yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee
History of Sardis, TN

From Beulah Hanna and Carra Holland, History of Sardis, Tennessee, Sardis Homecoming '86 Committee, May 1986.


For several years in Sardis we had some good black people, worthy citizens of this town.

The first blacks, of course, came as slaves. Some of these are buried in the McBride Cemetery near here. They were owned by Jess McBride.

Albert Sidney Johnson owned and ran a blacksmith shop here about 1915.

Harrison Kaiser was among the early settlers. His two daughters and a brother lived here for many years. I want to relate an interesting story told to us by Frank Pierce who is living in Lexington now. He was born in Sardis and lived here a long time. Shortly after the turn of this century, many black people came through Sardis. Some had to do it stealthily because of various reasons. Most of the time they were not law breakers but were maligned simply because of their color. When they got to Sardis they all came to Mr. Kaiser's. Frank's father, M. F. Pierce, was the town policeman and he knew Mr. Kaiser as an honest, God fearing man. So they had a code worked out. When a man came that Kaiser wanted to help, he would go to Pierce's window and knock a certain number of times. Pierce knew this was his signal to get up, get dressed and help them because he trusted Mr. Kaiser.

Others who lived here were Chess Smith and his family, Elmer Reynolds and his family, and Charlie Kennedy and his family.

Charlie Kennedy was a school teacher for all the black children in the community for a few years. The school was located near where Roy Medlin now lives. Later it was used only for a church. Mrs. Lula Medlin says she can't remember it being a school after 1915.

Earl Story told us that his father was making a trip to Lexington and going to Lexington in those days was no easy task. Mr. Kennedy sent by Mr. Story to pick up his marriage license for him. Earl remembers the look of consternation on Mr. Kennedy's face when his mother jokingly told him that Mr. Story had forgotten the license. He was visualizing another tiresome trip to Lexington before his marriage could take place.

He married Rena Kaiser and they were a wonderful couple and had a nice family. Around 1920 he served as a butler at the Governor's Mansion. Arthur Montgomery was in the legislature and helped him to get the position. The Kennedys had five children and it was difficult at that time for black children to get an education. But, Mr. Kennedy had the foresight to see how important it was for every child to be educated. He had to take his children elsewhere to receive their education. One of his daughters became a teacher and all of us remember with deep affection Charlie Kennedy, Jr., lovingly known to us as ‘Bub'. With deep respect we remember his wife, Mrs. Eula Mae Kennedy, a teacher and guidance counselor in the Henderson County schools.

top · home · yesterday's · families · schools · links · what's new · memorial · about

This site was created by David Donahue and Brenda Kirk Fiddler.
This site is currently maintained by Jerry L. Butler
Copyright © 2004 - 2010, All rights reserved