The Heritage of Daniel Haston


Legends & Stories of White County, TN
By Coral Williams
Chapter III     Schools, Churches, Courts, Newspapers

             This chapter discusses the schools, churches, courts, early merchants, political parties lynchings, hangings, and newspapers about which we have legends and stories.

            The early settlers of White County recognized the value of schools for the training of the young boys and girls, and schools were established while the county was yet young. Many noted schools were opened throughout the county as the sections grew and developed. One of the strongest of these outside of Sparta was the Cumberland Institute which is said, at one time, to have enrolled students from seven states in the United States. The exact date of the founding of this school is not known for it seems to have grown gradually from very humble beginnings. It received support from the old Sparta Presbytery, which erected on the campus a building known as Preachers’ Hall used as a home for the candidates for the ministry. Zion Academy was established in 1825, and was a famous school before the Civil War.

            Religion and school go hand-in-hand and thus we find them in White County. The Presbyterian church was organized in the county as early as 1800 under the leadership of the famous circuit rider, Lorenzo Dow. Later when other churches were established there was slight misunderstanding among them, and education was at a low ebb. Two rival schools were established, neither of which seems to have been able to accomplish anything, as the religious element entered in as a disturbing factor.1

            The courts of the county were established when the county was formed and many brilliant men were sent out from the Sparta Bar. Some time before the year 1830, there was a newspaper called the Recorder and Law Journal which proposed to aid the lawyers by adding information to their store of knowledge. Sparta has established and maintained some of the leading papers of the state.


            The first school of any consequence in White County of which a record can be found was the Priestly Academy established about 1815, at Sparta. It was located on this present site of the old cemetery on the summit to the west of the town. It was taught by the Reverend Memucan Wade, "Who preserved order by the use of his ferule, and gave out knowledge by the volume of his voice, the thundering tone of which would make a timid child forget his name."2

            In the Sparta Recorder and Law Journal3 is this notice relative to Priestly Academy:

Priestly Academy   Saturday, May 21, 1831.

          THE SIXTH SESSION of this institution will commence on Monday the 18th day of April inst. and terminate on Friday the 30th of September next consisting of five months and two weeks.

          The course of instruction will comprehend the:

          Latin Language,
          English Grammar,
          Geography-with use of Maps and Charts,
          English Composition,
          Together with Reading, Writing, and Orthography.


Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, etc. (per session)
English, Grammar, and Geography
Latin, Mathematics, and the sciences

           All pupils attending will be considered regular scholars, and charged accordingly, unless otherwise specified by the parties in writing.

           The instructor tenders his due acknowledgements to the friends and patrons of the institution; and assures them that every exertion will be used to cultivate the minds of the pupils committed to the charge of the Institution.

           Corn, Bacon, or Beef-Cattle, taken in payment at the market cash prices, provided the same be delivered at my residence in Sparta, before termination of the accommodation of such farming individuals as desire the education of their children, and find the scarcity of money an obstacle to the accomplishment of so laudable a design, and to discharge so important a duty.

Sparta, April 2-3t.                                            Jacob K. Spooner, Tutor

            The article must have been delayed in publication or been run with the same wording for several editions of the paper.

            In October, 1830 issue was found advertisement of a night school by Spooner.



October 2, 1830.

          J. K. Spooner, begs leave to inform the Young Men of Sparta that he has concluded to open a NIGHT SCHOOL, by which they may avail themselves of an opportunity to receive instructions in Reading, Writing Arithmetic, English Grammar, Geography and the useful and ornamental branches in the sciences.

          Note. The English Grammar will be communicated in an easy short method, by lectures. Lectures will be delivered once a week on the elementary principles of Arithmetic, Geography, Astronomy and Natural Philosophy.

          Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, $3.50 and the other branches $5.00 for the course, comprising sixty nights; payable the first quarter in advance, the balance at the closing of the school. None will be received for less than the session. The school will be open the 20th Oct.

Oct. 2                                                                          J. K. Spooner.

            Little is known of Mr. Spooner’s life and works but throughout the year from May, 1830 to May, 1831, he advertises quite often as a school teacher, a librarian, or other similar positions. An article was found frequently in the Recorder and Law Journal during the year mentioned relating to the Sparta library of which Mr. Spooner was head:


          The Stockholders of the above institution are notified that the Library is ready for the delivery of Books. And in the room now may be found a number of the best Newspapers in the United States. Others are sent for and are expected daily; so that in a short time the list will be complete. Those Gentlemen and Ladies, who are traveling and wish a library treat can have it by visiting the above establishment. It is located in the second story of the large frame formerly occupied by N. Haggard, on Main Street; and adjoining to the office of the Sparta Recorder and Law Journal.

          It is presumed travelers would often be desirous to read the news of the day, especially from their own residence. Although this undertaking is in its infancy, it promises to be useful, even beyond the most sanguine expectations of its founders. The reading part of our country society is respectfully invited to "call and see". It is (not) feared that any will retire dissatisfied. Not only Law Medicine, Politics, and Religion may be found here; but the farmer is instructed from all parts of our extended and beloved country.

J. K. Spooner, Librarian

P.S. Stockholders who have not procured receipts for their shares respectively, are requested to call and receive them.

Sparta, May 1, 1830.


            Priestly Academy was transformed in 1831 into a brick academy of more convenient dimensions, and this building was known as the County Academy which was later used as the Christian church house. David Ames, a lawyer, taught the first school within the brick walls. William Jarred, a Presbyterian preacher, later taught there. In 1853, the Cumberland Presbyterians, the Baptists and Christians, combined, purchased the County Academy and converted it into a Union Church. Later the building was owned by the Christians, who worshipped there several years.5

            About this time an act was passed authorizing the establishing of free schools for all the poor children. In 1815 a law had established free schools for "certain poor children." There were some subscription schools during the time of those free schools, but these and the free schools were kept separate.

            In 1850 the residence of H. L. Carrick was purchased, and the Nourse Academy was established. Some of the teachers of that school were Patten, King, Marquiss, Carnes and Nowlin. In 1858 and until after the Civil War, Professor William Marquiss, an educator of great talent and reputation had charge of the school. He came to Sparta from Virginia and is remembered not only for his great education and the stern discipline he enforced but for his strong Southern sentiment and polished and easy bearing. He went to Mississippi a short time after the war where he died soon afterwards.6

            In 1887 that frame house was removed and a brick structure, the Dibrell Normal was established. The building was paid for by private contributions and was named in honor of G. G. Dibrell who had made the completion of the building possible, by his liberal contributions and untiring efforts. In the summer of 1901 the board of trustees leased the school property to Mr. W. T. Call for a term of years. Other teachers were B. C. Duggan, coprincipal; Mrs. N. D. Chadwick, primary department; Miss Mattie Doolittle, art and elocution; and Miss Miller, music. There was a library of several hundred volumes which consisted of books of reference, science, history, literature and fiction.

            Some other schools of White County were: Zion Academy 1825, Onward Seminary 1840, Peeled Chestnut 1845, Doyle Station, Ver-Del Normal College, at Quebeck, and Bon Air School. Several districts maintained good schools. Professor Hutchings built a two-story brick structure in the Sixth District and ran the school a number of years by his own efforts.7

            Uncle Billie Young, in an article for the Sparta News8 describes one of the early schools which is typical of many of the early schools. He says of that school:

          About eight miles south of this town, near the old Sparta and Spencer road, and near River Hill, is an old place by the name of Union. About the year 1810 the land there was donated to the Cumberland Presbyterian church by one Spencer Mitchell. Then a log house was erected and put down near the forks of the road. That house was about twenty-four by thirty feet and set east and west. The door, as was the custom of building country churches and school houses at that time, was placed in the side and this one was in the south side and the pulpit on the north side. There was a six foot fireplace on the west end with a stick and clay chimney. There was an eight foot opening in the east end and a brush arbor over it on the outside.

         The seats were of split logs with holes bored in them and legs driven in. The seats were so high a common size boy could not sit on them and touch the floor with his feet. The schools usually began about July and lasted from three to five months, but stopped two weeks about September to pull fodder. The things taught then were reading, writing, and arithmetic. More interest was taken in spelling and arithmetic than anything else. Along about that time some schools did not have any classes or recitations except in spelling. If the teacher lived so far he could not come from home he would board around among the scholars as they were called. One of the qualifications expected of the teacher then was he was to be able to make good goose quill pen, the only kind used then. The teacher then sat in a high chair with a good sized switch in his hand and when a boy needed a little attention the teacher would pitch the switch at him and make him bring the switch back to him. Sometimes two boys would have to bring the switch back with one at each end of it. Then when it was necessary the teacher knew how to apply the limb to the back and he generally had enough cases to keep him in practice.

          Occasionally the teacher would give orders for all to go to getting the reading and spelling lessons, and they would go to reading and spelling out loud which made a considerable racket. There were few lady teachers then and no young ones like we have now. Most all teachers were old men. The only name we have of those who taught in that old house is that of Miss Emma Shackleford and that was about 1848.***

          One of the old-time customs was to let the large boys sit in the shade of the trees to cipher on their slates which meant to work out their problems in arithmetic. Another custom was to have trapping or turning down, as they called it in the spelling class, and all were proud to get a headmark. Webster’s blue back spelling book was the standard then and so were McGuffey’s readers and Davies’ arithmetics, but there were schools before any of these were published and some schools in this county before any of these were published and some schools used the new Testament for readers. Sometimes just before the school was out the boys would turn the teacher out, as they called it, to make him treat. That was done by barring the door and windows some morning and not letting the teacher in till he would promise to set up a treat. The writer was a party to that sport one time at Old Union and the teacher agreed to treat and did bring up the apples. It was said the boys in some schools in those days had to take their teacher to a pond and duck him before they got a treat from him.


            The first church organized in White County was the Presbyterian church on Cherry Creek. Services were first held in 1800 in a log cabin (still standing) the home of Abram McGee. The church was established by the famous pioneer preacher, Lorenzo Dow, whose name still survives as a given name throughout the section. This church was without regular preaching in 1833 and was practically dead; it was reorganized as the Cumberland Presbyterian church by Jesse Hickman who continued to live and preach there until his death in 1888. In 1906 this church became again the Presbyterian and continues so to the present. Services were held by this church in an arbor and in homes until 1810 when the first meeting house was erected. The Masonic Lodge at Cherry Creek still has as one its prized possessions one of the split log benches belonging to the first church building.

            The second church established in the county was Bethlehem Methodist church in 1818. It has long since ceased to exist.9

            For sometime there were no church houses in the town of Sparta, and the courthouse was the forum where both law and religion were preached. It being the only place in the country where the eloquence of the gospel was delivered, the people from the neighboring country flocked thither in great numbers.

            These meetings were sometimes honored by the distinguished presence of Andrew Jackson, who, when President, often stopped at Sparta enroute to Washington. Sparta then was on the main road from Nashville to the capital of the Nation, over which eminent statesmen passed in going and returning from Washington.10

            The first building erected in Sparta for church purposes exclusively, was the Methodist which was completed in about 1852. During the war the Federal soldiers tore up the floor of this building and used the same in which to stable their horses.11

            Members of the Church of Christ were probably next to organize, but for many years they worshipped in the old brick school house on cemetery hill. When the county sold that building, this church bought it and continued to use it until 1890, when they built a house on the corner of Church and Main Streets. That building was destroyed in 1927 by fire and a new brick was erected in its stead.

            It is uncertain when the Presbyterians organized in the town of Sparta; they did not build until 1881. After using the building a few years, they sold it and built on the opposite corner a brick they now occupy.


            The first county seat was at the home of Joseph Terry, the present site of Rock Island. The County Court, the Circuit Court, and the Supreme Court were first organized at this place. Chancery Court was not formed until 1842. When the permanent seat was established at Sparta in 1809, lots were sold in the town limits, and proceeds were used for erecting a court house. The house was made of logs, and became famous as the "log house." As the business of the court increased, the little log house did not prove of sufficient capacity to hold the people and transact the business. The people felt that this rude establishment did little grace to the dignity of the county and that it reflected no credit on the pride of a people whose town had become so famous over the state.12

            In 1815 a brick building was erected by Yancy, an architect. The bricks were moulded in the Cedar bend, very near the town. That house in its day was considered an up-to-date building. Andrew Jackson held court there more than once.13

          Andrew Jackson before he became a judge was a brilliant United States District-Attorney and came often to Sparta to prosecute cases before the Federal court, which in those days before there was any town named Cookeville, met in Sparta. According to the story handed down by tradition there lived up the river, in those days, a famous desperado. When the court met there were a number of cases against him, but he did not appear. When the fiery young attorney asked of the officer the reason why, he was told that the man had refused to come. Flying into a rate, Jackson said, "Your Honor, if you will adjourn court until I get back, By-the-Eternal! I’ll fetch him in." Court was adjourned and Jackson armed with two pistols and riding alone, because no one would go with him, went up the river trail after his man. When he got there, the man was plowing in the field and so Jackson was right upon him before the man knew he was there. When the desperado saw who it was, he immediately threw up his hands and surrendered, saying as he did so, "I would rather the Devil himself would come after me than you." Jackson brought the man into court.

            After Jackson became judge, an officer came in while court was in progress with the word that a man who had been brought in from up the river, refused to come into court and had even started back. Jackson left court and started after the man on a swift horse. He had not gone far when he overtook the man. He rode up to him, caught him by the collar and brought him back to court where Jackson himself gave the sentence.14

            In 1894 the structure of the present courthouse was built at a cost of $13,000. R. H. Hunt was the architect, and William E. Doolittle was the contractor.

            "The courts here have been a forum, where distinguished talents, exalted eloquence, and renowned learning have shed forth their lustrous beauty and brilliant grandeur."

            The records of the County Court were destroyed prior to 1814, while the records of the Circuit Court were destroyed during the war.15


            In 1809, Keys and Clemmons opened the first store of any importance, next came William (Uncle Billie) Glenn, and third Jesse Lincoln (a first cousin of Abraham Lincoln).16 William Glenn ran the first tavern in Sparta for many years. It stood on the corner now occupied by the Marchbanks Ready to Wear Store. He, also, ran the first blacksmith shop. The location is uncertain; some say it was on the corner now occupied by the Lee Hotel, others say across the river.17

            There was no country merchants at this time and all who desired the imported goods of the merchant went to town to purchase. But in those early days there was not such great demand for the goods of the importer. They were manufactured at home, and almost every house-wife in the land was a manufacturer. The women kept the spinning wheel and the weaver’s loom in constant motion, and yards and yards of jeans, linsey, and cotton goods were rolled from its beam. The men made the shoes for the family an most, if not all, of their farming utensils. It was the custom of almost every farmer to purchase his leather from the good tanner, William Anderson, who sank the first tan-heard in country near the Calf Killer, just above Sparta. Here Matthias, his brother, worked at his trade as saddlery.

            Uncle Billie Young says that there was a good part of the time during the Civil War when there was probably not a wagon load of goods in the Sparta stores. Many people went as long as a year at a time during that war without anything like sugar and coffee, except something they substituted and when they were able to find coffee they paid as much as a dollar pound. He adds – "I remember when a boy and during the war I came to town to buy a tie, and went all over town an found none of any kinds. Then I went all around again to see if I could find anything out of which I could have one made and found nothing that would do."18

            The first person to venture out into a strictly grocery business was John Cram. Before that time a grocery store meant a saloon where strong drinks were kept and not things to eat.

            Some of the early merchants before 1820 were Fletcher, Lumpton, Hancock, Rice, Simpson, and Alley. From 1820 to 1850, some were Dibrell, Jenkins, Leftwich, William Young, and White and Young.


            Before the war there was quite an interest in the political parties which were then the Democrats and the Whigs. Large numbers of men would march through the streets at night with long poles on which were mounted large square lanterns with mottoes written across them so that they might be read at a distance. The boys made and burned turpentine balls. Political songs of national and local interest were composed and sung before and at the elections. One of the songs ran like this:

            "Hurrah! Hurrah! The river is rising to drown old Polk and Frelinghyson. We will take down Polk and Bell and stick up Clay and that is the way we will win the day."

            When Polk was candidate the men who supported him rode through the streets with their horses pained with Polk berries. The followers of Bell came into town with cow bells on their horses’ necks. Feelings often ran high an it was not unusual for the men to indulge in fist fights at the elections. Every man was expected to stand for and vote for his own party regardless of the man.

            In 1855, the Democrats had a great high pole placed on the corner of the square in Sparta and on the top of the pole they placed a coop with a rooster in it, an emblem of the Democratic party.19


            There have been only two legal hangings in Sparta, Dooley from Smith County and Mitchell from Marion County. Both men were convicted of murder, in their respective counties, an sentenced to be hanged. Each appealed his case to the Supreme Court, which was then held in Sparta, and the verdicts of the lower court were confirmed. According to the law at the time, the criminals were to be hanged at the place where the Supreme Court acted on the case. The men were hanged and buried in the southern end of General Dibrell’s farm in East Sparta. This field has ever since been known as the gallows field. When the railroad was being constructed up the mountain, the grave of these two men were dug into in making a cut.

            Only one lynching ever occurred in the town and that was about 1855. A run-away negro from Mississippi committed an atrocious crime on the maintain above Sparta; he was brought to Sparta where he was placed in jail. That night a mob gathered at the jail and asked the sheriff, W. L. Bryan, for the negro. The sheriff summoned men to help him prevent the lynching, but he with his small band were overpowered, the lock broken, and the negro taken from his cell. He was hanged on the limb of a tree upon cemetery hill about twenty yards south of the gate and was left hanging over night. When the mob reached the hill they found a crowd gathered there. One man tried to make a speech asking the mob not to hang the negro but to let the law take its course. A member of the mob answered, "Hang the speaker to the other end of the rope." The speech was ended immediately.

            The negro who was hanged belonged to a man in Mississippi; he came to Sparta and brought suit to recover pay for his slave. He failed to get any recompense for his loss."20


            The first newspaper published in Sparta was the Sparta Gazette which was established by John W. Ford, on May 28, 1820. Judging from a copy of the issue of August 24, 1920, it was a four column folio, the body type of pica and small pica, and the advertisement and foreign news in great primer. The subscription price of the Sparta Gazette was two dollars per year in cash and three dollars on credit.21 The paper was among the earliest publications in the state and was established about the same time as the Nashville Republic Banner. The paper had an extended circulation over the state, for the county was sparsely inhabited then, and foreign subscribers were necessary to its support.

            The Mountain Democrat by Boachard (Uncle Billie says Bouchard) was the next paper in Sparta. The date of its first publication is unknown, but in 1856-57 it was edited by Judge E. L. Gardenhire, while William Holton was proprietor.22

            The next was the Sparta Review in 1823 by Alexander Reed. A copy of this paper was reprinted in 1923 by the Expositor office. The terms of this paper were as follows:

          The Review will be published every Wednesday morning, and delivered to subscribers at Three dollars per annum, if paid within three months from the receipt of the first number, or five dollars at the end of the year. No subscription will be received for less than a year unless the money is paid in advance, and the paper will not be discontinued until all arrearages are paid.

          A failure to notify the Editors of a wish to discontinue the paper at the end of the time subscribed for will be considered as an engagement for a new year.23

            According to an article in the Sparta Review, the paper was first printed April, 1822. The article informed the patrons that the issue completed the first year with fifty-two copies, and warned them that it was time to pay their subscriptions unless they wished to pay the five dollars which was required if they allowed the year to pass.

          This article appeared on the front page:
$25 Reward

Runaway from the subscriber, living in Courtland, Alabama, on the 7th of February last, a small Negro man by the name of Jessee, black complexion, and about 17 or 18 years old – carried off a pair of shoes and two pair of short stockings, and other clothing not recollected. He cut holes in his blanket and wore it like a cloak. I purchased him last fall of Mr. William Darlett, of Williamston, N.C. and expect he will try to get back. He has been working in my blacksmith’s shop, and went off without any provocation.

I will give the above reward for the apprehension and delivery to me in Courtland of said Negro, or for the securing him in the jail of any of the adjoining counties, so that I get him again.

Joseph Cotton.

March 10, 1823-49 4 t24

           The next paper was the Recorder and Law Journal by John H. Anderson and Medicus A. Long. The only datum obtained on this paper is a bound volume from May 1830 to May, 1831.

              A "prospectus" appeared in every issue of the paper in which the editors say:

          In assuming the labor and responsibility of Editors of a public journal we feel that the duties which will necessarily devolve upon us are of no ordinary nature. It will claim our first attention to render our columns a respectable source of such information as will be thought of the most general interest. No pains will be spared to make it useful to every class of readers – for that is the criterion by which it is tested. Located, as it is, near the centre of the state, and surrounded by many fertile advantages of a Press, the necessity of its establishment must obviously appear to every candid mind. We believe the Mountain District26 will smite on every exertion, however humble, directed to the promotion of her interests, or the vindication of her rights.

            Continuing, they take a decided political stand but add that their political motto is "measure—not men." A promise, to the farmers, is made, thus "an important part of our labors is to glean from every possible source, the most correct and useful information on the subject of agriculture." A similar promise is made "to men of letters and the promiscuous reader", also "to gentlemen of the Bar."

            Judging by the list of agents, the paper had a wide circulation. A list of the agents follows:

William Cameron Nashville
N. Oldham Franklin
A. B. Estes Columbia
John W. Rivers Pulaski
S. W. Carmack Fayetteville
Robert C. Harrison Shelbyville
Major Moses G. Reeves Murfreesborough
John H. Dew Lebanon
William Smith Gallatin
James Beckwith Carthage
John Chambers Smith County, Tenn.
Benjamin Piper Peyton’s Creek, Smith Co.
Dr. J. R. Doughtery and
Thomas W. Duncan
Liberty, Smith Co.
______ Clark Kingston
James Bell Campbell’s Station
Capt. Joseph Jackson Knoxville
James Campbell Winchester
Major T. Eastland Clifty, Tenn., White Co.
William B. Richardson Jamestown
Peek and Campbell Bolivar
James D Smith Gainesborough

Terms for the paper were a shown below:
            The Recorder and Law Journal is published every Saturday morning, at $2.50 in advance, $3 in six months, or $3.50 at the expiration of the year.

            Advertisements inserted for 75 cents a square of ten lines or less, and 37½ for each subsequent insertion. Advertisements must be marked the number of times to be inserted, or they will be continued until forbid, and charged accordingly. Those exceeding ten lines will be considered two squares, and so on in proportion.

          Given below are a few articles found in the paper during the year: on Saturday, January 5, 1831, a record of the census of the county which shows free white males 4,576, females 4,422.

            It was the duty of the post master to post a list of undelivered letters and once or twice his list was given to he public through the paper.

          The members of the Sparta Temperance Society are informed that its second Quarterly meeting will be held at the Reading Room, on Monday, the 3rd inst. at early candle-light. They are requested to be punctual in their attendance, as business of importance will be acted upon.

J. K. Spooner, Secretary27

Committed to the jail of White County, on Wednesday the 6th inst. two runaway Negroes to win: One fellow who calls his name


He is about 40 years of age, five feet eight or nine inches high, black complexioned; had on blue jeans pantaloons and a vest, has with him a blue cloth coat about half worn, and other clothing. He, also, has a small assortment of shoemaking tools. The other is a woman named JINNY. She appears to be something older than the fellow. She had a black bombazette dress, and an old straw bonnet, together with other clothing of different descriptions.

They say they belong to Richard Rothwell, living near Athens in M’Minn county Tennessee, who brought them out from Albemarle county, Virginia, six or eight months ago. The owner is requested to come forward, prove his property, pay charges and take them away or they will be dealt with as the law directs.

July 10 t f

John W. Ford, Jailor.



            Ran away from subscriber, living at the Rock Island, in Warren county, on Sunday the inst. a Bound Boy, by the name of Edmund Parker: aged 18 years. I will give the above reward for the delivery of said boy at my residence but no thanks.

October 23 – 3t

Peter Buram.28



McMinnville, Dec. 30, 1830.

Sir: – would you have the goodness to announce in your paper of Saturday, that a part of Mr. Drakei’s THEATRICAL COMPANY, now performing at McMinnville intend stopping a few evenings at your town (Sparta) during next week and will open on Wednesday or Thursday evening, with the much admired petit comedy of


after which the laughable farce called


and oblige yours,

W. L. Lambey


          On the first Thursday in October, 1831, will be run over the Sparta Turf, a sweep-stake race – one mile heats. Entrants $50, cash – play or pay – free for any colts foaled in the spring of 1828 in the counties of Jackson, Warren, Bledsoe, or White – a catch on each Six subscribers at this time.

          Also, on the first Friday in October 1831, at the same place – two mile heats. Entrance $200 cash – half forfeit; – free for any colts foaled in the spring of 1829, in the counties of Overton, Jackson, White, Warren, Bledsoe, M’Minn, or any county in east Tennessee – a catch on each. Four subscribers at this time.

            The Sparta Expositor was established in 1877 by L. D. Hill, and was purchased in 1881 by R. P. Baker, who conducted it until 1893 when J. B. Snodgrass purchased it. In about 1904 Harry Camp took charge of it and edited it until 1913, when it was purchased by R. L. Sutton, the present editor.

            The State and Farm was first published August, 1886, by F. W. Morris. It was a weekly paper, well edited and was an organ of the Democratic party. As its name indicates, it had a tendency toward agricultural matters.29

            R. P. Baker edited for some time a paper known as the White County Favorite. About April 1, 1913, the Brown Brothers started the Sparta News.

            This study reveals the fact that schools were established as early as 1815. Up until this time there had been only private schools. From 1825 to 1887 there were five important schools established in the town of Sparta. In the county during that time were seven famous schools, one of the them, Cumberland Institute, at one time, enrolled pupils from seven different states. Uncle Billie Young gives a description of the typical school of the county.

            It is shown that the best known schools were private institutions and run by private donations or subscriptions and that the first free schools were established and maintained for only certain poor children in 1815. In 1823 an act was passed authorizing free schools for all poor children in 1815. In 1823 an act was passed authorizing free schools for all poor children, and later for all children.

            It has been shown that the first church was organized in the county about the time that the county was formed, and that it was established by Lorenzo Dow. The first church members to organize in the town of Sparta were the Methodists, followed closely by the numbers of the Church of Christ and later by the Presbyterian denominations. These three were the leading churches, but the dates of their organization is uncertain. The members were intensely jealous of one another and the bitter hatred was carried into the schools causing a low ebb in education. The study shows that the Supreme, Circuit, and County Courts were organized at Rock Island when the county was formed; the Chancery Court was not established until 1842.

            Before the Civil War there were two strong political parties in the county, the Democrats and the Whigs.

            It is revealed in this study that there have been only two legal hangings in the town of Sparta, and one lynching. The lynching was that of a runaway slave who had committed a crime on a white woman.

            The study of the newspapers of the county has shown that nine papers have been established at different periods beginning in 1820 and that only two now remain, the Sparta News and the Sparta Expositor. According to the study, Sparta established and published three of the leading papers of the state during that early period; they were the Sparta Gazette, Sparta Review and the Sparta Recorder and Law Journal.

1. Paul E. Doran, Manuscript, May, 1931.

2. Scrapbook, "A History of White County."

3. Sparta Recorder and Law Journal, May 21, 1831.

4. Ibid.

5. Uncle Billie Young, op. cit.

6. Sparta Expositor, 1902.

7. Goodspeed Publishing Company’s History of Tennessee, 807.

8. Sparta News, April 25, 1929.

9. Paul E. Doran.

10. Uncle Billie Young Scrapbook "A History of White County."

11. Goodspeed, op. cit., 808, 809.

12. Uncle Billie Young, Scrapbook "A History of White County."

13. Sparta Expositor, 1902.

14. Paul E Doran, Personal Conversation, Sept., 1930.

15. Uncle Billie Young, Scrapbook "A History of White County."

16. Sparta Expositor, 1902.

17. Paul E. Doran, September, 1930.

18. Uncle Billie Young, "Little Bits of History of Sparta, Tennessee."

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid.

21. Goodspeed, op. cit., 811.

22. Sparta Expositor, 1902.

23. Sparta Review, April 16, 1823.

24. Ibid.

25. Sparta Recorder and Law Journal.

26. There must have been a paper of such name, but no record could be located.

27. Ibid, May 1, 1830.

28. Ibid, Nov. 20, 1830.

29. Goodspeed, op. cit., 811.

Thanks to Dona Terry for her work as the word processor on this project.  (November 2002)