yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee
History of Henderson Co.

From Auburn Powers, History of Henderson County, Tennessee, 1930. Reproduced with permission for personal use only. No further reproduction can be made without written consent of Andy E. Powers and Sherode B. Powers.


Chapter XII

The World War left the County in a worse condition than people in general thought. The War broke up or helped to breakup several homes. The epedemic of influenza, which swept the County during the War did likewise. It killed people so fast that often several burials were conducted at a cemetery in a single day. The well were kept busy burying the dead. People were afraid to go in and administer unto the sick, and as a consequence, many died for want of attention.

Coupled with the broken up homes, was general disorder and confusion. Morals had been lowered by the War, as is always the case. But January 16, 1920, the General Government passed the Prohibition Law which forbade the sale of intoxicating liquors. This law helped to restore moral conditions though very slowly, there being so many other inducements to immorality. However, the law is serving its purpose. There are not nearly so many drunks on the streets and roads now as there were before the Prohibition Law, despite its opposition.

Prices were high after the War, cotton selling as high as forty cents a pound. People resorted to wild speculation with the hope of making themselves rich within a few days. Many people sold their homes for fancy prices and bought others yet more expensive. When the end of the boom came and the Abottom fell out of everything@, as is again the case after wars, many people found their homes and property gone from them, and mortgages on their new investments so great that they were taken from them. This was the case in general throughout the County. The fever of false prosperity and wild speculation died a sudden death in the fall of 1920 and left many a farmer and not a few business men in disappointment.

Following this sudden reverse came another era of slow and steady progress marked with occasional drawbacks. About 1923 the County voted road bonds to the extent of $350,000 with which to improve its roads. Money was borrowed on these bonds and entrusted in the care of Henry Graper and the Citizens Bank for safe keeping. In September 1924 the bank burst, Mr. Graper died, and the County lost the$350,000. [It was believed by many that Mr. Graper escaped from the County with the money and that a waxen image was buried. Such is still the belief by some.]

The County did not get its good roads, nor has this enormous debt as yet been paid. Mr. Graper, of course, made bond before going into office, but if these bondsmen pay the debt, the County will lose that amount anyway. Otherwise the taxpayers will have to raise the money.

While trustee of the County, Carl Edwards squandered a large sum. Also, the late County Court Clerk, Paul Parker, is claimed to be short about $7,000. However, official reports have not as yet been announced.

Mr. Parker was the last County official to have a local bond. The County has ruled that all its officials must make bond with bonding companies and not with local friends. This ruling offers protection to the good people of the County.

The census of 1850 shows Henderson County to have had a population of 13,164; that of 1860, 14,491; that of 1870, 14,217; that of 1880, 17,430; that of 1890, 16,336; that of 1900, 18,117; that of 1910, 17,030; that of 1920, 18,436; that of 1930, 17,654. Civil District number one has a population of 3,556; number two, 2,737; number three, 1,966; number four, 687; number five including Lexington, 4,459; number six, 2,346; number seven including the part of Scotts Hill that is in Henderson County, 1,903. Lexington, as stated before, has a population of 1,823. There are 16,665 native whites, 5 foreign born whites, and 1,766 negroes in the County.

Beyond a doubt, more planting cotton seed are shipped out of Henderson County than any other county in the State. The Crook Brothers of ten miles south of Lexington have been responsible for most of this exportation of half-and-half planting cotton seed. The Crook Brothers keep a record of the cotton with high percentage of lent and buy the seed from it if possible. They deal in only that which gins extremely high per cent lint. Henderson County made over 1200 shipments during the month of February 1929. They were shipped to almost every state that grows cotton.

The County produces, on an average about 15,000 bales of cotton annually and about half a million dollars worth of poultry and poultry products. It has of late introduced the producing and marketing of cream, cabbage and tomatoes on a large scale. These are all profitable enterprises and are growing yearly. The County produces many potatoes, hogs, cattle, and enough corn and hay for home use.

Henderson County had for many years been deprived of good roads, but no longer is this so. It now has a concrete highway, highway number 20, being constructed throough the County connecting Nashville and Memphis. It is already finished from Lexington to the Madison County line and is a marvelous thoroughfare. Highway number 22 connects Huntingdon and Henderson. It passes through Lexington and is a good gravel road. U. S. highway number 100, which passes through the County from east to west, promises to be an outstanding highway of the whole country. There are other good roads in the county also. The ones connecting Lexington and Sardis, Lexington and Scotts Hill, Lexington and Bargerton, Lexington and Alberton, Lexington and Muffin, Lexington and Luray, and others are good.

The Tennessee Electric Power Company, which secured its franchise from Lexington in 1930, plans to connect with all the small towns of the County. It is the largest industrial corporation in Tennessee and offers the cheapest rates of any power company in the State. If it holds up to expectations, it will be a wonderful asset to the County. Already several Henderson Countians have bought stock in it.

Although Henderson County's total indebtedness runs around a half million dollars, it is in better condition than any of its adjoining neighbors. It is meeting its debts as they come due and has no outstanding bond over due. The $132,000 or $133,000 that come into the County trustee's office annually is gradually reducing our indebtedness year by year. The elementary school funds are only six months behind, whereas they were almost a year behind only a short while back. If no other reverses hit us, we should be even with the world in a few years and have good roads, good living conditions, and general prosperity for all. Henderson County, taking everything into consideration, is a good county in which to live. Every citizen of Henderson County should feel proud of his county and strive to preserve and defend what our forefathers have handed down to us by dint of teeth and perserverence. Let us not only do that, but let us add to it still and make its future even more glorious than its past has been. Instead of going into new fields let us stay in our home community and build it up. If we will do so, Henderson County will grow and improve as it has never done before.

  1. Tell of the epedemic of influenza.
  2. What effect have wars upon morality?
  3. What did people do to get rich quick, and what was the result?
  4. When did the end of this false prosperity come?
  5. What followed it?
  6. Mention some of the County's drawbacks.
  7. What is the population of your district? What is the population of the whole County? Of these how many are native whites, foreign born whites, and negroes?
  8. What are some of the things Henderson County ships? How much cotton and poultry and poultry products?
  9. Tell of the County's roads, of the Tennessee Electric Power Company, and of the County's indebtedness.
  10. Instead of going into new fields, what would be well for us to do?

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