Montgomery County Tennessee
Part of the American History and Genealogy Project

 

Towns, Villages and Settlements

Montgomery is one of the northern counties of Middle Tennessee. It is traversed by the Cumberland River, which divides it into two sections; the south side being largely a mineral and timber region, while the north side is a rich agricultural county, producing a superior quality of that type of tobacco peculiar to the Clarksville Tobacco District, of which it is the center. One of the principal tributaries of the Cumberland, on the north, is Red River, a considerable stream which has its mouth at Clarksville, the county seat of Montgomery County.

Prince's Station

The earliest permanent stations within the limits of Montgomery County, were Prince's, Clarksville, and Nevill's. Sometime in the year 1782, a company including Frances, William and Robert Prince, emigrated from the Spartanburg District, in South Carolina to the Cumberland settlements. They probably stopped for a while at Kilgore's or Maulding's Station, near what is now Cross Plains, in Robertson County. At any rate, a short time after their arrival they erected Prince's Station, about a hundred yards from the Cave springs, where Felix Northington formerly lived, near Pert Royal. This station was also on Red River, arid not far from the abandoned station of Renfroe's. The wife of William Prince having died soon after his arrival, he returned to his original State, where he collected a second company of immigrants, whom he conducted to Prince's Station. Of this company were James Ford, and his brother-in-law William Mitcherson. The settlers in the neighborhood several times found it necessary to retire to the station for safety, but the station itself was never attacked by the Indians.

Clarksville

Clarksville was located on the east bank of the Cumberland River, just above the mouth of Red River. It was the judicious eye of John Montgomery that first discovered in the rugged hills that lie in the fork of these two streams a superior site for the location of a town. He and Martin Armstrong entered the land in January, 1784. In the fall of the same year they had it surveyed, and Armstrong laid off the plan of a town on it. They named the town Clarksville, in honor of General George Rogers Clark, the distinguished Virginia soldier, who was personally known to many of the early settlers of Tennessee. A fort or block house was erected at the spring near the present foundry, and a number of lots were sold. The purchasers being desirous that the town should be established by Legislative authority, in November, 1785, the General Assembly of North Carolina established it a town and a town common, agreeable to the plan. What became of the town common I do not know.

The commissioners named in the act were John Montgomery, Anthony Crutcher, William Polk, Anthony Bledsoe, and Lardner Clark. It was the second town established in Middle Tennessee, Nashville, established in 1784, being the first. It has had a slow but substantial and steady growth, maintaining all along, as it does to-day, its position as the second city in Middle Tennessee.

In 1788 a tobacco inspection was established at Clarksville by the North Carolina Legislature, being the first established in the State. The fact is remarkable as showing how early the cultivation of tobacco came to be an important industry around Clarksville, and as marking the inception of a tobacco market which continues to be one of the most important in the West.

In the same year Tennessee County, later called Montgomery County, was established.

The first and second sessions of the Court of Pleas and quarter sessions were held at the house of Isaac Tittsworth, on Person's Creek; the third at the house of William Grimbs; and the fourth and all subsequent sessions in the town of Clarksville. A rude log courthouse was erected on the public square, with the most primitive conveniences. Indeed I do not know that it had so much as seats for the jurors to sit on, until 1793, when the court ordered James Adams to make them. (First Session and Jury List)

The public square, which was then called the "public lot," and the streets were "cleared out" and "worked" just as the country roads were. Down on Spring Street there was a prison and stocks, and five acres surrounding the same known as the "prison bounds," beyond which the unfortunate prisoner for debt was not permitted to go.

The earliest sketch of Clarksville I have seen is in the United States Gazetteer, a book published in 1795. It describes the place as the "principal town in Tennessee County, in the territory of the United States, south of the River Ohio. It is pleasantly situated on the east side of Cumberland River, at the mouth of Red River. It contains about thirty dwellings, a courthouse and jail"

(Clarksville, postal village, capital of Montgomery County, Tennessee, 45 north west of Nashville, 730 W. Situated at the junction of Red River, with Cumberland River. A Complete Descriptive And Statistical Gazetteer Of The United States Of America, By Daniel Haskel, A. M and J. Calvin Smith, Published By Sherman & Smith, 1843 )

The Earliest Inhabitants of Clarksville

John Montgomery
Anthony Crutcher
William Crutcher
Amos Bird
George Bell,
William Bell
Hugh F. Bell
Robert Nelson
Aeneas McAllister

Arrived in 1794 and 1795

John Easten
Daniel James
James Adams
William Montgomery, son of
John Montgomery, killed in 1794
Philip Gilbert
Robert Dunning
Hugh McCallum
Benj. Hawkins
Andrew Snoddy

There was no church house in the place for a number of years. When the people met for public worship, it was usually in the courthouse, or in a private residence. The Rev. Green Hill, a Methodist minister who afterwards settled in Williamson County, kept a journal of a "trip from North Carolina to Tennessee, commenced May, 1796," in which he records that on Sunday, the 24th of July, he "went to Clarksville, and preached from Mark 1 : 15 to an attentive people. Here I met Brother Stephenson, who also preached; he is a Republican Methodist, so called. We lodged together at Robert Dunning's and conversed freely."

Nevill's Station

About the time Clarksville was settled, George and Joseph B. Nevill, who were natives of South Carolina, immigrated to the Cumberland settlements, and built a fort on Red River between Prince's and Clarksville, at the Thomas Trigg old place.

Palmyra

The earliest settlements in Montgomery County were along Red River, on the north side of Cumberland. It was ten or twelve years later before any permanent settlements were made on the south side of Cumberland. The earliest and most important of these was Palmyra, situated on the south side of Cumberland River at the mouth of Deason's Creek. It has the singular distinction of having been the first port of entry in the West. It was laid out by Dr. Morgan Brown, and established by legislative authority in 1796. About 1802, Dr. Brown built in this neighborhood the first iron works operated in Montgomery County. He also kept a general store, as well as a water mill. He removed to Kentucky in 1808. At that time his account books showed the name of many of the settlers in that part of the country. (Palmyra Pioneers)

Montgomery County | AHGP Tennessee

Source: History of Tennessee, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1886

 

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