Maury County Tennessee
Part of the American History and Genealogy Project


Business and Business Men in Columbia, 1820 - 1860

Section 3 of the above act required the commissioner to cause a jail to be built, on some part of a lot not sold, not on the square, other laws to the contrary notwithstanding. Section 5 required the commissioners to build a market-house on the Public Square for the sale of lots. On November 14, 1809, the commissioners of Columbia were authorize to; appropriate money from the sale of lots to purchase a bell and clock for the com house. The exact location of the county seat was attended with much difficulty, as conflicting interests divided the opinions of the commissioners. The places taken under serious advisement were the present site of Columbia, and the place owned by Gen. Roberts, a few miles from Columbia, on the north side of the river. It is claimed it received a majority vote of the commissioners, but on reconsideration the vote was given for Columbia.

The place selected was either covered with heavy timber or around the three large ponds; one marked by the site of the Bethell House was covered with heavy canebrakes, where grew very tall cane. Where the Masonic Temple stands was a crossing of timber for footmen over one of these ponds. The timber was soon cleared away, the cane destroyed and the ponds filled or drained, and the infant city started.

One of the first business houses, erected in Columbia was the Indispensable Inn. Jeremiah Cherry owned a large inn in Columbia in 1810; how much earlier it was built is not known. Peter Cheatham built an inn a little later near where Black's livery stable now stands, but on the opposite side of the street. Maj. Lewis kept a house of entertainment near where the Guest House now stands, over half a century ago. He was followed in the same house by a Mr. Ransom. The first store in the place, it is thought, was built by John Hodge. This stood where Mr. Taylor Voss now lives, and was a three-cornered brick, the first of the kind in the place and stood on the south side of the Square. The main building of Hodge was of logs, and the brick was added to it.

William W. Berryhill, another store-keeper, had a store also on the south side of the Square. Berryhill's building was of logs, and was two stories in height.

Peter Coliea kept what was called the Indian store. Here most of the Indians did their trading. They came in droves, with their pack ponies loaded with peltries and such articles as they had for traffic. They would remain a number of days in town, and would spend what money and trade they might have in whisky and trinkets. They were particularly fond of chinaware.

Another store was kept by a widow, Mrs. McCain, as early, it is thought, as 1818. She had two sons, John and Joseph, who assisted her in her work. She was the first female store-keeper in the town or county, and was a woman of taste and culture. Her house was a favorite resort at the time for the ladies for tea parties and social gatherings.

Simon Johnson was another pioneer merchant in Columbia, whose place of business was on East Market Street near Black's Livery stable.

David Martin had a small store near the present site of the Gust House, Patrick McGuire kept a store near the present place of Titcomb & Frierson's drug store, he became quite wealthy, and was the owner of a large quantity of real estate.

Other hotel keepers not mentioned above were John Anderson, the father of a very prominent gentleman well known throughout the county, and Mrs. Hocks, whose domineering over her husband is remembered to this day.

The first physicians were Drs. Estes and O'Reilly, who located in or near Columbia bout the time the town was laid out. These were both good physicians and high-toned gentlemen. Dr. DePriest settled in Columbia in 1809, and was a man of promise, but committed suicide. Two others were Drs. McNiel and Sansom, each of whom came to Columbia in 1810. In addition to these were Dr. McJimsey, who came about 1813, and Dr. Graves, a man of very fine ability, who came some years later.

A paper-mill was run by a Mr. Whiting, but the date is not remembered.

There was a coppersmith, by the time of Monroe or McMunn; his shop stood where William Woods' shop now stands. He as considered a very fine workman, and manufactured materials for copper stills.

The first hatter was Elisha Uzzell. As imported hats were not of easy access his work was in great demand. A man named Burns was a leather-dresser and glove-maker, as deer were then plentiful his work was largely confined to the dressing of deer-skins, Burns' Spring was named in honor of Burns.

The first saddlers were William and Peter I. _torhies, John Lowder, and a Mr. Kirkpatrick.

The first cabinet workmen were Mathias Harfield and Purcell, the latter was also a carpenter, and did a considerable business, Mr. Vaught, who came to Columbia in 1809, was tutored by Mr. Purcell, and followed his side till the outbreak of the war, and was rendered unfit for work by age. It is claimed by him that he built more houses in and around Columbia than any other man in the county.

At an early period, 1814, there were two rope factories; one of these was owned by a man named McQuidley, and stood where Shepard's grocery store stands.

Mebley built a powder-mill at White's Spring, a place well suited by nature for the mill. The saltpeter was obtained at a place about twelve miles southwest of Columbia. The first mill was built by Mr. Henderson, and it stood where the jail now stands. This was a horse-mill, and was afterward changed into a cotton-gin. The first water-mill was built by Mr. Wallace, near where Sewell's mill now stands.

The first silversmith was a man named Cressy, who came to the place about 1814; he was followed by James Wilkins, in 1816, who reached the age of almost four score and ten years. Samuel Northen took up his residence in Columbia in 1820. Soon after him came two of his relatives, James and William R. Hedge. These men prospered in their business and became wealthy.

At this period nearly every man was his own shoe-maker, and frequently furnished hides to the numerous tan-yards, with which every neighborhood abounded; there were three of these near Columbia. One of these was owned by Joseph Hart, near what has since been called Noah's Ark, and another, further down, owned by Capt. M. Helm. The latter was run till a comparatively recent date; a third one was owned by John M. Smoot. The last named stood near White's Spring.

Alexander Laird has the honor of having been the first brick-mason, and Thomas Norton the first plasterer and painter.

It is suggested that many of the business men over lapped into more than ten year periods.

Business men, as late as 1820

William Berryhill
E. H. Chaffin
Edward W. Dale
David Gillespie
John Hodge
James Leftwick
Caleb Longley
John T. Moore
Patrick McGuire
R. A. Vail
James Walker

Between 1820 and 1830

Cooper & Hill
W. J. Dale
Adlai O. Harris
Joseph Herndon
Henry Langtry
Abram Looney
James R. Plummer
Samuel McDowell
Patrick McGuire
J. S. Walker
Evan Young

From 1830 to 1840

W. J. Dale
Frierson & Company
Henry Langtry
Looney & Sons
James R. Plummer
T. S. Walker
Evan Young

These were all general stores, the divisions into special lines not having yet been made. From a paper at hand it is learned that in 1834 Columbia contained 1,500 inhabitants, had 1 college, 1 academy, 4 common schools, 1 printing office, 3 churches, 3 divines, 13 lawyers, 5 doctors, 20 stores, 3 taverns, 2 groceries, 4 blacksmiths, 3 brick-layers, 8 carpenters, 4 cabinet-makers, 3 gunsmiths, 2 hatters, 2 painter-, 4 saddlers, 4 shoe-makers, 3 silversmiths, 4 tailors, 2 tanners, 2 tinners, 2 wagon-maker, 1 cotton-gin, 2 carding machines and 1 bank-Union Bank.

1840 to 1850 the leading business men were

W. J. Dale
John H. Ewin
Frierson & Company
J. W. Gamelin
J. B. Graves
A. O. Harris
Hayden & Fisher
Henry Langtry
J. & A. Morgan
Looney & Brothers
Porter & Partee
James H. Plummer
Evan Young

1850 and 1860

Between  there were:
James Akin
W. J. Dale
L. H. Duncan
Gardner Frierson
James M. Larkin
James R. Plummer
Smith & Davidson

Columbia Mini Gazetteer
Present Principal Business Men and Houses

Dry Goods Groceries Livery stables
Mayes & Frierson
McEwen & Dale
O. Cower
A. Gross
George Hedge
Most Hedge
E. W. Gamble (wholesale/retail)
Chaffin & Brothers
Niehlls & Nichols
Watt Embry
R. Holding
Hinds & Peters
Mayes, Dodson & Coperton
Moore & Prewett
J. P. McGaw
W. A. Ruttle & Company
Clothing Hardware Grain Dealers
Rosenthal & Brothers
L. Ottenross
Mayes & Frierson
Elam & Ewing
Street, Embry & Company
Andrews & McGregor
McLemore & Brothers
E. W. Gamble
R Holding & Cochran
Furnishing Goods Boots, Shoes, Hats Furniture
George Wilkes R. W. Walkins W J. Oakes
Drug Stores Millinery Stores Hotels
Rains & Son
Titcomb & Frierson
Joseph Towler
W. P. Baldridge
Mrs. Jones
Mrs. Ruttle
J. B. Munter
Bethell House
Guest House and
Nelson House
Jewelers Book Store Saw and Planing-mill
W. Abe Smith
J. H. James
S. Comstock R. C. Brown

 Maury County | AHGP Tennessee

Source: History of Tennessee, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1886


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