yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


W. V. Barry

October 12, 1923
Lexington Progress
The McNairy County Centennial Celebration
Transcribed by Brenda Kirk Fiddler

Last Tuesday morning in company with my good friend, Mr. A. H. Joyner, and with my younger son, Edward, at the wheel of a Ford, I went to the place of my birth on the 28th day of March, 1858, the former county seat of government of McNairy County, to attend the second day program of the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the county of McNairy, which celebration had been first suggested and helped to be carried to fulfillment and fruition by the Honorable Horry Hodges -- and we use the term "Honorable" in fullest, broadest, least sought and most deserved sense. I am carrying out the prophesy of my good wife that "William will write two or three columns about the trip to Purdy."

On account of the very rough roads through most of the Northern part of McNairy County, we failed to make the time we expected, and were somewhat late in arriving, so after alighting from our car we had but little time to look around on the outside before going into the new Presbyterian and Accredited High School building where the program was in progress. Entering the front door of the school building, I saw that the auditorium was crowded even to the aisles, but I pushed my way through to the stage, in response to the beckoning of Horry Hodges. I found Terry Abernathy acting as Master of Ceremonies -- making speeches all the way through as Professor Brown does here when we have a program in the High School building. The address of welcome was made -- and made well -- by a Mrs. Williams of the Adamsville section, and quick responses were made by Col. J. W. Purviance of Selmer, Jas. L. Littlefield of Adamsville, and then your humble servant; and because Horry Hodge said I made the best speech of all, I hereby nominate him for permanent president of the Ananias Club of McNairy County.

But it is no more my purpose to tell of the speeches made than it was to be called on to say anything. I am just writing this little piece to relieve an overfull heart and to express thanks for the fact that at the age of 65 1/2 years I am still living with a multiplicity of blessings, and permitted to attend the centennial celebration in the old town where I "discovered America" and in a house on the very site of the school house in which I obtained a share of the very limited education that has served me in life.

Just before reaching Purdy, probably just as we drove in, passing on the left the old Chap Hurst home, late the home of Mrs. Eudora Kindel Dalbey, who now lives at Saltillo with the daughter, Mrs. A. L. Hughes, and passing next to the old Fielding Hurst home on the left, I remarked to my companions that I feared one man I wanted to see very much would not be there-Fielding Beard; but bless the Lord, when we stopped at a little store house, opposite the school building, on what was "Back Street," I found it was Fielding's home and he was the first man to whom I spoke -- and Bill Robertson, a very good aged Negro preacher was next. I confess that I was just as glad to see Bill as if he had been whiter than snow, for he was known as a good man when I was a boy.

Miss Nell Hurst was there from Memphis -- it was her father's home that I mentioned as still standing as we entered the old town site. There was Mrs. Sallie Harris Bobbitt from Humboldt whose father the late John Harris was a noted merchant of old Purdy in the early seventies and into the eighties of the last century. There was Nettie Cotton Stubblefield of Milan, I believe adopted daughter of the late Rev. T. Cotton and wife -- and Mr. Cotton was long connected with the school at Purdy. There was one man from California, an old McNairian, and there were many more from other places.

Col. J. W. Purviance to whom I have referred alighted in Purdy from Illinois fifty-eight years ago last July -- and he and Mrs. Eudora Dalbey, also mentioned in this article, are the oldest living persons who were in Purdy at that time fifty-eight years ago. Col. Purviance established the McNairy County Independent , now owned and edited by the late Prof. M. R. Abernathy. Col. Purviance seems to be as supple as a boy and he is in his 82nd year. The Lord has been good to Old Jim -- and may he continue so:

Now, lest I carry out the full prophesy of my wife, and write three or four columns, I will close with the statement that I never had, in all my life, a greater day than this McNairy County centennial celebration at which I met so many old friends of my father, the late Dr. Daniel Barry, who died in Lexington in November 1890. When dinner was announced at 1:00 o'clock, I could hardly get out of the school building for shaking hands with gray-haired men and women who remembered my father as a doctor in Purdy -- and there were many younger ones who had been told by their elders of the "Barry family" who lived in old Purdy in the days of its glory, for Father settled there to practice medicine in 1852, and who stayed there until the county site was moved to Selmer and the old town went to pieces.

I hate to turn loose -- but I must quit. -- W. V. Barry

Return to Mr. Barry Visits...
Return to Yesterday's West Tennessee

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