Transcribed by Timothy R. Meador, Jr.
February 14, 1952
* CAL’S COLUMN *
We closed our last article with an account of the order of the Court to appoint certain men to lay out a road from Banks’ Ferry to Squire William Kavanaugh’s. We resume with the next item in the old records; which is as follows: “Ordered that Nathaniel Farrier, Joseph Jordan, Richard Cantrill, Larkin Bethel, Daniel Allen, Henry Hays and Jacob Turney view, mark and lay off a road from John Looney, Esquire’s to Esquire Kavanaugh’s, and that they report same to our ensuing Court.” Here we have some men that we have never before heard of. Farrier, Jordan, Cantrill and Jacob Turney are wholly unknown to the writter. We wonder if Larkin Bethel was not a close relative to one of the earliest Baptist ministers in Middle Tennessee, Elder Cantrell Bethel, who was an able and devoted minister of the Gospel, Daniel Allen is also unknown to the writer. Henry Hays was, we are quite sure, a close relative, if not the father, of Nathaniel Hays, one of the Baptist ministers of more than a hundred years ago in Middle Tennessee. Nathaniel Hays was commonly known as “Natty” Hays. He was quite an able minister for that day and time. Many anecdotes are told of him. One is that once while he was engaged in a revival meeting, at which time he was also engaged in trading in livestock, he went home from one of the services with a deacon named Grandstaff, to spend the night. While on that visit, he found that Grandstaff had a number of large, fat hogs for sale. The preacher asked the deacon what he, the deacon, would take for his hogs. He was given a reply promptly, but the hog-trading preacher did not then accept the offer. He went to church the next service and entered his pulpit and was “looming, “ when he saw another hog buyer beckon the deacon to the door. Deacon Grandstaff arose and started toward the front door of the church, to meet the other trader. Here was a deal that the preacher was about to lose, so he thought. He hardly knew what to do, as the deacon went down the aisle toward the door. When he felt that he must either lose a good trade in hogs, or take a desperate situation into his own hands, he decided on the latter course. Without breaking the thread of his discourse, the preacher spoke right out saying, “Brother Grandstaff, I will take them hogs.” It came near breaking up the meeting, but the brethren forgave the preacher and he continued his services with the church.
Perhaps we may judge the old preacher too harshly and we may accuse him of being greedy of gain. But we have to remember that a century ago, hardly any preachers received anything for their ministerial labors. We recall reading in the old records of Dixon’s Creek Baptist church, how that Elder Daniel Burford, who was the first pastor of that church, which was formed on March 8, 1800, had a charge brought against him for failure to pay a debt of $150 due one of the brethren, Brittain, we believe it was. The minister was further charged with having “sold a stud horse which had been offered as security for the debt.” The minister promptly confessed his wrong and was forgiven, but we do not recall how he met the debt. We do know that shortly afterward he was elected Register of Smith County, and held that position a number of years. We suppose it might be said that he made a living from his office and preached for nothing. We decided to investigate and see if the old records showed any financial consideration given the pastor. We found that after three years’ service, the church made an offering for their pastor in the amount of $14.00. Just how the members of that church thought that pastor could ever pay a debt of $150 while the church paid him $14.00 for three years’ preaching, we confess we do not know. We suppose many of our readers have heard the old story of the stingy brother who visited his pastor and sought to justify his failure to make any contribution whatever toward the minister’s support. He argued and argued and finally said, “My brother, you are to have souls for your hire.”
The pastor then asked, “Will you please tell me how I can pay my bills for groceries, clothing, doctor and various others with souls?” Getting no reply from the old “skinflint,” the pastor continued, “And besides that it would take at least 75 souls the size of your soul to feed my family for breakfast!” This must have been one of the smallest souls on record.
We presume many of our readers have heard of the old lady, or rather, woman, who testified in meeting, saying, “I thank God for being a Baptist for 50 years and all it has cost me was a quarter.”
There was also current some years ago a story about a talk between a silver dollar and a penny or “Copper.” The story, as we recall it, was as follows: The dollar was boasting about being worth so much more than the penny, of his prominence in the financial world, of his bright, shining face and how men loved him. Finally, the dollar “reared” away back and began to boast: “Why, I am a hundred times as big as you are. Men seek me far and near. They prize me highly. And then I am so much better looking than you are, little penny. I have a bright, shining face and I am really just as nice as can be to look at. Why, all our money is reckoned after me, a dollar. Why don’t you go off somewhere and hide your little brown, dirty face? I am really ashamed of you.”
The penny, apparently crushed and terrible let down, and being almost on the verge of tears, came back with a rejoinder, “There is one thing that I have done more of than you ever have.” The dollar, astounded at the penny’s boldness, asked, “What in the world have you ever done that excelled me?”
The penny replied with pride, “ I have paid more preachers than you ever did!”
Speaking of a penny, we recall an incident of more than 40 years ago. One of Cal’s relative, a country boy, went down to Dixon Springs, which was our nearest town in boyhood days. Fort Bedford peanuts were then sold and were a sort of luxury to the average country boy. One of the Dixon Springs merchants was Hickerson B. Cox, commonly known as Hick Cox. The “relate” of ours bought a box of peanuts of the kind just mentioned, which carried some sort of little prize in every box. The merchant said, “Son, look inside. You might find a prize.” Whereupon the country boy poured out the contents of the box and among the peanuts, which were still in the hull or shell, lay a penny. The merchant said, “Son, there’s a penny.” The youth from the hills of Smith County, blurted out, “No, it ain’t. It’s a durned copper.” This was, we suppose the very first time that this boy of about 15 had ever heard of one-cent piece of 40 years ago and more called anything but a “copper.” The word, penny, was seldom used of the one-cent piece when Cal was a youth, “copper” being the almost universal designation or name of our smallest piece of money.
We return to the old records, having made a wide “detour” in our comments that began with the mention of the name of Henry Hays. The last name in the group was that of Jacob Turney. We wonder if he was a relative of Peter Turney. The name, “Turney,” was not a very common one in Smith County 150 years ago, although they became somewhat more numerous a few years later in what is now DeKalb County in the Liberty section. “Charles Kavanaugh, Esquire, is allowed a tavern license to keep an ordinary at his now dwelling house, and that he be rated agreeable to the common rates of this county, and gave security accordingly.” Chas. Kavanaugh, we have “surmised,” resided somewhere in the south side of the present Smith County. An “ordinary” was a public eating place and drinking place, where meals were placed on a table and the “diners” were allowed to eat what they wanted, not being limited to the special or “ordered” dishes of public eating places today. Almost, if not all, the public places to serve the public 150 years ago were known as “ordinaries,” although some of them were called by some, “taverns.” There was 150 years ago, an “ordinary” in the home of Tilman Dixon, just below the present Dixon Springs. The rates to be charged by Kavanaugh were those in force generally throughout Smith County. Squire Kavanaugh’s “now dwelling house” meant in the language of today, his present dwelling house.
“Venire Facias to the ensuring Court: Robert Dugan, James Baker, Hesikiah Woodard, William Payne, Armistead Moore, George Roolong, Thomas Walker, John Rutherford, Daniel Hitton, Richard Lancaster, Leonard Fight, Willeroy Pate, Nathan Ridley, Pleasant Kearby, James Wray, Michael Murphy, Willie Sullivan, William Pryor, William Epperson, Samuel Stalcup, Big Joel Dyer, William Kelton, Joel Hallum, Josiah Howell, Stephen Montgomery, David Kellough, Jr., Vincent Ridley, Godfrey Fowler, Henry King, Aaron Hart, Henry Dancer, Benjamin Johns and James W. Wright.” Here we have a list of men, we suppose, to have been among the leading citizens of the county a century and a half ago. Some comment has been offered already in this Column about part of these men, and we may be guilty of repeating some things about some of these men or their families. We never knew any person named Dugan. But we recall that many years ago we read about how Paducah, Kentucky, got its name. Pat Dugan had a wood yard by the side of the river where Paducah now stands, supplying steamboats with fuel. The expression, “Pat Dugan’s wood yard,” was corrupted into Paducah. We cannot vouch for this, but we read it a long, long time ago. Of course we do not know if there was any connection between Robert Dugan and Pat Dugan.
James Baker, we suppose, was the ancestor of the Bakers of the present Monoville and Carthage. “Hesikiah” Woodard was in reality “Hezekiah” Woodard, and was perhaps the man from whom the Woodard family in Smith County descended.
William Payne was a member of a family that came to be well known in Smith County in later years. We suppose that he was most probably the ancestor of the late Bill Payne, formerly a citizen of Riddleton.
Armistead Moore, we are quite sure, was the ancestor of the Moore family now living in the vicinity of Carthage. We are not sure who the next man above mentioned was. The name, “Roolong.” was evidently misspelled. Our guess is that the Clerk was trying to write the name, “Rowland.” Thomas Walker, John Rutherford, Daniel Hitton and Richard Lancaster are “beyond” our knowledge. Leonard Fight, we are almost sure, was Leonard Fite. The Fites, Turneys and Brattons were among the very earliest of the families that settled in the Liberty section of the present DeKalb County.
Willeroy Pate, we understand, was a relative, if not the ancestor, of H. T. Pate, who is now an aged and respected citizen of Salt Lick Creek of the Cumberland.
Nathan and Vincent Ridley, we believe, were brothers. Godfrey Fowler, we admit, is another “unknown.” Pleasant Kearby is the ancestor of the present Kirby family in Macon County. He resided somewhere in the vicinity of the present Gibbs’ Cross Road. He spelled his name as given above and pronounced it the same as if spelled “Kyearby.”
James Wray is another of whom we known nothing, although thee were members of the Ray family then living on Wartrace creek in Jackson County. We recall that we read in the old records of Dixon’s Creek that “An arm was extended to Wartrace Creek, for the purpose of receiving members,” and that several members of the family were among those admitted to Dixon’s Creek Baptist church about 148 years ago. We now have one subscriber by the name of Wray, but we do not know if he is descended from the James Wray of 150 years ago.
Michael Murphy lived 150 years ago at the rear of the present Bob Williams home in Pleasant Shade. Here a very early session of the Court was held. Willie Sullivan, we suppose, lived in the present Sullivan’s Bend, above Carthage. However, there were members of this family in what is now Macon County at a very early date. We once knew Andy Sullivan, meeting him at Fairview church in Macon County, when the old man was 105 years of age. But we “forgot” to ask for his line of descent, and most of the younger, present-day members of the family know next to nothing of their ancestors of 150 years ago. Cal’s wife, the former Miss Bettie Jenkins, is the granddaughter of the former Miss Mary Sullivan, who married George Jenkins nearly 90 years ago. We hope to have additional information on the Sullivan family ready for publication within a few weeks.
William Pryor, next in the above list, is another of whom we known nothing. William Epperson, it is supposed, was a relative of the Epperson for whom Epperson Springs in the west end of the present Macon County was named. This was once quite a noted health resort. Here a number of buildings were erected and a lot of folks visited the resort for their health. Here at Epperson Springs, about 50 years ago, two of the writer’s special friends, whose names we will not reveal, in company with perhaps two others, decided to “crash” a ball to which they had not been invited. They met strong resistance and had to “sell out, Dock.” One of these friends of ours, now about 70 years of age, said that the noise of bullets flying through the darkness and hitting limbs and branches of trees, did not make a pleasant sound, as he spoke “from experience.”
But Epperson Springs has gone, to come no more, so far as present indications go. It is true that the same healing waters flow as in the years gone by, but the hotel building is gone and those who knew this resort in its heyday are now old men and women and Epperson Springs is hardly more than a memory now.
Samuel Stalcup was an early citizen of Dixon Springs. Big Joel Dyer, we surmise, was not called big for size, but because he was Joel Dyer, Sr., as we also read in the old records of Joel Dyer, Jr. It was quite common to refer to the older of two with the same name and in the same family, as “Big” and the younger as “Little.” We had an uncle by marriage, named Albert Wilburn, who is still called by some, “Big Albert,” while his son, now in his fifties, is still called by some, “Little Albert.” So we are going to guess that this is why the Joel Dyer here named is called “Big Joel.” He lived on Peyton’s creek and secured a permit from the Court to build the first mill dam on Peyton’s Creek. This occurred some months before the session whose proceedings began on Dec. 21, 1801, and part of which we are giving in this article. The next mentioned is William Kelton, who, if we remember some earlier record correctly, lived on the present Jennings’ Creek. Joel Hallum is another whose family history goes back to early Smith County days. We suppose that he most probably lived in the present Hell’s Bend of the Caney Fork River, a few miles southeast of the present Carthage. This bend was called Hallum’s Bend for many years, but finally became corrupted into the present form, “Hell’s Bend.”
Of the remainder of the names listed above, we will try to give information concerning only one, Benjamin Johns. We are almost certain that he was the son of Ellias Johns and his wife, Esther Ballou Johns, who lived at the Brooks place just below the present Dixon’s Creek Baptist church. Esther Ballou was the daughter of Leonard Ballou, the writer’s great-great-great-grandfather. We have a record of 15 Leonard Ballous, and one of our sons, Leonard Calvin Gregory, was given the name, Leonard, for this reason. “The Ballous In America,” is the title of a history of 1,300 pages, by Adin Ballou, published in 1888. It has long been out of print, and is almost unobtainable today. However, the State Library has a copy which the writer managed to secure some years ago. He also has a copy for his personal use.
“Ordered that Thomas Stewart, Esquire, be allowed to return 640 acres of original David Allison’s (land) and purchased by him at Sheriff’s ‘sail’ in summer, and the tax was accordingly paid for the year 1801.” We know nothing of the parties herein named.
“Ordered that John L. Martin, Esquire, be allowed 45 dollars for his Ex Officio services as Sheriff for the preceding year.” This looks like “Mighty Pore Pay” to Cal.
“Ordered that Joel Dyer be released from working on the Fort Blount Road.” We suppose this is the same man above referred to. The Fort Blount Road began at Fort Blount in the present Jackson County and extended westward via Difficult, Mace’s Hill, Good Will, Hartsville and on into Robertson County.
The writer was born on the side of the Fort Blount Road, about three miles, northeast of Dixon Springs. He had but little idea as a boy of the importance of this old road or trail or trace of pioneer days. The deed to our father’s little hill farm, made 60 years ago, give the Fort Blount Road as one boundary. We hope later to give additional information as to when it was “layed out,” and etc.
“Court adjourns until Court in course, to meet at the house of Colo. William Saunders.
This closes the four-day session of the Court that began on Dec. 21, 1801, and closed barely in time for Christmas Day.
We “detour” quite a lot in giving the accounts of the old records, but suppose the readers will forgive this sort of narration. If readers enjoy the old records and Cal’s comments, let us know and we will have a greater zeal to continue them.