History of DeKalb county, Tennessee

I have thought the virtues and affairs of the people of my native county worthy of chronicling and trust there is a place among them for this little book. It is finished with the haze and hush of Indian summer about me and under the spell of the old hills. It is easy to see once-familiar faces, to hear remembered voices, to recall the little activities on farms and in villages, and I cherish the fact that I was once a part of all this. It should not be a matter for wonder, then, that I often feel what Burns felt when he gave expression to his perpetually quoted wish:

That I for poor auld Scotland's sake
Some useful plan or book could make,
Or sing a sang at least.

The works which have been helpful are named where o quoted. Very valuable, indeed, have been two musty account books referred to repeatedly herein; they have helped so much to illuminate a bygone time. The first is that of the Liberty physician and merchant, Ebenezer Wright, dated from April 22, 1832, to June 18, 3 1833. The second belonged to Dr. John W. Overall, of Alexandria, and dates from 1830 to 1834, but was afterwards used by his father. Col. Abraham Overall. While I never had much fondness for figures, these two documents, with all that they reveal in and between the lines, proved as interesting as romance. I must be pardoned for referring to them so often as well as for intruding my own recollections. Many individuals have offered data and suggestions, among them H. H. Jones, L.E. Simpson, Miss Effie Simpson, Mrs. Josie Davis, M.A. Stark, Rob Roy, Isaac Cooper, Dib Dinges, J.F. Roy, Alexandria ; Mrs. Lizzie Hale, Mrs. Belle Overall, Mrs. C.L. Bright. W.L. Vick, T.G. Bratten, J.F. Caplinger, Liberty; Dr. R. M. Mason, Temperance Hall; Dr. T.W. Wood, Bellbuckle; Mrs. Rachel Payne, Watertown; Mrs. S.W. McClellan, Lieut. B.L. Ridley, Murfreesboro; Rev. J.H. Grime, Lebanon; Rev. J.W. Cullom, Triune; Hon. Norman Robinson, Allan Wright, Dowelltown; Ralph Robinson, Sparta; Rev. Van N. Smith, Laurel Hill; Horace McGuire, B.M. Cantrell, Smithville; Rev. G.L. Beale, Springfield; James H. Fite, Anthony, Kans.; John K. Bain, Shreveport, La.; Thomas J. Finley, Celina, Tex.; James H. Burton, Summers, Ark.; L.T. Rhea, M.L. Fletcher, Robert Quarles, Jr., H. Leo Boles, A.B. Hooper, Tal Allen, Isaiah White, Hon. J.W. Byrns, L.J. Watkins (a most competent proof reader for the Methodist Publishing House), and officials of the State and Carnegie Libraries, Nashville.

But for the following these annals could not have been written: My brother, H. L. Hale, Liberty, born about 1855, descendant of the pioneers Benjamin Hale and Abraham Overall; Ed Reece, Nashville, son of a hero of three wars, Capt. Jack Reece; Rev. Petway Banks, Dowelltown, born about 1857 and one of the purest citizens the county ever produced; James Givan, born in 1839, descendant of a first settler, a splendid type of citizen, and the best authority on local history around Liberty; Livingston Tubb, Alexandria, grand- son of the patriot and pioneer Col. James Tubb; James Dearman, Smithville, born in 185 1 of pioneer stock and the soul of helpful courtesy; Riley Dale, born in 1841 or 1842, grandson of pioneer William Dale and a man of correct walk; and Dr. J.B. Foster, born in Liberty in 1839, but now an honored physician of Meridian, Miss., a genius whose remarkable memory is as full and reliable as the famous diary of Samuel Pepys.

 

Table of Contents

I. When Tennessee Was Young 1
II. DeKalb County - Established Officials 9
III. The Oldest Village 22
IV. Pastimes of the Foreparents 39
V. Farming and Merchandising 48
VI. Relating to Education 56
VII. Religious History 67
VIII. Annals of Alexandria 88
IX. Concerning Slaves and Free Negroes 98
X. Stagecoach and Tavern Days 106
XI. The County Seat 119
XII. Historical Jetsam 128
XIII. Smaller Villages of the County 139
XIV. In the Early Wars 151
XV. Secession DeKalb Confederates 162
XVI. Stokes's Cavalry 185
XVII. Blackburn's and Garrison's Federals 194
XVIII. Progress of the Big War 208
XIX. Personal Experiences 218
XX. Regular and Guerrilla Warfare 229
XXI. Peace and the Aftermath 244

 

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As a definite district bearing its present name, DeKalb County is not old, since it was erected in 1837 and not organized until 1838. But the territory included within its boundaries has a history we need to know something about, along with that of the State, and this will be treated before taking up its organization.