Born in North Carolina
Died in Tennessee
Benton Co., Tennessee
was created Nov. 24, 1834, from the larger Henry & Humphreys
Co's. The County Seat is Camden, TN 38320; It is located in West
Tennessee; Bounded by
Henry Co., on the Northwest;
Stewart Co., on the Northeast;
Humphreys Co's on the East;
Decather Co. on the South, with
Carroll Co., on the West.(First Census 1840)
<---See: 1895 County Map! <---See: Wikipedia.org, Benton Co., Tennessee
|HISTORY OF BENTON COUNTY
This County belongs to the western division of the State. It extends fifty miles along the west bank of the Tennessee River and is bounded on the north by Henry County, on the west by Henry and Carroll Counties and on the south by Decatur and the "Panhandle" of Carroll County. Including one half of the Tennessee River along its border, it has an area of about 400 square miles, lying partly in the Western Valley and partly in the plateau of West Tennessee. It has an average elevation of about 370 feet. The character of the surface is extremely varied Near the center of the county, in the vicinity of Camden, it is gently undulating while along the margin of the river valley are found many steep bluffs and spurs. The valley has an average width of about two miles and contains the most productive land in the county. Along the creeks which thread the county, are usually found flats or bottoms, averaging about one-half mile in width and fringed by low, but distinctly marked ridges. Along the ridges, especially in the southern part of the county, limestone is found at various depths and in the Third Civil District on Birdsong Creek, there is found a variegated marble of handsome appearance, and capable of taking a fine finish. Some iron is also found along the Tennessee River but no effort has ever been made toward developing it. A marble quarry was opened and worked for some time, near Rockport, but was abandoned several years ago. The soil on the bills is mainly argillacious while that of the bottoms is sandy and black loam. The county is exceedingly well watered possessing innumerable small streams fed by springs of pure water. The creeks emptying immediately into the Tennessee River are Eagle, Birdsong, Harmony, Sulphur, Crooked Lick and Cypress. The Sandy River forms the dividing line between Benton and Henry Counties.
Its Principal Tributaries:
The first settlement in Benton County, was made by Willis and Dennis Rushing, on Rushing Creek, six miles north of Camden, about 1819. A year later Nicholas and Lewis Brewer settled in Rumble Creek, twelve miles north of Camden, and at the same time M. Mimms located on Birdsong Creek. During the next four or five years the settlement went on quite rapidly, many coming from Hickman, Stewart and other counties lying on the east side of the Tennessee River.
Among those who located along the Big Sandy
River were David Watson, John and Wm. Pierce, Lewis Graham, Wm.
Cottingham, George McDaniel and James Craig.
During the first few years, the settlers depended for a subsistence upon deer, turkey and other wild game, which was very plentiful, and upon bread made from meal ground either in hand-mills or horse-mills. The first water-mill in the county was built by Matthew Williams, on Cypress Creek in 1824. Another was erected at about the same time on the banks of the Big Sandy, by a man by the name of King. About 183Z a mill was built by James Hogg, on Birdsong Creek, not far from Chaseville. It was afterward owned and operated by Green Flowers. The mill on the same creek, now owned by John Allen, was built by Pleasant Mullinix, early in the thirties. The first cotton-gin in the county was built by Dorsey P. Hudson, on his farm northeast of Camden, in 1828. William Thompson also built one at very nearly the same time. The mills mentioned above were all grist mills at first, but later saw-mills were attached to them. Several other mills have been built on the various creeks of the county, but they have been most numerous along the Big Sandy. No other manufactories with the exception of a tobacco factory at Camden, have ever been established.
Previous to the year 1836, the greater portion of what is now Benton
County, constituted a part of Humphreys County. The remainder, including
about one civil district, was taken from Henry County. The county was
established by an act of the General Assembly, passed November 24, 1835. A
postoffice named Tranquility had been established on the great stage route
from Memphis to Nashville, about one mile west of the present town of
Camden, and there at the house of Samuel H. Burton, contracted from Samuel
Haliburton, on February 7, 1886, the county was organized by the commissioners,
The first jail was a log building erected in 1837 on the lot where the present jail stands. It was about twenty feet square with double walls eight inches apart, the space between being filled with upright poles. It was built by Irwin B. Carnes. About 1840 a brick jail was erected upon the same lot. It was used until about 1866, when it was burned by the prisoners confined within it, with the expectation of making their escape. In this they were disappointed, and it was with the greatest difficulty that they were rescued. Immediately afterward a second brick jail, similar to the one burned was erected. This was used until 1883, when the present excellent brick building was completed at a cost of about $8,000.00. At the organization of the county it was divided into nine civil districts, and so continued until 1850, when the Tenth District was formed from a portion of the Fifth. to the remainder of which was added a part of the Fourth and Sixth Districts. In 1860 the Eleventh District was formed from fractions of the First and Third, and in 1872 portions of the Fourth and Sixth were constituted the Twelfth District. In 1883 two additional districts, the Thirteenth and Fourteenth, were formed. The former was composed of a fraction taken from Decatur County, added to a portion of the First District; the latter was constituted from part of the Second, Third and Fourth Districts.
The commissioners appointed to organize the county and fix the county seat located it upon forty acres of land occupied by John Jackson who had no title to the land other than occupancy. He was allowed however a few choice lots for his own use as compensation for the land appropriated. The survey was made by John Doherty and Burrell Beard in December, 1836, and a public sale of the lots took place during the following month. The first dwelling in the town was erected by Irwin B. Carnes, a carpenter. At about the same time Thomas H. Burton built a small log store house on the northeast corner of the square which for a short time was occupied by Burrell Beard. Anderson Lashlee also erected a log store and dwelling-house combined on the southeast corner of the square. Edward and James Haywood opened a store on the south side of the square. In 1838 C. K. Wyly began selling goods in the house formerly occupied by Beard; just previous to that time Samuel H. Burton had built a brick hotel on the adjoining lot, the site now occupied by the Stigall House. The first physician to locate in the town was J. L. Williams, who was among the earliest residents During the decade from 1840-50 the town continued to improve though somewhat slowly. Among the principal merchants of that period were C. K. and T. B. Wyly, Crawford and Alfred Rushing, Anderson Lashlee, John H. and Cave Farmer and John Phifer. In 1843 three or four young men of more than ordinary ability were added to the population of the town. Alvin Hawkins, afterward judge of the supreme court and governor of Tennessee, came as a young attorney just admitted to the bar. W. P. Morris came to take charge of the office of clerk of the county court, and M. L. Travis, for thirty years the leading physician of the county, came to engage in the practice of his profession. D. F. McElyea, afterward register of the county, also located during the same year.
The next decade, although a fairly prosperous period, witnessed no material increase in the population of the town. In 1850 the firm of Pickett & Morris engaged in the mercantile business, and since that time the latter has been one of the most successful men of the county. C.K.Wyly, as he has done since that time continued to be a leading merchant. Others engaged in the mercantile business during the fifties were T. K. Wyly, Hall & Sharp and Lewis Lashlee, who succeeded Anderson Lashlee. From 1855 to 1860 a tobacco factory producing chewing tobacco in considerable quantities was operated by William Pickett & J. C. McDaniel. Besides those already mentioned the principal physicians were B. B. Travis, James Moses and Thomas Douglass.
Since the war the business interests of the town have continued the same as before. Several firms and individuals have been engaged in merchandising for short periods, but with the exception of C. K. Wyly and W. P. Morris, none has remained for many years. In 1872 the People's Company was incorporated with forty members, mostly farmers; two years later it had 175 members with a cash capital of $6,000.00 divided into shares of $25 each. At the present time it has about eighty members. It is reorganized every five years.
The present business interests of Camden are represented by the following individuals and firms: C. K. Wyly, W. P. Morris, Joseph G. Hudson, W. T. Hubbs, Bateman & Herrin, and a stock company, general merchandise: George Shelton, and James Jeffrey, family groceries; J. E. Totty, drugs and groceries; Revins & McAuley and R. M. Hawley, groceries and liquors: T. B. Totty, drugs; Aaron Arnold, saloon and hotel; Henry G. Stigall, hotel and livery stable; A. G. McDaniel & Bro., livery stable; F. G. & F. A. McElyea, blacksmiths; E. M. Cornell and John Arnold. shoe-makers; Mrs. L. E. Davis, millinery; Daniel Markham, jeweler; E. M. McAuley and J. W. Drain, dentists; W. T. Hubbs, R.B. Travis, F. C. Whitfield and W. R. Haman, physicians; C.N. Travis, Camden Herald.
Camden Lodge, No. 179, A.F. & A. M. was organized about 1845. Between 1850 and 1855, in company with the Baptist Church and the sons of Temperance, a building was erected west of the public square. This hall was used by the lodge until 1876 when it was destroyed by fire. In 1878 a new hall was erected upon the same lot. The present membership of the lodge is about sixty. The I.O.O.F. organized a lodge in 1880, but on account of a lack in interest it was suspended after a few months.
Camden Lodge, No. 416, K. of H., was organized December 23, 1876, with the following charter members: I.C. Yarbrough, past dictator; R.P. Haley, dictator; William Stanford, assistant dictator; R.M. Hawley, Vice-dictator; N.T. Strickland, guardian; Wayne Rye, reporter; L. H. Presson, financial reporter; F. C. Whitfield, treasurer, and E.M. Cornell Chaplain; A.J. Morris, J.D. McAuley and A.P. Lashlee. The lodge now has but twelve members.
In the spring of 1886 the Benton County Temperance Alliance was organized with a membership of about fifty.
The first newspaper in the county was the Central Democrat, established by William F. Doherty in 1852 and continued for two years. After its suspension the county was without a newspaper until June 1875, when the Benton Banner was established. The first few numbers were printed in Huntingdon, and published from Camden by T. H. Baker.The venture proving successful an office was opened in Camden and its publication continued by W. F. Moiden & Co. It changed hands frequently, being published successively by Travis & Crockett, Travis & McGee, R. B. Travis and H. K. Springer. It was a seven column folio, and was a credit to the county, but the patronage was not sufficient to retain it, and in the fall of 1879 is was suspended. The office was purchased by John C. Brown and J.L. S. Travis, and removed to Dresden. In 1881 the Camden Herald, a six column folio, was established by E.M. and C. N. Travis. It also changed proprietors several times until 1883, when C. N. Travis became the editor and sole proprietor. During 1884 it was changed To a five column quarto, and January 1, 1886, to a five column folio. Mr. Travis is an experience printer, and is managing the paper successfully. He recently added a job press to the office, and is building up a good business in that line. Since the completion of the railroad a little village known as SOUTH CAMDEN has sprung up around the depot, about one half-mile south of the town. Its business men at present are I.C. Yarbrough, N.E. Finley, J.F. Presson and A.J. __ general merchandise; Lindsey McElyea, groceries; P.W. McDade, produce; A.J. Hudson, saw and grist-mill.
BIG SANDY is a thriving village on the Memphis division of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, about fourteen miles north of Camden. It is located on land formerly owned by J. B. Lindsey in 1871. He also built the first store, about two years later, which was occupied by G. T. Morris and William Caraway. The first dwelling was built by A.C. McRae and J. B. Lindsey.
The business of the town at present is conducted by the following individuals and firms: William Caraway, G. T. Morris, J. F. Dowdey, Graham & Grainger, and Hudson & Son, general merchandise; Bullock & Cantrell, drugs; state factory, Hudson & Son; saw-mill, William Caraway; blacksmiths, A. Bell, John DeBruce and J. E. Wilson & Son. Big Sandy Lodge, No. 290, A.F. & A.M. was organized as Pleasant Ridge Lodge, No. 190, at Pleasant Ridge Church in January, 1861, under a dispensation from the grand lodge, with the following officers: A.W. Russell, W.M.; L. Childress, S.W., W. R. Pierce, J.W.; J.B. Lindsey, S.D.; W. Warmack, J.D, J.P. Byrn, Sec.; J. Askew, Treas.; T.J. Warmack, Tyler. Owing to the general suspension of lodges during the war no charter was obtained until December 6, 1866. From that time until 1879, meetings were held at Pleasant Ridge. At the latter date the lodge was removed to Big Sandy when, in partnership with the Odd Fellows, a hall was erected about two years later, and in 1883 the name was changed to compare with that of the town.
Big Sandy Lodge, No. 185, I.O.O.F. was organized at Pleasant Ridge Church about 1876, and was removed to Big Sandy three years afterward. The first officers were E.N. Williams, N.G.; William Caraway, V.G.; G. T. Moses, Sec.; and P.M. Melton, Treas. The present membership of the lodge is about twenty.
West Danville is a station on the Memphis Division of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad on the west bank of the Tennessee River. It was established in 1860 on land owned by Calvin Bomar. Point Mason, Thompson Point, and Rockport are all steamboat landings on the Tennessee River. Coxbury and Chaseville, twelve miles southeast and fourteen miles south of Camden, respectively, are small hamlets, each having a post office and store. Mt. Carmel, situated in a fine agricultural section fifteen miles south from Camden, and Williamsburg in a broken but productive district six miles Northwest, as well as Sawyer's Mill, six miles west, are small hamlets of more or less local importance.
The small amount of legal business in Benton County has precluded the possibility of its having a bar of great experience or large numbers. As has been stated, the first resident attorney was Alvin Hawkins who located at Camden in 1843. As a young man, he displayed unusual ability and soon became desirous of a broader field in which to exercise his talents. Accordingly, after two years, he removed to Huntingdon. He was succeeded by Col. W.F. Doherty, who had been attorney-general of his judicial circuit. He continued a member of the Camden bar until his death in 1881. He possessed a fine vein of humor and was a good speaker. In 1870 he was chosen a member of the convention which framed the new State constitution. John W. Davidson, while clerk of the circuit court, took up the study of law, and afterward was engaged in its practice for some time.
About 1846 S.C. Pavatt removed from Huntingdon to Camden, where he remained until the Civil war. He was a man of great dignity of bearing and possessed unusual talents. He was at one time chancellor of his district. T.A. Henry located at Camden about 1866, and remained until 1882 when he removed to Texas. While not a superior advocate, he was an excellent office lawyer, and never failed to present his cases properly. He always preferred the chancery practice and obtained the greater part of the business in the county coming under the branch of his profession. The present bar is composed mainly of young men of good ability, who, in a great measure, have their legal reputation to make. W.F. Moiden and A.J. Farmer are the two eldest Members, both having been licensed to practice about eight years ago. The former prepared himself for his profession in the the office of T. A. Henry. He is a good lawyer before a jury and has a fair practice.
Joseph E. Jones, the present attorney-general of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, was admitted to the bar at Camden, in December, 1878. He immediately took high rank among the members of his profession in this section of the State, and in 1884 was elected to the responsible position he now holds. He is well grounded in the law, and is an advocate of no ordinary ability.
T. C. Rye began the study of law with Mr. Jones and since his admission to the bas has given but little attention to the practice of his profession, having been employed as private secretary to Congressman J.M. Taylor and clerk of the congressional Committee on Naval affairs.
Travis Davidson, who has recently completed a term as register of Benton County, is a man of unquestioned integrity, and possesses good legal ability. He has recently engaged in the practice of his profession. J. G. Presson and ___ Brandon, are also licensed attorneys. During the first three or four years after the organization of the circuit court, it was presided over alternately by Judges J. C. Cook, William R. Harris, Benjamin C. Totten, Mortimer A. Martin and William C. Dunlap. Afterward, until 1845, Judge Totten occupied the bench. His residence was at Huntingdon. He was one of the ablest judges ever upon the bench in this judicial circuit, although in private life he was recognized as a genial gentleman, while in this discharge of his official duties he was exceedingly dignified and reserved, and maintained excellent order in the court room. he was succeeded by William Fitzgerald, who continued upon the bench until the suspension of the courts in May, 1862. He was the able jurist, and socially was very popular throughout the circuit. In 1865, L.L. Hawkins, of Huntingdon, was commissioned judge of the circuit court by Gov. Brownlow. He continued to preside until 1870, when he was succeeded by James D. Porter, of Paris, who four years later was elected governor of Tennessee. The remaining four years of the term were filled by Jo. R. Hawkins, of Huntingdon. At the election of 1878, Samuel B. Ayres, of Dresden, was elected judge of the judicial circuit, but died in less than a year after entering upon the office. Clinton Aden, of Paris, completed the unexpired term, and in 1886, W. H. Swiggart, of Union City, was elected to the office of the succeeding eight years.
Benton County has never been deficient in patriotism nor military spirit. Promptly upon the breaking out of the Mexican war, a large company of volunteers was formed and organized, with Alvin Hawkins as captain; O.B. Caldwell, first lieutenant, and W. P. Morris, second lieutenant. They at once reported to the governor, but the quota of the county was filled and they were never called into service.
The first company organized in the county for the late civil was was Company C. of the fifth Tennessee Regiment, Volunteer Infantry. It was recruited in April and the early part of May, 1861.
|These records are part of the "Genealogy Computer Package" *** PC-PROFILE *** Volume - II. Sarratt/Sarrett/Surratt Family Profile© Compiled and self Published in Oct. 31, 1989 by Paul R. Sarrett, Jr. with the assistance of my late mother Mrs. M. Lucille (WILSON) SARRETT (1917-1987) These 1989 "Work-Books" were compiled by listing the various families, born, married, died, and a history of that family branch. In 1996 I started "Up-Loading" this material on the now called SFA© Series...prs|
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids