Moore County, Tennessee Early Businesses and Industries

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The first cotton gin was erected near the same place in about 1818. Thomas Roundtree built the cotton mill on the creek at Lynchburg, about the year 1820. At this time there was a cotton gin and cotton mill on East Mulberry Creek near the county line, owned by Levi Roberts. The grist mill and cotton gin at Lynchburg, was then operated by William P. Long. A large tannery was also in operation at Lynchburg about this time. A Mr. McJimsey is said to have opened the first store in Lynchburg some time prior to 1820, at which time William P. Long kept a general store in the same place. Barnes Clark, and, William Howard, William Bedford, Mr. ___ Bird and William Burdge were all among the earliest settlers in the county, and the three latter were among the pioneer school teachers. For a number of years after the first settlements were made, and before local mills were the people had to go all the way to Murfreesboro and to Mill Creek, near Nashville, to get their grinding done. John Guthrie with his family settled near the site of Dance & Waggoner’s Mill in 1820, and lived there until his death. William Tolley, whose death occurred in 1884, settled in this county in 1825. Samuel Edens and his family were living at Lynchburg at that time. Stephen M. Dance and family settled in 1826, on the farm where Dance now resides. Joseph Call and Rebecca, his wife, settled in 1834, on a farm in the present District No. 6, where he died in 1842. Mrs. Call subsequently had three husbands and outlived all of them, and died in 1850, in this county.

Davie Crockett, the great pioneer hunter and adventurer, resided for a time on of the East Mulberry in this county. Moses Crawford came to this county in 1809 and lived at or near Lynchburg, and attended the “sale of lots when the town was laid off in lots and sold.” The valleys were then covered with cane brakes. The Falcon of March 20, 1885, published a letter from Mr. Crawford dated at Grand Island, Nebraska, where he then resided. This letter refers to the early settlement of this county, and especially the great earthquake shock so sensibly felt here in 1811. He says “the prevalent idea was judgment is knocking at the door. The earth reeled as a drunken man. Mercy was sought and pardon found in many eases. Preaching every four weeks at my father’s house. Rev. Adams, of Flat Creek, was minister or pastor in charge. My father and mother were old members of said church for years before. People came from far to bear the scripture propounded. The ministers were Adams, Hardy, and Whittaker. The addition to the church was a large every Sabbath. There were none but Baptists in this neck of woods. They used to take the applicant for baptism to the ford, singing as they went. The place for immersion was near where Roundtree built his dam across Mulberry. Revivals stopped and drinking liquor began. I think I knew some of your ancestors. Two brothers by the name of Parks came there some time between 1815 and 1820, I think with the Smiths. Time rolled on and rolled them off. I soon shall follow.”

Crawford then says “after the war of 1812 closed, a clan of thieves was found in and about the present town of Lynchburg. In the neighborhood of Barnes Clark, a blacksmith three or four miles southeast of Lynchburg, stealing was as normal as going to church. A member of this clan by the name of Woods, or something else, was lynched till he told of, or showed the cave or warehouse of stolen goods. Old Hickory Jackson permitted the shooting of John Woods and a brother for stealing.”

About this time it, seems there were no laws in force here for the suppression of crime, and consequently the good people organized themselves into vigilance committees, and took the administration of justice into their own hands and “Judge Lynch” presided at their meetings. They selected the large beech tree which stood over the spring, afterward known as the town spring of Lynchburg, for a whipping post, and after arresting offenders and becoming satisfied of their guilt, tied them to this tree and authorized someone to administer the whipping, which was generally very severe. Uncle Jack Taylor says he saw about twenty persons whipped at that famous tree, and three others at another tree, near which he now resides. In this way public offenders were punished for all kinds of crime until the courts were established, and the civil authorities sufficiently empowered to enforce the laws for the protection of society, the noted lynching tree stood until about the year 1880.

Like most rural counties Moore’s industries have been limited principally to agriculture. Manufacturing, except in the article of whisky, has never been developed to any considerable extent. A few grist mills and saw mills, sufficient for the accommodation of the people, have been erected and operated. The manufacture of whisky has been extensive. In addition to what has already been mentioned, Samuel Isaacs and John Silvertooth erected a distillery on the German branch of East Mulberry, one and a half miles below Lynchburg, in about 1825; and near the same time another was erected by Mr. Isaacs, three miles below town.

Alfred Eaton erected a distillery in an early day, about two miles below Lynchburg. Calvin Stone erected one on West Mulberry in 1852. As the country improved numerous distilleries were constructed and operated, from time to time, in the territory composing the county. There are now fifteen registered distilleries in Moore County. Tolley & Eaton’s, established in 1877, at County Line, is said to be the largest sour mash distillery in the State. It has a capacity of 98 bushels of corn and 300 gallons of spirits per day. It is all run by machinery. Jack Daniels’, the next in size, was built in 1876, at the Cave Spring, at Lynchburg, where, it is claimed, the first one in the county was erected. The capacity of this distillery is 50 bushels of corn and 150 gallons of spirits per day. The other thirteen distilleries have an average capacity of 23 bushels of corn and 70 gallons of spirits per day. Then, when all are running, they will grind 447 bushels of corn per day and produce about 1,360 gallons of whisky. This is an immense industry. Suppose these fifteen distilleries to run their full capacity for six months, or 156 days, in the year, they would manufacture the immense amount of 202,160 gallons, or 5,054 barrels, of 40 gallons each; which, at $2 per gallon, would amount to the sum of $404,320. When these distilleries are running they consume, at an advanced price, all the surplus corn that the farmers can raise. They also consume thousands of cords of wood annually. They thus make for their farmers a home market for their grain and wood; and the revenue to the people of the county for the corn, wood and whisky is immense. The whisky manufactured here is known in commerce as Lincoln County Whisky, and is among the best manufactured in the United States. The capital employed in this branch of industry is said to pay 20 per cent. The manufacture of domestic goods is carried on, in the families, to a great extent.

The lands of the country are rich and productive, teeming with thousands of horses, mules, cattle, sheep and hogs. All kinds of grain, fruit and vegetables can be raised in great profusion. All kinds of grass, clover and millet grow to perfection. The highlands of the eastern part are especially adapted to the production of grape. The people are cordial and hospitable, primitive in their habits, and manufacture and wear a great deal of home made clothing.


History of Tennessee from the Earliest Time to the Present: Together with an Historical and a Biographical Sketch of from Twenty-Five to Thirty Counties of East Tennessee. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1887.

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