yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


Gen. Marcus J. Wright


Names of some of the first Settlers-The Town of Purdy laid off-Col. Purdy's Office-The first Physician,
Clerk of County Court, Sheriff, Carpenter, Schoolteacher and Tradesmen-Building of the Court
House, Hotel and County Jail-First Church edifices-Early School-teachers, Physicians.


The first inhabitants in the territory embraced in the county of McNairy settled there in 1820. They were the Kirby's, Beatty's, Gillespie's, McAlpin's, Murray's and Sweat's.

Soon afterwards, many others came in; among them Major Benjamin Wright, John and Samuel Chambers, from Middle Tennessee; James Wisdom from Overton county, Tennessee; Major John Horton, from Giles county; John S. Ingraham; Thomas Anderson, from Bedford county; William Stedman, from Alabama; and Rohert and Archibald Houston.

The McKenzie family and Thomas Lane, from Jackson, Tennessee, who opened the first tavern in Purdy, settled in the county about the year 1823 or 1824.

The town of Purdy was laid off by Col. John Purdy and Major Benjamin Wright, and the lots were auctioned off by Wm. S. Wisdom. Col. John Purdy was a citizen of Henderson county, his residence being at a place known as Purdy's Office. On the establishment of a post office at Purdy Major Wright was appointed post master.

Among the earliest residents of Purdy were Dr. Wm. Barnett, who was the first physician who practiced in the town, and his brother, Joseph Barnett, who was the first clerk of the county Court. Dr. Barnett came from Williamson county; Joseph Barnett from Wayne. In 1825 Henry Wilson, who was the first sheriff of the county; James Clay the first carpenter in Purdy; J. M. Prince the first school-teacher in the town; the Boyd family, N.E. Griffith, the first merchant or tradesman of the town, Peter E. Shull, James Reed, Reuben Walker and Henry Kirkland, all settled in Purdy. In the year following 1826, George and John T. Burtwell, from Florence Ala.; Richard S. Harwell, from Springfield Tenn., and Maclin Cross, from Madison county, were added to the citizens of the new town. In 1827 the accessions to population were increased by the settlement in the town of Wm. Ruleman, from Madison county; Jeremiah Cloud, from Alabama; Samuel D. Pace, from Georgia; Laney Moore, from North Carolina; Richard Crump, from Williamson county, Tenn.; also the Denny, Magee and Rains families settled near Purdy. The Wilson and Hill families settled in the county in 1828-29. In 1829 Wiley B. Terry, from East-Tennessee; Jacob Chaney, from Frankfort, Ky.; Doctors Randall and Hedgespeth, from Georgia came in. In 1831 Thomas Combs, Alfred Moore, from Overton county, and John Shull, from Maury county, moved to the county. These were followed, in 1834, by Fountain P. Duke, Robert Turner and Mat. Trice, from Virginia. In 1835 by Capt. Jeremiah G. Adams, from Virginia also.

The first Court held in the county was in 1830, in a rude log cabin. Soon afterwards the court-house (which was burned in 1881) was built by James Reed and Reuben Walker, carpenters, and Henry Kirkland, brickmason. In 1826 Henry Kirkland built the brick hotel on the east side of the square, which was afterwards (during the late War) destroyed by fire, and in 1827 he built the county jail. The first church edifice built in Purdy was a frame building located in the northeast portion of the town. It was a methodist church, and was used also for a school-house. In 1850 the Cumberland Presbyterians erected a house of worship of brick in the centre of the southern part of the town, and the Baptists built a church soon afterwards; but it was so injured during the war that it was never used afterwards as a place of worship.

The early school-teachers of Purdy were Barrett Lock, James Corner, Andrew McKee, David A. Street, R. D. Miller, Isaac Self, Alvy Johnston and Barlow.

The names of the early physicians were Drs. Barnett, Hedgespeth, Randall, Wm. Young, Frank Young, Richard W. Crump, Rufus S. Harwell, Charles C. Cruinp, R. B. Harris, Wm. McKinney, H. W. Gill, W. C. Kendall, Job Bell, Daniel Barry, and J. F. Duke.

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