Gadsden was founded in 1858, when businesses from the nearby hamlet of Mason's Grove moved to be near the railroad. In 1868-69, when the Louisville and Nashville Railroad was built through Gadsden, the freight room of the old Union Station in Memphis was moved to Gadsden and served as a station there until 1972, when use was discontinued and the old structure was torn down.
Gadsden, in 1870, had fewer than a hundred residents, half-dozen one-story brick buildings, a cotton gin and a depot. At the formation of the county, Dr. Thomas J. Hicks of Gadsden was one of the commissioners appointed to survey and mark off the boundary lines of the new county. Before this Gadsden had been part of Madison County.
On a little hill rising on the west stood the school, the Church of Christ and the Baptist Church. On a hill, across the tracks to the east, was the Methodist Church, and immediately above the depot, the local hotel, a small frame two-story building.
William McLaughlin, b. 1815 - d. 1904, a brick mason, built the first brick building in Gadsden, and it was also supposed to have been the first such built in Crockett County. William McLaughlin is buried in the Salem cemetery. His great grandson, Clyde Byrd, resides with his wife, Fern, in Gadsden. His daughter Bobby Ann and her daughters Melinda and Julie Ann live in Jackson. Mr. Byrd is a former teacher, farmer, and coach. He has served his city as alderman. He was a magistrate from 1950 - 1961. He was a member of the 81st session of the General Assembly in 1959 as representative. From 1961 to the present he has been a tax auditor for the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Other descendants are Mrs. Horace Evans of Center, her daughter Leanne, and Richard and Rollie Byrd of Alamo.
Newton Harris, born 1801 in N.C., died in Gadsden in 1882. His wife was Nancy Spencer. They had twelve children. From them descend all of the Dr. Harrises of Bells. One son, Roland Green Harris, was the first sheriff of Crockett. A great granddaughter of Newton's lives where his house once stood. A crape myrtle bush, planted by Newton's wife, Nancy, is still living. Mrs. Myrtle Richardson Booker received her name from that bush.
In 1886, $100,000 worth of berries was shipped from Crockett County, $75,000 from Gadsden and $25,000 from Bells. The center of shipping was the L. and N. railroad station in Gadsden where, during peak years, between 2,500 and 5,00 crates have been shipped in a day. As many as 35 boxcars have been loaded there in a day. During the 1930's and 1940's trucks began to haul a great deal of the berries. Today the growing of berries has dwindled to a trickle because of the lack of hand labor necessary to pick the berries.
David Brandenberg and his brother-in-law, A. T. Horine, came from Maryland in 1867 to settle just west of Gadsden. Soon after, they introduced the growing of strawberries to this county. A daughter of David Brandenburg, Mrs. Ness Persell, still lives at her father's old home. She sleeps in the same corner of the same room in which she was born. July 15, 1974 was her eighty-ninth birthday. A granddaughter of Mr. Brandenburg's, Miss Audrey Young lives in Gadsden.
Robert and Elizabeth (Hathaway) Armstrong are both buried in the Raines Cemetery south of Gadsden. In 1870, they had a son born, and they gave him the name of John Nelson Armstrong. Prof. J. R. McDonald was teaching in Gadsden by 1873, and John Nelson Armstrong began his schooling under him. His Gadsden classmates included Fred James, Hiram Reeves, Willis Reeves, and Theophilus Humphreys. After finishing school in Gadsden, John Nelson and Fred James entered Freed Hardeman, where they roomed together. The second year there a group of Gadsden boys roomed together in a private home. This group consisted of John Nelson Armstrong, Fred James, Hiram Reeves, and Mose Dunlap. John went on the enter David Lipscomb when that institution was only two years old. He married the president's daughter, Woodson Harding. They left immediately after the wedding and there was a crowd at the depot in Gadsden when they arrived home. Mr. Armstrong later went on to become President of Cordell Christian College, Cordell Okla., President of Western Bible and Literary College of Odessa, Missouri, President of Harper College at Morrilton, Ark., and then President of Harding College in Harding, Ark. They often visited back in Gadsden. Dr. Fred James served the people of Gadsden many years.
Things were not so dull in Gadsden in the 1870's for the had a debating society and a literary society.
In the "Alamo Signal," issue of Feb. 16,1900, we find: "The Corporation election was held here Monday and the following officers were elected, S. W. Fullalove, Mayor; L. L. Cox, Recorder; and W. W. Richardson, T. M. Raines, Dr. Harris, and G. D. Brandenburg, Aldermen."
In the "Alamo Signal - Supplement and Trade Edition," Nov. 1903, the following Gadsden Directory is given. Cornatzar and Henderson, druggists; F. M. Thompson, groceries; F. M. Thompson, undertaker; Mrs. M. E. Richardson, Frank Richardson, manager, dry goods, furniture, and undertaker's furnishings; W. W. Richardson, groceries; G. M. Cornatzar, groceries; Mrs. A. F. Fullalove, S. W. Fullalove, manager, dry goods and groceries; Williams Bros., livery stable; L. L. Cox, harness shop; C. L. Miller, hotel; Isham Burrow, blacksmith; Ira Davis, barbershop; James Daniel, groceries. There were three physicians and surgeons, J. H. Harris, J. L. Fuller, and Fred James. The ministers were, Elder A. G. freed, pastor of the Christian Church, Rev. W. L. Duckworth of the M. E. Church, and Rev. B. W. Brown of the Baptist. A. R. Sensing was the depot agent. R. L. Mobley was principal of the school and Miss Mattie Lou Reeves was his assistant. Col. John W. Rosemon was President of the West Tennessee Horticultural Association.
The Superintendent of the Gadsden Schools is Frank Latham and the Principal is Charles Nolen Leggett. The system is housed on two separate campuses. The lower grades are located in the Graham School building on the Bells highway, and the other grades on the campus in town. Mr. Latham has been with the Gadsden school for twenty-nine years and Miss Audrey Young and Mrs. Fern Byrd have a combined total of eight-nine years.
Following is a list of the business establishments in Gadsden at the present time (1974).
Now serving, 1974, on the town council are; Mayor, Jeff Thomas Davis; Recorder, Archie Kincaid; Aldermen, Cecil Norville, Merlin Leggett, Charles Lloyd, and Herman G. Emison.
The preceding article was contributed to this web page, with permission of the Crockett County Historical Society, by Natalie Huntley.
This information was taken from an article on Gadsden, which was compiled and written by Mrs. C. C. James, and, published in the book "Crockett County Courthouse Centennial, 1874 - 1974", prepared by the Crockett County Historical Society.
This article is not to be reprinted, or used for any commercial purposes.
Saturday, 29-Apr-2000 13:27:57 MDT