The Settlement of Portland, Tennessee
Articles 5 - 10
by William McGlothlin
Published in The Portland Herald, 1909-1910
|Article 5: ||The First Partition
of the BUNTIN Estate|
|Article 6: ||The Two Stories
in Richland, the Depot and the Jas. GOOSTREE Site, Later DUVAL and
|Article 7: ||Settlement of
Richland West of the Railroad|
|Article 8: ||How Richland
was Built Up and Ben HARDEN the Pioneer|
|Article 9: ||Contrasted Value
of Property and Later Settlements of Portland|
|Article 10: ||The Grange
and other Settlers of Richland|
Kind reader, having given you a brief history of the founder of Richland and the people
who lived around it prior to the war of the States, how the depot was built and of what material
and by whom occupied to the year 1865, we desire to give you its environment at this time
preparatory to the future developments of the village.
When the smoke of the war times blew over and the people began to look about themselves
to see where they were and how to bury their troubles, and to inaugurate better times, we find
Richland with a poor shack of a depot, one dwelling, one other small store used as a dwelling
and a few cabins scattered up and down the railroad occupied by the L&N section hands. This
constitutes the Richland of 1865. There was also a small block house just east of where the little
creek ran under the track north of the station, which was occupied by Federal soldiers during the
war to guard the trestle from being burned by the Confederates. Soon after the close of the war
this trestle was removed and the present culvert and fill were made from the excavation just east
of the dwelling of R.D. MOORE. Heavy timber and bramble were in places on either site of the
track near the right of way. The L&N Railroad used wood then exclusively to run their engines.
There were ricks of cord wood for hundreds of feet on both sides of the track, piled up, which
had ready sale at $3 to $4 per cord, put out by citizens of the community.
Thomas BUNTIN was not inclined to offer lots for sale in order to enlarge the place; really
he was averse to cutting up his land for this purpose, and this accounts for so few improvements
having been erected. He died early in the year 1865, and all these lands were held as a
homestead by his widow, Mrs. Elizabeth BUNTIN, and were not open for sale or partition until
her death, which occurred in the latter part of 1871. During all these year there was but little
improvement made or increase in the population of Richland. During this time Fountain Head
being a great center and mart for ties, wood and timbers of all kinds, grew to be quite a stirring
little town, leaving Richland far behind.
The death of Mrs. BUNTIN gave opportunity for partition of the real estate between the
five living heirs, which began in the year 1872. The first partition made was one lost to each one
of the heirs on the west side of the track, beginning with the lots of which Jas. A. MOYE now
resides, intended to be 100 feet front and 150 feet deep, but owing to a mistake in the chain they
were 95 feet front and 138 deep. The lots were numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and extended south on
the west side of the railroad, the fifth lot being where Dr. H.D. DENNING now lives. This
laying out of lots was done by O.P. BUTLER, Esq., a local surveyor, who did a great deal of that
kind of work for this section.
This was an epoch in the history of Richland. The entire estate of Thomas BUNTIN,
deceased, consisting of about 1,900 acres, was partitioned to these five heirs. These heirs soon
began to trade and the property began to pass into other hands, values increased and the people
got busy, many wanted lots of larger parcels of these very desirable lands.
John C. PAYNE in the fall of 1865 sold a small stock of goods in the depot to his brother,
W.S. PAYNE, and transferred the offices to him, who held forth and ran the business until the
spring of 1868, when W.T. MCGLOTHLIN bought a one-half interest and the stock of goods
was increased considerable and their trade also got better. The per cents on sales of goods then
were much better then they are now, ranging from 25 to 100 per cent, perhaps an average of 45
to 59 per cent, and mostly upon a cash basis, except the L&N section hand trade, which was of
little benefit, as the loss on transient men often exceeded the profits of the trade.
In the year 1871 J.M MCGLOTHLIN bought W.S. PAYNE's one-half interest, and the firm
became MCGLOTHLIN & Bro., but J.M. MCGLOTHLIN had to be absent. Some very amusing
things occurred in J.M. MCGLOTHLIN's first experience in the store. There were no such
things as paper sacks in those days to put goods in--goods of all kinds were wrapped in coarse
brown paper. W.T. MCGLOTHLIN being called off, J.M. MCGLOTHLIN, or "Jody," as he was
called for short, was left in charge. When he would sell a customer a dollars's worth of sugar or
coffee or any bulky package he dumped it into a bucket and said to his customer, "Sha, sir! Sha
sir, I can't wrap this stuff up, sir. Take this bucket, sir; and put your good in it, sir." So when
W.T. MCGLOTHLIN returned "Jody" had used about all the stock of buckets in the store to
accommodate his customers.
When "Jody" had freight to be shipped on the "Local" he would flag every train, through
freight, passenger and all, and when the train men stopped and asked why he flagged them down
he would reply, "I wasn't flagging you, sir; go on, sir; go on, sir."And some of them would swear
at him and call him by unsavory names, and he would come back at them with a vim, saying,
"Now go on sir; go on, sir, or I'll whip you, sir; I'll whip you, sir." It was a treat to bystanders to
hear him talk to them.
The greater part of this period the James GOOSTREE house across the railroad was the
only other store in the place. After PAYNE vacated this house as a dwelling in 1865, James
BUNTIN and James RITTER opened a family grocery in it and continued for quite a while with
fair success. They sold to Thomas LOVE and Lee DONNELL, who continued until the winter of
1872, when by some means the house caught fire and was burned with most of the goods. This
ended the business of that firm.
Soon after this misfortune, R.C. BUTT became the owner of the lot and rebuild the store
house, John B. SHAUB doing the carpenter's work. R.C.BUTT rented it to a Mr. MCKINNEY,
who sold drugs and groceries in it for a time. Again for a time it was occupied by W.A.
BRADLEY as a dwelling, after which the property was bought by J.T. BUMPUS, who built two
new rooms. He sold goods in the front and he and his family dwelt in the rear rooms. This was
about he year 1880. Some time prior to this date W.B. DUVAL erected a store and a two room
dwelling in the rear on the site now occupied by PERDUE & ABSHER. Here he sold goods, but
continued only one or two years. Fire broke out in the store room and the entire improvements
and a majority of the contents were burned. About this time J.M. ANDERSON erected for his
son, Tominus, and his nephew, Jim Dick ANDERSON, what has been known as the "Anderson
store house," now occupied by BAILEY & Sons.
In the spring of 1873 Benjamin R. BRADLEY and W.T. MCGLOTHLIN bought of J.C.
LOVELL and wife, Mary LOVELL, one of the five heirs of the Thomas BUNTIN estate, 85 ½
acres of land, part of the original home tract, 66 acres of which is now owned by S.A.CARVER
and J.M. MCGLOTHLIN, and lies immediately south of the GIBSON farm. The balance of 19 ½
acres lies west of the L&N Railroad, and is all in the town of Portland.
To locate this land we would begin at the bridge west of the Baptist Church, thence east
with Church Street to a point near where BAILEY's store is, the west boundary line of lot No. 3;
thence south 32 degrees east with line of lots 3, 4, and 5 to southwest corner of lot 5; thence with
line of lot 5 to L&N R.R.; thence south 32 degrees east with L&N R.R. right of way to a point
south of the Josh PERDUE house in the north boundary line of the David BRADLEY lands;
thence west with his line to a large oak east of the J.M. ANDERSON dwelling; thence south to a
hickory between the bridge and Portland Mills, corner to J.B. MCGLOTHLIN; thence west with
J.B. MCGLOTHLIN's line to a large oak southwest of the brick plant; thence running north near
the Jack GOSSETT dwelling to the place of beginning.>/dd>
This tract of land was divided between B.R. BRADLEY and W.T. MCGLOTHLIN,
beginning at the L&N right of way just north of the original SWAN residence; thence west with
street south side of Masonic hall and on the west with north side of Booker Street to the west
boundary line of the tract, giving B.R. BRADLEY 10 ½ acres south of the lone and W.T.
MCGLOTHLIN nine acres north of said line. This 19 ½ acres was bought at $30 an acre, and
was then, the greater part of it, covered with heavy timber.
In the fall of 1873 W.T. MCGLOTHLIN erected the house in which he now resides, and the
same fall Thos. B. MOORE erected a box-house dwelling on the site now occupied by the
BOOKER house, and W.T. MCGLOTHLIN and Thos. B. MOORE had the present well dug just
north of the line and midway between their dwellings, which was the third well dug in the place,
the James GOOSTREE and the widow BUTT being prior to this one.
In the spring of 1874 the school house, where the Portland Seminary now stands, was put
up. This lot of one acre of land was donated by J.C. BUNTIN, one of the heirs of Thomas
BUNTIN, to the citizens of Richland. It was a two-story 28 x 40 foot building. The lower room
was first for school purposes, and was free for all denominations to worship in when not in
conflict with the schools. Colored people were excepted. The upper room was a hall built and
equipped by the order known as "Palefaces," and after they abandoned it was occupied by a
farmers organization known as "The Grange," and still later for school purposes when the lower
room got to be too small to accommodate all the pupils. The lower room was the only place of
worship in the town for nearly twenty years. Some wonderful meetings were held in this
building. Many of the ablest divines in the different churches preached the everlasting gospel in
its soul stirring power inside its walls.
The Methodists and Baptists organized churches in this house prior to organizing church
houses of their own. It was the meeting place for all gatherings.
Prof. Z. K. GRIFFIN and his assistants were conducting a very interesting school,
occupying the two rooms, in the latter part of the year 1897, using injudiciously an oil stove in
the ante room. One of the students carelessly turned the stove over and the building and some
valuable school furniture were destroyed.
West Richland, which was the first portion settled, was located mostly on either side of
what was then called the "Shun pike" road. It ran from Palmyra (now Rapids), KY., over in the
edge of Kentucky, through Richland to White House. It ran just east of Portland Seminary and
the Portland flouring mill and on by the STINSON farm, very near as it now runs. The deeds to
all the land along this thoroughfare call for the "Shun pike" road, and this is why Richland was
originally strung out in a long irregular line without any system, but on the "Squatter
Sovereignty" plan--every fellow to erect his house as it suited him, and no one anticipated that
the place would grow even to its present proportions. As the place has increase, the quality and
style of the buildings have gotten better and more costly, and this growth has been on a constant,
permanent basis, not by any special boom, yet constantly increasing.
A few of the pioneers are living, but a majority have passed over the river. Ben. HARDEN
is one of those. He is a unique character. He and wife Neely came here at the close of the war
of the States and settled in a cabin near where the creek runs, under the railroad north of the
depot. After a year of so they built them a cabin out in the forest east of what is now Portland
Mill. Then he built and located where William NELSON now lives, and a few years later he
bought and built on the farm where he now lies. In the early years of Richland he worked in the
timber for BRADLEY & MCGLOTHLIN. With their yoke of oxen, I think I can safely say he
hauled and stacked on the railroad over one thousand cords of wood, and did much other
promiscuous hauling. That crooked ankle you note he has by being caught as the wagon passed
over a stump while hauling the sills that were used in W.T. MCGLOTHLIN's dwelling. Where
he came from no one has ever been able to find out, although many have plied their inquisitive
and searching interrogatories, only to be baffled and balked in their every attempt. He is a man
of may avocations. He is a good farmer, a splendid quail netter and experienced hunter and
trapper, a very successful fisherman, and can find and dig more ginseng than any man. He has
borne enough exposure to have killed a half a dozen common men, and yet while he can't walk
as in the other days, he mounts his "old gray" and still plies his avocations. He is an
independent, original thinker, possessed with a retentive memory, a good store of horse sense,
always gleeful and jolly, and has many noble traits of character. He always has an opinion of his
own about everything that comes up.
But there is only one Ben. HARDEN. His wife "Neely," is a noble woman, and in her
younger days was a happy singer, always cheerful and pleasant. How often have I heard her
while in her little forest home in the quiet eve warble charming ditties of her far-away home in
such melody and sweetness that it rivaled, yea surpassed, the sound of the mockingbird or the
Dear reader, pardon the length of this narrative, as the history of Richland would not be
complete without it.
On the 11th of April, 1877 J.M. ANDERSON bought of J.C. BUNTIN represented by his
son-in-law, Martin GROVES, to whom he had transferred his real estate, nine acres of land, for
which he paid $360. This land has all been settled up. It was bounded on the East by lots Nos.
1, 2, and 3; on the North by R.D. MOORE, John MARTIN, Miss Jennie HUGHES, J.W. JONES
and E.N. MCGLOTHLIN to the creek, or bridge; thence up that creek to the next bridge or
Church Street; thence East with Church Street through the burnt district to the place of
beginning. This boundary includes the school lot, which has been previously deeded by J.C.
A few years later R.D. MOORE bought of Mrs. Adelia THOMPSON, oldest daughter of
Thomas BUNTIN, deceased, for one hundred dollars, a block of land located and bounded as
follows: Beginning on the West side of the L&N R.R. and Northeast corner to lost No. 1 of the
BUNTIN heirs partition, now owned by J.A. MOYE; thence west with street to the creek at the
bridge; thence down this creek to the culvert where it runs under the railway; thence South 32
degrees East with the railroad to the place of beginning, containing seven or eight acres of
Mr. Editor, I give your readers these parcels of land the price then paid for them to show
the advance in value of the property described and the location. This advance has been gradual
and permanent yet in this valuation, account must be estimated the land in its virgin state and
that of its present state of improvement.
Aside from erection of dwellings that we have referred to the next in order was J.M.
ANDERSON where he now resides; then the J.H. PIPER house, where G.P. and S.H. BAILEY
now live; then the dwelling on the Shun Pike road beyond the mill site to G.T. WRIGHT. All
were erected in a very short period of time. The spirit of improvement was on, and the advance
in value kept pace with it.
In 1892 the Portland Flouring Mill was built by an incorporated stock company, and has
been of great benefit to the town. This mill and a good high school well attended have been the
moving factories in the development and upbuild of the place.
Soon after this time North West Portland began to put on her Sunday clothes. Beginning
with R.D. MOORE and Prof. S.K.GRIFFIN's residence, the work of erecting new and stylish
homes were westward bound, crossing the creek over into the GRIFFIN addition, where new and
cozy homes sprang up as if by magic, and did not let up until the tide of improvement had made
generous headway on both the public roads leading toward the setting sun.
North Portland catching the fever, improvement took up its course North with the Gallatin
and Shun Pike roads, where a number of nice and splendid cottage homes went up for the benefit
of those who would be glad to make their domicil in our midst and partake of our social and
In the year 1875 a farmers' organization know as "The Grange," sprang up here and
elsewhere over the county, and a majority of the farmers, both men and woman, joined it. The
object seemed to be to knock the "middle man" out in all kinds of trade and get every line of
goods at wholesale prices. "Richland Grange" met in the "Pale Face" hall over the school room
and had monthly meetings, and conferred degrees on those who joined. The order grew like a
green bay tree. They conceived the idea of and did erect a "Richland Grange Warehouse" at a
cost of over four hundred dollars. It stood just south of Dr. DENNING's dwelling and has been
just recently torn down. It proved to be a useless expenditure and never was used by them ti any
remunerative purpose. The order was founded on visionary aspirations, and a few designing,
crafty, money-loving men reaped the benefits out of the hard earnings of the poor, deluded,
toiling farmer, and it, like the order of "Pale Faces," was short lived and resulted in no
permanent good to the common wealth.
About the year 1800 the store-house which PERDUE & ABSHER now occupy was erected
by W.P. MOORE Sr., and a general line of merchandise was opened up by W.P. MOORE &
Sons. A short time later they opened up another store-house on the site now occupied by
KERLEY & Sons, but of a smaller dimensions than the present one.
In 1886 N.B. READ, Esq., built a blacksmith shop on the site recently burned in the west
end of Depot Avenue. The site was bought for $10.
In 1886 or '87, Dr. T.L. LANIER erected a two-story building and opened a drug store and
some other lines. This site is now occupied by BAILEY & Sons. Afterwards the block as it now
stand was extended by W.P. GRANT and others.
In 1887 the GOOSTREE residence or hotel was built and the ANDERSON store building
was extended further west. While these mercantile improvements were being erected, lots were
bought and many residences were going up west of the railroad. Church Street was opened in
1889 and Dr. W.P. MOORE Jr., built his present residence. The John D. PERDUE residence
was erected and the Capt. WILLIAMS residence went up. The Mrs. SCHROEDER residence,
where John BAILEY now lives, and the John H. MCGLOTHLIN residence were all put up in
quick succession. A short time prior to this, one Buck BEASLEY, a blacksmith, put up a small
cottage home on the site now owned by Mrs. J.W. SWAN, which has been added to and
enlarged. During this time Prof. Luther CASEY, who was conducting a school here, bought the
adjoining lots and erected a two-room box dwelling, which later was bought by J.T. BUMPASS,
and built the present improvement, now owned and occupied by Dr. John W. HOLLIS. Still
later Josh PERDUE bought and built him a cottage home just south of Mrs. SWAN's were he
lived and died. He was about the only negro in the district that voted the Democratic ticket and
held himself above the common negroes. He always said that common negroes didn't have any
sense, couldn't see what was for their own better welfare.
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