McMillin is the present incumbent and is a candidate for re-elected. County Trustees: J. W. Hall, elected in 1871 and re-elected in 1873, but died during his second term, and R. C. Rushing was appointed to fill out the unexpired term; S. T. Allen, elected in 1875, re-elected in 1877, died during his second term, and R. C. Rushing was again appointed to fill the office until the next election, which occurred in August, 1878, when Mr. Rushing was elected to the office, re-elected in 1879-81-83 and again in 1885, and is the present incumbent. Revenue collectors: S. T. Allen, elected in 1871 and served continuously until 1875, when the offices of revenue collector and trustee were consolidated. Sheriffs: R. C. Rushing, in the years 1871-72; J. N. Newberry, 1873-74; S. B. McIntosh, 1875-80; L. L. Skelton, 1881-82; James Clarke, 1883-85, is the present incumbent and candidate for re-election. Surveyors: The surveyors of Houston County have been John Brown, W. G. McMillin, Edward Atkins, I. F. McMillin, the latter gentleman being the present incumbent. The office of surveyor is filled by appointment by the county court. Representatives: Jacob Leach, 1873-74; J. J. Pollard, 1875-76; Jacob Leach, 1877-78; G. W. McQuary, 1879-80; H. H. Buquo, 1881-82; G. M. Pardue, 1883-84; L. L. Skelton, 1885, and is the present incumbent. State senators: W. A. Moody, 1873-74; Mitchell Trotter, 1875-76; H. M. McAdoo, 1877-78; Vernon F. Bibb, 1879-84; D. B. Thomas, 1885, and present incumbent. Congressmen: J. D. C. Atkins represented Houston County when the county was in the Seventh Congressional District, in 1872. Houston County was afterward placed in the Sixth Congressional District, and has been represented in Congress since that time by John F. House and A. J. Caldwell, the present incumbent.
While no companies in full were organized and sent out from what is now Houston County, portions of the Fourteenth, Eleventh and Fiftieth Tennessee Regiments were recruited from among the citizens, they being mustered into the Confederate Army at the different county seats to which belonged the fractions out of which this county was afterward formed, and were accredited to those counties.
After the battle of Fort Donelson, the firing of the guns at which could be distinctly heard at point all over the county, the Federal soldiers scouted and foraged all through the county, and guerrillas in large bands also infested the county, and between the two the war excitement was kept continually at fever heat, yet no open engagement ever occurred between the Federals and guerrillas, but bushwhacking was carried on extensively, and the farmers paid the heavy penalty of the presence of those factions, as many depredations were committed either by them or in their name. Several farmers who were known to be in sympathy with the North were killed, presumably by the guerrillas, among whom were William Barnes and Garrett Rice, both of whom were killed on the same night, in the year 1863, at the house of the former, about six miles northeast of Erin. Barnes was killed outright, while Rice was so severely wounded that he died within a few days. Lemuel Bell, who lived near Stewart Station, was killed by guerrillas on White Oak Creek in 1864, and during the same year Frank Reeves shared a similar fate on the waters of the same creek. The guerrillas were not permitted to go unpunished, and whenever captured by the Federal soldiers were summarily dealt with. On one Sunday afternoon during the summer of 1863, while James Rushing and Hub Edmunson were attending Sunday-school at a church about two miles northeast of Erin, they were arrested as guerrillas by a detachment of Federal soldiers, and marched up the road for about half a mile to a clump of trees, where the death warrant was read to them. The doomed men were given time to make their peace with their Creator, and kneeling began praying; but their prayers were cut short by a volley of bullets, the command to fire having been given before the praying ceased. The soldiers then marched on up the road a short distance and arrested and shot as a guerrilla Frank Warden. On another occasion James Finley, Jacob Sly and Henry Moore were arrested, taken over into Montgomery County, condemned as guerrillas and shot. Other guerrillas shot by the Federal soldiers at different times were James Webb, Frank Hurst and Henry T. Linsey.
The retreating Confederate troops in leaving the vicinity of Fort Donelson in February, 1861, passed through the county. At the old Salem Church, in the Yellow Creek country, went into camp, and upon leaving there filled the old church building with stores and then applied the match to it preferring to destroy their supplies rather than have them fall into the hands of the Federal Army.
Erin, the county seat, is the largest and most important town in the county. It has a population of between 700 and 800, and is one of the best shipping points on the railroad. Originally it was a railroad station, and was located about half a mile east of where the town proper now stands. This was in 1859 and 1860, at which time the station comprised only a platform and one small building which was utilized for a depot, telegraph and ticket office, being the only station, however, within quite a number of miles. Erin soon grew into importance, and it was not long until a general grocery store was established near the depot by John Murphey. As the town increased other stores were established, and soon the station had advanced to the dignity of a town, with bright prospects in the future. The war brought the growth of the town to an abrupt stand-still, and it was not until several years after its close that the town resumed its growth. In 1871 Erin was surveyed and platted by H. H. Buquo. At that time most of the land were the town now stands was owned by Jacob Buquo, M. Hollister and T. J. Reynolds. In 1873 a charter was granted by the Legislature and Erin was incorporated, and the following officers elected at an election held on the first Saturday in January of the same year: Mayor, George E. Rauscher; recorder, J. W. Boone; marshal, R. D. Rushing; aldermen, J. S. Lee, M. Hollister, J. F. Allman and B. F. Hogler. The corporation continued in effect until 1879, when the board of aldermen and all the other officers resigned, and from that time until 1881 there was no municipal government. In that year the corporation was revived by the election of the following officers: Major, V. R. Harris; recorder, J. W. McDonald; marshal, J. M. Newberry; aldermen, J. B. Brickhouse, J. S. Lee, J. T. Burgie, G. W. N. Shelton, J. F. Allman and J. K. Trotter. In 1878 the county seat was removed from Arlington to Erin, since which time the town has continued to be the seat of county government. At the present time there are between 250 and 300 houses, business and dwelling included, in Erin.
It is well supplied with churches and schools. Of the former there are three, they being the Cumberland Presbyterian, Methodist Church South and Methodist Church North. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church building is a large brick structure, and was erected at a cost of about $2,500. The Methodist Episcopal Church South is a substantial frame building, which cost about $2,000, while the Methodist Episcopal Church North has also a frame building which cost between $1,200 and $1,500. These church edifices were all erected and dedicated during the same year, 1882. Each has a good congregation. The schools are four in number, as follows: The public schools, white and colored, the Erin Polytechnic Institute, and a private school. In 1873 cholera visited Erin and caused quite a number of deaths, and in 1878 the town was temporarily depopulated by the yellow fever, though not over a dozen deaths occurred. It is but just to state that the fever was brought to Erin in hospital cars, which were shipped out from Memphis with yellow fever patients on board and side-tracked at the station during the night, there being no quarantine in force. In 1872 the Louisville & Nashville Railway Company decided to locate a division at Erin, and began at once upon the erection of the necessary buildings. A large hotel building, water tanks, coal sheds, turn-table and telegraph office were erected, and work begun on a large round-house which was to have accommodated eighteen locomotives. But the great panic of 1873 compelled the abandonment of the project. The secret societies are the Masonic and Good Templar lodges, both of which have large memberships. The K. of H. had an organization several years ago, but it was abandoned after having paid out upward of $13,000 in insurance money. Erin is essentially a mercantile town, though not a few manufacturing establishments are in operation. The business interests are as follows: Harris & Buquo, general store; George E. Rauscher, same; N. O. Thomas, same; W. A. McDonald, drugs; W. D. Burgie, same; J. O. Gambill, same; Atkins & McMillin, family groceries, H. B. Cowan, same; G. W. N. Shelton, same; W. R. Reynolds, same; A. M. Lowery, dry goods; B. F. Hagler, dry goods and groceries, James Breedon, same. The manufacturers are Thomas Mahoney, wagon factory; Hoppes & Edwards, wagon factory and planing-mill; J. M. Nesbitt, furniture factory and store; Lockhart & Boone, flour-mill; J. W. Nichols, corn-mill. The Louisville Spoke Company have permanent headquarters at Erin, and buy and ship spoke timber to the amount of $3,000 per year. Harris & Buquo operate the Erin Lime Works, which are situated about one mile southwest of the town, and half that distance from the railroad. The kilns at these works have a capacity of 150 barrels per day. Erin has two first-class hotels–the Partridge Hotel, Edward Partridge, proprietor, and the Central Hotel, Thomas Mahoney, proprietor, and also a good livery stable, of which S. D. Dillon is the proprietor.
Desiring to take advantage of what is known as the four-mile law, by the provisions of which the sale of liquor in any shape or form is prohibited within a radius a four miles of a chartered institute of learning, provided such institute is not located in an incorporated town or city, the citizens of Erin surrendered their town charter, and being granted a charter for a school of the State Legislature, the Erin Polytechnic Institute was opened on January 1, 1886, and whisky was abolished from the town.
In July, 1874, James Faxon founded the Houston County Times, at Arlington. After about six issues the Times suspended for the want of proper patronage. Following the Times was the Houston County Herald, which was established at Erin in the spring of 1877 by James Gentry. After about half a dozen papers had been published the name of the Herald was changed to The Independent Weekly. But the editor failed to realize his dreams of success, and after running the paper for only a few weeks wold out the good-will and subscription list of his paper to John E. Duff, who purchased an entire new outfit of material and established The Houston County Review, at Erin, with W. J. Broaddus as editor. The Review was fairly successful and was continued for about three years, when it passed into the hands of John F. Broaddus, who changed the name of the paper to The Erin Review, which was published until some time in July, 1882. The outfit of the Review was then purchased by M. V. Ingram and removed to Clarksville, with which the Clarksville Democrat was published. Houston County remained without a newspaper for almost a year, when Judge James Rice established the Erin Enterprise, in April, 1883. Four weeks only were required for Judge Rice to satisfy his desire for newspaper experience, and at the end of that period the Enterprise was suspended. Another lapse of years, this time greater than before, occurred, during which the county was minus an organ, for not until October, 1885, did any one attempt to supply the “long felt want” by establishing another newspaper. At the above time, however, Messrs. Harris & Buquo, two of the leading merchants of Erin, came nobly to the front and founded the Houston County News, at Erin, with William Turner as editor. W. J. Broaddus succeeded Mr. Turner as editor of the News and occupies that post at the present. The News is a seven-column folio, and presents quite an attractive appearance, typographically, and is edited with more than ordinary ability. The paper is very well patronized. These papers were all Democratic in politics.
Though at one time the county seat, Arlington has completely lost its identity as a town, and forms but a suburb to Erin. Not over 150 inhabitants have their homes in Arlington, and there is no business of a mercantile nature transacted. Arlington is about one mile west of the county-seat and lies on the railroad. The greater portion of the citizens find employment in the lime works at Arlington. These limekilns are six in number and are owned as follows: Harris & Buquo, of Erin, own and operate three, which have a capacity, combined, of 300 barrels of lime per day. This firm also operates a large stave and heading factory in conjunction with their lime works, which has a capacity of about 250 barrels per day. The invested capital of this firm in these two establishments is about $50,000. Three kilns are also owned and operated by the Arlington Lime Company, of Erin, of which George E. Rauscher is secretary, which have a capacity of 250 barrels per day. The barrels used by this company are manufactured at their factory at Stewart Station. Arlington’s churches are the Cumberland Presbyterian and a Baptist (colored). White and colored public schools are located there.
Stewart Station, the next town in size to the county seat, lies on the west side of Tennessee Ridge, about nine and a half miles from Erin and on the Memphis branch of the Louisville & Nashville Railway, and has a population of about 200. It has been a station since the completion of the railroad. The business of the town is divided between manufacturing and mercantile establishments. An extensive stave and heading factory is owned by the Stewart Manufacturing Company, which has a capacity of about 200 flour barrels per day. A large store is also conducted by this company, and the combined capital invested is $16,000. This company is a branch of the Arlington Lime Company, of Erin. Messrs. Harris & Buquo, of Erin, own a limekiln, stave and heading factory, saw and grist-mill, and a general store at Stewart, in which they have capital invested to the amount of $15,000. James Cook owns a large ax-handle factory, which turns out from 1,500 to 2,000 handles per day. The merchants are A. B. Pope, general store, including drugs, and Baylor & Eckles, general store. One church each of the Methodist Episcopal South and Methodist Episcopal North are located at Stewart. The school facilities of Stewart consist of a chartered school, similar to the Polytechnic Institute, at Erin, and which abolishes the sale of whisky at Stewart. The Good Templars have an organization in Stewart.
Danville lies on the Tennessee River and the Memphis branch of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, and fifteen miles distant from Erin. The town has about 100 inhabitants. The business of the town is principally merchandising, which is carried on by the following firms: John Wiggins, dry goods and groceries, S. W. Kelley & Co., same; Mrs. M. F. Craney, dry goods; Hinson Bros., saloon, and Durdin & Patterson, same. Whitefield, Bates & Co. Operate a large saw-mill near the town. White and colored public schools are taught at Danville, and near the town is located a Methodist Episcopal Church South. The Masonic Lodge is the only secret society in the town. Large quantities of freight are transferred from the river to the railroad at Danville. Tennessee Ridge is simply a station and postoffice on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, and is situated on the top of Tennessee Ridge. Not over half a dozen houses make up the town.
The early schools were few in numbers, and only the rudiments of an education could be acquired, no matter how studious a pupil might be. All were taught by subscription, the usual price being from 75 cents to $1 per month, according to the advancement of the scholar, and as three or months constituted a school year and the schools were but poorly attended, the average pedagogue of those days gained but a bare living by following his profession. The discipline was usually severe, but the teachers being ignorant, and the books few or altogether lacking, little advancement was made by the scholar. On one occasion, the scholars attending a school near the present county site, attempted to compel their teacher, one William Ellis, to treat by “locking him out” when he went to dinner. The door was barricaded with benches, boxes, etc., but the teacher was not to be conquered, and he accordingly climbed to the roof and then down the chimney, and while the door was securely barricaded, proceeded to administer a sound thrashing to most of the scholars.
William Murrell, a brother of John Murrell, the celebrated Kentucky and Tennessee robber and horse thief, taught a school at Salem Church in the twenties, in the Yellow Creek bottoms. Murrell was only a few degrees better than his outlaw brother, and was a man of violent and ungovernable temper. During the school term he unmercifully whipped a little girl named Maddin. The punishment was uncalled for and unduly severe, which fact so exasperated the mother of the little girl that she gathered an apron-full of rocks and walked into the schoolroom the next day, and began pelting the teacher in such a vigorous manner that he had to retire in disorder. He was followed by the irate and indignant mother, who kept up a continuous pelting, forcing him to cross the creek to get clear of the shower of stones. Murrell never returned to the school, which was for the time discontinued.
A general school was held during the thirties at the camp ground, about one mile and a half from the present town of Erin, which was attended by all the children of the neighborhood. Along in the forties public free schools were established, though an occasional private or subscription school was held. Upon the organization of Houston County nine school districts were established, and schools were and are at present located as follows: District No. 1–One at Danville, one on White Oak Creek, and one known as the Bethlehem School. A colored school was also established at Danville. District No. 2–One at Stewart’s Station. District No. 3–One on Tennessee Ridge, and one on the Long Branch of White Oak Creek. District No. 4–One school at Arlington, two at Erin and one at Cave Orchard; colored schools were also taught at Arlington and Erin. District No. 5–One on Wells’ Creek, known as Allsbrok’s School; one a few miles farther up on the same creek, known as the Hatfield School; one on White Oak Creek known as the Belcher School, and one on Wells’ Creek; there was also a colored school on Wells’ Creek. District No. 6–One on the Dry Branch of Yellow Creek, known as the Bethlehem School; one on Shoulder Strap Branch of Yellow Creek, known as the Robertson School, and one on Yellow Creek, known as the Wyatt School; one colored school is also taught in the district. District No. 7–One on Yellow Creek, known as the Fentress School; one on Williams’ Branch of the above creek, known as the Trinity School, and one on Leatherwood Creek, known by the same name. District No. 8–One on Ginces’ Creek, known as the Springhill School; one at the head of Muster Ground Branch of Wells’ Creek, known as the Cedar Hill School, and also one colored school. District No. 9–One school at the Wells’ Creek Camp Ground, known by that name.
A chartered academy and one private school are taught at Erin. The following are the county school superintendents who have filled that office since the organization of the county: I. F. McMillan, during the years of 1873 and 1874; Milton Parchman was elected and served a short time during the year 1875, but by a change in the county lines was thrown into Stewart County, and necessarily became ineligible. His brother, Jacob Parchman, was elected to fill out his brother’s unexpired term, and he too served only a short time, his resignation being necessary on account of ineligibility. Daniel Wilson was then elected to fill out the unexpired term, and was re-elected in January, 1877, and served until 1879, when W. T. Pollard was elected and served during 1879 and 1880. I. F. McMillan was again elected to the office in 1881, and re-elected in 1883 and served until 1885, when the present incumbent, Jacob Parchman, was elected. The schoolhouses of the county are in a very good condition, being all frame buildings and kept in good repair.
Before the erection of churches and schoolhouses meetings were held regularly each Sabbath day at one of the houses of the different settlers, one of whom would conduct the services. The leading denominations then, as now, were the Methodist Episcopalians, Cumberland Presbyterians and Baptists, each ranking in age in the order given, and, while having neither church building nor ministers, those denominations held their meetings as above mentioned as early as 1798, 1799 and 1800. Probably the first regular sermon preached in the county by a regularly ordained minister, at which a collection was taken up, was in the year 1812. The services on that occasion were held in a log house, which stood on what is now the Brigham farm, near Erin, and were conducted by the Rev. Robert McGill, a circuit rider. Along until the twenties the schoolhouses were used, as a rule, as a place for holding religious services, but in 1830 a church was erected at the Cumberland Presbyterian camp-ground. This camp-ground was located on Wells Creek, about one and one-half miles northeast of the town of Erin, and was known for years as the Wells Creek Camp-ground. This was a great place during the thirties, forties and fifties for holding protracted meetings, and during these meetings people would flock thither for miles and miles. In fact the camp-ground became, and is at the present time, noted as a place of worship throughout the entire State of Tennessee and portions of Kentucky. Meetings are held there regularly during the month of September of each year. Salem Church was another of the early churches. It stood near the mouth of Salmon’s Creek, in the Yellow Creek Valley, and was erected by the pioneer Methodists in about the same year as the one at the Cumberland Presbyterian camp-ground. Salem Church was to the Methodists what Wells Creek Camp-Ground Church was to the Presbyterians, though it never became so widely known. No trace of the church remains at the present, it having been burned by the Confederate soldiers. Mount Pleasant Church was erected during the forties, and was in use for quite a number of years and then abandoned, and finally destroyed. This building stood about two miles east of the present town of Erin. The Baptists erected churches in the early days on Hurricane and Cave Creeks, all of which have long since fallen to wreck and ruin. The first church edifices upon which any attempt at architectural display was made was Union Church, at Erin Station, in the year 1868. This building was constructed of boards upended on a foundation of logs and stone, covered with a clapboard roof and surmounted with a belfry, in which was hung a small-sized bell. The cornice of the building was ornamented with various patterns of scroll and bracket work, and the whole was embellished with a liberal coat of whitewash. Union Church was used as a general house of worship by all denominations, and also for several years as a public hall and court house. The old building remains standing, but was abandoned years ago and left to decay and dilapidation. The present location of the churches in the county and their denominations are as follows: Cumberland Presbyterian–One at Erin, one at Tennessee Ridge, one on Cave Creek, one on Wells Creek Campground. Bethany Church–On the dry branch of Yellow Creek, and one at Arlington. Methodist Episcopal South–One at Erin, at Stewart Station; Gaddy’s Church, on Cave Creek, near Danville; Long Branch Church, on a branch of that name; Marvin Church, on Wells Creek; Green’s Chapel, on Salmon’s Branch of Yellow Creek; Martha’s Chapel, on Yellow Creek; Bethlehem Church, on White Oak Creek; Moore’s Chapel, on Guice’s Creek; Trinity Church, on Williamson’s Branch of Yellow Creek; Cedar Valley Church, on Muster Ground Branch of Wells Creek, and Sugar Grove Church, on Lewis’ Branch of White Oak Creek. Methodist Episcopal North–One each at Erin and Stewart Station. Baptists–One Free-Will Baptist Church on Tennessee Ridge, known as Gray’s Church, and one Hard-Shell Baptist Church on Hurricane Creek, known as the McIntosh Church. Congregational Methodist–One on Spring Creek, one-half mile north of Erin, known as the Spring Creek Church. Colored Churches–One Southern Methodist Episcopal Church at Erin; one African Methodist Episcopal Church half way between Erin and Arlington; one African Methodist Episcopal Church at Danville; one Baptist Church at Arlington, and one Southern Methodist Episcopal Church on Yellow Creek, known as the Dortch Church.