New Deal: A Look at Its Past

Contributed by Kenneth Biggs

Note: "New Deal: A Look at Its Past" was a class project of Mrs. Janice Pool and her sixth grade class at Oakmont School, May, 1980.

New Deal did not take its name until the late 1930's, before that it was known as Grizzard's Crossroads. After Hiram Briley purchased 640 acres from the Grizzard family, he called it Grizzard's Crossroads to identify the location.

The name New Deal was taken from Roosevelt's New Deal. Risden Hunter was instrumental in giving the name to the community. The story is that when men from the Sumner County Highway Departments were planning road and bridge improvements, they were calling the area Oakland Corners. One day they remarked that the way the settlement was growing it should have a new name. Risden said "let's call it New Deal after FDR's New Deal plan". Everyone laughed but wrote it down on the highway maps. These were submitted to the Highway Commission in Gallatin and was officially entered as the name of the settlement.

The Hunters ran a store in New Deal for many years. Not only Risden and Sally, but Carlos and Cora Lee Hunter. The first location for the store was where the Dairy Dip is today. Later, they moved across the road where the Money Saver is.

The first known store in the area was in John Briley's home. His stock consisted mostly of patent medicines, writing supplies, and ammunition. When his house burned, people were afraid to get too close because of the ammunition in the house.

Arthur Biggs brought the store into the homes of the people. In an old covered wagon, ringing an old cow bell, he peddled his goods throughout the community. Because coffee, sugar, and flour were not pre-measured in those days, everything had to be weighed and sacked on the spot. Many of Mr. Biggs' products came from Charles Parks in Gallatin or were picked up at the depot in Portland.

Squire Tommy and Lizzie Briley also operated a store in New Deal. It was located next to their house. Vernon Briley had a garage in part of the building. Later when Jeff and Marie George took over the store, Vernon continued as a mechanic. Jeff and Marie sold the store to Edell and Evelyn Brinkley. They later built a new store where Marimac's is today.

The general stores and garage were not the only businesses in New Deal. There was a barber shop run by Jimmy D. Upchurch. He charged 15 and 25 cents for a haircut. Dillard Briley was the community's blacksmith. Although Dillard's grandfather, John Briley, was one of the first blacksmiths in the area, Dillard learned the trade from Mr. Will Brown. Dillard still has the original tools he used in his early blacksmithing days, and he still shoes his own horses.

Other businesses that share New Deal's past are the stores run by Granville Summers. The Robert Roarks, Mr. Potts, Mr. And Mrs. Odell Summers, Mr. And Mrs. Thurman Ragland, Douglas and Earline Sloan, Earl and Sue Summers, and John and Beatrice Kincaid. Still other businesses were a feed mill run by Charles Biggs and Tommy Hunter, a garage run by Sonny Eidson, Tommy Hunter's Insulation Company, Biggs Brothers Builders, a cabinet shop, Wishy Washer, and a beauty shop.

The center of life in the community was the school. Many of our older residents attended school at the old Oakland School located on the Walter Link farm. It was later moved to the crossroads, but kept the name Oakland. Most of the community's residents, both young and old, attended school there. Many of you may remember Ethan Atkins, Eugene Moore, R. T. Fisher, or Jack Anderson. They served as principals. Some teachers were Lealand Brinkley, Ellen Legge, Lillian Atkins, Alma Kirk and Agnes Hendrix.

In April 1923, Elisha Briley sold four acres of land to the Board of Education for the new school. He received $300.00. He then donated $150.00 and some trees for the frame of the school. Neeley Swan from Portland was the builder. Mrs. Icy Briley would fix a big pot of coffee for the workers to have with their lunch each day.

The school opened in 1925. It had three rooms. Later a place was provided for a kitchen. The cook would make soup for the children, but they had to bring their own dishes from home. The younger children ate at a shelf in the kitchen store room, which was used as a music room at one time. The older children took their food back to their room. As payment for their lunch, the children would bring either a large jar of fruit or vegetables from home. Those who did not bring food from home had to pay ten cents a day.

Church services were held in the school building, too. They would meet once a month for their religious services. Two funerals were held at Oakland School--Elisha Briley in 1927, and his wife, Icy Briley in 1937.

In the field behind the school was the playground and a barn. The barn was built to provide a shelter for the horses ridden by the students to school. After Carlos Hunter purchased the land and building from the Board of Education, he built his home in the same field using the wood from Oakland School for the first four rooms of his house.

The side of the school facing Halltown Road was all windows. At the beginning of each school year, the people in the community had the job of replacing broken window panes. Not only were the people responsible for the upkeep of the school, they were responsible for the roads. Each man was required to spend a certain amount of time for road work. If he had a team of horses or mules, he had to work two and a half days a year. If he did not have a team, he had to work five days. The roads were probably in better condition than they are today even though we pay taxes. But wait, they paid taxes too, a poll tax of $2.00.

The first telephone in the area was in 1912. It was located near Hollis Chapel and was operated by W. D. Glover. Portland was the outlet. There were fifty subscribers and they paid fifty cents a month dues. About 1917, the Link's Home Mutual Telephone Exchange moved across the road from Mrs. Ethel McGlothlin. She was the operator for six years. The first three years she earned $15 a month, then she got a raise to $25 a month. The switchboard was run off of batteries as were the telephones in the homes. The switchboard was closed on Sunday and every night after 9 o'clock except for an emergency. The first dial phones in the area were in the late 1940's.

"Aunt Lovie" Kemp was the midwife in the area. Most folks knew her as the "Good Samaritan". Not only did she birth babies, but she waited on folks with all kinds of sickness. Aunt Lovie's medical supplies were a bottle of olive oil, a bottle of alcohol, a pair of scissors and a prayer. She never charged for her services, but sometimes she received a sack of taters or an old hen. One of the best things to happen to her was when a neighbor helped put running water in her house, a luxury she always wanted.

Prater Hardin was the originator of the first church in the community. It was known as the Church of the First Born. The land was acquired from Mrs. Ophelia Moore and trees for the building were donated by Mr. Bill Rogers and others of the community. The trustees of the church were Garnet White, Herschell Mink, and Tom Ferrell.

In the summer of 1947, Mr. Jess Summers and Mr. Maynard Meguiar purchased the church from Mr. Washburn. They started the New Deal Church of Christ. For three years, services were held on Sunday afternoon with the support of Cottontown, Mitchellville, Hendersonville, Bush's Chapel, Corinth, Portland, Clearview, Number One, and Fountain Head Churches of Christ. Mr. M. B. Comer donated the seats for the church. Other than the cost of the church, which was $1500.00, their first expense was for an outdoor facililty. They paid $10 for it plus $1.50 to Mr. Charles Roney to deliver it to the church. Bro. Frank Jernigan preached the first sermon and Bro. Ollie Briley led the first prayer.

Risden Hunter was responsible for most of the early buildings in New Dela. Not only did he build the store, but some of the first houses. The three green houses were built in the 1940's. The wood used in the frames and floors were from the old Sumner County Court House. Dillard Briley helped construct those houses.

In the early 1950's, the decision was made to consolidate Oakland and Fairmont Schools. Fairmont was located on Highway 25. The yellow house stands on the exact location of Fairmont. The floor in the house was the same floor as was in the school.

The land for Fairmont was purchased in May 1916 from Joe Briley. The Board of Education paid $135 for four acres and 83 poles of land. The first faculty at Fairmont were Mr. Anthony, Principal, Mrs. Mayme Link and Miss Della Latimer, as teachers.

In the early days of the school, the children brought their lunch from home. Later a kitchen was put in the upstairs. It had the same lunch system as Oakland. The children brought their own dishes from home and were served mostly soup.

Mayme Link named both Fairmont and Oakmont. The land for Oakmont was purchased in May, 1951, from Mr. Lonnie Link. The Board of Education paid $1,740.00 for three acres. The school opened in March 1953. The faculty consisted of Mr. Clyde Riggs, principal, Mrs. Mabel Law, Mrs. Alma Jackson, Mrs. Vera Clark, and Mr. Frank Dunham as teachers. V. G. Hawkins was Superintendent of Schools, O. M. Moore, Chairman, and members of the board were L. G. Pond, Morris Vantrease, Charles F. Creasy, Ethridge Dodson, L. H. Newman, and Guilford Pond. Some of the early teachers were: Mrs. Agnes Hendrix, Mrs. Mabel Brinkley, Mrs. Bonnie Heard, and Mrs. Ruth Smythe.

For many years Oakmont served grades first thru eighth. Under the leadership of principals like Mr. Clyde Riggs, Mr. Clemon Gilliam, Mr. Thomas Denton, Mr. Ralph Kidd, Mr. Berland Harper, Mr. Charles Klinstiver, Mr. Bertram Shearer, Mr. Jack Erickson, Mr. Charles Woody, and Mr. Larry McKenna Oakmont continued to grow.

In 1973, the seventh and eighth grades were dropped and kindergarten thru the sixth grades were taught. Portable classrooms had to be added and in 1974 an observation room was installed in the kindergarten room.

With the dedication and cooperation of Mr. Robert Neil and the 129 students of Oakmont School, the Mabel Law Log Cabin was completed in May, 1975. The children had to split logs with wedges and turned them flat side up for a loft floor. They drove pegs into the wall to form a ladder. The additional logs that were needed for the construction were notched and dovetailed in the old-time way.

The original logs came from an old smokehouse donated to the school by Junior Suttle. The rafters were pegged at the top and bottom and nailed with square nails. The peg-lock windows were hinged with leather.

The mantle piece was made from parts of two ceiling joists from Rachel Donelson Jackson's childhood home. All of the rocks in the foundation and the large stone in the back of the fireplace came from an old iron furnace operated by James Robertson and Montgomery Bell in the early 1800's. The stone in the center of the fireplace is also significant as it came from the first courthouse in Sumner County. The interior of the cabin features a concrete floor, a small raised floor for sleeping quarters, pioneer tools hanging on the walls and a display case with a donated sword and a wedge that was used in building the cabin.

We are very proud of our faculty and staff. Mr. Carl Newby, Mrs. Kaye Lane, Mrs. Trelace Wheeler, Miss Sarah Stubblefield, Mrs. Angela Bennett, Mrs. Kathy Litts, Mrs. Janice Poole, Mrs. Wanda Briley, and Mrs. Carol Curry are a very important part of our children's lives. Mrs. Delores Farough, Mrs. Kathy Wilkinson, Miss Lynn Buhler and Mr. Dwayne Pigg, are an asset to our school. Thanks to Mrs. Ann Wright, Mrs. Lila George, and Mrs. Edna Briley for the services they provide.

A special thanks for the help and encouragement from Mr. Bertram Shearer, who is supervisor over the primary grades, and Dr. Deotha Malone, who is supervisor over the intermediate grades.

Oakmont has always been blessed with a dedicated, hard-working faculty, as well as concerned, hard-working parents. With an unbeatable team like we have, Oakmont will continue to grow.

Both Oakmont and New Deal have made great progress since their early years. Thanks to people like Vernon Briley, who, after going to Indiana to learn a trade, returned to the community to give others the same opportunity to learn a trade; to the Culbreath's, who, through their plants have provided jobs for the people in the area; and to Carl Poole's Wheel Alignment, Lester George's Wrecker Service, Marimac's Grocery, Ed's Variety Store, and the Dairy Dip for the services they provide. Also for the services provided by New Deal Farm & Home, Edith's Fabric Shop, New Deal Paint and Body Shop, and New Deal Garage.

We live in a very special community with very special people. Let us all strive for the continued progress of New Deal and Oakmont.

A special Thanks to:
Mrs. Mabel Law
Mrs. Ethel McGlothlin
Mrs. Agnes Hendrix
Mrs. Ollie Wilkinson
Mrs. Queenie Mai Upchurch
Mrs. Cora Lee Hunter
Mrs. Mamie George
Mrs. Louise Suttle
Mr. & Mrs. Dillard Briley
Mr. & Mrs. Vernon Briley
Mr. Kenneth Biggs
Mr. & Mrs. Luther Ray
Mr. & Mrs. Bill Rogers
Mr. Maynard Meguiar

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