The Settlement of Portland, Tennessee
Articles 11 - 14
by William McGlothlin
Published in The Portland Herald, 1909-1910
|Article 11: ||The Erection of
the Different Churches in Portland|
|Article 12: ||The Rebuilding
of Portland Seminary and the Moving and Locating of Fountain Head Masonic
|Article 13: ||Rapid
Improvements East of the Railroad|
|Article 14: ||The Rounding
up Article of this Series|
As heretofore stared in part, the school house was the only place of a number of years in
which to have preaching, and as the population of the village increased and the various
denomination wished to hold services peculiar to their several polities, the school house became
too small to accommodate all demands, both in room and time to serve the different churches. It
being the better part of prudence not to have too many families under the same roof, and in order
that preacher and harmony might prevail, and that she might go to house keeping in her own
domicile, in the year 1892 the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and know as the Portland
Methodist Church, erected the present church at a cost of about $1,500, after a very hard
struggle, as it was right in the beginning of a money panic, but it was completed and paid for and
dedication day was published. It being a new feature in the community, and the first church
built in the place an overflowing crowd was present. Dr. LEFTWICH, the Presiding Elder,
preached a great sermon on the "Transfiguration of Christ."
This enterprise of the Methodist had the effect to stimulate and arouse other churches to do
The Missionary Baptist made one or more efforts to form a church in the school house and
finally succeeded under that good and noble character. Rev. Austin MOORE, whose great voice
and prudent council gave no uncertain sound, was always well timed, and uttered in love and
sympathy like a father to a dutiful child.
In the fall of 1895 they purchased a lot of Dr. W.P. MOORE, and in the spring of 1896 they
erected their present church. Cras. DOWELL was the chief carpenter. Much praise is due Rev.
V.K WITT, the pastor who did valiant service in promoting the enterprise. It was dedicated by
Dr. W.C. GOLDEN of Nashville, Tennessee, to an overflowing crow, and prosperous
The Disciples had been holding preaching in the school house, and large crowd with bated
breath listened to the stirring appeals of Drs. BRENT, LIPSCOMB, SEWELL and others, and
they, too getting the church building fever, became restive and impatient to get into a church of
their own. In the year 1897 they erected a nice church building, and the school house, which had
been a nursery so long by all denominations, was no longer used for church purposes. On the
first Sunday in May, 1898, the church was dedicated by Elder ELAM to a great and highly
It seems to be the disposition in all little towns that when one denomination erects a church
before long all the others will fall in line and do likewise. This example has been adhered to in
this village to a full demonstration. The Presbyterian being the least in point of numbers, looked
on anxiously as church house after church house reared their spires heavenward, but the
temptation grew too strong to overcome any longer; so a few resolute men and as many big
heated, courageous women put their shoulders to the wheel of church enterprise, and in the year
1904 a cozy, neat and beautiful church building went up in good style, and the little bands were
soon fully up with the procession in having a well equipped home of their own. A determined
will, well guided and prudently manipulated, will eventually accomplish great success. On the
first Sunday in May, 1905 Rev. HUNTER, then pastor at Franklin, Ky., preached a soul-stirring
dedicatory sermon to a crowded house.
Portland is well supplied with good church edifices, for which we all feel grateful to kind
providence. Let us not be vain, but let every social virtue cement us, and may love, harmony and
the winning of souls to Christ be the motive power in all the churches.
In article seven I stated that while Prof. Z.K. GRIFFIN and his corps of assistants, early in
December, 1897, were conducting a very interesting school on oil stove in the ante-room was
accidentally turned over and the entire building, with some valuable school furniture, were
destroyed. This caused the suspension of the school, as there was no other building in the place
in which to continue. But there is always a way where there is a determined will to co-operate
and put that will into practice. The smouldering embers of the old building had not gone out
before a subscription list had been liberally signed, a building committee appointed, men sent to
the forest to fell trees, cut logs, and other hauling to the saw mill to erect a new school edifice.
Winter was approaching, time must be husbanded. Prof. Z.K. GRIFFIN, that big-heated
soul, took the lead in this noble work. In the woods, at the mill, anywhere his services and
directions are needed he was always to be found. It was greatly due to his perseverance,
unflagging energy and push that the work went bravely on regardless of the wintry blast or the
chilling rain or snow. No going into winter quarters, no cessation of the work, no sluggard or
croakers, but unanimity of action prevailed, and like a magician's wand the erection of the
building went on, and in time to open the spring session the present enlarged Portland Seminary
was a precious reality, only a part of the fall session being lost. Portland people en masse were
proud of the achievement, and well they may be, as it is a great auxiliary in the prosperity and
promotion of the town.
In the year 1867 Fountain Head Lodge No. 326, F.A.M., was organized and granted a
charter to work in a hall built by the Masons over Old Fountain Head M.E. Church South. It
prospered for years and made many good Masons, wielded a strong moralizing influence in the
community. In course of time, it being away from any thoroughfare, or place of business where
people congregate; and there being several new lodges formed east of it, cutting down its
territory and many demitting and going to those new lodges, being more convenient and nearer
their homes, the interest in Fountain Head Lodge began to wane, the attendance began to fall off,
the membership to grow less--ran down to about fifty, had been one hundred. It became an
interesting question with the lodge. To stay there meant gradual but certain death. It was voted
by the lodge to move the railroad, as business was centralizing in that direction. But to what
place must the lodge be carried? Some wanted to go to Fountain Head Station, some wanted to
come to Portland. It was resoluted by the lodge unanimously that a vote be had and a majority
would decide to which place the lodge would go.
On July, 6th 1901, at a stated meeting, after a long debate pro and con, the vote was taken,
thirteen voting to move to Portland and ten to go to Fountain Head Station. The second story of
Dr. T.L. LANIER's store was procured as a temporary meeting place and was dedicated for
Masonic purposes by Bro. T.L. LANIER, commissioned by the Right Worshipful Grand Master
of Tennessee to so act.
The first meeting of Fountain Head Lodge No. 326, F.A.M. convened in Portland was on
the 27th of Dec., 1901. The first Masonic degree conferred in Portland was on F.C. ENDERS,
Jan. 4, 1902. Fountain Head Lodge No. 326, F.A.M, held its meetings in this hall for nearly two
years. Plans to erect a new Masonic hall in Portland were discussed by the lodge early in the
year 1903. A building committee was appointed, and in conjunction with J.F. BAILEY & Sons,
who were erecting a house for mercantile purposes, it was agreed mutually that they complete,
own and occupy the first story, and that Fountain Head Lodge No. 326 F.A.M., complete, own
and occupy the second story as a Masonic hall and be equal owners in the lot on which the
building stands. The work was immediately entered into and expeditiously proceeded with.
Unity of purpose and harmony in action was so expedited that before the ideas of November
arrived the beautiful and commodious Masonic hall of Fountain Head Lodge in Portland was
dedicated fro Masonic purposes and the lodge was in its own home again.
Since the lodge came to Portland it has prospered and increased in numbers to its former
strength--one hundred members--and still the prospects are flattering. Masonic lodges do not
spring up and grow like some other orders, but it is on a more permanent and solid basis. All
come unsolicited. It has been an uplift to the town and community. Kind reader, I have been, as
you may observe, thus explicit in this narration that you may understand how and why it came
about that Fountain Head Lodge No. 326, F.A.M., have their Masonic hall and convening place
In the Spring of 1875 A.C. BUTT bought of the Thos. BUNTIN heirs 71 acres of land. On
March 22, 1877, he bought of Martin GROVES, son-in-law of James BUNTIN, 25 acres more,
making in all 96 acres all lying east of the L&N R.R., except the portion north of the creek on
the Gallatin road. A.C.BUTT was not inclined to sell off lots. The only sale he made two acres
to his sister, Mrs. Kate MOYE, where she now lives, and it was not improved until the year
A.C.BUTT died June 9, 1884, Mrs. Lizzie BUTT, wife of A.C. BUTT, was allotted a
dower of 29 acres east of the railroad depot, including the dwelling. At this time there was no
other improvements on any of this land.
June 15, 1895, an auction of lots was made of all the A.C. BUTT farm south of the Gallatin
road. The lots were bought by the MOORE boys, H.B. LANE, Dr. T.L. LANIER, and others at
what was then considered good prices. The first lots improved were the warehouses on the
railroad, where the wholesale grocery is now located. The remainder of the lots were soon
covered with magnificent and tasty residences. This constituted the happy beginning of the tide
of improvement on the east side of the railroad.
The first lot sold on the north side of the Gallatin road and the first lot of the dower of Mrs.
Lizzie BUTT was to Mrs. E.J. HOBDY, and recently sold by T.D. KIRKPATRICK to Mr. Robt.
LEE. All these lots were sold in a short time and comfortable and neat cottage building went up
like magic. The last one to go up was the Presbyterian Church. This street has been variously
named. First it was styled and deeds so written as the Gallatin Road. Then it was named
"Quality Hill" Street, and lastly, from the profusion of children that were being reared on it, it
was jocularly named "Squalling Street." Anyway it is a choice portion of Portland, well located,
tastefully improved, and the tide of improvement moves bravely on.
The next street laid off for sale of lots was in the year 1904, and called High Street, and
choice lots advanced one hundred per cent. This is the finest view of any location in Portland.
J. E. KERLEY bought and improved the first lot on this street, erecting a beautiful modern
cottage home. This style of building has been adopted by others, and it adds greatly to the
beauty of the residences on this charming street. It is almost solidly improved, and the property
on this street is steadily advancing regardless of panics and hard times. It is a delightful street on
which to locate.
In the year 1908 Wheeler Street, north of and parallel with High Street, was opened up for
sale. Mr. Edgar MCNEIL purchased the first lot and has erected and is occupying a nice and
comely home. Mrs. Elizabeth HAMBY, on the same street, has in process of erection a
magnificent residence, which will, when completed, be up to date in all modern conveniences
and fixtures. This street leads out to the VOSS addition in East Portland, and specially laid off
for this purpose, where three nice cottage homes have been ereted, and perhaps others in the
near future will go up. This is a splendidly located plat of lots, wide streets and crossed streets
and alleys in regularly city style, and may some day be the most beautiful resident portion of the
town. It is a high, dry, undulating plateau, well adapted and located for that purpose, and just the
proper distance from the noise and bustle of the business mart. It is the golden opportunity for
those who may desire to locate in our prosperous little town.
Mr. Editor--In closing my second article and speaking of the Thomas BUNTIN family a
model of peace, enjoyment and prosperity up to the war of the States, but at this the tide changed
and in this close I stated that "bad luck and adversity seemed to be the fate of the heirs,
concerning whom we may speak more fully hereafter." So here I renew this line of
James BUNTIN, the older of five heirs, soon after the close of the war entered with several
other men into tobacco speculation at Mitchellville Station, Tenn. They bought tobacco in the
hand heavily and at very high prices--war prices--did not exercise care and precaution, ran the
business loosely. Some of the firm imbibed drink too freely and much of the investment was
upon a borrowed capital.
The sale of tobacco went down in every market--to use the common term in the trade-- "the
bottom fell out." James BUNTIN was about the only solvent man in the firm. He then owned
nearly all of the present GIBSON and brother farm, it well stocked and not encumbered. The
burden of the entire failure, in the main, fell upon him. He, being an honest man, tried to meet
the crash, but it was too heavy, he went down under the load. This splendid farm and stock and
every thing the law would force a sale of, was swept away for the payment of the indebtedness of
the firm, leaving him a poor man in declining years and he died in this condition a few years
Mrs. Adelia THOMPSON, wife of Dr. THOMPSON, the oldest daughter, was left a widow
soon after the war and died at Norwood Springs, Ky., in moderate circumstances a few years
later. John BUNTIN, the other brother, was wild and reckless, did not accumulate, spent about
all he heired, went west and died a poor man. Mrs. Mary LOVELL prospered fairly well, but
died prematurely, did not live to a ripe old age. Mrs. Jane PLUMMER, the youngest daughter,
consumed the most of her estate, went west years ago and it is not known whether she is living
or dead. So this once magnificent estate, happy and noted family are scattered to the four winds
of earth and only a small part of the HUFFMAN farm today is held by the relatives of that
In April, 1904, the Legislature of Tennessee passed an act to incorporate the town of
Portland and in May, following a set of Aldermen were chosen and installed and Portland
became a full fledged municipality.
It continues to grow and does a wonderful amount of trade for a little town "North of the
Ridge." To continue this growth, it is imperatively necessary that enterprises be inaugurated that
will demand and employ laborers the entire year round. We have a good church building, good
school, good merchant mill, good brick plant, good planing mill and will soon have handsome
and commodious store buildings and good trade in all lines, and all these things are essential, yet
they do not complete and afford the benefit to be derived from an enterprise that demands
laborers the year round at living wages.
Mr. Editor, you can do much toward inciting an interest and bringing about this happy
consummation through the ever welcome visitor. The Portland Herald; long may it live and
prosper in the mutual welfare of all interests uplifting. That is really the one thing needful to
promote the future prosperity of our town in every line of honorable avocation
Now, kind readers, I have completed, in an imperfect manner, what I promised. If I have
written anything calculated to wound the feelings of anyone, it was not intentional. Let the
mantle of charity cover the foibles of your humble servant and believe me as ever
Yours very truly.
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