History of the
Martinís Mills Community
by Ruby Johnson
North of Pinhook about four or five miles lies a small community called Martinís Mills. It is located in the forks of Weatherford and Indian creek and north across Indian Creek and West across Weatherford Creek to the Hardin County line.
As I searched for information on Martinís Mills Kenneth Skillern let me borrow the history of the Martin family taken from Wayne County Historian, Volume 4, Number 3, September 1991. This was the same family for which Martinís Mills was named and was written by Richard W. Martin of Athens, Alabama.
Ancestors of the Martins came from Belfast, Ireland to America between 1750 and 1760 and settled in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Jefferson Martin, who finally settled in Wayne County, was the oldest of ten brothers and sisters all born in Bourbon County. He was born February 1803. All the children attended the common schools of Kentucky which were primitive structures without a floor and furnished with slab benches.
Before the Civil War, the Martin family was divided and Jefferson moved to Williamson County, Tennessee in 1827. There he met Esther L. Stuart and they were married January 8, 1829. In the next ten years she and Jefferson became the parents of four children, all born in Williamson County.
In the early 1850's, Jeffersonís family moved to Lawrence County, Tennessee where he and his oldest son, Edward B., were in the real estate business.
Their next move brought them to Martinís Mills in Wayne County, Tennessee. Moving with Jefferson was his wife, Esther, their daughter, Sarah Martin Atkins and her son, and Edward B. and his wife, Mary Ruth and son Jim.
Jefferson and son, Edward B., bought Cravens Mills on Weatherford Creek for $15,000.00 and 600 acres of land on Indian Creek for $4,000.00. Then on August 25, 1860, the bought 22Ĺ acres from L. P. Cheatham.
Prior to the Civil War they were operating a steam mill, water mill, grist mill, brewery, cotton gin and a distillery. They also had a general store which carried all the needs of the families in the Martinís Mills area within a radius of ten to twelve miles. To keep the store furnished, they had to travel by wagon up Gant Hill and across the ridge to Clifton to meet the boats to buy their commodities.
The local people came to the mills to get corn ground into meal or to have timber sawed into lumber. While there they purchased other needed items such as salt, coffee, sugar, snuff, chewing tobacco and overalls. With the tanyard they could get shoes and some farm equipment.
In the 1860 Wayne County census, Jefferson Martin is shown as the owner of five slaves and his son, Edward B, as the owner of four. The slaves were used to help run the mills, cotton gin and sawmill.
On the morning of May 29, 1863, the Civil War came to Martinís Mills. In a report made by Captain Eagleton Carmichael of Company B, 15th Illinois Cavalry to his headquarters in Corinth, Mississippi on June 2, 1863, he states that he chased Biffleís band of guerrillas in the area around Martinís Mills and Pinhook on the morning of the 29th of May. The Martinís Mills had all been destroyed with only a concrete dam remaining. All the wheat fields had been burned and the women went to the burned mills and scooped up flour that was spilled on the ground.
Just twelve days after the battle of Martinís Mills, Jefferson Martinís wife died and was taken back to Mt. Ararat Cemetery in Lawrence County to be buried with others in the family.
In February of 1864, the Martins bought 172Ĺ acres at Martinís Mills for $1,800.00. They put the troubles of the war behind them and rebuilt the mills. Soon they were in business again and glad to be alive.
On August 14, 1873, a post office was established at Martinís Mills with Edward B. Martin appointed the first postmaster. While at Martinís Mills he served as a Justice of the Peace and as Chairman of the County Court of Wayne County. He retired as postmaster on September 7, 1882. After his father, Jefferson died in Waynesboro in 1886, he sold all their real estate at Martinís Mills and went to Cisco, Texas to live with his son, Jim. He died in June 1893 and was buried there. From that time to the present, this area has been called Martinís Mills, a well deserved name.
Myers, Paulk (John Paulk) and Company, dealers in dry goods, groceries and general merchandise may have been the buyers of some of the real estate sold by the Martins. They went into business in 1895.
In 1899, Frank Parker was also a dealer in general merchandise in the area.
In the early 1900's, S. R. Eaton operated a general merchandise store north of Morgan Branch.
J. A. Lacefield built a two story house and a store and began operating a general merchandise store and a cotton gin in 1906. In 1917, Mr. Lacefield sold his property to A. A. Johnson and he and Taylor Morgan operated the store and cotton gin. After they went out of business, Isham Beckham and several others had a store there until it ceased to be in operation. Part of this store building is still standing, a reminder of times that were for the older generation.
Dan Wilkerson also operated a general store and grist mill in the early to mid-1900's. This old building is also no longer in use.
John Paulk sold his property to Mrs. Mary Newborn and she, along with her son, Henry Newborn, and her son-in-law, Luther Webb and wife, moved in. Later on Henry Newborn became the postmaster with the help of his wife, Emma (Wilbanks) Newborn. Dan Wilkerson carried the mail and John Beckham brought the mail from Waynesboro to the post office.
The next postmaster I am told was Arthur Chowning. I do not know how long each one served, but the post office was eventually moved to Lutts. The Martinís Mills area were served for many years bu the Lutts post office until this route was switched to Collinwood.
John Greeson was probably the first mail carried from Lutts to Martinís Mills. He carried the mail in a buggy pulled by two big black horses. His wife Cora, was his substitute and rode side saddle on a horse to deliver the mail, which must have taken all day. The John Morgan carried the mail for several years followed by his son, David, for a short time. When David was transferred to the Collinwood post office, Grady Sinclair became the last mail carrier from Lutts to Martinís Mills. After the route was switched to Collinwood, Dumont Hanback, W. C. Smith and at the present time Doyle Risner have carried the mail for Martinís Mills.
The history of Martinís Mills would not be complete without mentioning the Rose Normal school of the 1800's. Professor Robert Sutton, the president, and Professor Tolbert McAnnally, an outstanding schoolmaster, taught at Rose Normal which was a college. It was much more than an elementary school. People who really wanted to be educated in those days were students there. Many students boarded in the boarding hall including Superintendent John Gallien, Judge Frank Melson and my uncle, William Eli Cherry of Hardin County. Many local people were also educated there.
The boarding hall was located on what is now Brodie Johnsonís farm by a well that is still useable. The Rose Normal School burned more than a hundred years ago and the boarding hall was torn down and used in building a dwelling house.
In 1912, the Rose School was built and later on in the 1900's another room was added. It was finally called the Martinís Mills School and served the community until it was consolidated with the Pinhook School in the early 1940's.
Another school was located on the G. W. Johnson farm in the early 1900's on the north side of Indian Creek in what was called the Gant Bottom. This school for the colored people was also their church.
The only other church at this time was the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1907 on December 10, H. H. Smith sold seven sixteenths of an acres more or less for $50.00 for the building. The M.E. Church used this property until October 1920 when it was sold to A. A. Johnson for $400.00 with P. D. Hall, James Lawson and W. H. Weaver as witnesses and J. D. Horton, Notary Public.
During the 1930's the preachers from the Christian Church in Waynesboro came one Sunday afternoon a month and preached in the Martinís Mills school building.
In September 1948, the Church of Christ started meeting in the vacant school building. In 1960, the congregation built a church building on land donated by Clura and Elizabeth Wilkerson which is still being used at the present time.
In years past the Skinner Farm on the north side of Indian creek had always been a source of community pride. After going through a gate there was a long lane leading up to a plantation type house with big cedars in the yard which was surrounded by a white picket fence.
During the last 1800's and early 1900's Samuel H. Sinclair, born in 1839, was the owned of the Skinner farm. He had married Eliza A. Harbour. A farmer of the farm was Elisha Harbour, probably a close relative. Sinclair owned more than 800 acres on Indian Creek.
In the 1880 census, Mr. Sinclair had three children: Minnie, Lina and James Samuel who was born in 1877 and died in 1896. Lina, born in 1874, was living in Kentucky in the late 1800's and had married a Mr. Skinner. they had one son, born in 1896. In 1910, Lina was a widow at age 36 and Sinclair, her son, was 14 years old.
Samuel H. Sinclair was still living in April 1912 when he made a will that had not been probated in 1920. In his will he made his daughter, Minnie Martin trustee leaving land in nearby Hardin County to her and what is known as the Skinner Farm in trust to Lina and her heirs. After her father died, Lina and her son, Sinclair, remained on the farm for sometime but finally moved back to Kentucky where her granddaughter lived. Her son stayed at the farm for some time before going up north to work. At their deaths they were all buried at Mt. Hebron.
Through the years several different families occupied the Skinner House, but in 1933, the Joel Yeiser, Sr. family moved there and stayed until 1975. While operating the farm he served eight years as County Judge and five terms as County Trustee. In 1867, he died and was buried at Mt. Hebron. His wife, Mary (Young) Yeiser and daughter Sue continued to live on the farm until 1875 when they moved to Waynesboro. Sue died suddenly in 1988 and was buried alongside her father. Their son, Joel, Jr., who lived in Waynesboro, continued to operate their farms at Martinís Mills until his death in 1991. He was also buried at Mt. Hebron.
In the Wayne County record of cemeteries, six cemeteries are listed in the Martinís Mills area. First is the Eaton Cemetery on a hill at the Ernest Warrington farm where the Daniel Eaton family and some of the Yerby family are buried. The nine graves are dated from 1886 to 1941.
The second cemetery is the Herndon Cemetery located on the same farm about 300 yards behind Chrystine Warringtonís house on the east side of Weatherford Creek Road. Three graves are visible but one tombstone has grown into a cedar tree and the inscription cannot be read. One foot stone is marked W. H. It is believed that William and Sarah Herndon are buried there. Two graves have mounds of stone but no inscription.
The third cemetery is the Rose Cemetery up Morgan Branch from Brodie Johnsonís farm. Six members of the Rose family were buried there in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
The fourth cemetery is across Weatherford Creek at the top of a hill behind the Ronnie Yeiser farm. It is called the Cook Cemetery with tombstones dated from 1910 to 1920.
The fifth cemetery is called the Horton Cemetery by some and the Martin Cemetery by others. It is located on the west side of Weatherford Creek on the Tom Helton farm. The tombstones are dated from 1868 to 1939. Thomas Stribling, a Civil War veteran, is buried there. This is a larger cemetery than the others with close to thirty graves having tombstones.
The sixth cemetery is called Davana. It is one mile east of Hardin County line on a hill south of Indian Creek on Alfred Gallaherís farm. Three members of the Davana family were buried there from 1834 to 1847.
Special thanks to the following people for information used to write this history: Ruby Reece; Grady Sinclair; Clura Wilkerson; and June Scott.
References: Wayne County Cemetery Records and old deeds.