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Rutherford County 
Historical Society 





Dr. James M. Dill 





Rutherford County Historical Society 
Publication No. 9 


Dr. James Madison Dill (1831-1916) a native of Rutherford County, 
for whom the community of Dilton was named, is featured on the cover 
of this publication. His parents were Isaac and Gilley Cooper Dill 
who were natives of South Carolina. The old country doctor, a highly 
respected member of the community, was buried in the Harrell Cemetery 
at Dilton. 

Rebecca L. Smith is the author of this very fine history of Dilton. 
The Rutherford County Historical Society is proud to publish this 
history which Miss Smith has prepared. 

Thanks to Rutherford County Judge Ben Hall McFarlin and Mrs. Susan R. 
Jones for their assistance in publishing this book. 

Murfreesboro, Tennessee 

Published by the 


President ...» ...,<.,,,,,..,.,,...»... . Dr. Robert B, Jones m 

Vice-President. Dr. Homer Pittard 

Recording Secretary Miss Louise Cawthon 

Corresponding Secretary and Treasurer. Mrs. Dorothy Ma heny 

Publication Secretary Mr. Walter K. Hoover 

Directors ..,,.......,..,.... Mr. Ernest K. Johns 

Miss Mary Hall 
Mr, Robert Ragland 

Publication No. 9 (Limited Edition-350copies) is distributed to mem- 
bers of the Society. The annual membership dues is $5. 00 (Family-$7„ 00) 
which includes the regular publications and the monthly NEWSLETTER to 
all members. Additional copies of Publication No. 9 may be obtained at 
$3. 50 per copy. 

All correspondence concerning additional copies, contributions to 
future issues, and membership should be addressed to. 

Rutherford County Historical Society 

Box 906 

Murfreesboro, TN 37130 


SOCIETY, Box 906, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 37130; 

Publication # 1, 2, 4: Out of Print. 

Publication # 3: Rutherford Marriage Records, 1857-59; Pre-history of 

Rutherford Co.; Gen. Griffith Rutherford; 1803 Petition for Formation 
of County; Militia Commissions 1821-1830; and Rock Springs Church 
"istory. $3.00 + $.50 postage 

Publication # 5: Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad; Rutherford Co. Post 
Offices and Postmasters; The Rutherford Rifles; and Hardemans Mill. 

$3.00 + postage 

Publication # 6: Link Community; History of LaVergne; Fellowship Community; 
and the Sanders Family. $3.00 + $.50 postage 

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Cripple Creek Presbyterian Church; Early Militia Order, Petition by 
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Publication # 8: Bethel-Leanna Community; Crowders of Readyville; View of 
Stones River Battlefield from N. Y. Times, Sept. 2, 1865; Record of 
Jordan Williford, Rev. Soldier; Company Roll of Hardy Murfree, Sept. 9, 
1?78. $3.50 + $.50 postage 

1840 Rutherford Census ; With index. $5.00 + $.50 postage 

Deed Abstracts of Rutherford County . 1803 - 1810 . Names of land owners and 

other genealogical information from early deeds. $10.00 + $.50 postage 

Griffith : A beautifully Illustrated bi-centennial publication. 60 pages. 

$2.00 + $.50 postage 


Map of Rutherford County showing roads, streams, and land owners, dated 1878. 

$3.50 + $.50 postage 

Cemetery Records published jointly with the Sons of the American Revolution: 
Vol. 1: Northwest portion of county including Percy Priest Lake area 

and parts of Wilson and Davidson Counties, 256 cemeteries with 

index and maps. $10.00 + $.50 postage 

Vol. 2: Eastern portion of Rutherford Co. and the western part of Cannon 

Co., 241 cemeteries with index and maps. $10.00 + $.50 postage 
Vol. 3: Southwestern portion of Rutherford County, 193 cemeteries, index 

and maps. $10.00 + $.50 postage 



Prepared by Mrs. D. C. Daniel, Jr. 

IMPORTANT: Publication of queries in this column is free to all members 
as space permits. Each query must appear on a full sheet of paper which 
must be dated and include member's name and address. Please type if 
possible. Queries should give as much pertinent data as possible, i.e. 
approximate/actual dates of birth, marriage, death, etc. Queries must 
refer to RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TENNESSEE FAMILIES and immediate connections. 
Address all correspondence relating to queries to the Society, P. 0. 
Box 906, Murfreesboro, Tenn. 37130. 

Deadline Dates: March 31 for Summer Publication and August 31 for 
Winter Publication. 

No. 1 MORGAN -WINSTON: Carey Morgan b. VA. CA 1776-80 (parents: Elizabeth 
Clay and Joshua Morgan, m, 1817, Ruth. Co., Nancy Winston b. 1791). 
Is 1860 tombstone in old Murfreesboro Cemetery for Nancy Morgan, 
wife of Gary, hers? Nancy is daughter of Nathaniel Winston per 
Ruth, Co, deeds CA 1824. Children: John m, in Denmark: Robert d. 
without issue; Samuel m. Ruth. Co. 1860's, Tabltha Avent: James m. 
Rachel Posey (great-granddaughter of Gen, John Coffee's sister): 
Elizabeth m, J. C. Wortham: Mary m. Sam Moore. Compiling Morgan 
family tree, especially need to know where they came from in Virginia 
and whether they settled temporarily somewhere else before coming 
to Ruth. Co. Mrs. James E. Sraotherraan, Route 1, College Grove, 
Tenn., 37046. 

No. 2 WARREN-SOAPE/SWOPE/SOPE/SOAP/SWOAP: Need parents, family of 

Elizabeth Warren b. 8 April 1821 Cannon Co., Tenn,, d. 18 April 
1851, Panala Co., Tex., m. 7 Sept, 1840 Cannon Co., Tenn., 
Absolom Fowler Soape, son of James Soape & Elizabeth Fov^ler. 
Wants to correspond with any person interested in Soape (& various 
spellings) family. Eleda Soape Decherd, 5603 Green Craig, Houston, 
Tex., 77035. 

A member of our society is a genealogist: Mrs, Lalia Lester 

1307 Wo Korthfield Blvd. 
Murfreesboro, Tenn. 37130 
Tel. (615) 896-9089 


This history represents a blend of anecdotal information with infor- 
mation obtained from deeds, wills, tax and census records, newspapers, 
and books. Raymond B. Harrell and Jack R. Mankin made their manu- 
scripts available as source material. Oral information was provided by 
several men and women who either live now or have lived in the Dilton 
community. Two of these, who were especially helpful, are Mrs. Clemmie 
Harrell Ring and Mr. Joe J. Jemigan, both of whom are ninety-three years 
old and blessed with excellent memories. I am grateful to my parents, 
William Hoyt and Pearl Marlin Smith, and to my grandparents, Ernest 
L. Smith (1871-1968) and Mary Ann Harrell Smith (1881-1960), for their 
memories of life in the community. Stories passed on by them were drawn 
not only from their own personal experiences but also from those of their 
parents and grandparents and from friends and neighbors who lived before 
them in Dilton. I am also indebted to Roy E. Tarwater, who suggested 
that this history be written; to all those who contributed written or oral 
information to be used as source material; and especially to Mrs. Jean 
Overall Thompson for reading the manuscript and making suggestions for 

its improvement. 

Rebecca L. Smith 



Rebecca L. Smith 

I. Location pg. 1 
II. Circumstances Surrounding Early Settlement pg. 2 
m. Early Settlers 

A. William smd Elizabeth Kelton pg. 10 

B. The Philips and Childress Families pg. 14 

C. Other Early Settlers pg. 36 
rv. Outstanding Post Civil War Families pg. 38 

V. Folklore and Folk Medicine pg. 47 

VI. Unusual Event pg. 49 

VII. Churches pg. 51 

VIII. Schools pg. 67 

IX. Social Activities pg. 77 

X, Roads, Trade, Agriculture, and Industry pg. 84: 


Map of Cherokee Country, compiled by J. P. Brown 

(Shows Black Fox's Camp on the Trail of Tears). pg. 9 

Plat of Kelton Property, 1816 (See Black Fox Spring 

and Branch) . pg. 13 

Matthew Rhea Map, 1832 (Portion of map showing 

the old road from Murfreesboro to Wartrace 

which followed Ljrtle Creek through the area 

now known as Dilton). pg. I6 

Beers Map of Rutherford County, 1878: District 

Eighteen. pg. 22 

Sketch of Philips House, by Gari Webb. pg. 34 

Childress /Philips Genealogy (Two generations) . pg. 35 

1915 Map of Rutherford County showing Dilton. pg. 46 

Oaklands Academy, 1896. pg. 71 

Dilton Stores, circa 1900. . pg. 85, 86 


The Dilton Store, situated on the southeast comer of the Bradyville 
Pike and the Dilton-Mankin Lane, marks the center of the Dilton com - 
munity. History records that early settlers moved iu long before it 
acquired the name of "Dillton" in 1887, 1 the year the community acquired 
a post office named for Dr. James Madison Dill, who was physician, post- 
master, and storekeeper. ^ The center of the community is five and one- 
half miles southeast of the Rutherford County Court House and two and 
three -tenths miles by way of Bradyville Pike from the present city limits 
of Murfreesboro. (See map on page 45 .) 

The original settlement had its center at Black Fox Camp, located 
around an unusually large spring about one and one-fourth miles from the 
Dilton Store toward Murfreesboro. ^ For many years this spring supplied 
the town of Murfreesboro with water. Because of the extraordinary sup- 
ply of water at Black Fox Spring and the influence of men such as William 
Kelton and Joel Childress, who were among the first settlers, it was con- 
sidered in 1811 as a possible site for Rutherford County's seat of govern- 
ment. ^ 

lAccording to Mrs. Jo Anne Kelton, Dilton was spelled with two I's during 
the late 1800 »s. Mrs. Kelton is a great granddaughter of Dr. and Mrs. 
Dill, and her husband, Sammie Kelton, is a descendant of William and 
Elizabeth Kelton. 

2Raymond Harrell, "Genealogy of the Dill Family" (Workbook, n. d. , 
n. pag.). 

3 Carlton Sims, History of Rutherford County ( Murfreesboro: Sims, 
1974), p.l9. 4jQterview with Roy E. Tarwater, December, 1976. 

^ The Goodspeed Histories of Maury . Williamson . Rutherford , Bedford, 
and Marshall Counties of Tennessee , reprinted from Goodspeed's History 
of Tennessee , 1886 (Columbia, TN: Woodward and Stinson, 1971), p. 814. 

Approaching the Dilton commimity from Murfreesboro, one sees a 
countryside; quite different ia appearance from the virgin forest land which 
was used as a campground by the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Indians 
when they came here to hunt each year prior to 1790. ■•■ However, if these 
Indians could return today, they would recognize the spring beside which 
they camped, the creek where they fished, and the hills which form a blue 
backdrop ia the southeast for the Dilton area scenery. Three of the hills 

are known to Dilton residents today as the Gowan, the Dave, and the Long 

Ridge. It would be interesting to know the names by which they were known 

to Enolee. Enolee was the Indian name for Black Fox, the Cherokee chief 

for whom the spring was named. Indian trails through the woodlands 

were known as traces; several traces led to Black Fox Spring. (See map on 

page 9 . ) The Indians used the spring and the area around it as a base for 

hunting expeditions, as well as for surprise attacks on the early settlers. 

Prior to the Indian uprisings it served as a trading post where the Indians 

exchanged wares with the early settlers. 

It is tempting for some to thiak that life for the Indians who camped 

around the spring was idyllic and peaceful before the first settlers from 

•^Sims, p. 4. 

^Interview with Charles B. Smith, December, 1975. 

3 John P. Brown, Old Frontiers (Kingsport, Tenn. : Southern, 1938), 
pp. 311, 331. Other spellings used were Enola and Inali. 

4a. W. Putnam, History of Middle Tennessee (KnoxvUle: University 
of Tennessee Press, 1971, first published, 1859), p. 479. 

Ssims, pp. 64, 65. 


North Carolina and Virginia arrived. The woodlands and streams provided 
a plentiful amount of food and furs while the Indians hunted in this area for 
bear, elk, deer, and a large variety of smaller wild creatures. Although 
their life- style has appeal for some people in our complex time, we know 
that life for the Indians was not always simple and peaceful. The Cherokees, 

Chickasaws, Chocktaws, and Shawnees ia Tennessee had often fought among 

themselves, but they were to become a united people in the early 1790 's , 

when they had in common a desire to push back the streams of white set- 
tlers from Virginia and North Carolina. 

Black Fox's name and mark appear on the Treaty of Holston, ^ signed 
in 1791, along with the names and marks of other Cherokee chiefs. Forty 
chiefs, twelve hundred warriors, squaws and children assembled at White's 
Fort (Knoxville) early in July of that year and agreed upon a treaty which 
ceded a large portion of that area of Tennessee to the United States. In 
return, the Cherokee nation received certain presents and an annual pay- 
ment of $1, 000 a year; feeling themselves intimidated and tricked, the 

Cherokees were dissatisfied with the Treaty of Holston. 

According to John Brown, evidence that the Indian troubles were 

becoming serious by 1792 is found in the American State Papers, Indian 

Affairs , Vol. 1, p. 264. The Shawnees invited the Southern Indians to join 

^C.C. Henderson, The Story of Murfreesboro (Murfreesboro; News 
Banner, 1929), p. 6. , 

2w.R.L. Smith, The Story of the Cherokees (Cleveland. Tenn. : Church 
of God Publishing House, 1928), p. 17. 

^Brown, p. 311. ^Ibid. Ibid. , p. 312. 

them ia war against the United States and hoped to drive back its entire 
western frontiers. Dragging Canoe, an imcle of Black Fox, was sent 

as a messenger from the Cherokee nation to the Chickasaws with a plea for 

confederation, but he died soon after he returned. At a Cherokee Council 

at Estanaula, June 26-30, 1792, Black Fox had these words to say in eulogy: 

The Dragging Canoe has left the world. He was a man of 
consequence in his country. He was a friend both to his own and 
the white people. But his brother is still ia place, and I mention 
now in public, that I intend presenting him with his deceased 
brother's medal; for he promises fair to posess sentiments simi- 
lar to those of his brother, both with regard to the red and white. 
It is mentioned here publicly, that both whites and reds may know 
it, and pay attention to him. ^ 

Because of the surprise attacks on the Tennessee settlers, scouting 
parties were sent out in 1792. Abraham Castleman, the favorite spy of 
the settlements, who withdrew from his men and scouted alone is described 
as "fearless, with a quick sight, and a sure shot. He made no noise or 
tramp as he walked and , with his body a little bent, he seemed ever look- 
ing for Indians or marks on the trees.' When he returned from this mis- 
sion, he reported that he had been as far as Black Fox's Camp, where he 
had seen signs indicating that a numerous party of Indians had been there 
shortly before him. "^ Castleman had spied upon the Indians there before 

l lbid. , p. 328. ^Jhid. , p. 329. 

^Spellings used by some other sources are Ustanaula and Oostanaula. It 
is locatea m Georgia on the Coosawatie River a few miles above its junction 
with the Canasauga. 
"^Brown, p. 331. 

Sjohn Haywood, Civil and Political History of the State of Tennessee 
(Knoxville: Tenase, 1969, c. 1823), pp.368, 369. 
6putnam, p. 392. Ilkid. 

and knew the hunting season was not over; therefore he was concerned about 
their absence.-^ He felt it was an ominous sign and reported this to his 
superiors, who regarded his assessment with skepticism. In a letter to 
Governor Blount on August 22, 1793, General James Robertson wrote that 
Abraham Castleman was not only a soldier but also a disorderly person who 
had several of his relations killed by Indians. ^ Soon after Castleman made 
his report, a party of two hundred and eighty Indians'^ attacked Buchanan's 
Station about five miles south of Nashville^ on September 30, 1792.^ The 
Indians being Creeks (83) and Cherokees (197), Black Fox and his people 
could have been among them, as Castleman feared. General Robertson 
apologized to Castleman and, summoning a force of 150 men, marched in 
pursuit and followed the retreating Indians as far as Stewart's Creek, report- 
ing that at least seven hundred Indians were in the war party. ' 

In the spring of 1793, soldiers were sent again into the area by Gen- 
eral Robertson with hope of checking the forays and plunderings of the 
Indians by a display of military power, but they turned back at Black Fox 


Spring. Since this mission failed to accomplish its purpose, Major James 
Ore's expedition of 550 men was sent out by General James Robertson. 

■^Putnam, p. 393. 

^Thomas E. Matthews, General James Robertson (Nashville: Parthenon, 
1934), p. 344. 

3john Trotwood Moore, Tennessee , The Volunteer State (Chicago: 
S.J. Clarke, 1923), vol. 1, p. 214. 

^Haywood, p. 314. 

5james G. Ramsey, The Annals of Tennessee (Charleston, S. C. : 
Walker and Jones, 1853), p. 600. 

^Moore, loc. £it. "^Putnam, p. 394. ^Henderson, p. 10. 

%aywood, p. 407. 

They followed the Indian trace by way of Murfreesboro and camped at Black 
Fox Spring on September 7, 1794. On the next day they proceeded toward 
Nickajack and arrived there on the following Thursday.-^ At Nickajack 
and Running Water, they defeated the Indians, finding many scalps and a 
quantity of ammunition powder and lead lately arrived from Spain. In a 
letter to Robertson, Major Ore says "From the best judgment that could 
be formed, the number of Indians killed in the two towns must have been 
upwards of fifty and the loss sustained by the troops under my command 
was one lieutenant and two privates wounded.' 

A legend grew that en route to Nickajack when General Ore's men 
overcame a group of Indians at Black Fox Spring, the Black Fox jumped 
into the spring and disappeared to avoid capture. Some said he drowned, 

but the story that he came out alive where the waters emerge from the earth 

again at Murphy Spring is the most delightful facet of the legend for those 

who have listened to the story tellers over the years. When bones were 

found in Murphy Spring Cave, the legend took another twist. The bones 

were said to be the bones of Black Fox. ^ The legend which allowed him to 

escape alive is the more reasonable one as his name and mark appear in 

the Treaty with the Cherokee of 1805, It appears again in the Treaty with 

^ Ibid. ^Matthews, p. 368. 

3lhid. , p. 367. 

"^Sims, p. 65. Murphy Spring is located at the edge of the Bellwood Estates 
on the hillside across Broad Street from Mercury Blvd. The water which 
submicrges at Black Fox Spring comes up again at Todd Lake and again at 
Murphy Spring. 

^Plenderson, p. 11. 

^C. J. Kappler (comp.), Indian Treaties , i778-_1883 (New York: 
Interland, 1973), p. 84. 

the Cherokee, 1806, which states that the old Cherokee Chief, Black Fox, 
should be paid annually $100 by the United States during his life. A secret 
agreement or bribe was arranged in 1807 by Agent R.J. Meigs with Black 
Fox allowing him $1, 000, a rifle, and an annual allowance of $100 in return 
for his promise to keep the Indians content. ^ "From 1801 to 1811 Black 
Fox was Principal Chief, save for a two year period (1808-10) during which 
he was "broke" from power because of his leading roll in an unpopular 
scheme to effect westward movement of the tribe. " If Black Fox did, in 
fact, jump into the Spring in 1794, he must have found a way to keep his nose 
out of water until dark or until the soldiers had gone away. The pool around 
the spring is large, perhaps covering almost a half acre and containing 
many reeds, cattails, and a great amount of water cress. Black Fox could 
have hidden himself beneath the water cress or among the cattails and 
breathed through a reed. 

The area around Black Fox Spring was probably used for the last time 
as an Indian campground in 1839. From October 1, 1838, until March of 
1839, thirteen thousand members of the Cherokee Nation, divided into 
contingents of one thousand each, traveled westward from the mountains of 
East Tennessee on their forced and tragic migration to lands west of the 
Mississippi River. After crossing the Tennessee River at Hiwassi Island, 

%appler, p. 90. S^j^-own, p. 453. 

^HenryT. Malone, Cherokees of the Old South_ (Athens: University 
of Georgia Press, 1956), pp. 75, 76. 
Brown, p. 512. . 

they foJlowed the old Black Fox Trail, south of Pikevillc, through 
McMinnville and across the Cumberland to Nashville. The "Trail of 
Tears" passed through the Dilton area as shown on the map on the following 
page. The Indians traveled an average of ten miles per day, and at the 
end of each day, each contingent buried its dead. ^ There is a legend in 
the community that Indians were buried in the vicinity of the present day 
Dilton Cemetery. It may be that some of the Cherokees v/ho began the 
journey but could not finish it were buried in this area. It is known that 
four thousand Cherokees were left in unmarked graves along the "nunna- 
da-ul-tsun-yi" or "trail where they cried. " 

^Brown, p. 513. ^ Ibid . , p. 515. 

3 Ibid . , p. 519. 



Many families from North Carolina and Virginia began to move into 
Tennessee in the late 1790's, when the danger of Indian attacks had diminished. 
They were an agressive, hardy, liberty -loving people who were mostly 
Scottish Presbyterians. Outstanding examples of such men and women 
were the Keltons and Childresses, who were among the early settlers in 
the Black Fox Spring area. 

William and Elizabeth Kelton came to Tennessee from North Carolina, 
where, according to the 1780 census record, they lived with a large family 
and numerous slaves. ^ They lived in Smith County, Tennessee, for a 
short time before purchasing land in Rutherford County. ^ William Kelton 
purchased 619 acres from Thomas Harris's 2,057 acre grant. The tract 
began in the middle of a "blue hole in the Black Fox Spring, to the corner 
past Hawkins and Cummings property, thence. . .to a stake in the original 
corner to Joseph McDowell, " etc. ^ The indenture was made on July 16, 
1801, for $600. ^ The deed was registered on October 23, 1804, and was 

acknowledged before Andrew Jackson, at that time one of the judges of 

the Tennessee Supreme Court of Law and Equity. 

The first house in Rutherford County is believed by some to have 

Goodspeed, p. 811. 

^Zella Armstrong (comp.). Notable Southern Families (Chattanooga: 
Lookout, 1922), p. 215. Sjbid. 

^Register's Office, Rutherford County, Tenn. : Deed Book A. p. 30. 

Sjbid. ^Ibid- 

■^iienry G. Wray (comp. ), Rutherford County, Tennessee , ^eed. 
Abstracts (Smyrna: Henry G. Wray, n.d.), Vol. 1, 1804-1810, p. 7. 


been built at Black Fox Spring, but it is not known v/hen or by whom. ^ 
It is known that on a plantation around the spring, William and Elizabeth 
Kelton established their family. ^ Elizabeth Kelton was a charter member 
of the First Presbyterian Church near Murphy Spring. It is said that her 

four sons went into the woods around the Kelton plantation to hew logs for 

the building of the church. 

On October 25, 1803, Rutherford County was organized by an act of 
the General Assembly at Knoxville; the first court met at the home of 
Thomas Rucker on January 3, 1804, in which William- Kelton was one of the 
grand jurymen. ^ Murfreesboro was founded in 1811, but it was not until 
November 5, 1813, that elections were ordered to be held at Murfreesboro 
instead of Black Fox Spring, indicating that much of the county business 
had been transacted there. 

According to Deed Book K, p. 457, the holdings of William Kelton 
(1753-1813) were divided among his widow and eight living children. A 
plat of the property made at the time of this division (October 10, 1816) has 
been reproduced on page 13. The boiondary drawn at the top of the page 
is the eastern boundary, and the one on the right is the southern boundary. 
Although most of the water goes underground at Black Fox Spring, a branch 
shown in the plat flows toward the northwest from the spring. Although 

ISims, p. 19. 2Apn^, p. 217. ^gij^g^ p. 195. 

4 Armstrong, p. 217. ^ Ibid. ^Goodspeed., p. 815. 


not shown, the Kelton cemetery may be seen today on the farm owned by 
James Gilley across the Bradyville Road east of the spring. Many of the 
stones have disappeared or are illegible. As shown in the plat, lots one 
through nine were bequeathed to the followiag heirs: Lot 1, Archibald 
and Agnes Sloan; Lot 2, John and Mary Sloan; Lot 3, Robert Kelton; Lot 4, 
Samuel Kelton; Lot 5, Elizabeth Kelton, Sr. ; Lot 6, James Kelton; Lot 7, 
Elizabeth Kelton, Jr. ; Lot 8, William Kelton; and Lot 9, Alexander and 
Margaret Lackey. 

1 Register's Office, Rutherford County, Tennessee, Deed Book K. 
p. 457. 

i'^r/ ;./ 

p -/ 



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-#' • V 

Joel Childress and Joseph Philips Families 
Closeness of the Two Families 

Some of the members of both the Childress and the Philips families 
were outstanding citizens and very closely associated. The Joel Childresses 
were among the first settlers at Black Fox Spring, ^ and Joseph Philips 
must have lived in the area before going off to war in 1812 since the two 
men are said to have been friends. ^ By the time Joseph Philips returned 
to Tennessee in 1822, ^ Joel Childress had died. '^ In later years, there 
were marital connections between the two families. Joel Childress' soa. 
named John Whitsett was married first to Judge Joseph Philips' niece named 
Sarah Williams in 1831 and later to his daughter, Mary Elizabeth in 1851. 
Judge Philips' son, James W. , married in 1850 Sarah Paicker, a niece of 
John W. Childress. The Philips family home, first mentioned in a deed 
of 1837, 5 may have been built in the early 1830's. It still stands in the 
Dilton community today and has been occupied by members of and descendants 
of both the Philips and Childress families. 
Location of Childress Family's First Settlement 

Joel and Elizabeth Childress moved from North Carolina to 

%ashville. Daily American, Oct. 9, 1884, p. 5. 

2Hcrbert Weaver (ed. ), Correspondence of James K. Folk (Nashville, 
Vanderbilt University Press, 1969), vol. 1, p. 497. 

SRobertP. Howard, Tllmojs! A History of the Pra i.rie_Slate 
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), p. 117. 

4county Court Clerk's Office, Rutherford County, Tennessee, V/ills 
and Inventories, Book 4, p. 196. 

^Register's Office, Rutherford County, Tennessee, Deed Book W, 

p. 297. 


Tennessee in the 1790's.-'- Deed records reveal that they lived for a few 
years in Sumner County before purchasing one thousand acres of land for 
$1, 000 from Benjamin Roberts on August 13, 1803. ^ This property was 
iQ Davidson County until October 25, 1803, when Rutherford County was 
organized. The deed states that the land was bordered on the west by Sarah 
Rutledge's grant. A plat of her 2, 5 60 acre grant may be seen in Rutherford 
County's Deed Record Book K, p. 306. Upon comparing this plat with Joel 
Childress' indenture with Benjamin Roberts, and after reading deeds of 
what were probably portions of this one thousand acre tract v/hich were 
sold by Joel Childress to John Jetton and John Lawrence about a month 
afterward, ^ one might conclude that the Childress property was near Black 
Fox Spring. When Joel and Elizabeth Childress moved to Rutherford County, 
they are said to have settled at a place near the spring and on the old road 
which led in the direction of Manchester and to have kept a store there. ^ 
Major John Wood told of a tin cup his mother bought for him at Joel 
Childress' store near Black Fox Spring when he was four or five years 
old. ^ The "old road" referred to by Major John Wood may be seen 
on Matthew Rhea's 1832 map of Tennessee{page 16). A plat of 5 67 acres 

■'•Nashville, Daily American , 10c. cit. 

Register's Office, Davidson County, Tennessee, Deed Book F 
(Microfilmed by Tennessee State Library and Archives), p. 75. 

SRegister's Office, Rutherford County, Tennessee, Deed Book A, 
pp.36, 36; R, p. 302. 

%ashville. Daily American , loc. cit. I^- 

6The old road came by Black Fox Spring, then followed Lytle Creek 
for several miles before leading off toward Wartrace. It had a foundation 
of logs in low places along the trail. Evidence of these logs were found 
by Carl Marlin (1906-19 62) around 195 6 as he was bulldozing the land about 
one half mile northeast of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church. 

Photocopied from Rhea's 1832 map of Tennessee to show the "old road" 
which followed Lytle Creek for several miles before leading off toward 
Wartrace. According to the map's legend, the dot under the words "Lytle 
Creek" marks the location of a fort. It is also the approximate location 
of the foundation of a log structure which Ernest Smith pointed out to his 
grandson, Charles B. Smith. The house had burned by the time the 1878 map 
was prepared. Ernest Smith said it was a two-story log structure which 
had been the home of some of the Childresses. It is possible that this 
was the first home of Joel Childress in Rutherford County. 


in this area which belonged to Joel Childress' son, John W. , a.nd possibly 
to Joel Childress himself, may be seen in Deed Book 27 on page 438. 
There are no deed records to show how John W. Childress acquired this 
property. Several deed record books are missing so that one cannot be 
sure, but it seems probable that he acquired the land from his father or 
from his older brother, Anderson. A copy of a portion of the Rhea map 
showing the "old road" is reproduced on the preceding page. 

Children of Joel and Elizabeth Childress 

The children of Joel and Elizabeth Childress are believed to have 
lived a few years of their childhood in the Black Fox Camp area. In the 
1810 census, we find that the couple had two girls and two hoys under ten 
years of age and owned sixteen slaves. ■'• Their children were Anderson, 
Susan, Sarah, and John Whitsett. Two other children, Benjamin, and 
Elizabeth, died in infancy. ^ Their daughter Sarah, later the v/ife of James 
K. Polk, became the most well known individual to have lived in the com- 
munity about which this history is written. In speaking of her parents, 
Sarah said, "At that early day, they had limited advantages for education, 
but were enterprising and industrious, acquired means and property, 
and educated their children. "^ Their appreciation for books is made 
evident by the inventory of Joel Childress' property after his death. There 

■•^U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, Census of 
Population, Rutherford County, Tennessee, 1810 (Washington, D. C. : 
National Archives, Microfilm Publications) n. pag. 

2jimmie Lou Claxton, Eighty- eight Years V /ith S^.rah^Pcllr^ (New 
York: Vantage, 1972), p. 11. 

3Anson and Fanny Nelson, Memorials of Sarah ChiVrenP^olk. 
(New York: Randolph, 1892), p. 2. 


were listed the following: 

1 set of Scott's Family Bibles, 5 vols. 

1 History of the Late War 

1 Medical Guide 

1 Ovid 

1 Paley's Philosophy 

1 Simpson's Euclid 

1 Horace 

1 Xenophen 

1 Cicero 

1 Atlas 

40 voluines of large and small books assorted 
6 of Arrowsmith's large maps 

2 sets of Bigland's View of the World, 5 vols, each-^ 

Sarah and her sister Susan were taught in the mornings and early 
afternoons by Daniel Elam at a little log school house in the neighborhood, 
and in the afternoons, when the exercises of the academy for boys were 
over for the day, they were given additional lessons by the principal, 
Mr. Samuel P. Black. ^ When she was twelve or thirteen, Sarah was 
sent to Abercrombie Boarding School on the outskirts of Nashville. ^ A 
few years after their arrival in Rutherford County, the Joel Childress 
family may have moved from the Black Fox Camp area to the town of 
Murfreesboro. '^ Prosperous men, active in public affairs, who owned 
plantations frequently maintained town houses in addition to their planta- 
tion houses and lived a part of the year in each. Letters from John W. 
Childress to James K. Polk in later years reveal that his mother, Mrs. 
Joel Childress, could never make up her mind whether to live in town 
or in the country, and she frequently moved from one place to the 

•^County Court Clerk's Office, Rutherford County, Tennessee, Wills 
and Inventories, Book 5, p. 244. 

2Nelson, p. 4, 3 ibid . 

4 Register's Office, Rutherford County, Tenn. , Deed Book L, p. 291. 


other. • It seems probable that, in 1815, Joel Childress and his family . 
left their first Rutherford County home on the "old road" near the Black 
Fox Spring for good except for Anderson, who may have lived there v/ith 
his wife and daughter, Mary, at times prior to his death in 1827; however, 

the descendants of Joel Childress continued to own property in the Black 

Fox Camp district and to live on that property from time to time until 1895. 

The Shelbyville Road Plantation 

In 1815 Joel Childress bought for $1, 860 from Thomas Smith 186 acres 

on the West Fork of Stones River bordering the meanderings of the river. 

Mr. Childress purchased thirty additional acres bordering this property 

in 1817 from Bennett Smith. He mentions the Stones River plantation 

in his will, signed nine days before his death, as being land on v/hich he 

lived. After his death, the plantation was sold but was purchased again 

by Joel Childress' son, John W. , in 1833. In a letter of December 8, 1833, 

to James K. Polk, John W. ChUdress writes, "Mah and myself have 

purchased the old plantation and are now moving to it ..." John W. 

Childress' name appears on the site of the plantation on the Beers map 

of 1878, and a plat of the property may be seen in Deed Book 27 on page 437. 

^Weaver, vol. 1, pp. 205,594; vol. 2, pp. 14, 159; vol. 3, p. 444. 

^Interview with Mrs. Margaret Dismukes, a great granddaughter 
of Joel Childress and of Joseph Philips, December, 1975. 

3 Register's Office, Rutherford County, Tenn. , Deed Book K, p. 165. 

4 Ibid. , Book L, p. 122. 

^County Court Clerk's Office, Rutherford County, Tennessee, Wnis 
and Inventories, Book 4, p. 195. 

^Register's Office, Rutherford County, Tenn. , Deed Book W, p. 554. 

■^ Weaver, vol. 2, p. 159. "Mah" is Mrs. Joel Childress. 


Joel Childress' Public Life 

Joel Childress was active in public affairs during his lifetime. 
An Act of October 15, 1813, made Joel Childress and six other men com- 
missioners of Murfreesboro. He served as commissioner until 1815, 
and postmaster of Murfreesboro from 1812 until 1817, and as a director 
of the Murfreesboro, Tennessee Bank, which was chartered in 1817, 2 
He was a merchant, a tavern keeper, planter, and a large scale land 
speculator in Alabama during the boom years. ^ Samuel McLaughlin, 
who knew Joel Childress, wrote that he owned and lived in the framed 
portion of the tavern house on the v/est side of the square. In December 
of 1818, less than a year before his death, Mr. Childress sold a lot on 
the public square with a dwelling "in which he had lived" to Alpha Kingsley 
for $11, 000. ^ It is quite probable that he returned to his Shelbyville Road 
home in December of 1818 to live there on a continuous basis until his 
death on August 18, 1819 at 42 years of age. ^ He was buried in a garden 
tomb near his house. "^ In later years his tombstone was installed face 
down as a hearth in a farm house built on this property. When the house 
was torn down, the stone was broken into several pieces. 8 The parts 
that remain are presently being put together and are to become a part of 

1 Goodspeed, p. 815. ^ Ibid. , pp.819, 830. 

3 Charles G. Sellers, James K. Polk, Jacksonian, 1795-1843 
(Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1957), pp. 74, 75, 

4 Henry Wray, "Sojourn in Murfreesboro, " Rutherford County 
Historical Society, Publication No. 1 , Summer, 1973, p. 17. 

5 Register's Office, Rutherford County, Tenn. , Deed Book W, p. 246. 

6 Tombstone of Joel Childress. 

'7 A.L. Childress, "The ChHdress FamHy in Tennessee," Tennessee 
State Library and Archives, Ms. no. 69-316, n. pag. 

^ Interview with William T. Stephenson, April, 1976, 

the museum village to be known as "Cannonsbiirr^h". 1 

Anderson Childress 

Ernest Smith (1871-1968) remembered, as a boy, hearing the "old- 
timers" in the community tell of Anderson's death, and he understood 
this tragic event to have occurred on the Childress farm which Avas 
adjacent to his own farm on the west and southwest. lie once pointed out 
to his grandson, Charles B. Smith, the foundation of an old, tv.'o- story 
log house on this farm through which Lytle Creel: ran. 2 The houre 
"where one of the Childress boys lived" had burned down. The farm, is 
known to have belonged to Anderson's younger brother Jo^ix). YI , in 1878. ^ 
A plat of the land (5 67 acres) may be seen in Deed Record Eco)- 27 on 
page 438 and is possibly a part of the 1, 000 acre tract purchased hy Joel 
Childress in 1803 on which he first settled when he came to Rutherford 
County. In 1827, just seven years after Anderson's marriage to D.lary 
Sansom, Anderson was thrown from his horse, his neck was broken, and 
the injury was fatal. This story of a young man, reputed to be an excel- 
lent horseman, made so sharp an impression upon Ernest Smith v/Mle 
he was a child that he would never fasten the girth on the saddle V'hen 
he rode for fear he would hang his toe in the stirrup if the horse threw 

1 From October 17, 1811 to November 15, 1811, Mi\rfreesboro was 
named Cannonsburgh in honor ofl^ewton Cannon, who served as a repre- 
sentative in the state legislature and eventually as governor o". Tennessee. 

2 Interview with Charles B. Smith, January, 1976. The approximate 
location of the old foundation has been marked with a star on the 1878 map 
on page 22. All evidence of the old foundation has been swep ■-. avray by 
farm machinery. 

3 Register's Office, Rutherford County, Tenn. , Peed F-^ck 2".- p. ST: 

4 Claxton, p. 32. ^ ^ r a_, -P m^ -t- 

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This map of the Dilton area was photocopied from the Beers Map of 
Rutherford County of 1878. On it, the name W. S. Childress appears 
on the home site of his grandfather, Judge Joseph Philips. The house 
and 9U6 acres of land, called the "Philips tract" in Deed Book 27 on 
page U38, belonged in 1878 to his father and mother, John W. and Mary- 
Elizabeth Philips Childress. The star drawn in near the center of 
the map has been placed there by the author of this history to mark 
the approximate location of the two-story log house iirtiich burned 
prior to 1878. It stood on Childress property called the "quarter 
tract" in Deed Book 27, page li38. 



Joseph Philips' Background 

Judge Joseph Philips was a son of Philip Philips, who was in part- 
nership with Michael Campbell, a surveyor and land speculator. Tax 
records indicate there were 7, 000 acres of Philips and Campbell land 
in Rutherford County in 1811. ^ That Philip Philips was a man of con- 
siderable wealth is attested to by the length of his will, ^ which v/as 
probated in October of 1797. The farm on which he lived was purchased 
from William and Ephraim McLean. ^ A deed of 1791 tells us that William " 
McLean owned land on Knobb Creek north of Duck River. This would 
seem to indicate that Philip Philips lived in Bedford County rather than 
in the Dilton area where his son, Joseph, built his home. In his will 
Philip Philips bequeathed his farm to his wife, Susannah, and his stills 
to his eldest son, John. According to the 1820 census, John and his family 
were living in Bedford County at that time. ^ Joseph was sixteen at the time 

of his father's death in 1797. According to court minutes of 1809, Joseph 

Philips was licensed to practice law in Tennessee during that year. 

Although his first acquisition of property was in 1812, when his father's 

1 Interview with Charles B. Smith, January, 1976. 

2 Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Tax Book, 1811 (Microfilmed by the 
Tennessee State Library and Archives), n. pag. 

3 County Court Clerk's Office, Davidson Co. , Tenn. , WHls and 
Inventories, Book 2 (Microfilmed by the Tennessee State Library and 
Archives), p. 89. ^ Ibid. 

5 Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book C, p. 306. 

6 U.S. Census of Population, Bedford Co. , Tenn., 1820 (Washington, 
D.C.: National Archives, Microfilm Publications), n. pag. 

^ County Court Clerk's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Court 
Minutes, Book C, 1808-1810, p. 142. His name appears once as Joseph 
R. Philips in Book E, 1811-1812 on page 60. 

partner and executor deeded 408 acres to him and to his brother, John, 
on Lytle Creek, -"^ he left Tennessee in 1812. In 1817, he gave his brother- 
in-law, Robert Purdy, power of attorney to act for him in settling his 
father's estate and identified himself as Secretary of the Illinois Territory. ^ 

When Joseph Philips left Tennessee to fight in the V/ar of 1812, he 
became a captain of artillery. After the war he settled in Randolph 
County, Illinois, and remained in that state for ten years. He followed 
Nathaniel Pope as Territorial Secretary of Illinois, ^ serving from 1816 
to 1818, ^ and, because of his excellent reputation, was appointed Supreme 
Court Justice of Illinois in 1818. "^ In 1822, he resigned as Supreme Court 
Justice to became a candidate for governor of Illinois, but he lost the 
election because of his pro- slavery stand. ° His first wife, Elouise 
Morrison, ^ died about this time, and he returned to Tennessee in 1822 
at 38 years of age.^O On September 6, 1825, he' married his second wife, 
Dorothy Drake Sumner, in Davidson County, ^^ They made their home in 
Nashville at least until 1830: during these years. Judge Philips served 

1 Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book K, p. 75. 

2 Sims, p. 75. 

3 Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book M, p. 348. 
'^ Sims, p. 75. 

5 Robert P. Howard, Illinois: A History of the Prairie St ate (Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), p. 117, 

6 John Clayton, The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Alm anac, 
1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), p. 97. 

''' Howard, p. 117. 

8 Theodore C. Pease, The Story of Illinois (Chicago: University 
of Chicago Press, 1965), p. 77. 

9 Letter to Mrs. Selene Woodson from Miss Philippa Gilchrist, 
Jan. 8, 1963. 

10 Clayton, p. 97, see also U. S. Census of Population, Rvitherford 
Co. , Tenn. , 1850, which gives his age in that year as 66. 

11 Davidson County Marriage Record Book I, 1789-1837 (Nashville, 
French Lick Chapter, D.A.R., 1952), p. 90. 

as president of the People's Bank 


Joseph Philip's Return to Rutherford County 

Prior to 1830 Joseph Philips acquired many acres of land in 
Rutherford County as an inheritance from his father. ^ No mention is 
made in deed records of a house on any of the land which he acquired, 
but this does not preclude the possibility that there was one. The 1830 
census^ shows the Philipses to be in Davidson County during that year, 
but sometime between 1830 and 1837, they moved to Rutherford County, 
and it could have been during this time that the Philips house was built 
near the "old road. " The two story house was constructed in the archi- 
tectural style of country houses built in the early years of the nineteenth 
century. A deed of 1837 transfers from Robert Bates to Joseph Philips 
and his stepson, John H. Sumner, "fifty acres of land beginning at a 
hickory on the south boundary of the tract on which Joseph Philips now 
resides, it being the northwest corner of land on which Robert Bates 
resides which he purchased from John Fulks. " 

After John Sumner's death, his half-brother, James W. Philips, 
deeded his one third interest in the Sumner estate to his father, Joseph 
Philips, who deeded it to his daughters, Mary Elizabeth (Mrs. John W. 
Childress) and Ellen Philips Gilchrist. Judge Philips then deeded his 

1 "Genealogical Data. Battle, Childress, Maney, Robertson, Rucker 
and Williams Families. " Tennessee State Library and Archives, Ms=1102. 

2 Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book O, pp. 263, 267, 

3 U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, Census of Popu- 
lation, Davidson Co. , Tenn. , 1820 (Washington, D.C: National Archives, 
Microfilm Publications) n. pag. 

^ Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book W, p. 291. 

own farm and twenty -three of his slaves to his son, James, subject to this 
reservation: "Joseph Philips reserves to himself and his v/ifo, Dorothy, the 
exclusive right of possession, use and enjoyment of the dwelling house, out- 
houses, fixtures and garden and of so much of such part or parts of the land 
as they or either of them or the survivor may choose to occupy . . . for and 
during the time of their natural lives. " Judge Philips must have planned 
to retire from farming in 1850 when this land and these slaves were deeded 
to his son, James, who married in that year a neice of Sorah Childress Polk, 

Sarah Rucker. Sarah Rucker Philips and her child died two years later when 

2 3 

the child was born and James W. Philips died in 1854 at age tv/enty- eight. 

The 1850 Census reveals that Judge Philips was one of the wealthiest 

farmers in the county, with property valued at $33, 000 and fifty-five slaves. 

Ernest Smith remembered hearing people in Dilton say that Judge Philips 

"used te go down the road every day, rain or shine, in his fancy, four wheel 

surrey, " and he recalled seeing the old surrey in a dilapidated condition as 

it sat in the yard of the Philips' homeplace in later years. Judge Philips 

died in 1857 at seventy- three years of age. A plat of the "Joseph Philips 

^ Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book 5, p. 627. 

2 Claxton, p. 141, 143. 

3 Register's Office, Rutherford Co., Tenn. , Deed Book 23, p. 583. 

4 Census of Rutherford County, Tennessee , 1850 (Nashville: Deane 
Porch. 1967), pp. 355, 356. 

5 County Court Clerk's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn., no. 19, 
pp. 78, 186. 


tract" may be seen iii Deed Book 27, page 438, and an inventory of his 
estate may be found in Book 19, page 186, in the County Court Clerk's 

John W. Childress, Son of Joel Childress and Son-In-Law of Joseph 

Letters from John W. Childress to James K. Polk reveal that he 

had a difficult time financially during the 1830's,-'- but by 1850, census 

records indicate that his real estate was valued at $28,000 and that he 

owned 49 slaves. When he brought his family from from Griffin, 

Georgia after the Civil War, his own home had been destroyed. After 

serving for a few years as Circuit Judge in Nashville, Mr. Childress 

probably returned to Murfreesboro to live in the early 1870 's, when he 

began serving as president of the branch of the Planter's Bank of 

Tennessee at Murfreesboro; from 1872 to 1880, 'he served as president 

of the First National Bank established here."* He and his wife, Mary 

Elizabeth, are believed to have lived with his widowed mother-in-law, 

Dorothy Sumner Philips, at the Philips home some time between 1870 

and 1875, and Mr. Childress continued to use the land for agricultural 

purposes until his death. Ernest Smith, born in 1871, remembered that 

when he was a child, John W. Childress and his family lived at the 

Philips house. He recalled seeing John W. Childress, who was known 

1 Weaver, v. 2, p. 14. 

2 Census of Rutherford Cotmty, Tennessee, 1850 (Nashville: 
Deane Porch, 1967) , p. 361. 

^ Claxton, p. 157. 

4 Nashville, Daily American, loc. cit. 

as Major Childress, ride to and from Murfreesboro everj^ day on his 
horse, and he told of visiting him at the Philips home with his father, 
Alexander T. Smith. He also told his grandchildren that he watched with 
his father and Major Childress as a hired man attempted and failed to ride 
a horse which had not been broken in. When John and Mary Elizabeth 
moved to their home on the corner of Lytle and Academy Streets around 
1875, their son, W. S. Childress and his family moved into the Philips 
house. ■'■ 

A deed of 1878 states that the homeplace "is now and has been for 
years in the use and possession of Mrs. Dorothy Philips, "^ Peed rec- 
ords and tax records reveal that she also owned a house and lot in 
Murfreesboro from 1873 until her death. ^ It is probable that she lived 
alternately in her country house and town house during these latter years 
of her life. Rutherford County tax records indicate that she was still 
alive in 1881, "* at which time she would have been ninety- tv/o years old. " 

During 1878 John W. Childress paid $4, 000 to Joseph Philips 
Gilchrist of Alabama for his interest in the Philips property. The 
property was bordered on the north by land already owned by John, and 
by properties owned by Dr. Robert N. Knox and by Jasper Knox. The 

1 Beers Map of Rutherford County, 1878. 

^ Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book 23, p. 583. 
3 Ibid . , Book 21, p. 369. 

"^ Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Tax Records (Microfilmed by Tennessee 
State Library and Archives, 1965), n. pag. 

5 Census of Rutherford County, Tennessee, 1850 (Nashville: Deane 
Porch, 1967) , p. 355. 

6 Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Deed Dook 23, p. 583. 


Knox properties lay to the east of the property already ov/ned by John 
W. Childress as did property of H. W. Bivins and A.T. Smith. The 
Childress tract of 5 67 acres and the Philips tract of 946 acres may be 
seen in plats in Deed Book 27, page 438. Joseph Philips Gilchrist was 
a grandson of Judge Joseph Philips and the child of Ellen Philips Gilchrist. 
When Mrs. Gilchrist died, the remaining heirs of the Philips property 
were the Judge's widow, Dorothy, one daughter ( Mary Elizabeth Childrcso) 
and her family, and Mrs. Gilchrist's son. 

The Philips House and Homeplace 

The following description of the Philips house and outhouses was 
given to the writer orally by Charles B. Smith, a grandson of Ernest L. 
Smith. Charles and Ann Smith and their daughter, Virginia Ljmn, lived 
in the home from 1962 to 1970 and, with the financial backing of the 
owners, Mr. and Mrs. Cannon Overall, they restored the interior of 
the old house to some degree of its former beauty, as Robert N. Justice 
had done in 190 6.-^ The house was badly in need of repair in 1962. It had 
been used for grain storage and by coon hunters on v/eekends. There 
were times when it had been occupied by only snakes, lizards, and rats. 
The upstairs bedroom on the north side has a large blood stain on the 
floor which the sanding machine was unable to remove. The blood may 

■•■ Interview with Charles B. Smith, January, 1976. 


have been that of a soldiers since the home vas user^ os a. b.ocpxt^T by '^ 
the Union soldiers during the Civil War. Its use as a hospital may have 
accoimted for its survival of the war. 

The house was built of virgin cedar logs, eighteen feet long. The butt 
ends, twenty- four inches in diameter, were hewed down to six inches wide« 
Split hickory laths hold the plaster on the interior walls. The plaster was 
made of lime, oyster shell, and hog hair. The hog hair v/as for bondinfj. 
The exterior is covered with hand hewn cedar vyeatherboarding and the 
floor joists are of round cedar logs up to twelve inches in diajneter. The 
floor is one and a half inch thick yellow ash, tongue and groove boards, 
six inches wide. All the ceilings are yellow poplar, hand-^-planed boards. 
The rooms are seventeen feet by seventeen feet and the ceilings are about 
eight and a half feet high except for the back part of the house v/here they 
are nine and a half feet high. The floor of the upstairs bedroom on the 
south side is cf yellow poplar and the room contains no fireplace. Since 
evidence of a brick kiln was found by Ernest Smith near the house, it is 
probable that the bricks for the chimney and the front v/alk were made on 
the premises. 

The doors to the house are sturdy with extremely large iron 

■^Interview with Mrs, Cannon J, Overall, March, 1976. 
^Interview with Charles B, Smith, January, 1976, 


keyholes and keys, and the front doors are double panel doors made of 
yellow poplar. The house, facing the west, has a one story front porch, 
which leads into a lower entrance hallway with a stairv/ay leading to the 
upper hall. There is a large room on each side of each hall on both 
floors. The east porch originally went across the entire house on the 
east side; however, today, behind the southwest dov.Tistairs room, the 
porch is enclosed as another hall opening onto the south porch, A steep 
indoor stairway, which has now been torn away, led to the upstairs attic 
over the two back rooms. Four of the sons of the John Nelson family, 
who rented the farm during the 1880 's, slept in this attic, but there was 
room enough for twenty people to have bvoiked in the large^c^ 

The privy was unusually nice with a copper latrine. The old log 
kitchen, just south of the south porch, was torn down in 1963. Above 
the kitchen and pantry were servants' quarters paneled v/ith yellow poplar 
paneling. The log carriage house and the log barn may still be seen on 
the property. Not far from the barn is a dug well. At one time, there 
were nine slave cabins on the property. The Beers map shov/s that the 

road which ran past the house was near the front of the house in IP'^H. 


A sunken brick walk led from the front steps of the house to the old road. " 

During the early 1960's, two artifacts were found near the house. 

Interview with Charles B. Smith, January, 1976c 
2 Ibid. 


moved to Murfreesboro. ■'• The homeplace, including 75 1/2 acres and 
the house, became the property of Mrs. Edgar Smith in 1900 when the 
property (947 acres) was divided among the heirs of Mary Elizabeth 
Philips Childress. A plat may be seen with the deed. ^ in 1906, it was 
sold to Mr. and Mrs. Robert N. Justice. ^ In her widowhood, Mrs. 
Justice (formerly Lizzie Overall) married Mr. Sam Paschal. In 1945, 
the property was sold by Mrs. Paschal's heirs to his deceased wife's 
nephew Cannon J. Overall and his wife, Mary Virginia Bock Overall. ^ 
Mrs. Overall is the owner at the present time (197 6). ^ 

The house is now occupied by Gari Webb, a local artist, whose sketch 
of it appears with this article. A window in the end of the house to the 
right side of the south chimney is not shown in the sketch, but possibly 
was not there originally. A window, which is not actually there, is shown 
in the sketch by the door to the enclosed south hall, but the hall was not 
enclosed originally. The house had window shutters on the outside, which 
were removed due to their deteriorated condition. With this information, 
the sketch, and some imagination, the reader may "see" the house as 
it may have appeared during the 1830's and 1840's when it is believed to 
have been visited by the president and first lady of the land. President 
and Mrs. James K. Polk. 6 

1 Interview with Mrs. Margaret Dismukes, December, 1976. 

2 Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book 41, p. 5. 

3 Interview with Mrs. Margaret Dismukes, December, 1976. 

4 Interview with Mrs. Jean Overall Thompson, July, 1976. 

5 Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book 95, p. 135. 

6 Interview with Mrs. Pearl Marlin Smith, July, 1976. Mrs. Smith 
was told this around 1910 by older residents of the Dilton community. 



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In addition to Philip Philips and Michael Campbell, there were others 
who received land grants in the area to become known as Dilton. Some of 
these men were Archibald Lytle, Thomas Yeardley (E, 421), Henry Winburn 
(D, 333), Howell Tatum and Henry Wiggin (C, 296), Thomas Love as assignee 
of Giles Brooks (B,118), and Thomas Harris (A, 30). Lytle Creek, a 
branch of the West Fork of Stones River, is believed to have been named 
for Archibald Lytle who, in 1786, received 7, 200 acres through which the 
creek ran. 

Some of the men who purchased land in the Black Fox Spring area 
between 1803 and 1810 were William Kelton (A, 30), Joel Childress, ^ 
Zebulon Jetton (H, 305), James Wilson {F,493). Isaac Jetton {S,185; H, 305), 
John Jetton (A, 36), John Lawrence (A, 35), David Fleming (F, 494), James 
Montgomery (B,96), John Cummings (A, 30), James Hawkins (A, 29), James 

Conway (B,70), Hugh Montgomery (B,139), John Kirk (B,117), Andrew 


Miller (E, 434), Thomas Yeardley (E, 421), and Joseph Marlin (L,525). 

Census records for 1850 and deed records disclose other land owners 
in the community during the years prior to the Civil War. Some of these 
were John Lawrence, James Wilson, Bennett Smith, James Neely, Robert 
Bates, John Fulks, Joseph Philips, John W. Childress, William D. Nelson, 
John Fleming, William Kelton, James Kelton, Daniel Maberry, John Kirk, 

^ Betty G. Cartwright (comp.). North Carolina Land Grants in 
Tennessee, 1778-1791 (Memphis: Nortex, 1958), p. 81, see also Rutherford 
County, Deed Book D, p. 33. 

2 Register's Office, Davidson Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book F, p. 75. 

3 Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Deed Books with page 
numbers have been placed in parentheses by the names of the grantees. 

' ' 37 

Hugh Kirk, Samuel H. Hodge, William M. Moore, and Samuel, John and 

William Bellah.l The Bellah Cemetery, one half mile southwest of Black 

Fox Spring, is one of the oldest cemeteries in Rutherford County. ^ 

Hugh Kirk, Sr. , owned the farm on the west side of Isaac Jetton's 

farm and north of Roy E. Tarwater's farm. ^ Several years ago, Hugh 

Kirk, Jr. recalled for Mr. Tarwater that his father had an apple orchard 

extending from one end of his farm to the other along the edge of the Bradyville 

Pike. Each year Mr. Kirk took a wagon load of apples to a still in Bradyville 

to have them processed into a barrel of apple brandy. "^ A plat in Deed 

Book S, page 185, reveals the location of land owned by John Lawrence 

and Isaac Jetton in relation to that known to have been owned by Hugh Kirk. 

Isaac Jetton's home seems to have been located across the road from 

the Dilton Store and about one fourth to one half mile to the northwest. 

The house burned in 1863 during the Civil War and Isaac Jetton died in 

the following year. ^ Among his many descendants is Mrs. Clarence Rogers 

(nee "Totsie" Overall) who still owns some of the property which once belonged 

to the Jettons and Overalls. Mrs. Rogers' grandmother was Mary Louise 

Jetton Overall, a granddaughter of Isaac Jetton. 

^Census of Rutherford County, 1850 (Nashville: Deane Porch, 1967). 

'^ Rutherford County, Tennessee Cemeteries (Murfreesboro: 
Rutherford County Historical Society, 1975) vol. 2, pp. 4, 5. 

^ Register's Office, Ruth. Co., T enn. , Deed Book S, p. 185. 

4 Interview with Roy E. Tarwater, December, 1975. 

^ Register's Office, Ruth. Co., T enn. , Deed Book 14, p. 563. 
(That the Dilton area had a significant role during the Civil War is also 
attested to by Mrs. Clemmie Ring who recalls that the property presently 
owned by Mrs. B. F. Todd was known as "The Quarter" during the late 
1800 's. A quarter master depot where Confederate soldiers picked up sup- 
plies was located at this place just six-tenths of a mile to the north of 
B lack F ox Spring. ) 

6 Interview with Mrs. Clarence Rogers, January, 1976. 


According to Mrs. Robert M. Sanders, William McAllister Moore 
came to Dilton from Virginia in 1859 and settled on a hill about a mile 
to the east of the Dilton Store of today. A daughter named Mary was born 
to William and Margaret Nesbett Moore as they made their journey to 
Tennessee by covered wagon. When Mary grew up, she married William 
Knox. Their daughter, Margaret Lee, and her husband, Robert M. 
Sanders, live near the Leanna community today. The hill on which Mrs. 
Sanders' grandfather settled was named for him. Those who have walked 
to the top of Moore Hill have been rewarded with a splendid, pastoral 
view of the Dilton countryside. 


Two men known to have lived in the Dilton area in the post Civil 
War years who have brief biographical sketches in the Goodspeed His- 
tories are Dr. Robert N. Knox and John A. Gilley. According to Goodspeed, 
Dr. Knox, born in 1846, was a Baptist, a democrat, and a Civil War 
veteran; he was a physician as well as a farmer, and a member of the 
Rutherford County Medical Society, who had articles published in the 
Nashville Journal of Medicine and Surgery . ^ Two children, Sallie and 


William, were born to Dr. and Mrs. Knox (nee Lucy Catherine Fox). "^ 

1 Interview with Mrs. Robert M. Sanders, January, 1976. 

2 Goodspeed, p. 817. 

3 Ibid . , p. 1046. 

Goodspeed records the following facts about John A. Gilley (1843- 
1917): After a period of service in the Civil War which culminated in his 
capture and imprisonment for two months, Mr. Gilley was released. 
In 1878, he moved his family from Big Springs to the Dilton community. 
Four sons (Ephraim D. , John F. , Jessie P. , and Arthur T. ) were born 
to John and Nancy McCrary Gilley. -^ Their names may be seen on the 
1915 map of Rutherford County, the Dilton portion of which has been repro- 
duced and included with this history. William A. Gilley, son of Ephraim, 
and James W. Gilley, son of Jesse, live at Dilton today on land inherited 
from their fathers. 

A biographical sketch of Reuben C. Harrell has been written by his 
great grandson Raymond B. Harrell. Harrell is spelled as "Heared" 
on the 1878 map. According to the author of the sketch, the name Harrell 
has been spelled and pronounced many different ways over the years. 
Raymond Harrell 's sketch supplied vivid details about a man of integrity 
whose word was as good as his bond. The following information is para- 
phrased from his sketch. 

Having once been denied credit at a store when a young man, Reuben 
Harrell resolved never to charge anything again, but rather to pay cash 
at the time of purchase. Because of his extraordinary thriftiaess, his 
astuteness as a trader, and his willingness to work hard, he had no trouble 
keeping this resolution. His "bank" was an old pair of overalls with a 
knot tied in one leg to keep his money from falling through, and his "purse" 

1 Ibid. , p. 1036. 


was his boot. Periodically, he took the money he had accumvilated to the 
bank, not for deposit, but to exchange it into bills of large denominations. 
When he. had accumulated enough money, he would buy a farm and pay cash 
for it, which he pulled from one of his boots. Mr. Harrell, known as 
"Greenback Rube", continued in this fashion until he had purchased a 
large number of farms between Bradyville and Murfreesboro. His name 
appears many times in the indexes to the deed records. Reuben Harrell 
had seven children, for whom he provided educational opportunities which 
he had lacked. Their names were James N. , Thomas, John Wesley, 
Elisha M. , Lorenzo Dow, William L. and Matilda. ^ 

Elisha Monroe Harrell, well educated for his time, became a suc- 
cessful Methodist minister. The house which he inherited from his father 
was originally the home of Captain Ed Arnold, one of Nathan Bedford 

Forrest's officers, and is described in Hearthstones, ^ as is the home 


which was owned by Lorenzo Dow Harrell, later known as Bellwood. 

Reuben and Catherine Hastings Harrell were buried in a vault in the 
Harrell Cemetery located on the farm at Dilton on which Mr. Harrell 
lived until his death in 1899 at seventy-two years of age. 

Mr. and Mrs. William Henderson (nee Fannie Bell Jarman) lived 
for many years as well-known and respected members of the Dilton 

1 Raymond B. Harrell, "The Harrell Generations" (Mss. . n.d. ) 

n. pag. 

2 Mary B. Hughes, Hearthstones (Murfreesboro; Mid South, 1942), 
p. 11. ^Ibid. , p. 12. 

4 Rutherford County. Tenn. Cemeteries (Murfreesboro: Rutherford 
Co. Historical Society, 1975), vol. 2, pp. 81, 82. The Harrell Cemetery is 
Cemetery no. 93 on the map of the Dilton Quadrangle in this volume. 


community. Their daughter, Mrs. lanthia Ross, has provided the follow- 
ing information about her father. ■'■ Born into slavery in 1862, William 
Henderson lived almost the entirety of his ninety-two years as a free man. 
After the slaves were freed, his grandmother and her husband purchased 
a small farm at Dilton, which at the grandmother's death, became Mr. 
Henderson's. Later, he purchased additional land, all of which is still 
owned by his daughter, Mrs. Ross, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. 
In addition to his farming activity, Mr. Henderson was a blacksmith who ^ 
could design anything out of iron or wood. He worked as a barber and 
as a cobbler. Having learned to make medicine and liniment, he was 
often called upon by his neighbors to lance a boil or to administer medical 
aid to a person or an animal. After planting a garden for his family, 
Mr. Henderson planted another for anyone in the neighborhood who needed 
vegetables. He once gave one of the last two sides of meat in his smoke- 
house to a man who was in need. A minister for sixty-two years, he ^ 
preached for a number of churches, including Prosperity Baptist Church 
at Dilton and Mt. Zion in Murfreesboro. Mr. Henderson was a self- 
educated man with a library composed of an eight-volume set of Shakespeare, 
a let of leather bound encyclopedias, many books about the Bible, books 
about the presidents and books of poetry. He never sat down without a 
book in his hand and a stack of books beside his chair. Appreciative of 
his opportunity to vote, he only missed voting once in his life and that 

■^ Letter from Mrs. lanthia Henderson Ross, April 7, 1976. 


was due to an illness which confined him to the hospital.! Those in the -^ 

community who knew William Henderson remember him as a large, strong 
man with a good mind and a generous heart, who practiced the Bible princi- 
ples he preached. 2 

When a post office was established at Dr. James Madison Dill's 
store in 1887, the community officially acquired the name of Dilton. '^^ 
Dr. Dill and his first wife, Jestina Kelton (a descendant of William and 
Elizabeth Kelton^) had lived in Carlocksville, a community south of 
Dilton which may be seen on the 1878 map of Rutherford County. Jestina 
Dill died in 1880; in 1883, Dr. Dill moved into the community which was 
destined to be named for him and married Mary Catherine Hill, the 
daughter of James and Olivia Hutchinson Hill. 5 

Mary Hill Dill was known not only for her talkativeness and outspoken 
manner, but also for her charitable nature, and for her excellent knowledge 
of the Bible. Her grandson, Raymond Harrell, remembers her best as 
a tall, thin, white-haired woman sitting by the fireside with a Bible in 
hand, smoking her pipe and telling Bible or family stories to her grand- 
children. ^ 

Dr. Dill, who had a lovable and humble disposition, was willing to 
serve anyone in the community regardless of his ability or inability to 

^ Letter from Mrs. lanthia Henderson Ross, April 7, 197 6. 

2 Interview with William Hoyt Smith, April, 197 6. 

■^ Raymond B. Harrell, "The Dill Family" (Mss. , n.d.), n. pag. 

'^Armstrong, p. 228. 

5 Raymond B. Harrell, "The Dill Family" (Mss., n.d.), n. pag. 

6 Ibid. 


pay for those services. He is said to have been a friend to everybody 

but himself. Jack R. Mankin, in his autobiography, writes, "Papa said 
he went into his store one day to buy two spools of thread but Dr. Dill 
only had two, so he said "John, I can't sell you but one of them because 
someone else might come along and want the other one. '" Even so, 
his work as storekeeper and postmaster was probably necessary to his 
financial survival because he never sent anyone a bill. When he was paid 
for administering medical aid, it was often with farm produce. Dr. Dill 
received his medical training from the University of Nashville Medical 
School. He is listed in the school's catalog of students in 1856 and 1857. 

Some of the later catalogs are missing, making it impossible to deter- 

mine the year of his graduation. He was a member of the Rutherford 

County Medical Society and was a democrat. ^ 

Dr. Dill and his wife, Mary, are credited with having founded the 

Dilton Church of Christ, which met in their home until it acquired a 

building in 1894. Their home was situated on property indicated on the 

Beers map of 1878 as owned by J. W. Jacobs. Those who remember visiting 

the Dill home describe it as a six- room log structure with an upstairs 

bedroom and an enclosed back porch, which was used as a bedroom. A 

1 Jack R. Mankin, "Autobiography" (Ms., n. d. ), p. 155. 

2 Raymond B. Harrell, "The Dill Family" )Mss. , n. d.), n. pag. 

3 Goodspeed, p. 1031. 

^ Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book 35, p. 517. 


yuest bedroom was maintained for use by the preachers who came and 


On June 23, 1916, Dr. Dill died at the age of eighty-four. He was 
survived by his wife, Mary; their children, Kate, Annie, and Scobey; 

and one son, Joseph, by his first wife. Mrs. Dill died in 1928 as a result 

of injury incurred from smoke inhalation when her home burned in 1927. 

Ilcr widowed daughter, Annie (Mrs. Oscar Harrell) and Mrs. Harrell's 

children were living with her at the time of the fire. A new house was 

built by the people of Dilton for this family. It was a small contribution 

in comparison to all that Dr. and Mrs. J.M. Dill had done for the Cora- 


In the late 1870 's, three brothers named J. Philip (1833-1904), A. 
Jackson (1838-1913), and Benton P. Mankin (1843-1921) moved into the 
Dilton area. Philip and his wife, Jane Robinson (1836-1901), had two sons, 
John Benton and Welcom Hodge. Their homeplace was situated just south- 
west of the point where Dilton-Mankin Lane today crosses Lytle Creek. 
Jackson Mankin settled across the road from Philip. He and his wife, 
Fannie Miller (1838-88), had three children: Oscar, Horace, and Irene. 
Oscar was for many years a magistrate on the county court and was known 

1 Interview with William Hoyt Smith, March, 1976. 

2 Raymond B. Harrell, "The Dill Family" (Mss. , n. d.), n. pag. 

2 Interview with William Hoyt Smith, March, 1976. The house is 
presently owned by the Dill's granddaughter, Mrs. Houston Brown (nee 
Mary Catherine Harrell). 


as "Square" Mankin not out of disrespect but because of local custom. ^ 
Benton P. Mankin settled on the east side of the Manchester Pike about two 

and one-half miles south of Murfreesboro. He and his first wife, Alice F. 

Hearn (1853-1882), had two daughters, Mardilla H. and Mary L. By his 

second wife, Sally Atkinson (1851-1935) he had one daughter, Jessie, who died 

early. ^ All three brothers were veterans of the Confederate army and are 

believed to have fought in the battle of Murfreesboro. '^ There were so many 

Mankins in the community by 1900 that the little hamlet which grew up at the 

intersection of the Manchester Road and the lane which led to Dilton became 

known as Mankinville. ^ 

^ The title "Square" is derived from the Middle English title Squire or 
Esquire sometimes applied to certain public officials in the United States 
such as magistrates. 

2 Mary L. Mankin became the wife of A. T. Gilley of the Dilton 

•^ Goodspeed, p. 1049. 

4 Interview with Jack R. Mankin, August, 1976. 

5 Interview with Mr. Mankin, August, 1976. Mr. J. R. Mankin is a 
son of John Benton and Octavia Hendricks Mankin, and grandson of J. Philip 
and Jane Robinson Mankin all of whom lived in the Dilton community for vari- 
ous periods of time. His great grandparents were John (1798-1883) and 
Elizabeth Hodge Mankin (1800-1878), who came to Tennessee from North 
Carolina and settled in the Big Springs community a few miles south of Dilton. 
John and Elizabeth Mankin were the parents of eleven children who lived to 

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Dr. Dill was a trusted friend and physician to the community, but the 
people had confidence in their home remedies as well. Joe Jernigan, who 
lived at Dilton in the late 1800's and early 1900's remembers that asafetida, 
coal oil and sugar and sassafras were frequently used for medicinal purposes. 
Asafetida bags were put on strings and placed around the necks of children to 
ward off colds and fevers. It had a strong and impleasant odor, which could 
keep all children at a distance, including those with colds or fever. This may 
have been the reason for its effectiveness. Coal oil and sugar was the medi- 
cine used for croup both externally and internally, and a mixture of turpentine 
and lard was applied to the chest of children with bronchial colds. Sassafras 
tea was made from the dried bark of roots of the sassafras tree which were 
boiled in water. This was a favorite of the people who believed it would help 
them stay well.^ In the decade between 1910 and 1920, a child was believed 
to have "caught" pellagra by eating too much corn bread. ^ In Joel Childress' 
time, there were "bleeders" in the community who were called to the home 
of an ailing person to draw blood from him. Major Woods said that the 
tin cup which his mother had bought for him at Joel Childress' store was put 

to use as a receptacle for the blood drawn off from those in the family who 

wore .sick; this, he said, separated him from his cup. 

When the children of Dow Harrell misbehaved, it did not take long for 

"Aunt Jo" to bring them back into line. Mrs. Annie Harrell Smith knew 

1 Interview with Mr. Joe J. Jernigan, December, 1975. 

2 Letter from Jack R. Mankin, January 12, 197 6. 

3 Nashville, Daily A mer ican, October 9, 1884, p. 5. 


about this from her own experience as a child. When Annie and her sister 
Clemmie were young children, their mother died. Mrs. Jo Lasseter, house- 
keeper for the Harrells, was given the added duty of caring for them. When 
Annie and Clemmie were bad children, they were told that ''old bloody head and 
raw bones" would get them if they didn't behave. This prospect sent shivers 
down their spines and they instantly reformed their behavior. They were 

told that this sinister creature lurked about near the apple barrell in a dark 

hallway. It may be that some children in the community were frightened 

during the Civil War by soldiers who had bloody heads and raw bones; hence 

its use later to scare children into good behavior and to make the apples last 


A small pox epidemic in the 1890's caused terrible misery for many 

and even death for a few people in the community, but there is a legend that 

it did one man some good. One of the community's prominent citizens who 

lived no more than a mile from the present Dilton store had a son who was 

the "black sheep" of the family. At the time of the small pox epidemic, the 

young man was said to be in jail, which was his frequent habitat. Some said 

he died in jail of this dreaded disease, but others believed he was "buried 

out of jail. " On the day he was buried, the father rode his mule ahead of the 

son's casket, which rested on a horse drawn cart, and warned the people 

■'• Interview with Charles B. Smith, grandson of Ernest and Annie 
Harrell Smith, July, 1976 . 

2 Interview with Mrs. Clemmie Harrell Ring, August, 197 6. 
•^ Interview with Joe J. Jernigan, December, 1975. 


along the way to stand back as the coffin passed in order to avoid contagion. 
Some who helped to carry the coffin from the cart to the grave were of the 
opinion that it contained rocks rather than a corpse and believed the supposed 
"corpse" to be well on his way to Texas. There are those who are alive today 
who know the location of the grave, although a tombstone was never placed 


The most widely known legend originating in the area was that of the 
disappearance of the Black Fox in the spring which now bears his name, 
which has been related in a previous section of this history. 

When Ernest Smith was in his early twenties (1891-95), an unusual 
event occurred which he witnessed as he was putting his horse in the barn 
for the night. He had been to see a girl friend and had just arrived home some 
time after dark when a "star" whizzed by the barn making a sizzling, hissing 
noise and lighting up the countryside as it went. Ernest Smith never found 
the object that startled him that night, but he told his chHdren and grand- 
children about this unusual experience several times over the years. It was 
assumed tliat it could have been a meteor and that it probably burned itself " 
out in the atmosphere. 

In February of 1976, almost ninety years later and eight years after 
Ernest Smith-s death, it was learned by the writer that a boy found an object 
hich may have been a meteorite about two miles from Ernest Smith's home - 
place. In a letter of February 24, 1976. Jack R. Mankin wrote that, around 
1910, his oldest brother, Hendrick, brought to the house an object about the 



size of a skull which was quite heavy and had a melted look on the outside. 
Judging by its weight, Mr. Mankin believes it was an iron containing 
meteorite rather than just stone. The Mankin family used it as a door prop. 
T he idea he has of the parent meteorite is that it is "roughly the size of a 
barrel and was almost, if not quite, buried in the earth." Since igneous rocks 
are not found in this area, he believes this one to be significant. More 
meteors are said to survive their passage through our atmosphere in the even- 
ing than in the morning hours. ^ T he parent meteorite has been an object of 
search in recent years by several people, but it has not been located at this 

^ Letter from Jack R . Mankin, F ebruary 24, 197 6. 
2 Charles P. Olivier, "Meteorite." Encyclopedia Americana, 
1974, Vol. 18, p. 713b. 


The United Baptist Church of Christ 

The Missionary Baptists organized a church at Fletcher's Schoolhouse 
on June 9, 1843, and for the following six years the church met in this one 
room log structure which stood a little more than a mile from Murfreesboro 
and about two and one half miles northwest of Black Fox Spring. •'■ Although 
it was closer to Murfreesboro than to the spring, it is mentioned here because 
it was the first church known to have assembled near the Black Fox Spring -^ 
settlement. Calling themselves the United Baptist Church of Christ, they 
selected Burrell Gannaway, John Mollow, and James Fletcher as deacons. 2 
On August 12, 1843, the church became affiliated with the Concord Associa- 
tion and Joseph H. Eaton was ordained to preach following Robert January 
who had served as interim pastor. 3 The membership included slaves of the j 
members and, upon recommendation from Eaton and January, the Associa- 
tion purchased E. Kelly in 1846 from his owner in order that he might devote 
his time to preaching to those of his race. ^ In January of 1849, the congre- 
gation left its location at Fletcher's Schoolhouse and moved into its new 
building on the corner of Sevier and Spring Streets in Murfreesboro. ^ 
Mount Hermon Baptist Church 

Although Mount Hermon Baptist Church was not established at Dilton until 
1879 when a building was erected on the chruch's present building site, it had 
its beginnings on Cripple Creek about four miles east of Dilton. In a land 

survey book of Rutherford County, 1822-1936, the surveyor records having 


1 Homer P ittard, P illar and G round (Murfreesboro, 1968) , p, 9. 

2 Ibid, .p. 11. 3 Ibid. , p. 14. ^ Ibid . , p. 18. ^ jbid^ p. 24. 


surveyed four acres of land includiag the Cave Spring Meeting House on 
Cripple Creek for John Earwood (sic) and Jonathan Hall, trustees for the 
Baptist denomination of Christians on Nov, 5, 1825. ■*■ On Nov. 2, 1856 its 
members adopted the Articles of Faith and Church Convenant; its 
members being Jacob and Isack Yearwood, John Stroope, John Yearwood 
John Prater, Jane and Mary Beasley, Sally Cotton, Samuel and Eliza Cox, 

Samuel Mitchell, William and Cinthia Zumbro. John McFadden and Emily 

Warren. After their building burned in 1877, thejr worshipped in different 

places until 1879 when another building was erected on the northeast comer of 

Mt. Hermon Road and Bradyville Pike under the name of Mt. Hermon / 

Baptist Church. The original deed could not be located, but it is thought 

that the land was given by Mrs. Ann Stewart, a daughter of Archibald and 

Margaret Jetton Sloan. 

William Yearwood was one of the leaders of the Mt. Hermon Church 

in the early 1900's. When the men and boys lingered outside on SutfiKiays 

after worship had begun, Mr. Yearwood would go to the door and urge 

them to come in. He and wife Sarah Sloan Yearwood and their large 

family lived in a two story, wiiite house with fancy bannistered verandas 

on the west and south sides, both upstairs and downstairs,^ The house, 

Land Sirvey, Rutherford County, 1822-1836. 

^C. S, Abemathy, "History of Cripple Creek and Mt. Hermon Baptist 
Church." (Mimeographed sheet) . Ibid. 

'^Interview with Mrs. Erskine Thompson (nee Mattie Eugenia Sloan) , 
March, 1976, Mrs, Thompson is a great neice of Mr. and Mrs, Wm, 

^Interview with Mrs, Erskine Thompson, March, 1976. 


facing west, stood on Yearwood Hill behind the Mt. Hermon church and could 

be seen for miles around. Many were invited to Sunday dinners by the Yearwoods 

who were known for their plentiful supply of food and for their hospitality. 

During the 1930's Dee Roberts and Ed Yearwood were deacons. Some of 
the members during those years were members of the families of Jesse Harrell, 
Ode Medlock, Jim Davenport, Irvin Wallace, Alf Hayes, Arthur Watts, Byivui 
Sloan, and Comer Jakes. Ode Medlock was the father of Woodrow Medlock, 
pastor of the Bellwood Baptist Church in Murfreesboro; and Jesse Harrell , who 
worshipped at Mt. Hermon for sixty years, was the father of Mrs. Medlock. 

In 1939 a small frame building was erected on the same site to replace the 

old church. A deed was not registered for the church property until 1958. As 

one was necessary, Mr. and Mrs. Comer Jakes and Mr. and Mrs. Clint Medlock 

sold the property for one dollar to the Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist 

Convention, who, in turn, deeded the property to the following trustees of Mt. 

Hermon: Adam Phillips, Leo Harrell, Dorris Willard, Charles Lowe, Raymond 

Harrell. In 1961, a pastorum was built and additional property was purchased 

for the church in 1966 from W. M. Wolfe and Lloyd R. Wolfe on Mt. Hermon's 

southeast boundary. Trustees at this time were Cliff Ghee, Jr. , J. H. 

Davenport, and James O. Rowland. A new brick educational unit was added 

in 1967 and the church entered its new brick sanctuary in April of 1971. 

•'• Interview with Mrs. Jim Davenport (nee Bertha Tolliver) , January 1976. 

^ Abernathy (Mimeographed sheet). 

2 Rutherford Co. , Deed Book, 125, pg. 47; Book 127; pg. 162. 

^ 1972 Directory of Mt. Hermon Baptist Church , pg. 2. Ibid . 


Through the years the following have served as pastors of the Cripple 
Creek and Mt. Hermon Baptist Churches: Pastors A. J. McNabb, Jared 
Warren, Hutchinson, Vance, Carr, Grimes, John T. Oakley, Gregory 
Ogles, McPherson, W. J. Watson, W. G. Mahaffey, Jaggers, Ratcliff, 
S. P. Devault, J. D. Barbee. O. T. Drake, Hoyte Huddlestou, Elvin L. 

Burnett, J. O, Oglesby, Frank Messick, C. S. Abemathy, Lewis York, 


Eldrich Dorris, Nolan Tobias, and, at the present time, James A. Davis. 

Some have been ordained to preach by the Mt. Hermon Church. 
Woodrow Medlock was ordained on the third Sunday of October, 1937, and 
on April 4, 1943, Frank Messick was ordained. Later, Joe White was 
ordained, and on May 6, 1973, Randy Sledge was licensed to preach. 
The deacons of the church at this time are Leo Harrell, James 

Rowland, James Haynes, Bill Baines, Joe McCluskey, R. Q. Jaco, and 

Don Harrell. 

The Prosperity Baptist Church 

About four years after the Cripple Creek Baptist Church was established, 

the black members of the Baptist faith established the Prosperity Baptist 

Church. The church first met about 1860 in a building on the Virgil Haynes 

place on the northwest of Tennie Beard's farm, less than a mile away from 

its present location. The first building at the present location had been 

Abemathy (Mimeographed sheet). 

Interview with Mrs. Bertha Davenport, January, 1976. 


Abernathy (Mimeographed sheet). 

Intei*view with Nathan Sledge, January, 1976. 
^ Interview with Mrs. Davenport, January, 1976. 
^ Interview with Robert Randolph, February, 1976. 

erected by 1892 when the church acquired a deed to its property; William Hope 
deeded one acre to Zack Gresham, William Fleming, George Francis, and 
Caleb Jarrett as trustees "in consideration of their having erected a church 
house for the pui*pose of worshipping Almighty God according to their faith 
and belief as they understand the Scriptures. ' The property was bordered 
by that of Taz Fleming, Caroline Las seter, and Rube McKnight, "" 

Older members remember its history. Robert Randolph recalls several 
facts: The first pastor known to have served the Prosperity Church was William 
Henderson, William Henderson, Taz Fleming, and Simon Leigh were leaders 
of this church during the latter part of the nineteenth century and the earJy ^ 
part of the twentieth century. Other pastors who have served were Lewis 
McCord, Charles Evans, Aron Jordan, Hendrix, J. T. Ridley, Charles 

Vanderleer, Harry Alexander, George Wade, Marcel Kellar, and Jolm Oscar 

Jordan, who is pastor at the present time. Tennie Beard said that his 

father, Albert Beard, and Bill Fleming bought a bell for the first church con- 
structed on the present site, but the bell has not been used by the church since 
its present building was constructed in 1960. The old bell, a five tone bel] 

weighing fifty poiuids, is now iii the possession of Mr. Beard, the oldest 

4 , 

deacon in the Prosperity Baptist Church at this time. 

According to Mrs. Sarah Lyons, some of the leaders during the early 

years of this century were her father, Nels Lasseter, Mr. and Mrs. ^ 

William Henderson, Mrs. Lizzie Gris so m, and Mrs. Sarah Ldgh. 

•'Register's Office, Ruth. Co., Tenn, , Deed Book 34, p. 52. 

2 Ibid. IntervieTW with Robert Randolph, February, 1976. 

^Interview with Tennie Beard, February, 1976. 


Mrs. Lyons' son, Samuel McHenry Lyons, was ordained to preach at the 
Prosperity Baptist Church aad serves as pastor of the Cedar Grove Baptist 
Church in Eagleville. Simon and Sarah Leigh's daughter, Mrs. Mollie Leigh 

Jones, has served her commimity as a teacher and later served throughout 

Middle Tennessee as a registered nurse. The Leigh's grandson. Judge Luther 

Glanton, Jr. of Des Moines, Iowa, has been nominated for District Court 

Judge by the Des Moines Chamber of Commerce whose nominating commission 

said he "has been an invaluable asset to the commuinity and has conducted 

himself in the highest tradition of the court. " Judge Glanton' s father, 

Luther Glanton, Sr. , served as a teacher at Dilton's Gladeview School during 
the 193 O's.^ 

Robert Randolph reports that the deacons in the Prosperity Church of today 
are Tennie Beard, James Randolph, Kenneth James, James Beard, Charles 
Bass, George Sneed, and himself. Tolbert Sawyer Randolph, son of Robert 
and Mary Randolph was ordained at this church, but presently preaches for 
the Hurricane Creek Baptist Church near Shelbyville. The Prosperity Baptist 
Church has about sixty members at the present time„ 
Morgan's Chapel / P leas aat Grove C hurch 

Although no longer in use, the building of the Pleasant Grove Methodist 
Church still stands on the east side of the Dilton Cemetery. On Sept. 15, 1873, 

1 2 

Interview with Mrs. Sarah Lasseter Lyons^ Dec, 1976. Ibid . 

^ Murfreesboro, Daily News Journal, Aug. 22, 1976, p. 20. 

Rutherford Co. , School Supt. , School Records, Gladeview folder. 

Interview with Mrs. Mary Goodman Randolph, March, 1976. 
^ Interview with Tennie Beard, January, 1976. 


Nacc S. Overall deeded to B. M. Neal, Robert M. Ward, W„ P, Henderson, 
John W. Overall, W. T. Overall, W. F. OveraU, and Nace S. Overall (in- 
cluding himself) one acre of laxid for the use of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
South. The building was probably completed in 1874 and was used as a 
subscription school as well as a meeting place for the church. The studs of 
the building are of hewed cedar poles and the nails are square. 

In 1878 the church was known as Morgan's Chapel and is labeled as such 
on tlie Beers Map. We know from a descendant of William McAllister Moore, 
for whom Moore Hill was named, that he was a member of this church in the 
early days of its existence. '* Reuben and Catherine Harrell, who had moved 
into the neighborhood by this time, were members, and their son, E. M. 

Harrell, later an elder of the Murfreesboro district of the Methodist Episcopal 

Church South, often preached at Pleasant Grove. Pastor Tucker is said to 

have preached for the church around 1896, It is not known for whom Morgan's 

Chapel was named, but it is reasonable to assume that it was named for a 

man who preached there. J. W. Cullom mentions in his book. Warm Hearts 

ajid Saddlebags, a Methodist minister named G. A. Morgan who preached a 

funeral of a prominent man in Murfreesboro in 1906. 

H. E. Baker, pastor of the Pleasant Grove Church in 1919 and 1920, re- 
called that stewards at that time were John Overall, William Knox, and James 

■'•Register's Office, Ruth. Co,, Tenn. , Deed Book 19, p. 349. 

Ibid. 3 Interview with Roy E. Tarwater, December, 1975. 

^Interview with Mrs. Margaret Lee Knox Sanders, January, 1976, 
^Interview with Mrs. Clemmie Harrell Ring, February, 1976. 
6 Ibid. "^J. W. CuUum, Warm Hearts and Saddlebags (n.p.), p. 241. 

Delbridge and that John Overall was song leader and the keeper of the keys 

to the building. Mr. Baker remembered staying often in the home of L. D . 
Harrell when he came here from Woodbury to preach. Other members at this 
time included the Robert N. Justice, George Weeks, and William Elrod families, 
Mrs. Jesse Gilley, Mr. W. Frank Overall, and Mr. Tom Overall. 1 Uncle 
Dave Macon, of Grand Ole Opry fame, visited the church from time to time 
and led singing on some occasions. 2 

In the late 1920's, Neal D. Frazier, an English professor at Middle 
Tennessee State Normal School in Murfreesboro, served the Pleasant Grove 
Church witn one afternoon service a month. 3 James Reed Cox, now 
Tennessee Conference Historian of the United Methodist Church, began serv- 
ing this congregation of about eleven in the fall of 1929. Mr. Cox remembers 
that he and his wife organized a Sunday School before the regular preaching 
services on Sunday afternoons and every summer they conducted a week's 
revival. Some members of the church mentioned by him as having attended 
during his period of service were Mrs. Roy E. Tarwater and her daughter, 
Frances (now Mrs. Frances Johns); Mrs. George H. Lynch and her son Jack 
(Dr. Howell J. Lynch); Mrs. Lela B. Pate and her daughter Aileen (Mrs. 
Aileen Bilbrey); the George Landrum and Thomas Paschal families, and Mr. 
and Mrs. William Knox and their daughter Margaret Lee (now Mrs. Robert 
Sanders).'^ Mrs. Tarwater, a granddaughter of Reuben Harrell, served as 
church organist. ^ Mrs. Sanders is a granddaughter of William McAllister 

Interview with Rev. H. E. Baker, December, 1975. 

2 Interview with Roy E. Tarwater, January, 1976. 

3 Letter from Rev. James Reed Cox, December 8, 1975. "* Ibid. 
5 Interview with Mrs. Frances Tarwater Jolins, March, 197(;. 


Moore, and Mrs. Lynch is a granddaughter of Nace S. Overall. The congfc^- 

gation disbanded in the early 1940 's; the last funeral conducted there was for 
Mrs. Thomas Pascal (nee Lizzie Overall) in 1943. ^ 

Those who attended church at Pleasant Grove in the 1930's remember 
rocks in the front yard of the church which marked graves. The deed to 
the property indicates there to be several graves there^ "it having been used 
as a burying ground many years ago for the servants of Isaac Jetton. " ■' In 
the early years of the church's existence, before the black Methodists con- 
structed Walkup's Chapel, they worshipped with the white Methodists at :-i^ 


Pleasant Grove. 

Walkup's Chapel / Gray's Chapel 

On December 10, 1877, Lamb and Agnes Smith deeded to Starling 
Philips, James Blackstock, and Lamb Smith, as trustees of the Methodist 
Church known as Walkup's Chapel, one fourth of an acre of land bound by 
property owned by Abe Carney and William Mayberry. ^ The church was 
probably built during that year and its location was just around the corner 
from the present location of the Prosperity Baptist Church on Mt. Hermon 
Road. In the 1890's, its pastor was Charlie Todd. Some of the members 
at that time were Mrs. Jo Lasseter, Mrs. Tulley Weatherly, Mrs. Hannah 
Henderson, Miss Mariah Lasseter and Mrs. Sally Carney. ^ In the earl}' 
years of this century, Nell Lyons rang the church bell of Walkup's Chapel on 

Interview with Mrs. Cannon J. Overall, January, 1976. 

2 Register's Office, Ruth. Co., Tenn. , Deed Book 19, p. 349. 

3 Interview with Roy E. Tarwater, January, 1976. 

4 Register's Office, Ruth. Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book 25, p. 220. 
Interview with Tennie Beard, January, 197 6. 

^ Interview with Mrs. Mary Lizzie Beard, January, 197(). 


Sunday mornings and for funerals. In 1928 the church moved its location 
a short distance away when John Beard and his wife, Lena, sold one acre 
of land to the following trustees: William Goodman, William Gordon Ernest; 
[loyte Henderson, and James Bass. 2 According to the deed, the church had 
become known as Walker's Chapel, instead of Walkup's Chapel, by this time. 
The church was later re- named for J. R. Gray, who preached there for inany 
yc;ars. In ]936 the elders and trustees of Gray's Chapel were Robert 
Ilciidorson, Dick Goodman, Waverly Grissom and J. B. Gordon."^ Gray's 
Chape] is no longer in active use, although the building still stands in tlio 
Keeble's Chapel 

Fourteen years before the white people built a Christian Church in the 
community, the black members of the Christian Church built Keeble's Chapel. 
In 1880 Isaac Henderson deeded one half acre of land to the trustees of this 
church, which had been built across the road and about one fourth mile to 1lio 
cast of the Dilton store and next to Mrs. Parrish's southwest corner. 4 Mrs. 
Parrish's home site may be found on the 1878 map of Rutherford County. 
According to the deed, the church stood on the west side of the location of 
the Dilton School, which was built later and has since been torn down. The 
fi'ustccs named in the deed for this church were Marshall Keeble, Sr. , 
Marshall Keeble, Jr. , Robert Keeble, Rusk Henderson, and Isaac Henderson. 

-'- Interview with Mrs. Sarah Lasseter Lyons, January, 197 6. 

2 Register's Office, Ruth. Co., Term., Deed Book 7 2, p. 211. 

3 Ibid. , Book 33, p. 109. 

'^ Register's Office, Ruth. Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book 25, p. 341. 


Mr. Tennie Beard, bom in 1884, remembers the church but reports that it -^ 
did not last for very many years. 

Although this church did not enjoy growth or longevity, three of its 
trustees were closely related to Marshall Keeble, who was, according to 
his biographer, the most outstanding evangelist of his time in the Church 

of Christ, black or white. Robert Keeble was his father, Marshall 

Keeble, Sr. , his grandfather, and Marshall Keeble, Jr. , his uncle. > 

The first church that Marshall ever saw was undoubtedly Keeble 's Chapel, 


although it was not the first that he remembered. He was bom on 

December 7, 1878, about two and one half miles from Murfreesboro in a log 
house on the Bradyville Pike. His father, Robert Keeble, bom into slavery, 
was owned by Major Horace Pihkney Keeble, who owned a small acreage on 
the Bradyville Pike. During the Civil War, when the Yankees took the 
home of Major Keeble, his wife went to Murfreesboro to live with her sister- 
in-law. Marshall Keeble, Sr. , Marshall's grandfather, traveled with 

Major Keeble during the war as his valet. On January 21, 1870, Marshall's 

^grandfather bought forty acres from George G, Tompkins, This property 

is indicated with the initials "M. K." on the 1878 map, but deed records 

show that the small farm was sold on December 23, 1891 to Reuben 

Harrell. ^ Robert Keeble moved his family to Nashville in 1882, but young ^/ 

■'■Julian E. Choate, Roll Jordan Roll (Nashville, Gospel Advocate 
Co., 1968), p. ix. 

2ibid. . p. 14. -^ Ibid. , p. 16. _^Ibid. , p. 14. 

5 Ibid. 6 Ibid. '^ Ibid. 

8 Register's Office, Rutherford County, Tenn. , Deed Book 17, p. 41. 

9 Ibid. , Book 33, p. 23 2. 

Marshall spent his summers with his grandparents on their farm. -'■ Durinsr 
his last years, he recalled for his biographer pleasant memories of riding the 
work horse on the farm and enjoying his grandmother's cooking. 2 

Marshall Keeble, in his adult life, preached all over the nation and 
throughout the world. He preached in tents, dance halls, tobacco warehouses, 
log cabins, lumber sheds, prisons, brush arbors, the bush country of 
Africa, the Far East, and in air-conditioned municipal auditoriums. "^ 
Noted for his use of parables and humor in his sermons, he was unusuaJly 
effective as an evangelist in the Restoration Movement, which had its begin- 
nings in the United States in the early part of the 19th century with the 
efforts of Alexander Campbell and Barton W, Stone. Keeble is said to 
have baptized 30, 000 people and to have established 350 congregations.^ 
Dilton Christian Church / Dilton Church of Christ 

The building for the Christian Church, which became known as the 
Dilton Church of Christ during the early part of the 1900 's, was built in 
1894. ^ According to Joe J. Jernigan, Mrs. Alexander T. Smith donated the 
lumber for construction of the building from her farm. Mr. Jernigan remem- 
bers going with his father, William Jernigan, to haul the poplar logs fi-om 

her farm to the sawmill. Dr. and Mrs. J. M. Dill gave the land for the 

church, which first began meeting in their home in 1883, ° and their home 

continued to be "home" for the preachers who came and went. The original 

organizers were, besides the Dills, John Nelson, Philip Mankin, Jack 

1 Choate, p. 14. ^ Ibid. ^ Ibid . 

4 Earl Irvin West, The Search for the Ancient Order , vol. 1 
(Nashville, Gospel Advocate Co. , 1953), p. 18. 

5 Choate, p. xiii. 

6 Register's Office, Ruth. Co., Tenn. , Deed Book, 35, p. 517. 

'^ Interviewwith Joe J. Jernigan, December, 1975. 

S Raymond B. Harrell, "The Dill Family" (Mss. , n.d.), n.pag. 


Mankin, John Benton Mankin and William Jernigan. •'■ 

Joe Jernigan recalls that Charles M. Pullias preached for this church 
when he was about eighteen years of age. The first protracted meetings were 
held by H. G. Fleming and C. S. Denton. 2 Q. C. Brewer preached in pro- 
tracted meetings at the church in 1908, 1909, and 1910. ^ Other preachers who 
came to conduct meetings were L. L. Brigance, L B. Jones, Charles 
Brewer, John T. Smithson, E. P. Smith. '^ The time for the meeting was 
usually set for the first available two weeks of the preacher's time after crops 
were laid by, which happened to be about the third week in July during the •^' 
very hottest summer weather. 

The appearance of the church as it was in the early 1900 's is described 

by Jack R. Mankin in his autobiography: 

. . .a rather unpretentious frame building set in a low," 
flat plot of ground on a poorly kept country road. . . the build- 
ing was paid for, however. The interior was not any more 
imposing than its box-like exterior. The pews were hand 
made and uncomfortable wooden benches. The walls were 
ceiled and had never been painted or varnished. . . For the 
few occasions on which the building was used at night, there 
were coal oil lamps with reflectors back of them around the 
walls. 6 

Around 1912 to 1918, the church is known to have been composed of about 

twenty families. Besides the Dills, there were the John Benton Mankin, 

Ernest Smith, Will Harris, Arthur Tolbert, Albert McCrary, and Oscar 

Harrell families, Mrs. Fannie Overall and her children, Ike Mayo, Week 

and Oscar Mankin, Mrs. Lola Mankin and her children, the Arnettes, and 

Richard Carter, who led the singing."^ Mr. Mankin provides us with a 

1 Murfreesboro, Daily News Journal , Oct. 21, 1962, p. 10. 

2 Ibid. ^ Ibid. ' ^ Ibid. 

5 Jack R. Mankin, "Autobiography" (Mss. , n. d.), p. 17. 

6 Ibid. , p. 13. "7 Ibid. , p. 14. 

• - 64 

description of the manner in which the church carried out its mundane tasks 

of cleaning and heating the building in those days: 

In theory, the building was to be heated by a large cast 
iron stove in one corner. In practice, it wasn't heated very 
much. The windows were few, small and propped up with 
sticks when they were open. Screens had not yet become a 
necessary convenience. Country people were not afraid of 
wasps and dirt daubers which inhabited the building in abun- 
dance. Spiders, too, liked the quietness of it and built webs 
between the pews and from the ceiling. Dr. Dill's wife served 
as voluntary janitor and usually had most of them cleaned up 
before Sunday morning.. . In the winter time it was the duty of 
the first arrivals to bu/ld the fire. This was no small chore 
as there was seldom any paper or kindling, and the ashes from 
the last week needed taking out. After getting there early sev- 
eral times and having to build the fire. Papa began to carry a 
bundle of kindling and a coal oil cob (a cob soaked in kerosene) 
so as to be prepared. There wasn't much need for rivalry for 
the honor of being the first there. We children, to avoid hav- 
ing to do any work in connection with the fire, usually ran into 
the surrounding wood to hunt for persimmons or hickory nuts. 
We rarely found any, but we got away from any responsibility 
for the fire. •'■ 

Mr. Mankin goes on to describe the people and the activities in and 

around the church on Sunday mornings: 

The congregation arrived piecemeal. All of them were 
farmers, and most of them lived a mile or more away. The 
Harrises were among the first arrivals. They had a two 
seated surrey with a top that looked like an inverted mortar 
box with fringe around it. Mr. Will Harris and wife, Lela, 
were blest by being the parents of boys, Ellis and Ray, about 
the age of Clyde and me. I privately thought that Mr. Harris 
was still further blessed in having only the slightest fringe of 
hair left to comb and one of the roundest and shiniest bald 
heads I ever saw. Mrs. Harris always brought a wicker basket 
that contained the communion emblems and linen, spotlessly 
clean, for the communion table. I thought then and I still think 

1 Jack R. Mankin, "Autobiography" (Mss. , n. d.), p.l4 . 


now, that if there was ever a good, kind, generous, hospit- 
able man. Will Harris was he. . .After the horses were 
securely hitched, the men folk and what boys that had not 
gone to the woods, would saunter toward the steps as if they 
had formed a good resolution to go in immediately, but once 
close to the steps, they faltered, started to discuss the crops 
or the weather until finally Mr. Harris would reluctantly 
break away, go inside the door, stick his head back out and 
announce, after ceremoniously looking at his watch, that he 
expected they had better come in and "lets get started. ". . . 
Once in and seated, Richard Carter would take charge. 
The first verse of the first song was the signal for us chil- 
dren who had taken to the woods to get back and we came 
scurrying. . . Several songs, which members would select, 
prayers usually led by Dr. Dill, Papa, or Mr. Harris, the 
Sunday School lesson, and communion usually composed the 
service. What it lacked in beauty. . . was generously made 
up for in sincerity, and I still feel that the Kingdom of 
Heaven would be nearer realization today if there were more 
congregations whose devoutness went all through the week 
with them as it did with the members of that one. ^ 

During the 1930's and early 1940's, Will Harris, Cannon Overall, 
Calvin Carter, Ben Arnette and P. V. Irby were some of the leaders of the 
Dilton Church of Christ. 2 William Harrell remembers that the old building 
was torn down and the present building was completed in 1963. Today's 
congregation is made up of about fifty members. Its leaders include tWo 
grandsons of Dr. Dill: William and Wesley Harrell, J. W. Duncan, Herbert 
Batey and Carl Dabbs. Ben Arnette served as a leader until his death on 
May 20, 1976. The minister at this time is T. Coy Porter, a faculty mem- 
ber at Middle Tennessee State University. Other ministers who have 
preached regularly for this congregation in recent years are Charles Locke, 
Granville Brown, Fred Winslett, Boone Douthitt, and Leon Stancliff. ^ 

■•■ Jack R. Mankin, "Autobiography" (Mss. , n.d.), p. 16. 
2 Murfreesboro, Daily News Journal , loc. cit. 
"^ Interview with William Harrell, March, 1975. 


The Bible Church of Jesus 

In an interview with Mrs. Mabel J. Mofield, the following facts were 
learned about the most recently established church in Dilton, the Bible 
Church of Jesus. Mrs. Mofield is prayer band leader for the church and 
was married to the church's founder, James P. Mofield. Averaging 65 to 
70 members, the church was founded by James Mofield on Battle Avenue 
in 1947, and in 1971 a building was purchased from the Apostolic Church at 
a location on Bradyville Road two miles southeast of Dilton Store. ■'■ The 
Apostolic Church came to the community from California in 1969 with the 
belief that California was doomed; the earthquakes that had occurred in that 
state were considered a sign of impending destruction. 2 When the Apostolic 
Church sold its building, it moved on to Virginia. 3 The trustees of the 
Bible Church of Jesus are Gains Walker, Douglas Mofield, Charles Spurlock, 
Powell Pendergrast, Don Stacy and Luther Judkins. ^ Elder Mofield served 
as pastor of the church from 1947 until his death in 1974, and Elder Olen 
Carden presently serves the congregation a§ pastor with the assistance of 
Thomas Hewell. ^ Mrs. Mofield's father, Benjamin Rice Judkins, served 
as trustee for the church until his death at ninety-s even years of age in 
1973.^ Douglas Mofield, a son of Mr. and Mrs. James P. Mofield, serves 
as song leader for the church, and his wife, Dorothy, is secretary treasurer."^ 

Interview with Mrs. Mabel Judkins Mofield, March, 197 6. 

2 Ibid . 3 j|3i^_ 4 Ibid. 

^Interview with Mrs. Mabel Judkins Mofield, March, 1976. 
6 Ibid. 7 Ibid. 


The Firs^t J^chools 

The first school believed to have been in the neighborhood near Black 
Fox Spring was closer to Murfreesboro than to the spring; however, it is 
mentioned here since it was attended by children known to have lived in the 
Fox Camp community. Anson and Fanny Nelson, in their biography of Sarah 
Childress Polk, wrote that Sarah went with her brothers to "the common 
sclinol. "1 In a newspaper account of the highlights in 1hc life of John 
Whitsett Childress, Jolin Woods tells of attending school with him and his 
sister, Sarah, "in a little log house just over there (pointing across the 
field). Our teacher was Daniel Elam."^ Major Woods lived about a mile 
out of town on the road which led to Brady-viUe. ^ The 137 8 map of Rutherford 
County shows the J. F. Fletcher farm to have been close enough to the Woods 
property to have been the location of the school "just across the field" from 
John Woods; however, there is no evidence that the Fletcher family owned 
the plantation at the time Joel Childress' children and John Woods attended 
school at this location. Fletcher's School was a one room school built of ^ 
logs and known to have been in existence prior to the Civil War. It is men- 
tioned in the minutes of the Missionary Baptist Church which met at the 
schoolhouse for a period of six years from 1843 until 1849. 4 
The Subscription School 

The deed of 1873 to the property donated by Nace S. Overall for the 

1 Nelson, p. 4. 

2 Nashville, Daily American, loc. cit. 
Spittard, p. 9. Ibid. , pp.9, 24. 


Methodist Church at Dilton reveals plans for the church building to be used 
also for a subscription school. ^ Assuming that the building was coinplcted "^ 
soon after the time of the deed, this school began its four- month sessions2 
about 1874. Its first and only known teacher, Charles McNabb, rode his horse 
each day of the school session from Burk's Hollow. ^ Burk's Hollow is 
located amid the steep hills ten miles southeast of the school. Mr. McNabb's 
salary was eight dollars a month. ^ Among his students were Elisha Monroe 
Harrell, Lorenzo Dow Harrell, Matilda Harrell, Minnie Overall, Tom 
Overall, and Ernest Smith. ^ 

Elisha M. Harrell, who grew up to preach many times at this church, 
was among the mischievous little boys who went to school to Mr. McNabb. 
One typical mischievous prank is told by his niece. It seems that he and 
other boys liked to catch fleas, which were easy to find because hogs made 
themselves at home underneath the schoolhouse floor. They took the fleas, 
one at a time, to the front of the school room, and on the pretense of want- 
ing to ask their teacher a question, they would drop one down his back. At 
recess, to the delight of the boys, the teacher would disappear into the 
woods nearby, presumably to rid himself of the fleas. " 

Ernest Smith recalled that Mr. McNabb would select a boy to go with 
him to the well on the Overall farm on days when the weather prohibited 
the entire class from going. No boy wanted to be chosen, preferring to 
stay behind to have some fun while the teacher and his helper went for water. 

1 Register's Office, Ruth. Co., Tenn. , Deed Book, 19, p. 349. 

2 Interview with Mrs. Clemmie Harrell Ring, February, 1976. 

^ Interview with Wm. Hoyt Smith who quoted Ernest L. Smith, Jan. ]07f) 
4 Interview with Mrs. Ring, Feb. , 1976. ^ Ibid. ^ Ibid. 


On days when the weather was pleasant, the children would all go to the 

well with Mr. McNabb for water. The well was a "dug well" with a 
platform of planks over it. Mr. Smith said he had some concern about the 
water drawn from the well because of the large cracks between the planks 
and the gaggle of geese which were also frequent visitors to the well. 1 

The subscription school continued in existence until 1882, when a 
public school called Oaklands Academy was established. ^ 
Oaklands Academy 

On June 5, 1880, William H. Smith and his son, Alexander T. Smith, 
deeded an acre of land (on the corner of property presently owned by Hoyt 
Smith at a location where Overall Road, Wilson Road and Lytle Creek Road 
come together) to W. J. Knox and others as school directors for the 
18th district. ^ The deed indicates that this property was bordered on the 
west by property of John W. Childress. A school was built in 1882 after con- / 
siderable controversy over its location. ^ Prior to the school's construction, 
William Yearwood hauled the lumber during the night from the corner 
deeded by the Smiths to a location about a mile away on the corner of the 
Bradyville Turnpike and Overall Road, and on the next day, Jasper Knox 
had the lumber moved back to its first location and the new school was soon 
constructed. ^ Because of the large oak trees in the school yard, the school 
was named Oaklands Academy. 6 According to Mrs. Clemmie Ring, Oaklands 

^Ernest L. Smith, "Memories of My Early Life" (Ms. , 1961), 
n . pag. ^ Ibid. 

3 Register's Office, Ruth. Co. , Tenn. , Book 25, p. 212. 

4 Interview with Joe J. Jernigan, Dec. , 1975. ^ Ibid. 
6 Interview with Hoyt Smith, December, 1975. 

was a two- teacher school having two rooms and a side room called "the 

music room. " Some who served as teachers were Lee Yearwood, John L,ee, 

Lavata Mitchell, Flint Speer, John Northcutt, Joel Coates, Ona Morrison, 

Mattie Tucker, Elisha M. Harrell, Flora Montgomery, Emma Ring and 

Stanton Smith. In 1885 the average teacher's salary in the public schools 

^ was twenty-five dollars per month. ^ The length of the school term was 

J four to five months. 

A more serious controversy arose in 1896 than had occurred over the 
school's location. Most of the details have been told by Mrs. Ring, the 
author's great aunt. Edgar Puryear and Jolin Harrell were prospective 
teachers at Oaklands. L. D. Harrell, a school director, interviewed the 
two men in his home one evening, after which they slept together in the 
guest room. On the following morning at the breakfast table, Mr. Harrell 
made known his preference for Mr. Puryear, a man, twenty-seven years 
o]d. That day, January 15 , 1896, John Harrell and Edgar Puryear became 
involved in an argument over the appointment at the Dilton store operated 

by Jim Tolbert. When the argument increased in intensity, the two men 

stepped outside the store and John Harrell fatally shot Edgar Puryear. 

Mr. Puryear was buried in the Abernathy Cemetery at Kittrell. He was 

the son of P. M. Puryear, a graduate of Princeton University and principal 

of the Science Hill Academy from 1870 to 1887. ^ Within the year John 

•'• Interview with Mrs. Clemmie Harrell Ring, February, 1976. 

^ Goodspeed, p. 835. 

3 Nashville Banner , Jan. 16, 1896, p. 5. 

^ Interview with James A. Gilley, March, 197 6. 

5 Interview with Miss Mary Hall, April, 197 6. 

i^i^-ar if^ M-r-j^^ /va^^A^j^J-.h, ^^?'2l^K^c ^'^ i^'^' 

U.U. f- y i+t- 

These dressed-ip young folks attended old Oakland School on the BracJfville 
Pike in the good year 1896. Left to right, they are: front rcw - Mattie 
Overall (Mrs. R. K. Harrell) , Grace Harrell, Viola Nelson, Freeland Harrell, 
Qna Harrell, Bartie Nelson, John Yearwood, Oscar Jemigan, Milton Tolbert 

(last four boys seated) ; second rCTv - Miss Emna Ring (teacher) , Gin*/ 
Hutton, Shellie Tolbert (Mrs. Jess Jacobs), Vivian Yearwood, Anna Nelson, 
Mamie Overall, Ella Tolbert (Mrs. Hurley Mingles) , Gleta Arnold, Lula Tolbert 

(Mrs. MDran Shuler) , Russell Gordon, Tom Overall, Will Helton, Joe Jemigan, 
White Yearwood, John Lee (teacher, of Eldorado, Okla. ) ; third rcw - Annie 
Smith (Mrs. B. H. Lckeyi Ethel Nesbitt, Cleinrnie Harrell (Mrs. B. M. Ring) , 
Ella Hutton, Florence Tolbert (Mrs. Will Hayes), Alice Harrell, Annie 
Yearwood, Enma Hutton, Ida Hutton, Annie Harrell (Mrs. E. L. Smith), Bettie 
Arnold, Cora Harrell; back row - Edgar Overall, Virgil Year^^rood, Colvin 
Tolbert, Edd Yearwood, Will Lee, S. N. Overall, X. Gordon, R. L. Tolbert, 
Will Yearwood, John Gordon, Ellis Arnold, Frank Tolbert. 

.e^ ^ 




Harrell died of typhoid fever before his case came up for trial. A list of 
students who attended Oaklands around this time may be seen with the school 
picture included in this paper. 
Gladeview School 

On Septeniber 13, 1884, one half acre was deeded to school directors 
J. C. Coleman, W. J. Knox, and M. Frank Overall by F. G. Carney for a 
school house "now standing on the lot. "^ Gladeview school was originally 
I on Mt. Hermon Road near Walkup's Chapel, which was just around the cor- 
ner from the Prosperity Baptist Church. ^ In 1909 John Overall deeded a 
half acre for Gladeview School, but it was moved during that year to its later 
location across the road from Prosperity Baptist Church. Some of the 
teachers at Gladeview were Henry and Lula Bright, Leanna Smith, Annie 
Ransom, Luther Glanton, Robert Meeks and Mollie Leigh (Mrs. Anse Jones) . "^ 
There were also teachers named Robinson, Bass and McGowan. "^ Tennie 
Beard, a student in the school in the 1890's, recalls that they went to sclioo] 
in January, February, May, June, August and part of September. School 
was not in session, he said, between February and May because the chil- 
dren were needed to assist with the planting of corn in March and cotton in 
April. School was out again in September when cotton was ready to be 
picked. Mr. Beard adds that in those days school began with a prayer and 

^ Register's Office, Ruth. Co. , Tenn. , Book 27, p. 417. 

^ Interview with Tennie Beard, January, 197 6. 

3 Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Book 50, p. 585. 

Interview with Tennie Beard, January, 197 6. 
5 Rutherford County, School Superintendent's Office, School Records, 
Gladeview folder. 

a song and subjects studied were reading, writing, and arithmetic. 1 

Another school for the children in the black community at Dilton was 
established about a year after Gladeview, but its name is not known. School 
directors W. P. Henderson, W. A. Sloan and James Gilley were deeded one 
half acre by Marshall and Mary Keeble. 2 Its location was on the Bradyville 
Pike about two miles northwest of the Dilton Store on property presently 
owned by R. C. Bell. "^ At that time, the land deeded to the school directors 
was bordered by property owned by M. Crass and Reuben Harrell. The 
school remained in existence until about 1910. ^ 
Dilton School 

During the winter of 1898, the Oaklands schoolhouse was rolled through 
the fields to a new location three- tenths of a mile east of the Dilton Store and 
on the north side of the Bradyville Pike. ^ When the building began to lean 
during the early 1920 's, it was propped up with cedar poles. ' About 1927, 
when it was considered too deteriorated to be used any longer, it was torn 
down and replaced by a new building similar to the old one. ^ Some of the 
teachers who taught at Dilton School were B. H. Lokey, Ellen Brown, Genoa 
Bowling, Lela Osborne, Tom Gregory, Sallie McClain, Annie Bell Becton 
(Mrs. J. D. Roberts), Miss Owen, Elizabeth Puckett (Mrs. Calvin Carter) , 

1 Interview with Tennie Beard, January, 197 6. 

2 Register's Office, Rutherford Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book 28, p. 86. 

3 Interview with Fred Rogers, May, 1976. 

4 Register's Office, Ruth. Co., Term., Deed Book 28, p. 86. 
^ Interview with Mr. Beard, January, 197 6. 

6 Interview with Mrs. Clemmie Harrell Ring, February, 1976. 

7 Interview with Ernest Howard Smith, April, 197 6. 

8 Interview with William Hoyt Smith, April, 1976. 

Pauline Jennings (Mrs. White Wood), Frank White, Virginia Bock (Mrs. 
Cannon Overall), Mrs. A. R. Craddock (Nee Alice Hill), Irene Ycarwood 
(Mrs. Kenneth Williamson), Bessie Puckett, Susie Ashley (Mrs. Grover 
Sneed), Bright Brandon (Mrs. Howard Smith) , Elizabeth White (Mrs. Hoyt) 
Davenport), James Haynes, Zella Potts, Macy Whitfield, Grady Biggers 
(Mrs. Wliite), Christine Harrell (Mrs. Ray Donnell) . ^ In the 1930's, Mrs. 
J. Ellis Harris (nee Clara Parman) directed the parents and friends of 
the school in the performance of stunts, skits, and songs which she had 
written. The community derived much enjoyment and the school acquired 
a stage as a result of these efforts. ^ The foundation of the school, being 
still in place, reveals the school to have been approximately 66 feet in 
length. The width of the building was 34 feet, except at the rear, where it 
measured 23 feet. A small room across the front of the building was used 
for a kitchen when the hot-lunch program began about 1936 with Mrs. Ann 
Jones in charge of the preparation of the food. Between the kitchen and the 
stage was the large class room. ^ On the southeast side of the building were 
two small rooms and a small porch. A deed to a part of the school property 
mentions a persimmon tree in the school yard. ^ The girls at Dilton School 
were fond of the tree, considering it theirs because it stood behind their 
privy. In the fall of the year and after the first frost, when the fruit of the 
tree grew ripe and fell to the ground, there was always a sharp increase in 

■*• Interview with Mrs. Ernest Howard Smith, April, 197 6. 

2 Interview with Mrs. J. Ellis Harris, April, 1976. 

3 Interview with Mrs. Ernest Howard Smith, April, 197 6. 

4 Register's Office, Ruth. Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book 55, p. 506. 



the number of girls who held up their hands to ask to be excused from clas 
More often than not, their thoughts were on the tree and the newly fallen 
fruit which might be found beneath it. ^ The school and the tree are gone, but 
the foundation of the school and the roots of the tree are still there. The 
school closed in 1942 when the children began to be bussed to the consoli- 
dated grade schools in the town of Murfreesboro2 and the tree fell during a 


severe storm of June 20, 1970. -^ 
Henderson School 

Henderson School, according to Jack R. Mankin, was a reasonable 
facsimile of Whittier's schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was "T" shaped with 
one large room and two small rooms on each side. It was a frame building 
with weatherboarding on the outside and wood ceiling on the inside. The roof 
was covered with wood shingles and there was a belfry on the front contain- 
ing a bell which called the students in to "books. " "Literally, " Jack Mankin 
writes, "we were taught reading, writing and 'rithmetic to the tune of a 
hickory stick, except that privet switches were more available and made an 
acceptable substitute for hickory. "^ The school was located on the 
Manchester Pike near the southeast corner of that pike and Dilton-Mankin 
Lane, but on the opposite side of the pike and a short distance to the south. 
Since a number of children in the Dilton community attended school at 
Henderson, it is mentioned here. It is thought to have been built in the 

1 Interview with Mrs. Pearl Marlin Smith, May, 197 6. 
^Interview with Charles B. Smith, February, 1976. 
■^ Interview with Dr. Fowler Todd, May, 1976. 

4 Letter from Jack R. Mankin, March 30, 197 6. 

5 Ibid. 



late 1800 's when the Fimixklin Hendersons owned the plantation. This land 
with its antebellum house was purchased from the Hendersons by Henry Pfeil 
in 1897 and is presently owned by the Price Harrisons. Since no deed is 
on record for the sale or donation of the property for the school, when it 
was established is uncertain. 

A number of teachers who taught at Henderson are remembered by 

their former students. Professor Parker, who was teaching in 1906 and 

before, was the first teacher known to have taught at Henderson. Some 

others who taught there were Carroll Brown, Shellie Tolbert, Mattie 

Overall (Mrs. R. K. Harrell) , Mary Snell (Mrs. Ellis Ransom), Fannie 

Snell, Alline Youree, Ethel McCrary, Ann Puckett (Mrs. Arthur Watts) , 

Bessie Puckett, Willie Mary Watson (Mrs. DeLeon Horton), Irene Downing 

(Mrs.. AndrewPrice), Mrs. W. I. Sade (Fannie Robison), Irene Yearwood 

(Mrs. Kenneth Williamson) , and Mary Frank Auberry. Alline Youree 

remembers teaching at Henderson in 1914 and 1915 for thirty dollars per 

month. ^ By this time, she recalls, school sessions were eight months long. 

Miss Youree remembers having seventeen children in the early grades in a 

small room with a stove in the center. John Benton Mankin, who was in 

first grade at Henderson School the year the school closed (1934) remembers 

being very much in love during that year with his teacher, Mary Frank Auberry. 

^ Register's Office, Ruth. Co. , Tenn. , Deed Book 38, p. 269. 

2 Ibid., Book 186, p. 152; Book 194, p. 6. 

3 Letter from Jack R. Mankin, March 30, 1976. 

^ Interview with Mrs. William M. McNeill (nee Mary Frances Snell). 
^ Interview with Miss Alline Youree, April, 1976. 
^ Interview with John Benton Mankin, April, 197 6. 


As in all typical communities during the 1800's and early 1900's, 
before the automobile and consolidated schools, the social activities of the 
community were closely associated with the school and with the churches, 
not only for children, but for the adults as well. The "grown folks, " as the 
children called them, especially enjoyed the box suppers which were given 
to raise money for the school. Each woman of the family, including the 
daughters who were of marriageable age, would prepare a delicious supper, 
pack it in a fancy box which had been carefully decorated, and upon arrival 
at the schoolhouse, place it on a large table with the other boxes. A "crier" 
(auctioneer) was called in to "cry" the box supper sale. One of the men 
often called upon to "cry" the Dilton School's box suppers in the early 1900's 
was John Puckett. •*• The boxes were auctioned to the highest bidders. A 
young man would bid high to buy the box prepared by his choice of girls 
because the girl shared the supper with its buyer. Some men who believed 
their wives to be the best cooks would bid for their boxes, or maybe some 
bid for fear of a tongue lashing when they got home if they failed to do sol 
Plays or minstrels were sometimes performed by the parents or by any 
local talent which could be found. Admission was charged and funds were 
thereby raised for equipment for the school. The children derived much 
pleasure as well as "book learning" from school. At recess periods, they 

1 Interview with William Hoyt Smith, April, 1976. 
^ Interview with Mrs. J. Ellis Harris, April, 197 6. 


played games called hares and hounds, ante-over, town ball, niunVolc peg, 
roley holey, or skip-to- me-lou. If the weather made it necessary to stay 
inside for recess, they played games such as clap-in-and- clap-out. 

Behind Henderson School was Mr. Pfeil's woods with a dense growth 
of cedars and a few hardwood trees. There, a good game of hares and 
hounds could be enjoyed. Two boys, chosen to be "hares", were given a 
few minutes start. They ran ahead dropping small bits of paper to make 
a trail for the rest of the boys (the "hounds") to follow. Jack Mankin. a 
student at Henderson around 1910, writes that this was no small job in a (iO 
acre plot of dense wood. "But, oh, it was fun, and how we did hale to near 
that old bell on the schoolhouse toll the doleful warning that it was just five 
minutes to books. "•'■ 

Roley holey was a marble game, sometimes taken seriously by some 
boys. Joe Jernigan, who was an elementary school student at Oaklands and 
at Dilton School^ tells of being hit in the leg by a rock by a boy who grew 
angry with him over a marble game. At ninety three, Mr. Jernigan still 
has the scar. 2 Roley holey was a favorite marble game. Four holes were 
placed in the ground and boys took turns shooting their marbles from hole 
to hole. The one who got his marbles in the fourth hole first was rewarded 
with the privilege of shooting marbles at the knuckles of the other boys as 
ihey held them to the ground. 

Another game with a hard penalty for losing was mumble peg, which 

^ Jack Mankin, "Autobiography" (Ms., n.d.), p. 33. 
2 Interview with Joe J. Jernigan, December, 1975. 


was played with pocket knives. Every boy carried a pocket knife. Many older 
men who are in their sixty's and seventy's today carry pocket knives because 
they acquired the habit when they were boys. Mr. Jernigan recalled the 
rules: The players took turns throwing their knives at the ground with both 
blades out. If the knife stuck in the ground with the blade straight out, cer- 
tain points were scored; if it stuck in the ground by the blade which was at 
an angle, a certain number of points were scored. The boy who scored the 
most points in the game had the privilege of driving a wooden peg into the 
ground as far as he could drive it, and the boy who scored the least had to 
pull the peg out with his teeth. 

All the boys and girls would participate in games such as town ball and 
ante-over. Town ball was similar to baseball. It acquired its name from 
the rule that the team at bat was "in town. " The team out on the field was 
said to be "in the country. " Ante-over was played with a ball made of yarn 
from old socks wound very tightly together to the size of a soft ball. The 
children divided into two teams and assembled on opposing sides of the 
school building. When a team member threw the ball over the roof of the 
school, he yelled "ANTE-OVER!" The child who caught the ball would rush 
ar-ound the school house and try to hit one of the children with the ball. If 
he succeeded, his team acquired this child as a new member, but if the 
child dodged the ball successfully, he had to return to his team alone. The 
game continued until one side lost all its team niembers to the other side 
or until recess ended, in which case, the team with the most members won 

■'• Interview with Joe J. Jernigan, December, 1975. 

the game 

Clap- in- and- clap-out wa^ an indoor game. The girls would remain in 
the rooni and the boys would go out of the room or vice versa. A girl would 
call for a particular boy to the doorkeeper, who would call him in. When he 
entered the door, the girls began to clap. If he sat down by the girl who 
called for him, he "stuck" as the clapping ceased. If he did not, the clap- 
ping increased and he was "clapped out" of the room. -'■ 

Jack R. Mankin, in an autobiography for his children, describes liis 
memories of the protracted meetings at the Dilton Church of Christ in tiio 
early 1900 's, some of which typify the social life of any of Dilton churches. 
According to Mr. Mankin, nothing could compare with the followship, 
excitement and pleasure provided by the annual church affair known as the 
"protracted meetin'. " The following is paraphrased from Mr. Mankin's 
manuscript: People came from fifteen to twenty miles away to attend a 
meeting, where boys had opportunity to meet girls from other communities. 
Such meetings often resulted in romance and marriage, and in those days, 
marriage, whether for better or for worse, was for keeps. Young men had 
opportunity to show off their newly acquired smoking habits, their sideburns 
and their moustaches, and the girls had a chance to show off their wasp-like 
waists, their hairdos, and their pretty new organdy or satin dresses. The 
woods nearby would be full of younger boys who were more interested in 
whatever the woods contained and in each other than in girls. The women 
and the girls inside the church awaiting the beginning of the service exchanged 

1 Interview with Mrs. Pearl Marlin Smith, December 1975. 


recipes and secrets and every woman carried a fan. Their faces were white 

with dover chalk and they wore large hats which were attached to their hair 

with long hat pins. Many of the men would stay outside and talk during the 

services and later offer the excuse to their wives that there was no more 

room available inside. The men were dressed in overalls or suits. In the 

early 1900 's there were a few celluloid collars, but these gave way to stiff 

linencollars worn high up under the chin. The men who wore suits would 

wear gaudily striped silk shirts, cuff links and sleeve bands to hold the 

shirt sleeves up. ■'■ 

When the services were over, the family who had the honor of getting 

the preacher to go home with them for dinner would invite as many others 

as they could get to come. It was the housewife's day of glory, but it was 

not easy. The protracted meeting was scheduled for a week in July, the 

warmest month of the year, and the housewife prepared the meal over a 

hot stove. If the family could afford it, a servant was hired to help with 

the cooking and dish washing. There was an unbelieveable abundance of food 

on the table on such a day: "three or four fried chickens fried to a delicious 

golden brown and served hot from the stove, roast beef or mutton, fried ham, 

potato salad, slaw, hot biscuits, home made light bread, fried corn, butter beans, 

stewed tomatoes, pickled peaches, preserves, butter and jelly for dessert - home 

made ice cream reckoned in gallons, not quarts, and at least two kinds of cakes; 

to drink - coffee, iced tea, buttermilk or sweet milk "^ When dinner was over, -/ 

the children came in for the "second table." Mr. Mankin writes: 

^ Jack R. Mankin, "Autobiography" (Ms. n.d.) pp. 17-19. 
2 Ibid. , p. 20. 

It was infinite torment to be helpless and voiceless 
while the last piece of white meat was eaten or the last 
good piece of ham had the heart cut out of it. And, it 
seenu'd as if the}' would eat foreverl We would think 
there was a lull and begin to be hopeful when the good 
housewife would insist that the preacher try some of 
this or that and then they would start all over again. Our 
hopes sank as low as the pancreas. Finally, though, 
they did quit, and then some mother would remember the 
children hadn't eaten yet. We didn't get much service or 
choice dishes, but we didn't need much. What we lacked 
in finesse, we made up for in appetite, and in spite of 
our thinking a few minutes before that there would not be 
anything left, I never knew of a child leaving the second 
table without having had more than he should have eaten; 
even ice cream. ■'■ 

When dinner was over, the women washed dishes and the men would sit under 

the shade trees and smoke, chew tobacco and talk, and perhaps take a walk 

to look over the crops until it was time to go home and do the farm chores 

before going back to "meetin' " that night. ^ ./- 

Social gatherings among the adults often had a serious purpose as well 

as recreational value. This was true in the case of the schools and the 

churches, and it was even more true in the black community, where the 

men enjoyed the fellowship of a lodge in the early 1900's called the United 

Sons of Relief. Some of the officers who served the lodge were Simon ^ 

J.,cigh, Ncls Lassiter, Jess Alexander, and Tennie Beard. "^ They met 

once a month and continued to do so for about four years. Their primary 

purpose was to help one another when there was a need. If a member 

became ill and unable to work, each of the other members contributed a 

^ Ibid, p. 20. ^Ibid. , p. 21. 

^ Interview with Tennie Beard, January, 197 6. 

dollar a week for his family's support until he was able to work again. ^ 

DLii-ing the depression years, the "pound supper" was popular in the- 
community. Since times were hard and money scarce during the 1930 's, 
it was probably not practical to invite a very large group to one's lionit,- 
wilhoui ir.viting each family to also bring a pound of food to contribute to 
the meal. These social gatherings were similar to the "covered dish SLip- 
pers" with which we are familiar today. 

^ Interview with Mr. Beard, January, 1976. 


The oldest trading post known to have been in the Dilton area was near 
the Black Fox Spring many years before Rutherford County was established 
when traders came from the Cumberland settlement to exchange goods with 
the Indians. 1 The animal furs which the Indians obtained in the wilderness 
were in demand by the colonists as well as the Europeans. Because of this 
demand, traders found it profitable to exchange guns, knives, hatchets, 
cloth, whiskey, and trinkets for pelts. ^ The first store known to have been 
operated in the area by a white settler was Joel Childress' store on the old 
road near Black Fox Spring. ^ In those days stores are said to have sold dry 
goods, products from the farm and the woods, guns, ammunition, whiskey, 
and hides. 

Dr. J. M. Dill opened a store in 18835 across the Bradyville road and 
about 200 yards northwest of today's Dilton Store. ^ By 1900 there were two 
other stores and two blacksmith shops near Dr. Dill's store. '^ The black- 
smiths were George Blair and William Henderson, and some of the store- 
keepers were James Hill, Leighton Tolbert, Jim Tolbert, Dave Bivins, Will 

^Sims, p. 210. 

2 S.E. Scates, A School History of Tennessee (New York: World 
Book Company, 1925), p. 23. 

3 Nashville, Daily American , loc. cit. 

4 Goodspeed, p. 812. 

5 Harrell, "The Dill Family", loc_. cit. 

^ Interview with William Hoyt Smith, March, 197 6. 

'^ Interview with Joe J. Jernigan, Dec. , 1975. Mr. Jernigan is a son 
of William and Betty Thompson Jernigan, who owned a farm in the Dilton 
Commvinity across the road and east of Moore Hill. 





A Dilton store of about 1906. Storekeeper Sylvester Willard is standing 
with ants crossed near the center of the picture. Ernest Smith is second 
person to the ri^t of Mr. Willard with dark hat and moustache. Mr. Willard 's 
wife and child are standing in front of the windcw on the left side of the 

-... f ni i. -Mn ■» ■ 

A Dilton store of about 1900. The store was CTvned by John Overall and 
operated by M. V. Baugus. -Rvo people in the picture are said to be Tom 
Benson and Hugh Kirk, Jr. The store burned around 1904. 

Overall, Sylvester Willard, M.V. Baugus, Oscar Harrcll, and Grovor 
ArnolU'. 1 After Dr. Dill, Leighton Tolbert began a term as poslriia.stor 
in 1803 and Sylvester Willard in 1901. The post office was discontinued in 
l90fi. ■^ Oscar Harrell i-an the store from about 1910 until 1925. ^ His son. 
William Harrell, presently owns and operates the only Dilton store, a con- 
crete block structure. Hatton Adams operated the only store on Moore Hill 
until 1905. 5 and Hendrick Mankin was storekeeper at a store on the corner 
of the Manchester Pike and the old road which led to Dilton during the years 
from 1914 to 1917. ^ 

Agriculture was the main means of livelihood for the people in the com- 
munity. The first plantation owner raised corn, cotton, and wheat and kept 
"milch" cows, a yoke of oxen, horses, mules, hogs, chickens, geese and 
ducks.''' The products of the farm which were not used for the families 
sustenance were sent to market. Mr. Joe Jernigan, a youngster during the 
inCO's and ICOO's rcrneml:)ers that hogs, turkeys, and cattle wei'e driven to 
Murfrecsboro past his home near the Dilton store from farms as far away 
as Bradyville and that the drivers frequently stopped along the road with the 
animals to spend the night. The Murfreesboro and Bradyville Turnpike was 

•'• Interview with Joe J. Jernigan, December, 1975. 

2 Henry G. Wray, "Rutherford County Post Offices and Postmasters, " 
Pcutherford Co. Historical Society, Publication No. 5 , p. 31. 

"^ Ibid. ^ Interview with William Hoyt Smnth. March, 197 6. 

5 Interview with Mr. Smith, March, 1976. 

6 Jack R. Mankin, "Autobiography" (Ms. , 1973), p. ISO. 

'^ Register's Office, Ruth. Co., Tenn. , Deed Book Y, p. 123. These 
products are mentioned in this deed of 1857 of property from William Nelson 
to John Nelson. The property was located in the area to become knov/n as 

in operation at this time, but it had little resemblance to our present con- 
cept of a turnpike. The road was barely wide enough for wagons to pass when 
they met, and horses and cattle would sometimes sink knee deep in mud. •'■ 
Turnpike companies perforined valuable service for the people. The 
companies chartered by the state legislature were inade up of men who owned 
rock crushers, wagons, and teams of horses and who hired drivers and labor- 
ers for the purposes of constructing roads and bridges and charging tolls. 
Some of the toll money was considered income on their investments and the 
remainder was used for repairs. "^ The legislature set the amount of toll that 
-could be charged. ^ When the Murfreesboro and Bradyville Turnpike Company 
was chartered in 1855, the directors were L.H. Carney, Levi W. Reeves, 
E. A. Keeble, and William Spence. ^ On the day that the turnpike opened, it 
was toll free and "wagons and carts and horses came out the pike all day. "^ 
Receipts recorded by Goodspeed for the Murfreesboro and Bradyville turn- 
pike in 1886 were $1, 793. 18 and expenditures were $1, 5 60. 78. 6 There were 
three toll gates along the pike about five miles apart. The first was along 
the road to the northwest of Todd Lake, another was at the foot of Moore 
Hill, and the third was located in the Donnell's Chapel community. The 
directors of the turnpike in 1903 were Charles R. Holmes, W. H. Woods, 
Hugh Kirk, D. B. Murray and J. C. Carnahan. ^ 

■'■ Interview with Joe J. Jernigan, December, 1975. 

2 Joseph H. Parks, The Story of Tennessee (Norman, Okla: Harlow, 
1963), p. 185. 

3 Acts of the State of Tennessee , 1875, p. 241. 

4 Ibid., 1855-56, p. 385; 1857-58, p. 373. 

^ Interview with Roy Tarwater who quoted W. A. Sloan (1853-1933), 
January, 1976. 6 Qoodspeed, p. 817. 

7 Interview with William Hoyt Smith, March, 197 6. 

^ Letter from Joe C. Carr, Sec. of State, Tenn. , May 4, 1976. 

People in the community took turns working the roads which woi'c not 
liii'iipikes with picks and shovels. Gravel was hauled from creek 'oeds in 
wagon loads pulled by teams of horses. Both men and horses worked l^ard 
1o keep the roads in good condition, but it seemed a losing battle as both 
weather and wagon wl>eels would soon undo what had been done. Alexander 
T. Smith was appointed overseer of the road between the turnpike and the 
home of Mrs. Dorothy Philips and served in that capacity from 187 3 to 1879. 
The 1878 map reveals several cotton gins scattered over the Dilton 
countryside. One was owned by John W. Childress and another by W. Fr-ank 
Overall. Mr. Frank Overall is also remembered by several people today 
for his cherry orchard. When the cherries ripened, boys were hired to pick 
them only if they were qualified by the ability to whistle. Mr. Overall wisely 
required that the boys whistle while they worked 1^ 

William Yearwood operated a grist mill on his farm in the latter part 
of the 19th century and in the early part of this century. Most grist mills 

were propelled by water power, but Mr. Yearwood's mill was powered by a 

large, stationary gasoline engine which was started by a kitchen m.atch. A 

miller was expected to keep an eighth of the meal which he had ground for the 

farmer. Some millers were inclined to keep a little more, but Mr. Yearwood 

was said to have been fair and just in his dealings with the farmers, always 

giving good measure. In addition to the grist mill, William Yearwood had 

a small home broom factory. Some of the farmers in the neighborhood 

^ County Court Clark's Office, Ruth. Co. , Tenn. , Road Books, 1872-79. 
2 Letter from Jack R. Mankin, Jan. 12, 1976. ■^ Ibid. 

4 Interview with William Hoyt Smith, March, 197 6. 

raised broom corn and took their harvests to Mr. Yearwood who made brooms 
on the shares. Jack Mankin recalls that they were good brooms without the 
fancy trimming and fancy handles found on today's factory made brooms. 
John Benton Mankin, father of Jack R. Mankin, was a progressive 
farmer of the early 1900's who was willing to try new gadgets such as the 
hay fork. Dr. Mankin was the first farmer in the community to try it. Jack 
Mankin explains its use in his Autobiography: 

"The hay fork was a device for unloading loose hay from 
a wagon by means of a large fork on a track. The fork was let 
down into the load of hay and the triggers set to hold it. Then 
a pair of mules attached to a long rope would pull the fork, hay 
and all, high up into the roof of the barn where it would roll on 
the track to the place it was to be tripped. A man pulled the 
trip rope when the load was where it was wanted, and it dropped 
from the fork. Mules instead of men furnished the power to 
unload the hay. It was a sensation in the neighborhood and was 
the forerunner of many more to be installed by farmers of 

From 1906 to 1918 Raleigh W. Marlin owned the property shown on the 

Beers Map of 1878 as belonging to Jasper Knox, property presently owned 

by William Elrod. ^ Mr. Marlin may be credited with having acquired the 

first tractor in the community. His daughter, Mrs. Hoyt Smith (nee Peai-1 

Marlin), recalls that she had to meet her father with a bucket of water for 

^ the tractor each time he made a round in the field. It was a gasoline or coal 

oil powered tractor, but it was "thirsty" for water. When it backfired, and 

it often did, it could be heard throughout the countryside. People came from 

town and from miles around to see the tractor in operation. ^ 

1 JackR. Mankin, "Autobiography" (Ms., n.d.), p. 26. ^ Ibid. 
^ Interview with Mrs. Pearl Marlin Smith, March, 1976. 
4 Ibid. 

Jolin Harris owned and operated a saw mill on the Marlin property near 
J.ytlc Creek during the years of 1912 and 1913, when he and his large family 
lived in the Marlin house. Mr. Harris' daughter, Mrs. Hugh Hooper, recalls 
that her father was the first man in Dilton to own a car. The car was pur- 
chased about 1906 and kept until 1912. 2 

After having lived in Dilton as a young man, Kelly Harrell moved to 
Chattanooga with his family and operated a grocery store in that city. ^ 
His daughter, Mrs. J. W. Duncan, provided the following information about 
her father: Mr. Harrell returned to Dilton in the early 1940's and built a 
house near the southwest corner of the Bradyville Pike and Overall Road. 
He purchased two block molds while in Chattanooga and brought them to 
Dilton, where he made the concrete blocks with which to build his house. 
His interest stirred by concrete blockmaking as a means of livelihood, he 
purchased a rock crusher and a block machine. The block making machine 
is believed to have been the first in Rutherford County. He established the 
Rutherford County Lime and Block Company and made concrete blocks for 
sale on his property at Dilton. During World War H, he established the 
R. K. Harrell Bottling Company. Soft drinks were scarce due to a shortage 
of sugar. Mr. Harrell obtained a sugar allotment, built and equipped a bot- 
tling plant on his property, and bought two trucks with which to distribute 
the drinks. He marketed the drinks to stores throughout middle Tennessee. ^ 

Interview with Mrs. Mildred Harris Hooper, December, 197 6. 
2 Interview with Mrs. Hooper, December, 1976. 
^ Interview with Mrs. Nadene Harrell Duncan, March, 1976. 
4 Ibid. 

Roy E. Tarwater and Cannon J. Overall were outstanding agriculturists 
in the county as well as in the community because of their specialized farming. 
Mr. Tarwater, who is now retired and lives in Murfreesboro, supplied the 
following facts about his life and work: Born in Missouri, he came to 
Rutherford County in 1918 after serving in the army during World War I. He 
married Susie Mae Harrell in that year and bought a farm at Dilton. Mr. 
Tarwater did general farming, improving his land and using the latest agri- 
cultural methods. He was the first farmer in the community to use contoui- 
farniing and to build terraces. His specialty was raising certified and founda- 
rion seed. When hybrid corn was introduced, he was the first farmer in the 
county to raise hybrid corn for sale. Seed from Mr. Tarwater's farm was 
mailed far and wide and planted in several foreign countries such as Italy, 
Egypt, and other African countries. A processing plant was built on his 
farm and operated for several years. 

Cannon Justiss Overall was born to Fannie Justiss and Thomas R. 
Overall at Dilton in 1899 and lived at his birthplace until his death in 1974. -^ 
His daughter, Jean Thompson, provided these facts about her father: In 
1924 Mr. Overall married Mary Virginia Bock, who was teaching at Dilton 
School. Mr. and Mrs. Overall gardened on a large scale and supplied the 
markets of Murfreesboro with a wide variety of garden vegetables throughout 
his life. Mr. Overall became a genial and successful salesman of his products. 
During the Christmas season, he sold evergreens such as holly, mistletoe, 

■'- Interview with Roy E. Tarwater, March, 1976. 

2 Interview with Mrs. William H. Thompson, Jr. (nee Jean Overall), 
August, 1976. 


pine, and cedar ia lots and in handmade wreaths. In 1949 he expanded the 
sage and pepper business by constructing and equipping a concrete block, 
multi-purpose building used for the processing, packaging, and storing of 
his homegrown seasoningSo Thirteen acres of sage and pepper were grown, 
processed, and packaged during the years of peak production. Mr„ Overall 
sold to grocery stores throughout middle and west Tennessee these seasonings 
bearing recipes for their use on the labels. 

Agriculture continued to be a primary source of income in the Dilton 

community for thirty-five to forty years into this century- On a joyous day 

in 1937, the Dilton commionity acquired electricity. Some people who lived 

there at the time remember well just where they were and what they were 
doing when the lights came on. With this and other technological advancement, 
Lliis community, as all other communities in the land, began to change. People 
who lived during those early times remember the good and the bad, but mostly 
they remember the good and they miss it. The feeling is as one of homesick- 
ness. The young think of those times as another world and wonder what they 
have missed. Today's older generations have had the unique privilege of 
living in "two worlds" or eras: the agricultural and the industrial. 

Interview with Mrs. Jean Overall Thompson, August, 1976. 
^An entry in the author's diary on January 31, 1937 reads "My grandparents 
are just now getting their electricity. " 


Index for Publication Number 9 



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3 3082 00527 7024 




Rutherford Coimty Hist. Society 









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