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History - Excerpts from Byrum's History
Plat of Districts for McMinn County
January 19th, 1836
In terms of historical accuracy, the most tenuous period for the entire region is from around the Revolutionary War until 1819 when the Cherokeesceded the Hiwassee District. At this time there was an influx of settlers, and what amounted to a population explosion and building boom. In addition, by the time the county seat was transferred from Calhoun to Athens in 1923, excellent court records and family historical data became available.
Perhaps a few representative examples of settlement, sketchy as they maybe, can help to capture the spirit of this period. In this regard, the Walker family history is not only important to the history of McMinn County specifically, but because of its link to some of the most important personalities in the entire region.
Besides Sequoiah himself, the name Nancy Ward is perhaps the most famous Cherokee name. She rivals Pocahontas and Sackajawea in importance. Her own tribe bestowed upon her the title "Beloved" which was the highest title that awoman could ever be given and implied a status equal to that of the chiefs themselves. The title conveyed almost mystical, divine powers; something of the equivalence of sainthood in modern vocabularies.
She first married an important chief named Kingfisher, and then an English trader named Bryan Ward. By Kingfisher she had a daughter who was named Catherine who later married another white trader named John Walker. The free use of Christian names and the marriages that were occuring with increased frequency demonstrates vividly the close alignent between English and Cherokee which was taking place in the mid-1700s.
John and Catherine Walker established a residence somewhere along the Hiwassee in the southwestern area of the county. They had a son who was also named Jolan, and it is he who becomes the key figure. This John Walker captured the attention of Governor William Blount at the battle of Buchanan Station in1792. Blount wrote about Walker: "He has been raised among and by white people.Everyone who knows him has the utmost confidence in him. He isquite a stripling and apparently the most innocent, good-natured youth I ever saw."
Walker married Elizabeth Sevier, the widow of Joseph Sevier, who was the son of Governor John Sevier, the first governor of the old State of Franklin.Elizabeth herself was a member of an important Cherokee family. Walker helped to organize the Cherokee Turnpike Company in 1806 that contracted to maintain the "Georgia Road" which ran through the area. He also operated a ferry near present-day Calhoun. At the outbreak of the war with England, he was commissioned a major and received numerous commendations for bravery in battle.Following the war, he returned to Calhoun and was instrumental in all of the treaty negotiations that led to the surrender of Cherokee lands in Tennessee. These negotiations often took Walker and other major "chiefs" to Washington, or "Washington City" as it was often called, and put him in contact with luminaries of the federal government of that time, especially Secretary of War John C. Calhoun.
Several prominent Indians, who were deemed "capable" of managing their own affairs, and perhaps to reward their leadership and cooperation in the 1819Hiwassee Purchase were given choices of 64-0 acre plots which would be "reserved" for them in the newly acquired territory. Walker took his "reservation" at Walker's Ferry and this immediately was established as the town of Calhoun. Elizabeth Lowery Sevier Walker, after an unsuccessful attempt at acquiring land in present-day Monroe County, took land north of Calhoun at Pumpkintown.
In spite of a somewhat questionable reputation at the time, an area near Pumpkintown would later be designated as the county seat and be named Athens. The first organizational meetings of the county were held in Walker's home in Calhoun, and he would come to serve as one of the county's first justices of the peace. The Walker heritage and name has remained in tact across the years in the county.
Indicative of the non-Indian related background of the county is the story of another Calhoun area family, the Sheltons. The Shelton family is able to trace its American lineage back to Ralph Shelton who was born in 1665 in Middlesex County, Virginia. Four generations later, Roderick Shelton served as a private in the Continential Army under George Washington. His son, James, moved to North Carolina in 1791, and then his son, James, at age 18 came to Greene County in Tennessee and married Betsy Lawson. Around 1810 they loaded all of their belongings on a flatboat and floated down the Tennessee to the Hiwassee, and then up the Hiwassee to a place on the present McMinn side of the river across from the large Cherokee village at present-day Charleston, Why they decided to stop at this part icular point, or if they planned originally where their journey would take them, is not clear.
The Sheltons erected a log cabin, had a child, and soon thereafter Betsydied, James enlisted in the army, fought beside Sam Houston at HorseshoeBend, and was back in the area by 1816 when he married Sarah Hooper. They built a two-story frame house near the old log structure which was a well known historical site until the TVA clearing activities in the late 193Os.
Again, it should be said that the Walker and Shelton stories are not unique. They are representative of precisely the kinds of people of particularly Cherokee and English, and later of Scotch-Irish descent, that would come to live together and populate McMinn County, The events that punctuate these family histories were undoubtedly repeated time and again among the first families that would settle the county.
The United States has always been characterized by the great mobility of its people, However, in spite of superior advances in transportation, it is unlikely that any modern mobility matched that of the mass migration to the"Southwest Territory" that populated McMinn County and all of the lands to the Mississippi the first stage of "Manifest Destiny." A traveling missionary, David McClure, describes a typical family group as it moved into the new lands: The man carried an ax and gun, the wife the rim of a spinning wheel and a loaf of bread. Several little boys and girls, each with a bundle according to their size. Two poor horses, each heavily loaded. On the top of the baggage of one was an infant, rocked to sleep in a kind of wicker cage. A cow was one of the company, a bed-cord wound around her horns, and a bag of meal on her back.
The first settlement, up through about 1820 or until the time that townships began to assert themselves, was erratic and temporary. This has added to the problem of preserving accurate historical information.The typical American was a chronic mover. As deer and Indianthinned out, the peltry trader went farther west. Into the country he relinquished came the cattlemen building rough sheds and railed pens and maybe girdling a few trees to improve pasture, With them soon blended the first wave of westering subsistence pioneers attacking the forest more widely to plant extensive crops. Presently, however, would come talk of a richer valley across the ridge. So often, the cabin was too new to leak much, but its builder packed up the old woman, the brats and the plunder and was off once more.The interval might be so short that it was the same yoke of oxen hauling the old wagon, the same hound dog padding along, the same cat resignedly asleep ~n a basket among the load, and the same cow-towing behind.
However, during this same period settler families arrived whose names are still key names in the county, It is impossible to do justice to this group in any limited space, Those mentioned are merely representative. Many came on the basis of land grants which were either purchased or secured through military service; most of these would be farmers, and others would follow as traders, merchants, and mill operators.
Asbury M. Coffey was the son of Eli Coffey who went into Kentucky with Daniel Boone. He lived in Athens until 1842 and was instrumental in some of the first railroad movements in the county. He married Mary Bradford, the daughter of Colonel Henry Bradford who was a large landowner at the now-little-known city of Columbus which once existed in the southern part of the county and now is in Polk County. Indicative of the county's mobility, Coffey would leave Athens to be appointed by President Millard Filmore to oversee Indian affairs in Kansas; later, one of his children would migrate to Oregon.
Jesse Mayfield, whose family name is now carried forward by the MayfieldDairy Farms, was born in New York in 1770, He secured several tracts of land at the time that it became available after the Hiwassee Purchase. One of the purchases, northeast of Athens, has never left family ownership. In fact, the original log home which Jesse Mayfield built was restored and stood as a county landmark on the property of his descendant Scott Mayfield until it was lost in a tragic fire early in 1983.
One of the most significant contracting and building firms of the Tennesseefronteir has close ties with McMinn County. In 1825 a Samuel Clegg (after the Civil War the name would be spelled "Cleage) settled in the Mouse Creek community. Clegg's father was from Pennsylvania, and had become very wealthy building mansions throughout that region in the late 1700s. The family can trace its heritage back to Belfast, Ireland.
With his son-in-law, Thomas Crutchfield, Clegg established the firm that would come to be known as "Cleage and Crutchfield." With extensive help from slaves and using methods of bricklaying that he had developed himself, Cleggcontributed substantially to the architecture of East Tennessee. Several buildings in Athens were constructed by the firm including the Mars HillPresbyterian Church, and the old East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad headquarters building which still stands on North Jackson Street. The grand courthouse which dominated the town square for the better part of the last century was built by Thomas and William Cleage in 1875, At one time the firm held contracts on nine courthouses in East Tennessee.
The Cantrell family has long been important in the eastern part of the county. Like many frontier families, the Cantrells had a tradition for having a large number of children. John Cantrell, who is probably the oldest member of the family in America, was from Pennsylvania and had both French Huguenot and Quaker antecedents. He had twenty-one sons and two daughters. The name thus proliferates from Pennsylvania to Georgia.
One family legend describes a time when John Cantrell went into a mercantile shop and asked to see hats for boys. The merchant displayed his selection of about a dozen hats, whereupon Cantrell stepped to the door and called his boys into the store. Twenty-one young men lined up at the counter, and the storekeeper was so flabergasted that he gave each boy a new hat. Further mention will be made of the ancestry of the Cantrell family in a later chapter.One old chronicle states that "the commonwealth of McMinn County has from pioneer days down revered the name of Cooke." In fact, the Cooke ancestry has crossed paths with families as well-known as that of the English novelist.Henry Fielding and the Tennessee Senator and near-Democratic Presidentalnominee in the early 1950s, Estes Kefauver.
William Henry Cooke moved his family from South Carolina to McMinn County in 1820. He made large land purchases in the present Etowah area, operated an iron forge, and was a surveyor. He was responsible for laying out the town of Athens, a state legislator, and started the State Bank of Athens. As this institution's first president, legend has it that he rode horseback every morning thirteen miles to town and was always on the job by eight in the morning. Cooke was also active in the Meridian Sun Lodge No, 50, which across the history of the county was always an important institution. Cooke and his wife Mary had twelve children.
The court records of the first quarter-century of the county's existence demonstrate a high reliance on the counsel and judgment of Charles FlemingKeith. In many respects, he charted the course and established the strong foundation upon which the county would move for it first century. Keith had been born in Virginia in 1781 and by age eighteen was a law student with a close relative, Charles Marshall, who was a brother of the famous Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Marshall. By 1819 Keith was a practicing attorney in Jefferson County and actively involved in the first two sessions of the new Tennessee State Legislature.
Following the Indian treaties of this period, which he took a large part in, Keith came to McMinn County where he was a political, civic, religious, and social leader in every respect. By 1850, he owned 15,000 acres of land, 44 slaves, and was the main taxpayer in the entire county. By the time of his death in 1857, Keith had performed the duties of a federal judgeship longer than any other American with the exception of Chief Justice Marshall himself.A large, local Methodist church still carries the Keith name, and Mrs. MarshallKeith resides today in the stately Keith mansion which is the best-known residence in the county.
Other families, of no lesser significance than the representative examples noted here, have their roots sunk deeply into the early history of America and eventually came to McMinn before or near the time of its inception. The rich historical, sesqui-centennial edition of The Daily Post-Athenian details several other family groupings from this same period: the Hoyal family from the Carolinas; the ancestry of Tidence Lane who built the first brick merchant mill in the State, was a large slave owner, and finally left the area to lands in Mississippi that could produce more cotton; the Ki~brough and Carlock families that gave substance to the religious growth of the region; Jesse Boone, a nephew of Daniel Boone; Clement Vann Rogers, born ten miles south of Athens on the old W. C. Townsend place, who was the father of American humorist WillRogers. Other names find prominence in the Post-Athenian chronicle: Hart, Fisher, Gettys, Love, Gilbreath, Cooper, Wilkins, Matlock, Barb, Hill, Lowry, Fore, Sullins, Smith, Shipley, Dorsey, and Cass.
In concluding this section, it would be appropriate to make mention of Joesph McMinn for whom the county is named. McMinn was born in Pennsylvania in 1758 and migrated into the area around 1775 - 1780. He was active in the first political movements of the State and involved in the 1796 convention in Knoxville which drafted the proposed, first constitution for the State. McMinninsisted that a "Bill of Rights" be incorporated into the constitution, and he personally carried the proposed constitution to the new President, George Washington.
After serving in eight general assemblies and being Speaker of the Senate three times, McMinn was elected Governor in 1815. He was re-elected in 1817and 1819, Although plagued by fiscal problems, McMinn's administration dealt rather successfully with Indian problems, advanced education, and actively supported improvement of river navigation. He is remembered as being quite popular with the general population.
In 1821 McMinn returned to farming in Rogersville, but by 1823 had accepted a position as a.gent to the Cherokees at Charleston's Fort Cass. He lived in Calhoun and served as agent until his sudden death which occured while he was writing at his desk on November 17, 1824. While in Calhoun, McMinn became a member of the Presbyterian Church and it was his desire to be buried in the graveyard.
In an interesting aside, the grave - like so many - went unmarked, and only one person, a Mr. R. J.M. Only, knew its location. When, in 1880, a plan was proposed to dig up the remains and take them to Athens for reburial and the erection of a " proper " monument, On1y he refused to show where the grave was. Only was something of an eccentric lay preacher who supposedly had read the Bibletwenty-seven times, argued his interpretations in all kinds of public settings, and was not beyond the convincing power of a good fist fight. But, Only won the day and the monument was erected at the Calhoun site where it stands in high visibility today.
Given the close relationship which existed between the English pioneers and the Cherokees, the integration of the races through the intermarriages which had occurred and by 1800 were essentially constituting a racial synthesis (the famous chief, John Ross, was only one-eighth Cherokee ) in many areas like what would become McMinn County, and the sophistication of the Cherokee race, the forced removal of the majority of the tribe which came to be known as the "Trail of Tears" in the late 1800s becomes one of the darkest spots on the history of American expansionism. McMinn County was in the center of the conflict, and the best evidence suggests that the citizenry of that time was strongly opposed to such inhumane and immoral activities. In fact, something of the "states ' rights" sentiment that would become of crucial importance within a generation may have been born to some extent at this moment.
Stereotypes about primitive Indians wandering around half-naked must beset aside totally when considering the early-nineteenth century Cherokees.These were people who were living a settled, civilized existence that paralleled in every way that of their White counterparts. Often, these people were herded like cattle toward what was then Arkansas and now Oklahoma. In spite of the series of "treaties," and "purchases," at least twenty-five in number, and their typically borderline fairness, the final, forced removal rivals the injustice of the worst moments of slavery itself.
One of the best studies of this period was none by Cartter Patten in 1953 in his A Tennessee Chronicle. Patten traced the general idea of treatied removal to Thomas Jefferson, who was following precedents that were as old as the Jamestown and Manhatten treaties; there was also the pragmatic need of increasing space. By 1805, Return J. Meigs, for whom Meigs County would be named and whose granddaughter would marry the son of Major John Walker, John Walker, Jr., was taking. care of Indian matters in the area. First, he operated from"Old Agency" in present-day Meigs County, and finally at the agency established across the Hiwassee from Calhoun at Charleston. Meigs attained a strong reputation for helping the Cherokees with farming, diversification of crops, raising of livestock, and trade.
Although large numbers of Cherokees had voluntarily left for new lands in the West, by 1828 the equally large number that remained continued to advance their own culture and reached a firmer synthesis and mutual coexistence with the White culture. In fact, one of the first successful American missionary activities was conducted in this area with the establishment of several mission schools that were educating the Cherokee children in large numbers. There were probably more Cherokees being educated in the region at this time than there were Whites.
But, early in 1829, the entire picture changed. Why? It was all too. simple - gold was discovered on Cherokee land in Georgia near Dahlonega!" Between four and seven thousand gamblers, swindlers, debauchers, and profane blackguards, with morals as had as it is to conceive, overran the Cherokee country.
Immediately, the Georgia legislature claimed all Cherokee land. In a single-mindedness that would have made the old Spanish conquistadors proud, Governor George Gilmer even decreed that if the Cherokees could be removed that the land would be given to Whites by lottery. The tenor of the conflict soon assumed national significance, Andrew Jackson, the old, fellow-warrior of the Cherokees, had also become President in 1828. The Cherokee chiefs, thinking they had a sure friend in Jackson, appealed for consideration. Somewhat surprisingly, Jackson supported the position of Georgia.
The Cherokees then went to Washington and appealed to the Supreme Court and John Marshall perhaps given quick entrance because of the Chief Justice's relationship with the McMinn County Keith family. The strongest supporter of the Cherokee claim was the Tennessee congressman, Davy Crockett. Crockett poked cutting sarcasm at the whole idea of removal of the Cherokees by introducing a bill "calling for the removal of the White residents of East Tennessee to the West, lest they impede the territorial designs and sovereignty of the State of Georgia. In fact, in 1832, the Supreme Court decreed in favor of the Cherokees.
In fact, because of the horror of the "Trail of Tears," Crockett left Tennessee in disgust for Texas. He had lost one fight for human rights, and would soon die in yet another.
Even the Cherokees were set at odds with each other. This internal division had a direct impact on McMinn County when in 1834 Major John Walker's son, John Walker, Jr., who was also known as "Chief Jack," was murdered by fellow - Cherokee James Foreman after Walker had undertook what Foreman considered unauthorized negotiations in Washington involving treaties that would lead to removal.
Foreman, along with an accomplice named Isaac Springston, came to trial in Athens, but soon the question of murder became secondary to the question of jurisdiction. Being quite sensitive to their environment, the McMinn jurors concluded that the matter was wholly Cherokee and that they had all rights to adjudicate the case. However, as part of their desire to have a higher claim on the Indians, the United States government got the McMinn decision reversed.While the Cherokees were meeting to raise money for yet another appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Foreman and Springston "in some manner not a matter ofrecoro.1111 suddenly were no longer to be found in the Athens jail. It seems that "frontier justice" prevailed and that McMinn County found a subtle way of overruling the United States and affirming the stand that they took throughout the controversy. Records suggest that Foreman went West, was actively involved in seeking out and killing those who had agreed with the removal among his own people and was eventually killed himself.
Jackson sent a minister, the Reverend J. F. Schermerhorn, into the area, and he was able to get highly questionable treaties from impressionable splinter groups who were generally unauthorized by the tribe as a whole and their central leader, Chief John Ross of Chattanooga. Schermerhorn was not beyond using whiskey and individual bribes to get the treaties that would ultimately be accepted by the federal government and enforced by General Winfield Scott and7,000 troops beginning in May of 1838.The Cherokees were corralled like animals by the thousands at Charleston, Ross' Landing/Chattanooga, and Guntersville, Alabama. In spite of a signed petition drive by citizens in McMinn County, the roundup continued.Before the deportation was complete, nearly 5000 Cherokees had died, and many from the horrors of cold and hunger, Perhaps a thousand escaped finding refuge in the Tennessee-North Carolina mountains. The will of the federal government ultimately triumphed, and a major segment of McMinn County's unique culture was destroyed.
The first justices of the peace present at the organizational meeting for the
county on November 13, 1819, at the home of John Walker in Calhoun, were: George
Colville, Walker, Benjamin Griffith, Samuel Dickey; Hambright Bl ack, Archibald
Black, and Jacob Sharp. The first elected officials were: Young Colville,
clerk; Spencer Beavers, sheriff; Arch Turk, trustee; Benjamin Hambright, registar;
Griffith Dickeson, ranger; and, Jacob Work, coroner. Charles Fleming
Keith organized the first court in 1820. Goodspeed says of Keith that "he was
a quiet, unassuming man, of sound judgment, and had a good knowledge of the
law; his decisions were rarely reversed by the supreme court."
The first settlers of the county's first town, Calhoun, were: James and A. R.
Tuck, E. P. Owen, John Cowan, the Colvilles, Hambright, and Eli Sharp. A
Presbyterian Church was erected in 1823. In this same year Martin Cassidy at
Cedar Springs was asked to donate land for a new county seat-town that would be
centrally located - he refused. Land was donated at Athens for this purpose
by William Lowry.
The first stores operated in Athens were by brothers named Fyffe and Smith.
Other early merchants were O. G. Murrell, John Crawford, Alexander and David
Cleage, Solomon Bogard, Francis Boyd, and George Morgan. There was a tailor
shop owned by Joel Brown, a hattery by Peter Kinder, a saddle shop by Demsey
Casey, a silversmith, George Sehorn, a coppersmith, Julius Blackwell, and a
tannery operat8?- by James Gettys and Squire Johnson,
The first doctors were Benjamin Stout, John Farmer, Samuel Jordan, and Horace
Hickox. The first lawyers were Return J. Meigs, Spenser Jarnagin, and Thomas
Campbell, Campbell achieved state-wide acclaim, as did a lawyer who located
in Athens in 1829, T. Nixon Van Dyke. In 1835, a branch of the Planter's Bank
was opened, and in 18J8 a branch of the State Bank, The first church (Zion
Hill) was of the Baptist faith.
By 1850, Goodspeed reported that "Athens was at the height of its prosperity ."
The important business names were: A. McKeldin, John McGaughey, J. K. Reeder,
George Ross, McEwin and Gillespie, George Horne, William Burns, King and
Crutchfield, Grubb and Engledow, Moss and Jackson, William Ballew, J.M.
Henderson, Robeson, Sartain, and Company, Sehorn and Hornsby, W. C. Witt and
Company, and A. Cleage and Company.
Other smaller communities would begin to grow as railroads came into the
county. Riceville, on land donated by Charles W. Rice, Sanford, and Mouse
Creek (Niota) started as station sites and soon became ideal for small
(t businesses and housing construction, Mouse Creek was a particularly prosperious
area, as will be seen later. J, H. Gill opened the first store at Mouse Creek
in 1855. Other merchants in this area were, according to Goodspeed: John F.
Sherman, L. R. Hurst, J. L. Hurst, H. L. Shultz, Greenbury Cate, James Willson,
J. H. Magill, H. N. Dalzel, A. Forrest, E. Cate, Stephens, and Browder. Many
of these names remain important in the northern part of the county.
Goodspeed's biographical sketches provide only brief glimpses, but leave
little doubt that here are persons engaged in living vital, enthusiastic lives.
These noted here, and others like them, gave to McMinn County the sweat of their
brows and the spirit of their hearts. Here is a brief example:
Daniel F. Clark: well-known real estate agent, a staunch Democrat, and
although not connected with any church, a believer in religion and a man of fine
morals. He has been very successful in life, but had a decided financial
drawback several years ago by endorsing for a friend.
Elijah Cate: with the exception of William Browder, who is more than
ninety years of age, the oldest citizen of McMinn County
William Dixon: when he came to McMinn County, he had just twenty-five
cents and a lit of clothes. He is now worth $10,000.
George W. Foster our subject is a Republican and served one year in
the United States Army during the late war. He is not a member of any church
but believes in the Bible. His wife is a professor of religion but has not
yet connected herself with any church.
William L. Harbison was sent to Vicksburg where he remained until the
surrender by General Pemberton on July 4, 1863. He participated in the battle
of Manassas and was in sight when Generals Bee and Barton were killed. He
returned to East Tennessee, but as someone attempted to assassinate him, for
safety he resided in Decatur and other points in Tennessee. He returned to
At hens in 1875 where he had a lucrative law practice. The Harbisons are of
Irish extraction and, without exception, Democrats.
James M. Henderson president of the First National Bank, represented
the county at the constitutional convention in Nashville on January 8, 1865.
James Howard Hood advanced so rapidly in his studies that he passed
examinations and became a public school teacher at the age of seventeen. He
founded the McMinn Citizen newspaper.
James T. Johnson received a wound in the hand at Fort Donelson, and
was saved from another by his cartridge box which stopped a bullet. He was
captured and imprisoned for seven months at Camp Morton in Indianapolis.
J. H. Lusk located at Athens in 1879 and for four years was a salesman
for Henderson, Dement, and Company; the two following years with Smith and
Company; and, then with William Brooks and S. P. Ivins. He is one of the most
popular and efficient salesmen in the county, where he is universally known and
Benjamin F. Martin is a self-made and highly respected man. His
possessions, when he came to Calhoun, consisted of a wife and a pony.
Frank B. McElwee belonged to the U.S. Army Secret Service, and was
one of General Burnside's secret detectives. At different times he piloted the
Union Army through the mountains of East Tennessee.
James Oliphant began his medical practice with only $5, and by the
beginning of the war was worth over $15,000.
Joseph C. Rucker went to Nashville to join the Union Army, but decided
to return home and protect his mother
John W. A. Sanford was descended from Bishop Nicholas Ridley who
was who was martyred at the stake.
James P. Thompson. learned dentistry under Dr. T. J. Evans in Charleston
and after only one year was ready for practice. For nine years he has exercised
his profession. He is also a successful trader in livestock, mules, and horses.
James D. Williams began life a poor man, but by industry and careful
management has accumulated a fair portion of the world's goods. He is a Royal
Arch Mason, a Democrat, and Straight Prohibitionist.
William P. Willson has been a live and progressive man, but not
ambitious for wealth.
In 1834 Athens had a population of 500 in the county were 6,732 Free white males,
6,487 Free white females, 21 free people of color, and 1,257 slaves for a total population
of 14,497. In 1834, Athens had four lawyers, four divines, two churches, ten stores, one
tavern, one printing office, one painter, two hatters, two tailors, two shoemakers, two
blacksmiths, one wagon maker, two mills, one factory, and one carding machine.
In 1901 Captain T. F. Gibson described what it was like in Athens in 1852:
The East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad was completed with Campbell
Wallace as president and R. C. Jackson as superintendent. The principal office was in
Athens, and passenger trains ran about twenty miles per hour. The Holston Conference
of the Methodist Episcopal established a female college. The colored people were
generally members of white churches. As a rule, they were religious, temperate, and honest.
By 1860, East Tennessee had only 10% of the State's slave population and
only g'/4 of the population of the region was slave, These numbers are quite
small compared to the other major divisions of the State. McMinn County in
186o had 124 slaveholders who owned 678 slaves, As early statistics indicate,
this number had decreased by almost 50% since 1834.
However, East Tennessee can in no way be construed as being a hotbed of
abolitionist sentiment. Most of the strongest Unionists were also slaveholders.
Abolitionist movements like the one that came about at Maryville College in
.nearby Blount County were not well received. There is at least one account of
abolitionist tracks coming to the Athens post of ice and being turned over by
the postmaster to people in the streets who burned them.
Fighting forces began to organize into infantry, cavalry, and artillery
units. Sometimes units were organized over wide geographical areas, but most of
the time local individuals would organize fighting units from their own
municipalities and counties. In this way, it was not unusual for lifelong
friends and relatives to fight throughout the war together. A sampling of the
units organized, with particular attention to McMinn County , can be listed as
3rd (Brazelton's) Tennessee Cavalry Battalion. Company "A", which
would become "C", 1st (Carter's) Regiment. This unit was organized
on August J, 1861 with James C. Bradford as Major and J . A. Gouldy
as Captain. One of their first assignment was to go into Clay
County, Kentucky, to a salt mine there tp get two hundred barrels of
salt, which in some respects would be as important to an army as
bullets. They fought at the Battle of Fishing Creek, and were
active throughout the Cumberland Gap area.
16th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, Company "B". Organized at
Athens on May J1, 1862, with John R. Neal as Lieutenant Colonel
and E.W. Rucker as Major.
1st (Roger's) East Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, Company "I". The
unit had a beleaguered and lackluster war record which prompted
General Kirby Smith to officially record the sentiment that he
believed that a large number of Union friends and relatives that
members of this unit had rendered them ineffective in carrying
out the demands of combat. One wonders if such a feeling might
not have prevailed among many of the soldiers from the county.
3rd (Vaughn's) Tennessee Infantry Regiment, Company "G".
19th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, Company "H". The Captains were
Willie Lowry and W. P.H. McDermott. First fighting at Fishing
Creek, the unit then faced major action at Vicksburg. There they
attempted a secret attack through almost impenetrable swamps. The
presence of a Union force was a hoax, but a major part of the
entire regiment was lost or rendered ineffective by the terrible
conditions. The unit suffered ninety-four causalities out of a
little over two hundred men at Chickamauga, but were still able to
have said about them at Missionary Ridge and the retreat toward
Atlanta: "The 19th was never once driven from any position to
which it was assigned." The unit fought in almost every major
battle of the Army of Tennessee and had only sixty-four men left
at the time of the surrender at Appomatox.
39th (W. M. Bradford's) Tennessee Infra.try Regiment, Company "F".
Mustered at Mouse Creek on March 17, 1862 under Albartus Forrest
and John C. Neil. In September the unit was engaged in a forty-two
day march which covered seven hundred miles, often without
food and water and with many of the men barefoot. They marched
in four-inch deep dust and were surprised on October 26 by a
heavy snow. In action around Vicksburg, twice they took cannon-equipped
leisure boats and captured Union gunboats. At the time
of the surrender the unit was marching to relieve General Lee,
and they were acting as the escort for Confederate President
Jefferson Davis from that time until his capture.
43rd Tennessee Infantry Regiment, Company "H". Organized at
Riceville on November 16, 1861. In the fall of 1864, they were
under the command of General Jubal Early and participated in his
raid on Washington at that time. At Vicksburg, the unit flag had
972 bullet holes in it.
59th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, Companies "A", "H", and "K".
Performed with acknowledged gallantry at Vicksburg under Colonel
James B. Cooke and Captain John M. Van Dyke: "During these 47
days, under the terrific fire of the enemy's artillery and
infantry, the officers and men bore themselves with constancy
and courage. Often half-fed, and illy clothed, exposed to the
burning sun and soaking rain, they performed their duty cheerfully
and without murmur.
9th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, Company "M". Were mustered in
Nashville on June 28, 1864. At one time in 1865, the unit was
commanded to take, and execute prisoners,"especially if it was
determined that they were guerillas and bushwhackers. Evidence
suggests that given the fact that they were operating in their
own home territory, they refused to carry out the orders
with the severity commanded.
10th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, Companies "C", "D", and "I".
Saw extensive action ·n Middle Tennessee, especially against
Generals "Fighting Joe" Wheeler and Nathan Bedford Forrest. At
one time against Forrest, they were in the saddle for eight days
and nights and traveled over two hundred miles fighting one
skirmish after another.
5th Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment, Companies "A" and "D".
Mustered at Riceville, Calhoun, Cleveland, and Athens in October
and November of 1864 fought under Colonel Spencer Boyd and Major
James S. Bradford. Saw limited action for the latter part of the
war in North Georgia. 7th Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment,
Companies "A", "B", "C", "D", "E", and "H".
There were no major battles in the county itself. At most there were the kind
of small skirmishes that received little notice in the official notice. There were
gun emplacements and bunkers on Depot Hill in Athens to protect the railroad
station, and there is some indication that fights occurred at this spot from time
to time as the city exchanged hands many times during the war.
However, to assume from this that the county was relatively untouched by
the war would be totally in error. The movement of troops through an area was
of cataclysmic consequence. It is hard to imagine the impact that a movement of
ten to twenty thousand troops through an area would have. In addition, fighting
did not generally take place during the winter months and an entire region could
become responsible for "wintering" troops. The strain on the already meager
food supplies and shelter was phenomenal. McMinn County was at the heart of
these kinds of activities, involving both Northern and Southern armies, throughout
the course of the war.
Farmlands were ravaged, fences destroyed, spoils of war typical on both
sides, and individual fortunes that had been gained since the first settleme~t
steadily depleted. The presence of the railroad line insured this, and concerns
about protection or disruption of vital rail services kept troops in the area.
In addition, there was the continual problem from lawless hoodlums termed
"bushwhackers" who used the disorganization of the war as a front to carry out
personal vendettas. One of the worst of this type, a man named John P.
Gatewood, who was christened in legend as "The Red-headed Beast from Georgia,"
operated with a band of fifty Confederate deserters in this immediate area.
Several examples can be given to help recall what daily challenges faced
the citizenry during the war. There was the problem of protecting belongings,
and particularly horses and cattle, from the armies. My grandfather recalls as
a child of eight or nine being given the responsibility of taking his grandmother's
mule to a hiding place in a place that had been cut out in a canebreak
every time an army came near. This Moses-in-the-Bullrushes tactic preserved
something that may have been much more pragmatically essential to the lives of
the general population than any ideological allegiances.
On a larger scale, the Wattenbarger family, which would gain a reputation
as fine merchants of North Athens in later years, was known for its excellent
stock breeding and trading during the war era. This would always bring curious
soldiers. Legend has it that finally, the family hit upon the tactic of keeping
the best stock well-hidden and a blind mule and an old horse with a plaster
patch on its back on public display. Soldiers would be told that this was all
that was left of their stock, and that, in fact, the horse had a "strange
infection" that they were having to treat. Typically, the soldiers did not
stay around long to ask further questions.
On the other hand, some of the finest cavalry horses in the entire Civil
War were bred by the Lane family of McMinn County. One particular unit, known
as "Lane's Guards" and fighting as part of the First Tennessee Cavalry, CSA,
flew combat banners sewn by Athens ladies.
There was also the problem of non-combatants being "drafted" by armies as
they moved through an area. Joe Hughes was a Republican living in the
Clearwater area. He had avoided conscription, like many in the area, to remain
at home to care for crops and to protect his family. However, one large
Confederate force which was moving from Kingston to Athens along the Old
Kingston Road which went near his home came too close. Hughes and two friends
named Culvahouse and Woods decided that they could stay no longer. They walked
to the Tennessee River in Meigs County, swam the river, and enlisted in the
First Calvary Company, USA, which was at that time camping in the region.
The practice of "wintering" could bring large numbers of soldiers and
famous commanders. For example, in the winter of 1863, General Winfield Scott,
who had been in the area as early as the Cherokee Removal, camped at Athens.
He used the nearly-complete Keith mansion as his headquarters, being careful to
give the influential Keiths receipts for any item his men used. Small log
huts housing eight men each called "tents" were built throughout the present
Epperson/Athens Community Hospital area. There would easily have been
hundreds of these small buildings.
The building named "Old College" in the heart of the present Tennessee
Wesleyan College campus was used as a Confederate hospital at one time during
the war. Churches, academy buildings, and homes were regularly used; occasionally,
when one army would leave, a building would be burned so that the approaching
army could not use it. The "Old College" structure now houses the McMinn
County Living Heritage Museum.
The most notable events of the war-related to the Hiwassee River Bridge at
Calhoun. In fact, one of the first major events of the entire war occured here.
Federal forces realized that the river and rail systems in Tennessee were
essential to any advances by either army and that the destruction of this
bridge and several others like it - in much the way that Andrews' Raiders
would do in the "Great Locomotive Chase" in North Georgia later in the war -
should be given initial priority in any war plans.
Lincoln himself was reported to have said that the destruction of the East
Tennessee railroad system, particularly the bridge over the Tennessee at
Loudon and the bridge at Calhoun was as important as the capture of Richmond
itself. By mid-fall he and General McClellan had approved a clandestine plan
by Presbyterian minister William Carter to burn nine bridges in East Tennessee
on the night of November 8, 1861. Immediately following the completion of this
mission, a major thrust into East Tennessee that would quickly control this
area was planned.
While the interlopers were hiding in the mountains and finalizing their
plans, McClellan changed his mind due to the arbitrary insistence of General
Buell who wanted to attack Middle Tennessee. Unaware of this, the attempts at
bridge destruction was carried out at several locations including the Hiwassee
bridge. This group was led by A. M. Cate who was living in Bradley County,
but who had strong family ties in McMinn. Accompanying Cate were Adam Thomas,
Jesse F. Cleveland, Eli Cleveland, and Thomas Cate. A. M. Cate would finally
walk three hundred miles through the Tennessee mountains to excape the reign
of terror which. followed the burnings.
A great scare ran through the State, martial law was instituted, dozens of
people were arrested daily for several weeks, and there were a number of
immediate executions. Many who were guilty of little less than fostering
Union sympathies were marched off in the dead of winter to prisons in Georgia
and Alabama. The Union plan had not taken into consideration the Southern
ability to rebuild and repair the Hiwassee Bridge was operational within
two weeks of the burning. In fact, the bridge burnings may have worked to the
advantage of the South, as many people who were previously undecided were
frightened into joining the Confederate cause as the realities of war struck so
close to their homes.
The bridge would see a number of battles and skirmishes throughout the war.
One major confrontation involved commands led by General Longstreet and General
Sherman in the fall of 1863. In order to delay Sherman, Longstreet had set fire
to the bridge necessitating a river crossing. With Longstreet holding the high
ground overlooking the river, Sherman's crossing became a deadly affair. He
stood on the river bank and cried out: "Recol lect that East Tennessee is my
INDUSTRIAL AND COMMUNITY GROWTH
In 1951 Sir Eric Bowater of the English newsprint, paper-making empire
was concerned withe panding his world-wide operation to the United States.
After considerable searching, Calhoun was chosen as the site of Bowaters' new
American operation. It is ironic that the reasons that Calhoun was chosen in
1951 are precisely the same reasons that it was chosen by the Indians and first
White settlers initially: excellent natural resources, centrality to transportation,
and, most particularly, the abundantly available waters of the Hiwassee.
Today, the Calhoun Bowaters plant is the largest producer of newsprint in the
The first mills to appear in the county ground corn and wheat. Later, the
first cotton spinning mill in East Tennessee would be erected on Mouse Creek in
the 18JOs by Ephraim Slack. An old newspaper from that time states that the
mill could do the work of one hundred women laboring at spinning wheels.
Ephraim Slack would drown in the mill pond a few years later -one of his sons,
John, would go on to become a leading newspaper personality in the State.
The was the beginning of a textile industry which has continued to thrive
in the county with such names as Chilhowee, Van Raalte, Athens Hosiery, and
Beaunit having their central moments. Finally, in the late 19J0s , the mills'
operational concept would be used by the Tennessee Valley Authority to produce
electrical power with water-driven turbines. The industrial development of the
county has always been closely associated with its multitude of water resources.
One early mill was the Saulpaw mill which was located one mile east of
Calhoun at the spot where the Eastanallee Creek runs into the Hiwassee River.
While the mill itself was torn down following the TVA acquisitions in the area,
the old dam still remains. The Saulpaws produces a quite popular brand of flour
known as "Silver Queen." In the 1921 Centennial Edition of The Semi-Weekly Post,
G. L. Saulpaw remarked that business was good, but that he had been at the work
so long that "he would sell if a suitable buyer presented himself . "The
Saulpaw grave marker in the old cemetery next to the C~lhoun Baptist Church
is perhaps the most striking of its type in the entire county.
An even more notable success was the Long family ' s operation of the Athens
Roller Mill which continued on the Eastanallee near the heart of the Athens
business district until the most recent times. "Morning Glory Flour" and
"Long's Perfection Self-rising Flour" were as popular as ''Athens brands" in
their day as Mayfield's milk is today. The Long milling operation would later
extend to other parts of the county.
Mills quickly diversified with flume lines t ypically driving at least two
t urbines at any one spot. The Riley Thompson mill near Riceville was five
stories high, and, in additon to the grist operation, housed the furniture shop
of Hamilton Jarnigan. The Elisha Dotson mill turned a saw for cutting timber
and powered wool and cotton carding equipment, and did the traditional corn
and wheat grinding. A precurson of the "mill town" appeared near the Frank
Gettys mill in the lower Eastanallee valley where a special type of cotton
material called "ducking" was produced. Elliot Keith produced rag paper
stock at Glenmore which was one of the first six paper mills operating in the
The water-powered mills would ultimately give way t o advanced technology.
By 1901, for example, J. W. Trew would be operating a steam-powered cotton
gin east of Calhoun near the Polk County line. As late as 1968, thirteen bales
of cotton were ginned here. The old Trew store continues t oday as a relic of
a by-gone era. It is as if one can move from almost one era to another by
leaving the Bowaters mill at Calhoun and driving the thirteen miles across
to Highway 411, through the Trew family settlement, and then to the old mill
town of Pendergast, now called Delano.
The industrial expansion and accompanying population growth that reached
beyond the time of the great water mills would have been severely handicapped
had it not been for the appearance in the county of railroads. In fact,
railroad construction, from the creation of the first main communities in the
.county besides Athens and Calhoun, to the creation of the major railroading
and community center at Etowah in 1906, to the building of the 9 ,2 mile l&N
spur to Bowaters in 1961 which was the longest new track construction by L&N
since the late 1940s, has always been at the center of expansion in the county.
It should also be made clear that the railroad did not simply come to McMinn
County, but that it was because of the impetus of people in McMinn County that
the first major railroad construction project in Southeast Tennessee occured
in the first place.
The railroads were to an earlier time what the construction of interstate
highways has been to the present time. This is no small consideration,
especially when one compares the industrialization and growth of McMinn County
to its neighboring county of Meigs which is still the only county in the State
which has no rail line at all. Consider also the way that growth in McMinn
County lagged behind that of Bradley County in recent years because of the
longer time that it took for the interstate system to be completed in McMinn.
In every respect, the initial decisions which brought the railroads into McMinn
were of highest significance and the result of enlightened and progressive
The story of the Hiwassee Railroad, which became the East Tennessee,
Virginia, and Gerogia Railroad, and which ultimately became the Southern
Railroad in 1894, is told in excellent historical detail by James Burn in the
DPA Sesqui-centennial F.dition.32 There is only space i n t his present treatment
for an abridged paraphrase of Burn's research.
The persons primarily responsible for bringing the first r a ilroad through
McMinn County were James Hayes Reagan and R. C. Jackson. Reagan was elected
to the State Senate in 1835, and Jackson was a leading citizen of Athens. Both
men poured their hearts and souls into the railroad project in addition to large
sums of money. Jackson, for whom Jackson Street in Athens in named - and not
Andrew Jackson as most people assume, even went oo far as to bring in the
county 's first prominent newspaper man and to establish the Athens Post for the
primary reason of selling the general populace, who would ultimately have to
help with financing, on the idea of railroads.
However, alongside of the driving accomplishments of these individuals and
others who will be named, two other factors in the McMinn-centered route were
of importance. First, the area through McMinn was not mountainous, and secondly,
there had already existed for some time a major stage route that ran from
Dalton to Cleveland and then to Athens. It then went to Greenback where there
was a ferry across the Tennessee River, and beyond e river directly into
Knoxville. Those who were initially involved with t l railroad idea conceived
revisions, the name of the corporation was changed to the Fa.st Tennessee,
Virginia, and Georgia Railroad. Representative David Ballew and Senator William
Cooke had worked diligently to bring the new charter into existence. Alexander
Keyes was elected president, with Van Dyke, W. F. Keith , and R. C. Morris
serving as directors. In June, ground was broken in Dalton for the southern
Work now proceeded quickly and without many problems. In fact, as each
new mile of track stretched northward there was huge public fanfare , free
barbeques, and inspired oratory - all designed to increase the already
burgeoning public support. By February, 1852, tracks had reached Mouse Creek
(present-day Niota), to Sweetwater by April, and finally by July to the river
at Loudoun .
In 185/+, on property bought from the heirs of James Willison, Sr., a
depot was built at Mo11se Creek. The depot is the oldest still standing in
Tennessee that is still in use.
In 1836 the Tennessee Legislature voted a proposal by which the State would
provide one-~hird capital funding, if two-thirds funding could be achieved by
subscription, in order to finance a railroad project. Immediately, the Hiwassee
Railroad Company was formed. Reagan and Jackson were assisted in their efforts
by State Representatives Elijah Hurst and John Miller. The initial plan was to
sell four thousand shares at $100.00 per share by January 1, 1837 .
However, by this time only about $120,000 had been raised and six McMinn
Countians - Nathaniel Smith , Onslow Murrell, Asbury Coffey , James Fyffe,
Alexander Keyes, and T. Nixon Van Dyke - personally secured the balance . The
first stockholders meeting was held in Athens. Solomon Jacobs was elected
president, surveys conducted, right-of-ways secured, and a two-story
headquarters building constructed by the Cleages in Athens . The structure has
been referred to as the "Cleage Building" earlier, and as was said, still
existed next to the Federal Building on North Jackson Street.
I t was initially anticipated that the 98¼ mile project, figured at a cost
of $11,500 per mile, and including bridges over the Hiwassee at Calhoun and the
Tennessee at Loudon would cost $1, 250,000. However, by mid-1839 work was
halted, and while $936,J29 had been spent, all that t here was t o show for it
was a bridge at Calhoun, sixty-six miles of graded r oad bed, and a partially
completed iron manufacturing plantat Charleston which was haphazardly conceived
to be a major money-saving enterprise that would supply the builders their own
spikes and rails.
Due to a variety of legal and legislative actions, charter revisions, and
new at tempts at financing, work was not resumed until 1849 . As a part of these
Marietta and North Georgia Railroad to become the Atlanta.Knoxville, and Northern
Railroad), ran from Monroe County, through Tellico Junction(Englewood), and ten
miles south of the junction took an abrupt cut toward the spectacular Hiwassee
River Gorge and then on into Marietta.
Finally, in 1887 the Tellico Railroad Company was incorporated to build a
line twenty-two miles from Athens to Tellico Plains, and thus open to rail
service this newly discovered timber and tining area. The road was in operation
a little over a year later.
Athens in 1870
One of the most ambitious projects to ever begin in McMinn County involved.
the establishment, in 1887, of the Athens Mining and Manufacturing Company. The
grand scheme of the new company was to build a model industrial and residential
community on eight hundred acres in the present North Athens section of the
city using the present Woodward Avenue as the main street. There would be
substantial street and utility construction, and spaces ma.de available f or
churches and recreation.
R. J . Fisher, who would establish the first hosiery mill, bring the first
bicycle to town, and become the first McMinn Countian to ride in an airplane ,
gained pattens on a new typewriter concept that led to the establishment of the
Fisher Typewriter Factory. However, the business centers were in the Northeast ,
and the company moved to Cleveland, Ohio, and then Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
However, in spite of the fact that the grand scheme failed, the area did
become significantly industrialized and that industrialization has cont inued
into t he modern age. A hosiery mill was erected al, 1g with a considerable
number of tentement dwellings - the Athens Hosiery 1.11 remains, a furniture
factory was completed - the Athens Table Company and the Carver Manufacturing
Company have continued that tradition, a water works which would make "Water
\;;/ Tank Hill" a focal point became operational, and a substantial amount of street
work was accomplished,
The epitomizing feature of the whole project was the hotel which was
constructed. . The building, called "The Grand View Hotel," was a magnificent
architectural achievement, and along with the R. J. Fisher residence which was
built on the present site of the First Baptist Church, represented the most
advanced and aesthetically pleasing design of the day. The hotel, which was
never actually completed under the corporation, was ultimately sold to Grant
University (the precursor of Tennessee Wesleyan College ) in 1892 and was
known as Parker College. The building was struck by lightning on July 10, 1907,
and burned in one of the best-known fires of the city's history. Either as a
sarcastic parody, or as a mark of community affection, the building came to be
known as the "Red Elephant." After the building burned, John and Gus Kelley
cleaned the bricks for ten cents per hundred, and their father, Joseph,
hauled them to the Tennessee Wesleyan campus. There they were used as
an interior wall in a new dorm construction project.
Recollections and Hearsays of Athens Fifty Years and Beyond.
Keith details what the city square of Athens looked like in 1870, Corners
were typically given names either due to long-term ownership or because of
personal residences that had at one time existed on the particular sites, On
the corner now housing a used clothing store, and where for many years the
busy Newton bus station and resturant stood, wash ardware store :run by T. F.
Gibson. Crossing to the north where for many years an A&P grocery store •
stood, and in more recent years a variety of discount stores , there was the
residence and dry goods store of W. G. Horton. Beyond that on the long-time
site of Cherokee Hardware Company was a three-story hardware - this corner was
called the "Dewitt Corner."
Again, crossing to the north (Jackson Street) to what is now a used shoe
store, the "Ballew Corner" had once been occupied by a laundry and tailor
shop run by two men named Levi and Chang; by 1870 the Hortons had a drug store
there and it continued under Horton ownership until recent times.
The opposite corner where the Robert E. Lee Hotel stands today was known
as the "Henderson Corner," and before the hotel was built, it had been a
stagecoach headquarters. The present hotel was built by G. F . Lockmiller in
1926 using some of the finest marbles available at that time. "SJ.im"
Armstrong was a thirteen year old bellhop, and across the years would become
as much of an institution as the hotel itself. Lizzie Fisher had once had a
hat shop on this site.
Continuing along this side of the street, the next corner was called the
"McKeldin Corner." Will and John Horton had a dry goods store here, and in later
years - before the shopping center era - Proffit's Department Store operated
Crossing Washington Street to the site now occupied by the First National
Bank was the "McGaughey Corner." There was a large tin shop here which reached
back toward the present Tuell's Grocery. The Foree's would come in later years
and establish their first medical practice on this block. The Tuell Grocery
has become something of a local landmark in recent years.
Crossing Jackson Street again to the corner recently occupied by Woolworth's
and formerly occupied by Riddle's Drugs before it moved on down the block and
became Riddle and Wallace, was the location of Dutch Cunningham's Drugs.
Above the drug store was an exclusive private club called the Eastanallee Club
where the more ·elite business and professional leaders of the community
Moving along to the site occupied by the Strand Theatre and Heard's Drugs
was the "Atlee Corner," and across White Street at the old First Farmers Bank
location was the "Grubb Corner." There was a large, open ditch which ran
along the west side of White Street from Depot Hill to the Eastanallee Creek.
For many years it was a source of great consternation to the citizenry. There
were several bridges and crosswalks that had been built across the ditch.
Finally, crossing Washington Street again to the "Crow Corner," there was
a meat and produce market run by Jim Crow and a grocery store run by his son,
George. On down the block to the present Citizens Bank corner, where once
Miller's Department Store with its unique cable-and-cup money carrying system
was for years, was the "Crawford Corner" where there was yet another dry goods
store and a public well.
Tradition says, according to Keith, that the McGaughey Corner was the
gathering place of those of Whig/Unionist sentiments, and the Crawford Corner
the focal point of old Democrat/Confederate persuasion. There were numerous
occasions when the air around the square was highly charged with political
harangue and assault - both verbal and otherwise. For a later generation,
that same square would erupt in a political explosion which would be heard
throughout the nation.
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