HE TANTON TORY
Stanton is approximately 144 years old, the railroad was laid through the Stanton area in 1856. The trains started running, people moved here and Stanton came into being.
In 1986 a skit was written to commemorate the 130 year anniversary of Stanton. The
Stanton Centennial Scrapbook was used as reference for the skit . The Centennial
celebration for Stanton had been in the year 1956. The following has been excerpted from
the 1986 skit.
The author of the skit was Henryette Maxwell Stuart.
Mrs. Mary Schultz, of Dancyville, provided the document for me to copy and
scan for the web site.
Mary Kay Dancy Smith
PLEASE note, when references are made as current (or described as 'now'), the time is reference 1986.
The Centennial scrapbook (1956) indicates a really big community celebration,
many former Stanton citizens and friends came to share the fun . It was quite a
party with a big birthday cake, a parade, antique show and a street dance that night, and
a little play, telling the Stanton story.
There were also two inspirational addresses: one by Dr. Lonnie Wilkerson - hes Ruble Morgans brother - and Judge Tom Gibson - both Stanton boys.
Two hundred years ago, and even later than that, this land belonged to the Chickasaw Indians. There were heavy forest lands, with virgin trees, thick vines and dense undergrowth. No one lived here. There were no roads, only tiny trails snaked out by the Indians as they hunted. There were all kinds of wild animals and birds throughout this area. The Chickasaws called it their " Happy Hunting Grounds." Then, in 1818, they sold this land - 6 million wonderful acres of it - to the young United States for $300,000. It was a steal, about a nickel an acre, and for very good land. According to history Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby negotiated the deal.
But land was cheap in those days. One old history book tells the story of when the governor of North Carolina swapped his old " indifferent gig horse" for 640 acres of this land.
The land grant maps show that much of it was given away. The ink was hardly dry on the papers signed by the Indian chiefs before the 1st land grants were made. Some say they were made even before. By 1820 the grants were being surveyed. The surveyors, among whom were Oliver B. Hayes, James Vaulx, Oliver Alexander and Henry Rutherford, charged 1/5th of the acreage as their fee. Consequently they came out with big hunks of the land for themselves. Part of the town of Covington was James Vaulxs land. Stanton lies on land granted to Oliver, B. H. Hayes, Lee Sullivan, James Scruggs and Rosy Miller.
But many of the grantees did not come here to live. Back when Stanton came into being this land seems to have been owned by J. B. Stanton, J. B. Somervell and G.G. Ware, with Mr. Stanton owning the biggest part. A mighty surge of emigration began. People came from Va., N.C., S.C., Ky., Middle and East Tennessee. They came on flat boats, floating down the Ohio, Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers and up the Big Hatchie and Forked Deer Rivers. They came in covered wagons, carriages, carryalls, carts and on horseback, following for the most part the trails or traces snaked out by the Indians years before. In 1820 there was only one county wholly within the Western District. That was Shelby, with 251 white souls living there. Memphis had 53 people. But other counties were soon organized and by 1824 Haywood County was fully set up and functioning. The 1826 census shows 256 families living in the county. Now we have not been able to determine exactly when nor where the 1st settlement South of Hatchie River was made. Maybe it was in District #1 where the Kinneys, Powells and Shorts were some of the earliest settlers; or in #2 where the Alexanders and their related families were; or it might have been in #3, in the Wesley area. Certainly, we know this, that there were growing settlements in all three districts, in the 1820s, possibly as early as 1824 in this area for Bradfords Landing was established there. Bradfords Landing is close to where our bridge is now. Its possible too, that our earliest settlers could have come through Tipton County. We may not know the exact date of our settlement.
(See also the settlement of Wesley and it's connection to Stanton)
It was in the 30s that there comes to this section a certain man who was to work considerable changes in the map of District #3. That man was J.B. Stanton. He came here from South Carolina. He was quite wealthy. He immediately began to buy land. He bought it, sold it, received it as grants, upwards of 6,000 acres in this area. In 1834 he bought the acreage we think of as Stanton land for around $3.50 an acre, and on it built his fine home, reputed to be one of the very finest in this whole section. It was three stories and the tale is that there was a swimming pool in the top of it. He lived there until his death in 1860. This beautiful old home burned in April 1879, and was replaced by the house now owned by Mrs. Frank Beaty. But his was not the only family which was to come in and influence this section. In the 1830s Col. Nathan Adams, who was born in Ireland, the Colliers, Culbreaths, McBrides, McCools, Muexs, Stanleys, Wares and Walkers. In the 40s came the Browns Coles, Cores, Fields, Greens, Groves, Gibsons, Hicks, Kimbroughs, Maclins, Nelsons, Sanders, Somervells, and our Connecticut Yankee, Corydon Spencer. There were others, of course, but many of these mentioned had descendants who came to help us celebrate.
The community did not grow fast. From 40 families in 1830, 44 in 1840 to 56 in 1850. In those 56 families were 3 doctors, 2 merchants, 2 carpenters, 2 blacksmiths, 1 wheelwright and others were farmers. And right here, even then, the pattern of life in this area was set. This is a farming community. Another interesting detail: of the 315 slaves here in 1840 more than half of them belonged to the 5 wealthiest families and more than half of the families here had one or no slaves. At that time the price of a slave was considerable and land was selling for $7.50 an acre. The 1853 tax records show listed for taxing in this district; 312 slaves, 7 carriages, 11 watches, 5 pianos. There were 8 town lots in Wesley, a far cry from the 30 odd laid out in the 20s. This shows that the little town of Wesley had not grown as had been hoped even before the railroad came through. And now we speak of another stranger which was to come into this section and work a traumatic change. We speak of the big iron horse of the Memphis-Ohio railroad. Way back in 1813 there had been published a queer prophecy. It told of the time when men and women would ride in stages powered by steam engines traveling 15 or 20 miles an hour, as fast as birds could fly. It told of the rails which would guide the carriage wheels, and even predicted that the U.S. would be the first nation to discover this mode of travel, and that she would get rich because of that iron horse.
Before the cars came there were mixed emotions concerning the train. To some it was a mighty monster and dire results were predicted; why the $40 horses wouldnt be $5 a head; the wagon makers would starve to death; and the bellowing steam engine would scare all the game out of the country. There were others, however, who saw it as a mighty sign of progress and a wonderful convenience. It would take a solid week to get the cotton to Memphis by boat and return; and hauling it by wagon over the dusty or muddy roads was even more tedious. Just think what it would mean to be able to ship it by rail. Speculation as to just where the road would run was the past time of the day. Of course, it would go through Wesley the only town in the district and it was situated in its very heart. But Mr. Stanton had other ideas; he had visions, too, of another town arising on a spot back down the stage road about 2 miles, and he got busy to make that dream a reality. He offered his land for the road to pass through, and we were told by the old timers that he offered more.That was quite a common practice in those days. Railroad officials agreed with him and accepted his offer. In 1855 the rails were laid and soon our citizens had not only accepted the iron horse, they were making it serve them. At first the cars did not always run on schedule. One Christmas they did not run because of the holiday. But certainly they maintained a more uniform schedule than ever the boats did.
If the clanging of the engine bell heralded the birth of Stanton and, of course, it could have no other name, though at first it was called Stantons Depot, it likewise tolled the death of Wesley. Within a few short years the town was just about literally picked up and moved to the railroad; and before too long we are finding the term "old Wesley" in the records.
Captain F.W. Chaney was Stantons first merchant. He was also the first postmaster. His store building was the last one on the west end of town. The road which ran by it - when I was young we called it Chaneys Lane-- was an early day main road. The Connecticut Yankee, Mr. Spencer, was the depot agent, and the first depot was a box car parked on a siding close to where our depot used to be. Captain Chaney, Mr. Spencer, and Thomas Scott bought the first three lots in Stanton in May 1860.
Captain Chaneys house was the back part of Eleanor Naifehs home. Mr. Scotts home was part of the Winberry home. Mr. Spencers stands today pretty much as it was. Its owned by Mr. Norwood now and our new post office is in that grove. When these lots were sold Mr. Stanton had died and the property had passed to his daughter, Mrs. Grace Adams, and, from this date on, we find deed after deed to lots sold by her and he husband, Col. Nathan Adams, One interesting thing about these deeds is the whiskey clause in them. Mrs. Adams was an ardent prohibitionist. She wanted Stanton to be dry and she saw to it that there was this whiskey clause in every deed delivered..
Stanton was growing now at the expense of Wesley. The hotel was moved here and was about where Mr. and Mrs. Bert Melvin live now. It was recalled as a nice big building facing the old road which ran back of the Pepper store, through the well lot, behind the Willie Miller houses, through the Neifeh front yard, lopping off a corner of the Rutherford lot as it ran on out to Wesley. The post office was moved from Wesley and was in Mr. Chaneys store. We know what became of the old Wesley building. It was bought by Mr. Waddell, Mrs. Cooks grandfather, moved to his farm and became a dwelling. Mrs. Cook remembers the slit in one of the double doors through which the letters were dropped. The Masonic lodge was moved to Mason, and on to Braden. The Stanton lodge was chartered around 1870. Its building was erected in 1871. My grandmother recalled attending the laying of the corner-stone, She was then a young lady of seventeen and was visiting her cousin Sally Coppedge. The Wesley Baptist Church was torn down and was rebuilt here on land given by Mr. Chaney. School was first held in this church; but we old timers did not go to school there. Our Alma Mater was the lower floor of the lodge building. The Methodist Church was moved here in 1869 on land given by Mr. Somervell. The charter members of this church were the members at Wesley. In the early 1870s the Presbyterians moved from their old church, Emmaus, to the beautiful, picturesque building which stands today.
Stanton citizens of all faiths take great pride in this church, copied from one in England which Mr. Adams, in his travels, had seen and admired. To the side of this church is the lovely crypt built by Mr. Adams. He planned it as a burial place for Mr. and Mrs. Stanton, Mrs. Adams and himself, but only he and his wife are encrypted there. The marble in this mausoleum came from Italy, and it was hauled in oxcarts up to the church yard. Mrs. Leila Coppedge, Marjorie Simmons grandmother, remembered seeing them. She went to school on the corner of that lot. (In the 1870s Mr. Joe Craften taught at this school - back in those days they were pay schools - free only part of the time) She and her family lived in the home which Bonnie and Jim Williams are now restoring.
GO HERE for the continuation of THE STANTON STORY
See WESLEY, Haywood County, Tennessee
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Transcribed by AMANDA GAINES - July 12, 2000
Posted July 23, 2000