yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee

From Lillye Younger, The History of Decatur County Past and Present (Southhaven, MS: Carter Printing Company, 1978).
Special thanks to Constance Collett for permission to make these web pages.

In Memory of Lillye Washburn Younger 1912-1998.


Chapter XIV

Hobart Townsend, Sr.

Cordelia Harrison Townsend

E. M. Townsend

E. M. Townsend was born February 12, 1862 in Humphreys County, Tennessee.

Cordelia Harrison was born December 2, 1872 in Gibson County, Tennessee.

The two were united in marriage in the year 1888 and made their home in Trenton for several years, moving to Decatur County in the Hog Creek community known as Oak View in the year 1895 and made their home there until 1918 when they moved to Parsons, Tennessee to the large two-story residence which remains today on the old Perryville Highway to the East city limits of Parsons, now being occupied by Mrs. Nancy Townsend Yarbro, a granddaughter of the Townsends.

E. M. Townsend was a country. merchant for a number of years at the Oak View location on Hog Creek. He was never Postmaster there as the post office had just been discontinued when he purchased the store and farm from M. P. Haynes. The mail was delivered from the Sugar Tree Post Office from the time of closing of the Oak View until the present day.

Mr. Townsend was superintendent for Ayer and Lord Tie Company for many years managing their timber interest in Decatur and Perry Counties.

Cordelia (Delie to most people) Townsend was a housekeeper and mother of the modern type in the days of old. She was the mother of eight sons and three daughters, which was a full-time employment of housekeeping, laundering and mending clothes for a large family. She was an expert gardener and cook and that is understandable with a family of thirteen to be feed plus many visitors. In the latter years, she said that she always prepared at least two extra meals at noon and night as she was sure that many times there would be visitors or someone spending the night.

In the years of 1900 to 1924, all the Townsend family earned their living from farming and timber interests. The first deviation from the farming came when the oldest son, Revo H. Townsend, accepted employment with the Federal government at the Federal prison in Atlanta, Ga, where he was employed for many years until his retirement. Revo was married to Sally Wheeler of Atlanta and to this union was born one son, James, who is now plant manager for the manufacturing plant, ITT and Grenell of Charlotte, North Carolina. Revo resides in Parsons in retirement since his wife's death in 1974.

The next eldest son, Leonard O., was elected to office of the Decatur County Register in 1926 and served there for eight years after which he was secretary-treasurer of the Federal Land Bank Association of Decatur County for a number of years after which he was associated with Townsend Insurance Agency and Townsend Chevrolet Company and the Townsend farming interests. Leonard was married in 1941 to Hilda Primm and to this union was born one daughter, Wanda (Mrs. Charles Conger) of Parsons. Leonard died October 2,1950. His widow, Hilda, survives.

Cecil was the third child of the Townsends. He spent his entire life in Decatur County being engaged in the farming and livestock business for many years and later being associated with Townsend Chevrolet Company. Cecil was married in 1914 to Berlie Curtis and to this union was born two sons, Byron (now deceased) and Eugene, now living in Decatur County, and three daughters, Estelle (Mrs. Joe Pratt), Lucille (Mrs. William Salis) and Maury Jane (Mrs. Wallace Powers).

Mahlon was the fourth child. He was associated in farming and livestock business until his retirement in 1965. He was married to Emma Odle in 1915 and to this union was born five sons and one daughter; Lynn, a professor in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Edwin, a practicing attorney in Parsons (a member of the 1977 Constitutional Convention); Wayne and M. N. partners in Townsend Chevrolet Company in Parsons; Max, publisher of the Parsons News Leader in Parsons; Evelyn (Mrs. A. P.Maxwell), supervisor of Decatur County School System lunch program.

Herman was the fifth child. He followed farming interests for many years., working in construction for several years, taught school and was associated with Townsend Chevrolet Company in later years to retirement, passing away in 1970. He was married to Emma Lou Reeves and to this union was born one son, John D., who is now Vice President and Cashier of Farmers Bank in Parsons; and one daughter, Patricia, a secretary in the Water Department in the City of Memphis.

Beatrice (Mrs. Howell Daniels) was the sixth child. She married Howell Daniels in 1927 and made her home in Akron, Ohio for thirty five years. To this union was born two sons, J. B., a life insurance specialist Bob, a computer engineer, now living in Atlanta, Georgia; and a daughter Sue, a registered nurse in Akron, Ohio.

Raymond was the seventh child. He left the farming career upon graduation of high school in 1924 and entered Memphis State University following the profession of school teaching after his schooling for several years. He taught two years in Decatur County and four years in Saltillo, returned to Parsons and engaged in the general insurance business for four years. He was appointed Postmaster in Parsons by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934 and served for fourteen years, resigning April 30, 1948 to become Vice President of Farmers Bank, May 1, 1948 and still remains at the present time. Raymond was married to Sophia MaIm in August of 1932 and they have one daughter Carolyn (Mrs. James McAfee) of Atlanta, Georgia, who was born March 28, 1939; one grandson, James Thomas McAfee III, who is nine years old at the present time.

Hobart was the eighth child. He also left the farming business upon graduation from high school in 1927. He taught school in 1928 and entered the general insurance business in 1929 moving to Jackson in 1930 where he was engaged in the general insurance business for ten years. He was elected to the State legislature for two terms, 1937 and 1939 to represent Madison County in the General Assembly at Nashville. In 1940 he returned to Parsons to become Cashier of Farmers Bank where he remains employed to this date and is presently Chairman of the Executive Committee. Hobart was married on October 6,1933 to Ruth Jennings and they have one son, H. L. Townsend, Jr., who is now president of Farmers Bank.

Wilburn was the ninth child. He finished high school in Parsons in 1929 and entered the University of Tennessee for special training in health and sanitation, later being connected with the County Health Department of Weakley County, TN. He entered the Townsend Insurance Agency in 1933 and later as a partner, with Leonard and Hobart, they founded Townsend Chevrolet Company where he remained until 1957 selling his interest to the present owners. He then entered the construction business known as Townsend and Pevahouse Construction Company as a partner and manager; also, was owner and manager of Townsend Insurance Agency and continued his interest in cattle farm operation. He was elected as a member of the Decatur County Board of Education in 1934 and served for a period of twenty four years, serving as Chairman of the Board for many years. He was elected to the State legislature in 1941 and 1959 representing Decatur County. He was married in 1932 to Emma Lou Long and to this union was born two daughters and one son, Nancy (Mrs. David Yarbro), now a county supervisor in the school system of Decatur County; Janell (Mrs. Jimmy Evans), co-owner of Townsend Insurance Agency in Parsons; Branson, assistant manager of W.T.B.P. Radio Station, owned by Townsend Broadcasting Corporation in Parsons.

Annie was number ten in the family. She was married to Jesse Dodd in 1929 and to this union was born two children, Betty (Mrs. Robert Elam) of Jackson; and J. D., a music writer and performer of Honolulu, Hawaii. Mr. Dodd passed away in 1957. Annie later married Rev. Floyd Rogers and they now live in Parsons.

Imogene was the eleventh and last child born to the Townsend family, being born on July 4th. She was married to Madison Smith, who was County Court Clerk and County Judge of Decatur County for a number of years. After his accidental death in 1956, she was married to Charlie Pratt. Imogene was a school teacher for a number of years and has been active in auxiliary work of the VFW and other civic organizations, having served as president of the Ladies Auxiliary of the V.F.W.

E.M. Townsend lived to reach the age of 76, seeing all of his family grow into their own and establish their homes and passed away in 1938 leaving his widow and eleven children and many grandchildren.

Mrs. Townsend lived to the age of 93, passing away in January of 1964, leaving ten of her children, forty two grandchildren, forty eight great grandchildren, and fifteen great-great grandchildren.

Compiled by Hobart Townsend, Sr.

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