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FLYTOWN

 
Flytown
Written by John Holt

Flytown was located on the northern most section of Gibson County, Tennessee, a small area lying north of the Obion River's South Fork that will later be swapped to Weakley County for a portion of Weakley County situated south of the Obion River at China Grove. Well known by local historians as the Flytown-China Grove Exchange. However, the small community of Flytown got it's name from the Elisha Fly, Jr. family, being one of the pioneer families of the entire area. 

Elisha,  Jr. married Elizabeth Reed, a full-blooded Cherokee Indian in North Carolina. He and Elizabeth had lived in Northampton County, North Carolina on Kirby's Creek. They sold this property consisting of 85 acres of land to James Barnes of Southampton County, Virginia and it was proved in summer court of 1796. Then Elisha, Jr. purchased 180 acres of land in March of 1796 in Davidson County, Tennessee and sold parts of this tract to his brothers John and Jermiah and others. Then Williamson County, Tennessee was removed from Davidson County leaving his acreage on Mill Creek now in Williamson county. In the year 1807 John and Jeremiah sold out and moved from Mill Creed to the Duck River in Maury County, Tennessee.Elisha, Jr. sold 74 acres on Mill Creek to John Winstead prior to September 1803 and remained on Mill Creek in 1810, then he was listed as serving in the Militia Company of Captain Barnes in 1812. He remained in Williamson County, Tennessee until after 1820. He came to Gibson County (Now Weakley County), Tennessee (Flytown) between 1820 and 1830. 

Elisha sold to his son-in-law, Henry Capps, 200 acres of the Flytown homeplace and sale was proved by Solomon Sedwick on January 22, 1827. In October of 1838 Elisha gave his son, John Richard Fly 84 acres and 11 poles on the north side of the Obion River's South Fork in the 12th Surveyor District. John Richard Fly later sold this tract of land to his brother-in-law, William Capps in 1840. Parcels of this land lay in Weakley County and Carroll County, and the bottom land consisted greatly of heavy virgin timber. 

 Jeremiah N. Fly, son of John Richard Fly resigned as Constable of Carroll County, Tennessee on April 1, 1839 and on April 5, 1839 he was released from overseer on road and William Capps was appointed to replace him.  Jeremiah was preparing to move west to Barry County, Missouri where he later became Sheriff of said county. 

Solomon Sedwick was deceased in August of 1839 when Elisha geve 185 acres in Weakley County, Tennessee to his daughter Fannie Pentelope Fly Sedwick and her children.  Elisha Fly, Jr. made his last will and testament, signing it the 28th day of September 1840 and died before the end of that year. He was buried on the old Fly homeplace in a family cemetery later called the "Snellgrove Graveyard" for some unknown reason. (This land at a later date was owned by a man named Snellgrove.) 

William Capps died in July of 1851 at the age of 55, his wife Lucy Fly Capps had preceeded him in death in January of 1849. Their oldest son Henry Washington Capps died August 7, 1861 as a result of wounds sustained in the "Battle at Wilson's Creek" during the Civil War. He was also 55 years old, the same age his father when he died. He was survived by his wife Nancy Grooms Capps. 

Before Elisha Fly, Jr. settled here the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee had already declared the South Fork of the Obion River navagable for river boats. This act of 1824 made it possible for Ray & Stafford to establish a profitable boat manufacturing enterprise. It soon became the leading (and only) industry in Flytown. John Ray and William Stafford built flat-boats where Bear Creek then flowed into the Obion River, this was an ideal place to locate their dry dock. 

There was a Port-of-Call in this same area. Argument can and has been made as to whether it was called "Bear Port", "Fly Port" or "Capps Port". It seems to have been called "Capps Port" since Bear Creek emptied its waters at a place on William Capps property known then as the "Capps Slough".

It is said that Davy Crockett gave Bear Creek it's name. (About one mile north of Staffords store there was a beech tree that had the following carved on the trunk "D. Boone killed a Bar" followed by a year date. This tree stood until abt. 1950's. Davy lived downstream from where Bear Creek intersected the Obion River, constantly hunting in the Obion River bottom. During one of his hunts he killed a bear on the bank of a little crooked branch, and always called this stream his little Bear Creek. 

Down river a short ways was "Mitchell's shanty" where river boats docked and unloaded cargo. "Mitchell's Shanty" was most likely the port in which Flytown received most of its wares. It was more accessable than the other port and a little nearer to the Flytown settlement it was located almost exactly where the new Bear Creek channel now intersects with the Obion River's New Channel. 

Flytown was beginning to thrive now since there were more and better roads, not to mention the river traffic. It reached such proportions as a blacksmith shop, a millinery shop, a cooper, Goodlow School where children were taught the "Three-R's" in a one-room log schoolhouse. The building was also used for the Missionary Baptist congregation to worship before they built their new church building. Goodlow School was located on Capps land that once was part of the Elisha Fly land, just southwest of the Flytown Settlement. 

At one time Flytown was referred to by some as "Mt. Airy" and "Little North Carolina" because most all of it's inhabitants had relocated here from North Carolina. When the first one-room log school house was constructed it was located on land later known as the Oscar Galloway place and named Mt. Airy school. Eventually there was three different locations for Mt. Airy school. Each time a new school building was located in the heart of the Mt. Airy gullies on the north side of the Flytown-Christmasville road.   It was a two-room wooden frame building with a bungalow roof. Fund raising events for the school included big name entertainers (radio personalities) Eddie Arnold, Angelena and other top local entertainers with good country and western musical shows. Local citizens performed "Negro Minstrels" and comedy plays. The third and final location was less than a mile from the second site, still in the gulley area. Sometimes there were local country musicians getting together as a band and played for square dances and cake walks at this location. Mt. Airy School closed in the late 1940's and the children were bussed to city schools. Luther Stafford bought the last school house, removed it from the premises and reconstructed it into a dwelling house at a place near the old site of Goodlow School. 

The general store at Flytown was now the heart of the settlement, located on the south-west lot at the cross-roads. Mr. Peck was the proprietor of the store and the community then became known as "Peck's Store". Mr. Peck added a grist mill at the back of the store making the settlement a life-line for the entire Flytown Settlement. 

Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church was officially established on August 17th, 1893 in it's new one-room church building. The land was donated by Calvin T. Capps and J. M. Cochran. At one time it was more commonly known as "Goodlow Church" since it's early congregation met at the old Goodlow schoolhouse. It has constantly grown in size and membership reaching almost 300 members. 

Church records provide us with a deacons list: Elbert W. (Ebb) Stafford; Oscar Galloway, 10/33; Herman Johnson, 10/33; Johnny Galey, 10/33; Arbie Taylor, 11/49; R.J. Stafford 4/52; Bradley Gilliam, 4/52; Eenest Neal, 4/52; Charles Burke, 11/67; Joe Stafford, 11/57; Billy Dunning, 11/67; Harold Mitchell, 3/78; Paul Archie, 3/78; Bart Campbell, 2/85; and Danny Ervin, 2/85. 

Past pastors are C.C. Bullington, 1923, who resigned in September of that year and Jum Dunning was elected November 18th 1923. L.R. Riley, 1924; Ed Crocker, 1925; R.H. Hampton, 1928; O.H. Joyner, 1930; Raymond Hampton, 1932; O.H. Joyner, 1941; W.H. Hopper, 1941; T.L. Glisson, 1944; Raymond Hampton, 1948; J.T. Powers, 1950; Arthur Greener, 1951; Dennis Beal, 1952; Vance Rushing, 1960; Jack McClain, 1966; Jerry Gallimore, 1967, Alton Prather, 1968; Dennis Beal, 1970; Charles Rushing, 1989; and Claud Prince, 1992. 

It was when the Post Office was established theat a petition was submitted to the U.S. Government Postal Department ot officially name the settlement"Peck's Station", in honor of Mr. Peck the proprietor of the general store.  The Postal Department declined to accept "Peck's Station", replying that a Post Office by that name already existed in Tennessee. Then Callie Pearl Capps wrote the Postal Department saying she thought the Post Office shold be named "Logan". Miss Capps was engaged to Mr. Logan Argo at the time and later married him. Peck's Station or Flytown was now known officially as Logan, Tennessee. The Post Office was located in the rear section of Peck's General Store and existed for only two years. Miss Frances Cochran was the Postmaster, she was a crippled lady who later married Matt Austin.  Ike Mitchell carried the mail by mule to and from Greenfield. 

After the Post Office closed, Henry Cochran was the rural carrier that serviced Flytown. Eventually Henry bought an automobile, but couldn't drive, so he hired his son Gerald Cochran to do the driving. Other mail carriers out of Greenfield at that time were Calvin Perry and Carl Shelton.

Peck's Store later was purchased by Mack Capps, who ran it awhile then sold a partnership to Walter M. Curllee and they sold to Robert "Bob" Stafford in 1920. Stafford sold to Johnny Galey, who ran it in 1925. Thomas Moses "Tom" Dinwiddie bought the store from Johnny Galey in 1929.  Dinwiddie had sold his store in Idlewild, Tennessee before moving to Flytown, but hard times had caused the Idlewild merchant to default in payment and Mr. Dinwiddie had to reclaim it. Tom Dinwiddie sold to Edgar L. Galey and his wife Evie Cochran Galey. They sold half-interest to Evie's  brother, Paul Cochran and later Paul sold his interest back to the Galey's. Galey's Store at Flytown had fun-raising events for the local baseball team, and to buy athletic equipment for Mt. Airy School. Galey bought a 1937 Chevrolet truck and made it into a "Doodle Wagon". Harris Drewry and his  brother Joe drove it through the community peddling groceries and buying certain kinds of produce. Later, the Galey's health began to decline and they hired Sonny Capps to run the store for awhile. But Galey couldn't continue to operate and closed it's doors for good. After the Galey's decease their only child, Laverne Galey Drewry sold all their property to J.W. Stafford.  Stafford moved the store building and used the house for his residence.

Less than a mile from Moore's Crossing on Bear Creek another country store was built and operated by the Guffie Brothers. They had located in a large beech grove of trees that lay west of the Flytown road. Will and Ode Guffie were operating this store in 1914. A Jewish "drummer" called on them, his name was Felson Thall, and the Guffie brothers bought most of their wares from him. He not only was a trusted salesman but a good friend. Then Will's son was born, he was named Felson Guffie. 

Grover Stafford then built a new store building on the north-east corner of the Flytown Crossroads after 1914. He called his business "Stafford's Store". The name became popular and the community of Flytown was now known largely as "Stafford's Store" and appeared on most local maps as "Stafford's Station". There was a voting precinct there where elections were held, and events of entertainment. There was at one time traveling medicine shows, tent movies, good baseball games, square and round dances, cake walks, ice cream suppers, a host of games and other entertainment.   Grover and his wife, Algie operated a successful business at Stafford's Store until his death in 1940. Not too long after Grover died Sherman Perry purchased it and later sold to Ray McCartney and Clinton "Dcik"Baker.   They added an extra feature by selling ice. It was about the end of World War II and the ice trucks had not begun to run through the rural community, so they purchased ice from Bear Ice & Coal Company in Milan, Tennessee and hauled it to the store building with a big orange Dodge trailer truck.  Later Howard Drewry bought the store and ran it for awhile before selling to L.A. "Jack" Stafford. Some years later his son, J.W. Stafford and his wife Bunice Smithson Stafford bought his dad's old store and ran it until shortly before his death. 

Dr. William More was the last of the country doctors to practice in the area. He located on a farm near Bear Creek, built a new two-story house and that creek crossing was known as "Moore's Crossing". 

There was some huge Indian mounds near the Flytown Road on Dr. Moore's farm. He hired Billy Johnson about 1915 to excavate the mounds with a spade and scatter the dirt across the field. Johnson was instructed by Dr. Moore to never reveal the Indian artifacts found inside the mounds and he kept his word. It was never known what was hidden in those mounds, if anything. 

Dr. Moore bought a new 1911 Ford, Model "T" automobile. He made arrangements with Green Maness to teach him how to drive it. Maness had already purchased a new car and was considered skilled in its operation.  Driving lessons began in a big pasture field belonging to Mr. Maness.  During one of Dr. Moore's driving lessons he ran into one of the Maness mules, crippling it somewhat. Zeb Stout later purchased the mule and named it "Ole Auto". 

Bear Creek was staightened in 1924 and 1925 by a locomotive type dredgeboat owned by James E. Prior of Sharon, Tennessee. It was operated by Mr. Wade and John McCurly. One of the "craners" was Dave Buddy. The boat was steam powered, burning both wood and coal. Fireman were Ulus S. Holt and Spurgeon Hubble. New bridges were built across the new channel and they were known as Langley's Crossing, Moore's Crossing, Prospect Crossing, Scates Crossing, Capps Crossing and Jules Smith Crossing. There were five bridges and one ford. During the flood of 1930 high waters washed away all five bridges on Bear Creek and also Shades Bridge on the Obion River. 

Cemeteries in the Flytown Community are Snellgrove (now owned by Joe Stout) originally located on the Elisha Fly homeplace later becoming the property of William Capps. Another Capps graveyard located about ? mile west (the Hulon Capps farm) where many of the Henry Capps family are buried. Brock (land donated by Thomas C. Brock and his wife Mary Jane Smithson Brock. This land was once part of the large Samuel Smithson farm.), Wright (established by Captain Wright, probably after the Civil War), Cochran and 1967 Pleasant Grove Cemetery (located in the churchyard). 

Grist mills were very important to the community in those days. There was the one behind Peck's Store, but much earlier the nearest one was most likely Forster's Mill on Spring Creek, mentioned in the court minutes of 1935. Another mill on Spring Creek near Pillowville was Brawner's Mill and it thought to be the same mill as Forster's Mill. Hart's Mill on the Obion River was one of the better mills in the area. 

West of Flytown, two country stores were built and operated briefly. Tom Dinwiddie resold his store in Idlewild and bought the Thomas Cobb farm where he built a new store building, operating it until his death in 1935. "Dinwiddie's Store" was built about 1930-31. Howard Featherstone boughtthe Dinwiddie place afterwards, moved the store building to his farm and made a milk barn out of it. ‘Mitchell's Store" was built and operated by

Talma and Brooksie Mitchell and was in business during the early 1950's. It was located on the north side of the Flytown-Shades Bridge Road. From 1900 to 1940 this community could look forward to a visit by "Peddler George". He was a small, thin man with a dark complexion walking from house to house selling his merchandise. His name was George Nofle, some called him a Jew, but he denied being one and argued to be from the "Old Country" of Syria. He lived in Fulton, Kentucky and had a brother "Peddler John" or John Nofle that worked other areas. George later acquired a horse and hack to travel by. He took his meals and lodging with friendly families along his routes, sometimes paying for his keep in merchandise, or he would say a "Syrian Prayer" or sing a song from the "Old Country". He never paid with money. His son Alec Nofle ran a store on "Soup Street" in Greenfield. 

 The main switchboard for Flytown's telephone service was Perry's Switchboard. However there were others scattered throughout other communities.There was the Meridian Switchboard operated by the Gar Harrington family. The Seminary Switchboard and others that interchanged with each other.The Perry Switchboard was owned and operated by Lawrence Perry and his two sons, Doyce and Warren. After Lawrence died Doyce and Warren were drafted in the army during World War II so that ended the telephone service in the area. 

Flytown had some good neighbor communities and they depended on the Flytown Settlement for many services. The old settlement of Christmasville (first known as Survey Station No. 2), with "Blacktown" located between Flytown and Christmasville. Then there was the "Hart's Mill" community and old "Mulberry" (later known as Holt's Community). 

In the early years of the settlement of what is now Weakley County, bordering the western line of Carroll County and lying just north of the South Fork of the Obion River the family of Elisha Fly, Jr. settled. His daughters Anna married Henry Capps, Lucy married William Rogers Capps, and Rebecca married John Whitsett Cochran. These families owned several hundred acres of land and much of this was originally owned by Elisha Fly, Jr. Elisha's wife Elizabeth Reed was either full blooded or ? Cherokee Indian. This area came to be called Flytown 

The graves of many of these early settlers are located on the Hulon Capps farm and others on a farm owned by Joe W. Stout. When Gibson and Weakley Counties were established in 1823, the line between the two counties was over a mile north of Shade's Bridge running due east and west. 

This has caused many people to misunderstand the exact location of many parcels of land in the past few years.  On November 4, 1837 the old South Fork of the Obion River was made the line between the two counties. The northeast part of Gibson County that lay north of the Obion river then became part of Weakley County (this included the Fly Town area, now called Stafford's Store area), and the southwest
part of Weakley County that was south of the river became a part of Gibson County, (This included the Walnut Grove area east of Rutherford). Until the line was changed in 1837, Gibson County maintained the road across the river and Weakley County maintained the road on the Skullbone side of the river. 

Submitted by Joe Stout

   

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