Moore County, Tennessee Early History

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Moore County lies in the south central portion of Tennessee, and is bounded on the north by Bedford, east by Coffee, south by Franklin, and west by Lincoln. It contains about 170 square miles, and its surface is greatly diversified. About one-half the county lies on the Highland Rim, and the remainder of the county lies in the Central Basin. The eastern portion has a high, flat, slightly-rolling surf ace, known as the “barrens,” which breaks off to the south and west into ridges and ravines, some of the latter having a depth of 300 to 400 feet. These ridges are spurs which shoot out into the valley of the Elk and Mulberry tributaries, the valleys constituting a part of the broken southern division Central Basin which is partially cut off by Elk Ridge. These ridges are very fertile. They are composed mainly of the Nashville limestone, upon which rests the black shale or Devonian, and upon this shale rests as a protecting rock, the siliceous layers of the barren group, which is characteristic of the barren portion of the Highland Rim. Marble of a fair quality is found in the county.

The eastern portion, known as the “barrens,” is covered mostly with a light growth of scrubby oak timber, and the soil has a whitish clay surface, with porous, leachy subsoil, and is very sterile, except for the cultivation of fruits and tobacco. Elk Ridge is very fertile, and almost as productive as the best valley lands. It is heavily timbered with poplar, oak, chestnut, walnut, sugar, linden and locust. The valleys of the Elk, Hurricane, Mulberry and their tributaries, have a rich alluvial soil, which is very productive. The staple crops of the county are wheat, corn, rye and oats. Blue grass is indigenous to the soil. Clover, timothy and most other grasses yield bountifully with proper cultivation. Raising livestock is carried on to some extent, and the county, with its numerous springs, is well adapted to dairy farming, however, it is not carried on to any considerable extent. The farms are not in as high a state of cultivation as they are capable of being brought. A good turnpike road leading from Shelbyville to Fayetteville passes directly through the county, via County Line and Lynchburg. The county is high, healthy, and well drained. It has no swamps to contaminate its atmosphere with malarial poison.

The first settlements in the territory now composing Moore County were made near the beginning of the present century, when bears, wolves, deer, and all kinds of game were abundant. Just when and by whom the first actual settlement was made cannot be stated, but the names of a considerable number of the earliest settlers can be given. William B. Prosser came from North Carolina and settled in this County in 1806, and William Spencer came in 1808. Isaac Forrester, born in South Carolina in 1790, settled here prior to the war of 1812, in which he participated. In 1816 he married Miss Matilda Hodges, and both are yet living. They are the parents of fourteen children, eleven of whom are still living. They have had eighty nine grandchildren, sixty nine of who are living, and they have had nearly seventy great-grandchildren, sixty of whom are living, and two great-great-grandchildren, both living. A remarkable family; certainly they have obeyed the Scriptural injunction “Be ye fruitful, multiply, etc.”

Mrs. Wiseman, who was also born in 1790, is still living in this county. Frederick Waggoner and family settled in the county before the war of 1812, in which he participated in the battle of the Horse Shoe Bend. Woodey B. Taylor and his wife, Nancy (Seay) Taylor, parents of John H. Taylor (Uncle Jack as he was familiarly called), came from Georgia with their family in 1809, and settled on East Mulberry, about two miles below the site of Lynchburg. There was only one house then between their settlement and Lynchburg, and that one was at the place now owned by Mrs. B. H. Berry. At that time there were only two log cabins in Lynchburg, one where Dr. Salmon now lives, and the other at Mrs. Alfred Eaton‘s place; Mr. Joel Crane then lived in the former. The same year, 1809, Andrew Walker came from South Carolina, and settled upon and mostly cleared the farm, and soon thereafter erected the house where Smith Alexander now lives. Samuel Isaacs then lived on the Jack Daniel‘s farm, and Daniel Holman lived in the next house down the valley. Anthony and Thomas Crawford, James Clark and Champion Bly were then living near Lynchburg. Mrs. Agnes Motlow, widow of a soldier of the war of the Revolution, settled in this county in 1809 or 1810, with her five sons, Zadoch, William, James, John and Felix, and two daughters, Elizabeth, who married Andrew Walker, of whom mention has been made, and Lauriet, who married Mr. —- Massey. The Motlow family in this part of the State originated from the above ancestors. Reuben Logan settled here soon after l800, and had many successful encounters with the wild animals. He killed many bear and deer, and was a soldier in the war of 1812.

James Cox and Mary, his wife, were among the first children born within the limits of Moore County. Dempsey Sullivan and Naomi, his wife, were born in this county in 1811 and 1812, respectively.

Michael Tipps settled in the county in 1813. His wife, Leah Scivally, was born here in 1810, and she is still living. Thomas H. Shaw, father of elder Shaw, born at Perryville, Kentucky, in 1798, settled in this county before the war of 1812, in which he was a soldier under General Jackson. He married a daughter of Thomas Roundtree, and was a magistrate for many years, and died in 1872. In 1815, James P. Baxter and family settled on where John F. Taylor now resides. He was a county surveyor thirty three years, and was a member of the commission to locate the Creek Indians. John F. Baxter was born in 1827, on the farm where he has always resided and still resides, without ever having been away from home seven days at a time. James S. Ervin settled in the county in 1816 and Martin L. Parks in 1818. The latter was an officer in the war of 1812. About 1812, Mr. Brown and others erected the first grist mill in the county near where Jack Daniels’ distillery now stands. Soon thereafter a distillery was established there, as probably the first one in the county.


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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