The Heritage of Daniel Haston


History of White County, Tennessee
By Rev. Monroe Seals

Chapter III - The Economic History of White County

1. Gas. While boring for oil in Hickory Valley many years ago gas was struck, which shot up a flame of gas through a two-inch pipe forty feet into the, air. It continued to flow for eighteen years, double the life of the average well. Gas has since been struck and piped into town. An oil expert from Pennsylvania said that in his opinion there was a fine lake of oil nine hundred and fifty feet under the soil where the above gas was struck. In 1818 while boring for salt on the Calfkiller near Blue Spring, John P. Graves struck gas and he and some of his men were seriously burned.

2. Coal. About 1836 Brice Little opened a coal mine a few miles east of Sparta, and supplied Sparta with coal for fifty years. As the demand increased other mines were opened. Kimsey and Butler opened a mine near Little's mine. M. C. Dibrell opened a mine near Bon Air which became the Bon Air Coal Company. J. Keith of Sparta, was President; M. C. Dibrell, Secretary and Treasurer; and E. W. Cole of Nashville, Chairman of the Executive Committee. The company then owned eleven thousand acres of land. They worked a vein two and a half feet thick. This Company has been reorganized a number of times, but is now the Tennessee Products Corporation.

3. Iron. There is abundance of iron ore in White County. Three and a half miles northwest of Sparta is a series of low hills with masses of chert and clay mixed with brown limonite in pieces running in size up to three hundred pounds. This deposit extends with occasional gaps about five miles. Board Valley Mountain, about ten miles long by one mile wide, has abundant iron ore. A veteran of the Revolution, who, perhaps, never came here, name Swindle, entered 514 acres of land on both sides of the Calfkiller in 1807 and proved his claim. He then sold it to Isaac Swindle, perhaps his son, and Armistead Stubblefield. These two built the Harriet Iron Works. For a debt of Mr. Stubblefield for three hundred and three dollars the Harriet Iron Works and the tract of land were sold to George Matlock in 1815 at a Sheriff's sale. T. B. Rice, who has erroneously been supposed to have built the first iron works, bought the property in 1820 and began working it. In 1842 it was again sold at a Sheriff's sale. Several men bought it but it is known that Drayton Rosier ran the foundry almost up to the Civil War.

3. A man named Brown ran a forge on Falling Water, and A. C. Rodgers ran a forge on Rocky Creek.

4. Salt. In 1818 John P. Graves began making salt on the Calfkiller above Sparta. This was the beginning of a series of salt wells knows as the Calfkiller Salt Works. During the Civil War period some of these wells were producing fifty bushels of salt a day. This was the main source of salt for this section. The Federals wrecked the salt works.

5. Building stone of many kinds is plentiful. There are various kinds of sandstone and limestone. In Hickory Valley there is a gray fireproof limestone. Granite of the finest quality, including light rose and gray is abundant. Tested lithograph stone is also abundant. Asphalt and cement rock are plentiful. At various times in the County's history lead has been mined. The Cherokee Indians got lead in great quantities which they used in barter with the whites. The Confederate soldiers used White County lead for molding bullets during the war. One vein of lead is on Milk Sick Mountain. Marble is also found in White County. In the early days native stone was used for tomb stones and a dozen other uses. In 1876 Eli Robinson lived at the Rock House and operated his marble works at the foot of the mountain. His factory was destroyed by fire and with it perished much of his work. One of the monuments destroyed was a monument to Anthony Dibrell.

6. Mineral water. Mineral water is so abundant that any mention of it insures that many places will be missed. Clarktown has three kinds of water in thirty feet. Mineral waters are found at Bon Air, Gracy Springs, Doyle, Fountain Head, Doe Creek, and in the Calfkiller Valley. These waters include limestone, Chalybeate, white sulphur, black sulphur, red sulphur, and magnesia.

7. The County is bountifully watered. There are innumerable springs. The short creeks are Wallace Creek, Jesse Williams, on which once was a mill, Lost Creek on which the first mill in White County was built, Taylor's Creek, Short Creek, Sink Creek, Town Creek, Doe Creek, Bickford's Mill Creek. The long creeks are Caney Fork, Cherry Creek, Cedar Creek, Plum Creek, Wild Cat Creek, Calfkiller River, Taylor's Creek, Rocky Creek, and Clifty Creek.

8. Timber. Timber is yet plentiful. There are over two hundred varieties of trees and shrubs native to the County, some fifty of them being of commercial value. Since the coming of the railroad timber and timber products have been one of the chief sources of profit. Even before that the timber interests were considerable. In 1832 Donald Phillips at the county fair exhibited one hundred and forty-two kinds of wood growing in this County.

9. Farms. The farms of White County raise about everything that is grown outside of the tropics. In the early days however, there was not a large variety of crops grown. Dick Crowder raised the first crop of wheat grown in this County After that small crops of wheat were grown on nearly every farm for a great many years. At first the wheat was cut with a sickle with which a man could cut about an acre a day. Then came the cradle, then the reaper about 1880, then the binder. Threshers were introduced into the County in 1870 and were of the tread wheel kind. Riley Haston had a ground hog horse power thresher in 1873, and William Townsend got one in 1875. The first separator thresher was owned by Joe W. Taylor. David England was the first man to grow strawberries in this County. The first large planting of strawberries was made in 1932. Sweet potatoes were grown for family use from the earliest days. The first large planting was made in 1929, in which year a storage plant was erected in West Sparta. The first nursery in the County was established by Dewitt Croley in 1876. The next nursery was that of Pope Brothers, four miles north of Sparta, about 1885.

The largest steer ever raised in this County was raised by Solomon Seals in 1845 and weighed two thousand seven hundred pounds. The largest jack ever in the County was owned by Tandy Lewis in the eighties. He was seventeen hands high and named Big John. The largest hog ever raised in the County weighed two thousand two hundred and forty pounds. It had not stopped growing when it was injured while being loaded for the World's Fair and had to be killed. In 1921 John Cole raised seven hundred and fifty bushels of corn on seven and a half acres. The first turning plows used in the County were the Vulcan and Avery. The first Oliver Chilled plow was a 1eft-handed number forty, brought in by John A. Blackburn in 1873.


The climate of White County is comparatively even. The winters are comparatively mild while the summers do not as a rule go over eighty-five degrees, extremes of heat being very rare. The mountain part of the County in summer time is about eight degrees cooler than the low lands. It is a fine climate for summer resorts.


The eastern part of the County for six or eight miles is Cumberland Mountain Plateau. It is mostly gently rolling and is suitable for fruits and vegetables and fine for grazing. The potatoes grown on the plateau are equal to those grown in Michigan. Coves and small valleys cut their way into the mountain on its Western side. These coves are very fertile. Leaves washed down make a rich mold. These coves often open into wider valleys, as the Valley of the Calfkiller which runs through the County, widening as it reaches Southward. Through the center of the County west of the Calfkiller Valley there runs a narrow mountain range, the highest peak being the Gum Spring Mountain, named from a gum around a boiling spring. This peak is twenty-seven feet higher than the opposite Cumberland mountain. West of this central ridge is the barrens. This land was formally supposed to be barren. There are many fine farms in this section now. But in the pioneer days there was no timber in this section of the County. This land is comparatively level and when the white settlers first came it was covered with a tall grass and not a tree could be seen. Some parts of it were covered with canebrakes. The Indians burned these canebrakes and grass lands to run game for their winters' kill. Great herds of buffalo and wild horses roamed over these lands. When the Indians were driven out, and these fires ended, the timber grew and this section of the County is well timbered now. The coves and valleys in the early days were also burned over every year by the Indians so that there was no timber there. There was timber on the hills and on the sides of the mountains and in secluded coves and valleys where the fires were not apt to rage.

My grandfather Solomon Seals, said when he came to White County there was not a tree in Big Bottom larger than his waist and he added that he had since seen many a five-foot log go down the river. When John Templeton came through Moore's Cove to establish his home he had to cut his way through the canebrake. There were no trees there then. When Thomas Little built his home in Blue Springs in 1823 the cove was a canebrake. When the Lewis brothers came to Hickory Valley, the whole valley was a canebrake.


Hat makers. In the beginning hats were made of straw, skins, and buckeye splits. Early in the history of the County regular hat makers came making hats of wool, fur, and cotton. A man named Hardin ran a portable hat establishment in the lower part of the County before 1840. W. C. Brittan ran a hat factory in Sparta, the first regular hat factory in the County, working six or eight hands. A man named Ross made hats at Cave. Joe Phifer made hats at Yankeetown. All these were before the Civil War.


There were so many distilleries that only the most important ones can be mentioned. Perhaps the first regular distillery was established up the river from Dodson's Chapel soon after the settlement of that section. Dave Snodgrass at Yankeetown and his brother James on Cherry Creek made whiskey almost a hundred years ago. There was a distillery on Town Creek long before the Wakeman & Hodge Distillery was erected. Simpson Burgess made whiskey long before the Civil War. After the War, owing to the tax on whiskey, he made brandy. Pertle had a distillery at Cassville in 1850. In 1840 there were thirty-two distilleries in White County. After the Civil War the leading distillers of the County were: John A. Blackburn, whose distillery was established in 1874; Jasper Camp, 1880; Steward Clark, 1885; Major Passons, 1877; George McBride, 1880; Pleasant and Nattie Austin, 1867; Edmond Cunningham and Pleas Farley during the Civil War period. Bunker Hill had three saloons before the Civil War. Owing to the war tax on liquor wildcatting became rampant. Liquor was sold in practically all stores in the early days of the County. The first drug stores in Sparta were really high class saloons where liquors and medicines were sold. The most noted liquor business in White County was Mountain Springs Distillery owned by Wakeman & Hodges, J. Hodges being the general manager. It was organized in 1882 and employed about fifteen men all the time. Its capacity was one hundred and fifty gallons a day. It was located at the Obe Jett Spring South of Sparta. This firm supplied the territory around Sparta and shipped great quantities to other states, at one time shipping three hundred barrels to Germany. The average sale ran about six hundred dollars a day and they paid in taxes about two hundred dollars a day. They not only made their own liquors but they bought practically all the brandy made in Warren County. They manufactured their own barrels and kept on hand about a hundred thousand staves. They bought all the surplus corn and hogs in the County. They usually kept at least five thousand bushels of corn in stock and fattened about four hundred head of hogs at a time. The net cash income clear of all expenses was about one hundred and fifty dollars a day. The distillery was stopped by the United States Government for illegal acts. 


William Anderson was our first tanner. He was located in Sparta. In 1840 there were sixty-eight tanneries in White County. Some of the leading tanners of that period were Alec Goodwin, Dick Baker, Jack Whitley, C. C. Young, Newt Cameron, General Gooch Smith, Dave Snodgrass, and a Mr. Stroud. The leading tanners of the County since 1860 were Jack and George Simmons, twin brothers, John Goodwin, and James Goodwin. Some of these tanners were also makers of leather goods. Two of the most noted saddle makers of the County were Howard Farley, and Joe McBride who from 1865 to 1885 made saddles which were sold in almost every state in the Union. Local cobblers at different places in the County made shoes. Some of these were Cid Golden, and Wink Sapp on Cherry Creek, Jack and George Simmons, John Goodwin at Bakers Cross Roads. From shortly after the Civil War for a great many years John Walker and Charlie DeBow had a harness factory in Sparta and made nearly every kind of leather goods.


The first mill in White County was established some time before 1808 on Lost Creek. It is mentioned in Morris' Universal Geography. Scarbrough built a mill on the Caney Fork River in 1812. William Glenn and Thomas Simpson built mills on the Calfkiller in 1815. The following corn mills were built between 1815 and 1820: Sam Denton, six miles from Sparta on the Calfkiller, Thomas Sperry and Jacob A. Lane on Town Creek. William Bosson on the Caney Fork, Clark Swindle on Cedar Creek, T. B. Rice and J. W. Taylor on Calfkiller. Simpson's mill became the property of Oliver F. Young in 1871. There was a saw mill on one side of the dam soon after 1800. Other early mills were Anderson's on Town Creek, Clark's on Town Creek. This mill was situated only a few yards west of the present one which was built by Clark in 1866. Taylor's mill had a saw mill a few yards down stream. Some of the lower Calfkiller mills ceased to operate when the Tennessee Power Company began to build their dam. These early mills were all burr mills. The water wheels, when not overshot wheels, were made by hand or beveled wood. A few of these burr mills are still running. In the flour mills the bolters at first were turned by hand, two negroes being employed to turn the bolter, as was done first at Clark's Mill. Mills were early constructed on Cherry Creek, the first one by Wilhite, then one by William Sims lower down the creek. In 1865 Dire White built a mill on the Caney Fork with a sash saw in connection with it. This is better known as Mitchell's Mill. This mill employed from thirty to forty hands and a village grew up there. The mill in lower Hickory Valley was built by Jesse Williams very early, and another similar mill on lower Caney Fork known as Bickford's Mill. A carding mill and grist mill owned by James Robinson was run by steam on Post Oak Creek before the Civil War. The first roller mill in the County was built in 1840. There were ten flour mills, twenty-one grist mills, thirteen sash saws, and a great number of saw mills.

Some of the roller mills in this County have been that of W. R. Allen, North of Sparta; the Gillen mill at Blue Spring; Taylor and Burroughs, five miles south of Sparta; J. R. Tubb, near the Sparta bridge; Mayberry on Town Creek in the eighties; and the one in Sparta, established in 1902. Some of these mills were sold to the Sparta Mill Company. The roller mill at Cookeville and the one at Algood were constructed out of parts of these old mills.

Before the Civil War there were five carding mills in White County. Joe W. Taylor at Cave, Henry Eckols on Falling Water, James Robinson on Post Oak, one run in connection with the old factory, and that of George Ogden at Sparta, which was built in 1831. Ogden built his own overshot wheel. The following had cotton gins: Eli Sims, Bill Sims, Fate Carroll, Joe Randolph, Yankee Wilson, Bill List at Cassville, and there were two gins in Hickory Valley. Cotton was raised extensively then and the factory used it to its capacity. Most of these industries are now forgotten. The factory mentioned was located where the present city waterworks plant now is. Another and much larger factory was chartered in 1892. This was the Falls City Cotton Mill with a capital of thirty thousand dollars chartered ''to manufacture, spin, weave, bleach, dye, print, finish, and sell all goods of every kind made of wool and cotton.'' This mill was a three story brick building. It was famous for its sheetings. The plant was wrecked in the flood of 1902 when every bridge and mill on Caney Fork was destroyed.

Some Sources of Income Long Ago

Money was scarce in our early history, but the people needed but little money as taxes then were negligible. They made their own clothing and raised their own food. Only a few things were bought from the stores. In 1840 there were only eight stores in the County. Their sources of income were maple sugar, tar, cattle, hogs, sheep and turkeys. Maple sugar and tar were hauled to Nashville. Sol Tollison was the last tar maker. Livestock and turkeys were driven south on foot to market. Turkeys were driven sometimes in droves of five hundred. In order to prevent them from becoming tender­footed, tar was smeared on their feet. Later horses were driven south. Buying and selling slaves was a great source of income. Two of the largest of the slave dealers were Daniel Clark and W. H. Matlock. They bought negroes in Virginia and the Carolinas, selling what they could here, and taking the rest south. Clark bought and sold about one hundred and fifty slaves a year. The old slave block on which Matlock sold his slaves still stands. Burley tobacco was also profitably grown here, one of the chief growers being a French­man named Lyda who built the brick house on the old Jared place. It was reintroduced into the County as a money crop a few years ago. Besides the sources of income mentioned, great numbers of small craftsmen such as shoe makers, saddle makers, harness makers, and the like earned money from their labor. In 1840 there were eight saddle makers in White County.


The first State bank was established in Nashville in 1807, but did not open for business until 1810. This operated with the exception of a two-year interim, until 1819 when it failed. It was called the Bank of Nashville. Great turmoil resulted and Governor McMinn called an extra session of the Legislature to remedy the unsettled state of affairs. The second State bank was established which also failed. A third was soon after established. In 1838 the fourth was established. A branch of this fourth state bank was established at Sparta in March, 1840, and operated until during the Civil War. It seems to have been the only bank in the mountain section of the state. Men came for fifty miles bringing their money for deposit in saddle bags. Robbery of those thus bringing their money was scarcely ever known. John Jett was the president of this bank, A. L. Davis, cashier, and G. G. Dibrell, clerk. Mr. Jett died the year after the bank was established and W. M. Young took his place. Those serving as presidents in the order given were: James Snodgrass, John Warren, J. G. Mitchell, and William Goodbar. During the Civil War J. G. Mitchell and two others started to Chattanooga with the bank's funds, forty-three thousand dollars, it was sure to fall into the hands of the Federals if left in Sparta. They were met on the way by bushwhackers and robbed.

In 1885 the Bank of Sparta was organized with W. M. Cameron, president, and J. N. Walling, cashier, with capital stock fifty thousand dollars. The next year it was changed to the First National Bank of Sparta with Richard Hill, president, W. M. Cameron, vice-president, and J. N. Walling, cashier, the capital stock being reduced to forty thousand dollars. In 1905 this was raised to fifty thousand dollars and later to a hundred
thousand. Richard Hill was the efficient president until his death in 1921, when his son, Robert L. Hill, became president. The Peoples Bank was organized February 2, 1900, with a capital stock of fifteen thousand, five hundred dollars, J. L. Dibrell, president, D. H. Young, vice-president, T. E. Williams, cashier, and James N. Cox, assistant cashier. On September 15, 1905, it was rechartered as the American National Bank with a capital stock of fifty thousand. J. T. Anderson was its first president and was succeeded by J. H. Potter. This bank later merged with the Commerce Union Bank of Nashville and became one link of a chain of banks. The Peoples Bank and Trust Company was organized in July, 1921, with a capital stock of twenty-five thousand, T. H. Fancher, president, and O. L. Davis, cashier. The Doyle Bank was organized in 1885. Its first president was Wilson McConnell who served three years, then Bob Terry one year, then A. P. Johnson three years, then Grade Gamble nineteen years. Upon the retirement of Mr. Gamble the bank liquidated.

White County has never had a bank failure in its history. The number of White Countians who have been presidents of banks outside the County is large. Some of the best known of these are Anthony Dibrell,
General George Gibbs, R. L. Farley, Ed Rotan, and David C. Wilhite.

Timber Products

Much has been made of the, way in which the early settler wasted timber. The early settler had very little timber to waste. At a later period, when forests had grown, there was great waste for timber had very small commercial value until after the coming of the railroad in 1884. By that time there were great forests in White County. Colonel Phil Goodwin and Professor Roe Todd were the chief timber buyers for ten years after the railroads came. They paid a dollar a piece for walnut and poplar trees on the stump. In that first ten year period one million dollars worth of walnut timber alone was shipped out of White County, besides great quantities of other timber. The local uses to which timber has been put are for buildings, fences, and fire wood and for the making of furniture and farm implements and other things made of wood. Until comparatively recent years all of these things including farm wagons were made in White County. Great quantities of White County walnut were used during the World War for gun stocks, first for the Allied Army and later for our own army. Millions and millions of golf sticks have been made out of White County hickory. Hard maple and red beech have been shipped out in great quantities for automobile bodies and for furniture. Great stave companies have consumed quantities of White County white oak for barrel staves and heads. White County oak and hickory, dogwood and persimmon, have been used for shuttles, and for handles and spokes. Some facts from the United States census as to the use of the timber in White County are these: In 1840, 796 cords of wood were sold; in 1880, 38,365; 1930, 18,628 cords; in 1930, 426 cords of pulp wood, 36,784 posts, 3,950 railroad ties, and 132 poles and piles.


Brick kilns have been operated in White County since the early period. Daniel Clark made brick near Clark's Mill which were used in building the old factory, the mill, and the old brick house west of the mill which is now known as the Brock House. Brick were made in the Western part of the County in at least two places as early as 1830. Brick making has never been on a large scale due to the difficulty of finding dirt free from gravel.


Agriculture has always been the chief industry of White County. A great majority of the people of the County have always gained their living chiefly from the farm. There is an idea that the pioneer ruined his land in short order. This is a mistake, except as to hillside land, and even then he did well considering his chances. He plowed with a bull tongue plow, which left the land rough and most of the rubbish was left on top of the soil. Turning plows plowed this rubbish under, and left the land smooth and hard under the soil a few inches. It is
my observation that more good land was ruined after 1875, when turning plows were introduced, than before that time. The principal crop in this County has always been corn, for food and for stock. Corn is better for food in this section than in any other place in the world for it contains more phosphorus. In the days of the distilleries corn was largely used in the manufacture of whiskey. The best test acre of corn grown in this County, so far as I have learned, yielded 122˝ bushels. The United States census shows the following yields of corn for this County: In 1840, 405,149 bushels; 1850, 599,015 bushels ; 1860, 472,563 bushels; 1870,
347,944 bushels; 1880, 637,143 bushels; 1900, 508,690 bushels; 1910, 537,773 bushels; 1920, 645,843 bushels; 1930, 582,639 bushels.

Other grain products in White County are wheat, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat and millet. Wheat was introduced into the County sometime before 1840. It was never grown on a large scale, but there was a time when nearly every farmer produced enough wheat for his own use. In 1840, the County produced 5,183 bushels and there was a gradual increase up to 1890. In this year there were threshed 74,050 bushels. Since that time the growing of wheat has declined, reaching a low in 1930 of 7,010 bushels. Since 1930 there has been a gradual upturn in wheat production. Oats were grown in the County from the first, more extensively in the early years than now. The falling off of the production of oats is accounted for from the fact that the fresh lands of that day yielded better returns than now, and from the fact that oats constituted the principal hay crop then. In 1840 White County produced 85,899 bushels of oats, as compared with 10,576 in 1930. Rye was another grain crop that was grown in this County from the first. It was used for making rye bread, whiskey, and a substitute for coffee. It was grown much more extensively in the early years than now. At the present time, however, rye bids fair to become an important crop again, but not for grain purposes, but for soil improvement. Buckwheat has never been extensively grown, but throughout the years a few farmers have raised buckwheat. Millet was not introduced into the County until late and is not even grown now as grain but for hay. Barley is another grain crop which has been grown mainly for hay, though some farmers thresh their barley for grain. Sorghum was introduced into the County sometime before 1850. In that year 181 gallons of molasses were made. At first the cane was ground on a wooden mill and boiled in pots and pans. It is used now quite extensively for making molasses and for stock feed. The other grain sorghum have only recently been introduced into the County and are not yet extensively grown. Grasses and clovers were not introduced into the County until within the last few years. When red top was first introduced, farmers were afraid to plant it for fear it would become a pest. Red top is now the most extensively planted grass for hay. Timothy is also grown and blue grass to some extent. The clovers now grown in White County are red clover, which was introduced some time before the Civil War, alfalfa, and crimson clover, introduced only a few years ago, and lespedeza, also a comparatively recent crop. In the early days much corn fodder was used for feed. Hay now
largely takes the place of fodder. Within the last twenty years tobacco has become again an important farm crop in this County.

Hogs. The raising of hogs has declined due to the greater expense of raising them. In the old days hogs were fattened on the mast and were grown at practically no cost at all. When the time came that hogs had to be fattened on corn, it was necessary to introduce better breeds, the razor back being the type grown heretofore, and White County now has blooded hogs. Where farmers use pasture in the fattening process, hogs are still grown at a profit.

Sheep. The early settlers used sheep for mutton and they used the wool for making clothes. The type of sheep grown then were hardy and lived mostly on the range. With the increase of dogs the growing of sheep became unprofitable and the industry nearly passed from White County. Of late years sheep growing has received a fresh impetus and the County bids fair once more to become a sheep growing section.

Poultry. In the early days of the County ducks and geese were extensively raised for making feather beds. Turkeys were grown for market, while chickens were raised mainly for home use, there being then not much market for chickens and eggs. Eggs sold as cheap as three cents a dozen and hens sold as cheap as five cents apiece. After J. R. Tubb established a poultry business at Sparta and began buying and selling chickens and eggs on a large scale, it began to be an important industry. It has grown now to the place where the poultry in White County brings more money to the farms of the County than any other part of the farm industry. In
recent years during the best part of the season from three to five ear loads of chickens and a car load of eggs a week have been shipped from Sparta.

Orchard Products. The early settlers brought with them many kinds of fruit, and from the first, fruits and vegetables have played an important part in the diet of every family. There were some fruits growing wild when the first white people came here. Strawberries growing wild were abundant. As were also blackberries, dewberries, and even raspberries. Huckleberries grew in great abundance. Muscadines and wild grapes grew in great profusion. Even wild plums grew everywhere. Added to these native wild fruits the settlers soon had
apples, pears, plums and cherries growing. These all thrived well in this section and while never grown for market, they added greatly to the living of every family.

Cattle. Both beef cattle and milk cows have had an important place in the County from the first. The first settlers brought with them their cattle which were mainly Airshire. The cattle were raised without much expense, being allowed to run at large on the range. After the valley section was thickly settled and there was no longer any free range, the cattle were driven in the spring time to the plateau to fatten on the wild grasses, only the milk cows being kept at home. Cattlemen frequently owned cabins on the mountains where they went at intervals to round up their cattle and salt them. They were thus grown at small expense and since they could be driven long distances to market at small expense the cattle business was a profitable business. Judge Dickinson and Mr. Overton introduced Jersey cattle into this County and there are now some fine Jersey herds
in the County. A few years ago Herefords, Aberdeens, Angus, and other beef types were introduced and the County now has very fine beef cattle. The growing of cattle is still a profitable part of the farm industry. There has been a great forward movement in agriculture in White County since the beginning of the work of County Agents. C. M. Franklin was appointed first Agricultural County Agent in 1914. He established a County experiment station on the High School ground which was responsible for the introduction of new crops and new methods of farming. He served until 1917. In that year the Home Demonstration Agent was appointed and the work of the County Agent was discontinued. The work of the County Agent was reestablished in 1918 and H. W. Andrews was appointed in that year as the County Agent. He has served continuously ever since. Under the leadership of the County Agents men and women have been organized into clubs as have also boys and girls in the 4-H Clubs. Through the County Fair and the work of these clubs there has been great improvement both in production and in marketing of agricultural products. Some old industries long forgotten, as for instance cheese making, which in the early days held an important place in every farm home, have been reestablished.

A Steamboat Line

Before the Civil war a steamboat line operated from Nashville to Sligo on the Caney Fork. This line was run by Amos Livingston Davis. There were two ships, the smaller one named The May Dew, the larger one named Everyday Dick. The farthest a steamboat ever came up the Caney Fork River was to Frank's Ferry. It was the Alleyona. A windlass was used to bring her over the shoals. This was a short time after the Civil War.


In 1897 the County appropriated $60,000 for road building, and later it appropriated another $50,000 to finish the project started. The Road Commission appointed to serve with the County Judge, who was then J. D. Goff, were J. R. Lee, Franklin Wilhite, and Perry Officer. Officer did the engineering. Crushed limestone was put on the road, the road itself being twelve feet wide. This program met with opposition but the opposition largely disappeared when it was seen how small the taxes were. The first auto in White County was owned by Oliver Anderson in 1908. After automobiles began to be common here, the interest in good roads increased and a new period of road building came which has now resulted in nearly every prominent road in the County having a hard surface.


The old hotel at Bon Air was our most noted hotel because Bon Air Springs, as has been stated, was the first summer resort in the South. Sparta had a famous hotel owned by William Glenn covering much more than the Quarles block. Mr. McGee had a hotel which was burned by Stokes men during the Civil War. There was a hotel where the Keystone Hotel was run by Mr. Barnes. There was another hotel where the Lee Hotel stands back of which was a little woodland. The Rhea House was built for the Sparta branch of the old State Bank. The Lee Hotel was built a few years ago at a cost of $100,000.00.


Mining has been an important industry ever since the opening of the Bon Air Mines. There were small drift mines in White County years earlier, but these supplied only local needs. The Bon Air shaft was sunk in 1902. For twenty years the company averaged 350 tons a day from that one shaft. In 1902 the Eastland mines were
opened. This mine operated for thirty years at an average daily tonnage of 350. In 1917 William J. Cummins bought the Bon Air Coal & Iron Corporation, the land consisting of more than 50,000 acres. This company was reorganized and the name changed to The Bon Air Coal & Iron Corporation with James R. Oldfield, president, and W. J. Cummins, vice-president and general manager, John McE. Bowman, treasurer, Frederic Leake, secretary, and William Wrigley, Jr., chairman of the board of trustees. In 1920 Dr. W. B. Young was made general superintendent. Different companies under different managements owned and operated drift mines, the Carola shaft, the Ravenscroft and Eastland mines until 1926, when the Tennessee Products Corporation was formed by merging the Bon Air Coal & Iron Corporation, the Chattanooga Coke & Gas Company and the J. J. Gray Iron Works. The Clifty property was owned by people who had no connection with the seven Bon Air concerns until it was purchased by the Bon Air Coal & Iron Corporation in 1926. In the autumn of 1903 Jesse Walling of McMinnville purchased the John H. Savage tract of 5,000 acres in this and Cumberland Counties and at once proceeded to organize the Clifty Creek Coal & Coke Company and to operate the mines. The company owned the town, including commissary store, school house, and all other buildings. On the opening of the mines towns sprang up around them as if over night, including DeRossett. In 1920 White County ranked sixth among the coal producing counties in Tennessee.