yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


G. Tillman Stewart

Darden, Tennessee located in the eastern part of Henderson County near the Decatur County line came into being when the Perryville Branch (Pevine) was constructed through the community and the depot was built and it was necessary to give the place a name. In the discussion as to what name to give the place, a man spoke up and said, "Mills Darden is undoubtedly the largest man on Earth so lets name this place Darden." With that the place was so named. There has been a conception down through the years that Darden lived in that community. However, he never lived anywhere near Darden, Tennessee.

The first settlers in the Darden community were Jack Jones, Fred Owens, Lafayette Reeves, Bill and Lawson Elliott, Andy Derryberry, Lawson Boren and close relatives of the famous captain Asa "Blackhawk" Hays hero of the Union cause during the Civil War. Aunt Tense Hays, lived there for more than fifty years in the same house, which was later occupied by Esta Tyner.

The oldest church is the Baptist Church in 1893. It burned in 1905 and was replaced in 1908. A Pentecostal Church was built in 1920. Hendrix and Moore had the first store, and when the railroad was taken up L. B. Moore still operated a store in the old depot. As late as 1940 there were three stores including L. B. Moore and the others by Carmon Hill and W.R. Powers.

A survey was made in 1910 by Bradstreet's Company. So there were seven stores also, a cotton gin and barber shop was added and Darden at that time was the fifth largest town in Henderson County. The other four were Lexington, Sardis, Scotts Hill and Wildersville. The railroad depot was built on the land of S. H. Newman. Prior to the coming of the railroad, the territory between Big Creek and Brown's Creek was know as the "Nation." The first depot agent was H.N. Gilbert and the last one was Pete Brown. After the completion of highway 20 in 1933 the railroad service was discontinued and the track was taken up. For awhile the Post Office occupied the old depot. It is now in a type of Trailer, but the people of Darden are looking forward to a new Post Office. There has always been a rural route of the Darden Post Office, and the first carrier was the late John Sullivan. Darden along with Chesterfield were the first towns outside of Lexington to get electric current when the Tennessee Electric Power Company built its transmission line into Lexington in 1931. The first school was a frame building which was torn down in 1928 and a modern brick building was erected in 1928. The first teacher was a Professor Denver. Other early teachers were Professors Cole, Fagg and Spence.

As a boy our family would ride the train to Parsons to visit our Grandparents. I was always glad when we got to Darden as a man would get on the train with parched peanuts and popcorn, which sold for a nickel a sack.

There is now a Darden Cemetery and some mighty good citizens live in Darden.

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