A Look Inside: Old Times in West Tennessee

Old Times in West Tennessee is a new addition to our American County Histories: Tennessee collection.  Its full text is now online and fully searchable.


THIS book is prefaced by its title page, requiring but little to be said as to the design of the writer, or his motives for writing it.

It is hardly necessary for the author to put in a disclaimer that he assumes to be neither a historiographer nor a biographer, much less an annalist; semi-historic, irregular and defective, if you will, is the only title he claims for it.

Whether it be accorded or not, it is none the less true that “every man has his own style, as he has his ‘own nose;’ and it is neither polite nor Christian to rally a man about his nose, however singular it may be — a fact pregnant with homely sense, and commends itself to the exercise of charity on the part of the critical reader.



Conceived when gout most troubled, and born of necessity, it was written when afflicted with physical pain, amply recompensed, however, in the pleasurable interest it gave in reviving the scenes and recollections of his boyhood days. Should the reader derive a tithe of the interest in reading that was afforded in writing, the author will be doubly recompensed.

An apology is due the theme it purports to treat, and is beseechingly asked for the author, for having written it hurriedly and without sufficient data. He had written to many of the immediate successors of the first and early settlers in the Big Hatchie country for something of the early lives and connecting incidents of their brave fathers and people, in subduing the wilds of West Tennessee; but, for some cause or other, except in a few instances, he received no response; possibly they feared to trust such a priceless heritage to the pen of unknown authorship.

It is to be regretted, as their names and heroism in hewing down the forest and opening up the way to thrift and refined civilized enjoyment would have contributed greatly to the interest of the history of Old Times in West Tennessee.

The author, not wishing to “play showman to his own machinery,” submits the following pages to tho reader for what they are worth, with a prayer that he be gentle and deal lightly, and, if merit there be, encourage him to a wider field, yet lying fallow in its virgin fireshness.


The full-text search capability of the American County Histories database permits the student/researcher to explore all the publications of a particular county by using a single query. In addition, those wishing to read or browse the text on a page by page basis may do so in the original format merely by scrolling down the screen and then continuing to the next chapter.


  • CHAPTER I. – EARLY Pioneer Settlers in the Big Hatchie Country • Movers’ Caravan through the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations • History of the Leaden Bullet and White Flint Arrow • DeSoto and his Bronzed Companions put to Flight by the Chickasaws • Bienville’s Expedition and his Defeat • D’Artaguettie and DeVincennes, and their Fate
  • CHAPTER II. – EARLY Settlers form a Neighborhood • Jce Seahorn and the Hog’s Hide • Nancy and her Peril with the Panther • Panther Hunt • The Road to Covington • First Ferry in Tipton on the Hat.hie • Dickens and his Taxes • Old Jack 38–51
  • CHAPTER III. – NEIGHBORHOODS Forming • Thomas Durham Founder of Durhamville • Johnnie Bradford • Thomas Thompson, Esquire • D. C. Russell • The First Frame House • Jacob Niswanger and William Murphy, the Hatter, and his Black-snakes • Joseph Wardlaw • Stephen Childress • Thomas Childless • William Turner and Parson Collins; their First Night in the Big Hatchie Country • Arthur Davis the Pioneer Preacher; his First Sermon in the Big Hatchie Country • First Schoolhouse in Tipton North of Hatchie • Old Man Larkin Gaines the First Schoolmaster
  • CHAPTER IV. – JOHN C. BARNES, the Pioneer Blacksmith • What Became of General Tipton’s Jackass • The Chickasaws and the Shooting Match • The First Tubmill and Cotton Gin • Joshua Farrington, the Ginmaker • Temple, the Screwcutter and Model Bear Hunter • His two Dogs, Cæsar and Bess • Bolivar Merchants • Pitser Miller • The Author’s First Killing 67–88
  • CHAPTER V. – BIG Bear Hunt • Temple, the Model Bear Hunter, and his Dogs Cæsar and Bess • The Big Hurricane • Numerous Bear Killings • Encounter with a Panther • Roosting Wild Turkeys • Camp Life in the Woods • The Locked Buck Horns • The Deer Lick Slash • The Big Bear • The Killing • Camp Stories and Anecdotes • The Last Day’s Hunt and the Last Killing
  • CHAPTER VI. – LAWYERS Riding the Circuit • Joshua Haskell, the First Judge • Alexander B. Bradford • Major Richmond • General Loving • John W. Strother • The Methodist Preacher and the Scalding Cup of Coffee • The First Nations Muster at Hurricane Hill • Bloody Noses and Black Eyes • John Barnes, the Blacksmith, and Ab Gaines, the Bully • Proposed Prize Fight • Ab and the Squatter’s Wife • John Smith and Daniel Parker 123–139
  • CHAPTER VII. – THE Character of Men who Settled West Tennessee • Tipton County; its Original Territory and Topographical Features • Organization and Officers of the First Courts • The First Venire of Grand and Petit Juries • Jacob Tipton • R. W. Sanford • Covington • The First Merchants • The First Physicians • The Calmes Tavern • Tavern-Keeper • The Boys about Town • The New Sign and the Bell-Ringing • The Calves in the Courthouse • Holtshouser’s Court • Old Johnnie Giddins • Tackett Kills Mitchell • Gray’s Case; his Life Staked upon a Game of Cards • Grandville D. Searcy • The Fourth of July Celebration • David Crockett Canvassing for Congress; his Opponents, Captain Joel Estes, Adam R. Alexander and Jim Clarke • Dr. Charles G. Fisher • Nathan Adams • William Coward and the Wolf Story • Major Armstead Morehead • James Sweeney • Major Richmond and George Shankle
  • CHAPTER VIII. – THE Mountain Academy • James Holmes, D. D; his Pupils • My Room-Mate • Style of Dress • Camp-Meeting • Youth, and Love 177–193
  • CHAPTER IX. – RANDOLPH in Old Times • Its Best Days • Loses the Chance of Becoming a City • Spirit of Internal Improvement of that Day • Early Settlers • Jesse Benton • The Alstons • Colonel Tom Roberson • Frank Latham • First Newspaper in the Country • Murrell Excitement • Expedition to Shawnee Village
  • CHAPTER X. – LAUDERDALE Formed out of Big Hatchie Territory • Key Corner Established by Henry Rutherford in 1789 • Rutherford and David Porter the First Permanent Settlers • David T. Porter, the First Born • Cole Creek Bluffs • Interesting Topographical Features • Discovery of the Three Graves; their History Worked out in Romance 206–234
  • CHAPTER XI. – HAYWOOD County • Colonel Richard Nixon, the First Pioneer Settler • N. T. Perkins • Hiram Bradford • Organization of the First Courts • The First Venire of Grand and Petit Juries • The Taylor Family • Dr. Allen J. Barbee • David McLeod, the Pioneer Tailor • Daniel Cherry • The First Execution Issued • Reuben Alfin and the Bull • Major William R. Hess; his Appearance Before the County Court • The Moody Case
  • CHAPTER XII. – THE First Steamboat, Red Rover; the Denizens of Haywood Gather on the Banks of the Big Hatchie to see it • Valentine Sevier, the Wit and Humorest of Brownsville • Cox, the Postmaster • Old Herring Bones • The Young Horse-Trader • Hornage 256–270
  • CHAPTER XIII. – FAYETTE; its Geographical and Topographical Features • County Sites Established for Seven Counties • Lewis P. Williamson • Hardeman • Bolivar • Ezekiel Polk • Jackson • First Newspaper • Colonel D. C. McLean
  • CHAPTER XIV. – BRIGHT and Lasting Memories of Youth Linking the Past with the Present • The Old Log Schoolhouse • The School-Path and Play-Ground • Schoolboys Demanding a Day’s Holiday • Our Mother 285–295

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

Related Posts

Tags: ,

Stay Connected

Connect with Accessible Archives on Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin to stay up to date on news and blog posts or get our latest blog posts by email.

Positive SSL