I was asked about the history of Brownsville. Here is some of the information I used for a history report in 1964.(my part – Haywood Co.1785-1874) I remember sitting in the Brownsville Library for hours then typing the report.Now in 2018 taking apart report scanning then correcting a lot easier. What a way to spend a rainy Saturday. Plus taking some time researching the plane crash off Hwy 70 between Brownsville and Stanton in 1953.
The plane crash mystery will be solved. I will post the story, it just may take some time
This is my idea of having fun..
In 1785, Henry Rutherford, along with an entourage from North Carolina, conducted an excursion surveying West Tennessee and the Cumberland, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers. They came upon a small stream named “Okeena” by the Native Americans. Okeena was later named Forked Deer by the surveying party. Rutherford called this point “Key Corner.”The road leading from the west into Brownsville is also named Key Corner due to its origin from this designation.At the time of Rutherford’s land survey, the land was occupied by Native Americans and the soil was a mixture of clay and sand, ideal for the growth of cotton and grains. As a result of the treaty of 1818, the Chickasaw Indians sold their interest in the West Tennessee land located between the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers. Tennessee’s acquisition of this land spurred interest from speculators, especially those from North Carolina who moved to the Tennessee area by boat, wagon, and foot after the Panic of 1819, which instigated the migration of many North Carolinians to the agriculturally rich land of West Tennessee
In 1819, Colonel Archibald Murphy of North Carolina sent Herndon Haralson to oversee his land grants in Madison County. Haralson was elected chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Madison County in 1821 and later moved to Haywood County after its establishment to take part in handling Haywood County affairs. Haywood County was once part of Madison County to the east until the county was separated in a legislative act in 1823. At that time, Haywood County was named after Judge John Haywood from North Carolina.
Colonel Richard Nixon of North Carolina was one of the first settlers in Haywood County in 1821. Colonel Nixon’s father, a Revolutionary War soldier, received a land grant of 3,600 acres in Haywood County for his services in the war. Nixon inherited the land from his father and settled near a tributary of the Hatchie River, later named Nixon Creek. Soon after settlement, Nixon was appointed a justice of the peace and built one of the first log houses in the county, a building measuring twenty eight feet by thirty three feet, which was used as the Court of Pleas and Quarterly.7 Nixon was also one of Brownsville’s pioneer merchants.
In 1823, Haywood County comprised 575 square miles divided into fifteen Civil Districts with the eleventh to fourteenth lying to the north of the Forked Deer River. Geographically located toward the center of Haywood County, Brownsville was selected as the county seat through a legislative act on October 16, 1824 and named after General Jacob Jennings Brown of Pennsylvania for his contributions in the War of 1812.8 General Brown was said to have had a trading post on the southeast corner of the town square even before the treaty with the Chickasaw Indians.
Land owners built and maintained roads connecting Brownsville to the Haywood County lines. These roads were the only land-based means of transportation before the stage coach from Jackson to Memphis came through Denmark, Brownsville, Durhamville, Covington, and Randolph in 1836, and the rail system was introduced in 1846.13 The Hatchie and the Forked Deer Rivers afforded boats transportation access. In 1827, the Red Rover was the first steamboat to come to Haywood County and navigate between Brownsville Landing and Bradford’s Landing. Piloted by a Captain Newman, the Red Rover was the only steamboat operating in Brownsville traveling up the Hatchie River in the 1820s until prominent planter Thomas Bond established his own steamboat in 1829 to carry his merchandise.
In 1824, the Haywood County census documented 265 families; by 1832 Brownsville had a population of four hundred.14 The first lawyers to locate in Brownsville were W. R. Hess and John W. Strother. The first physicians were William C Bruce, Johnson, Barbee, Dillard, Dorthel, and Penn. The pioneer merchants included Hiram Bradford, Richard W. Nixon, Thomas Dobbins, James Smith, E.S. Tappan, Hubbard, J.R. Boyd, Francis S Cox, C. Guyer, L.R. Leonard, J.C. Jones, Valentine Sevier, Houston & Mulholland, W.E. Owen, R. W. Jones, M. & J.D. Ware, and Wafford & Coleman.15 Businesses operating in Brownsville during the early part of its settlement included: John Hardwick, cabinet maker; W.J. Berson, silversmith and jeweler; C.W. Pracht, carriage builder; Mr. Farrington, cotton gins; J.J. Crowley, stone cutter and marble fabricator; J. Eader, window sash and door factory; J. David McLeod, tailor; a brick factory; and a E.W. Capell, bookstore that opened in 1857 on the west side of the square. E.S. Tappen built the first brick store building on the square in 1834. The first newspaper printed in Brownsville was The Phoenix in 1837 and Brownsville received telegraph service in 1848. Many of Brownsville’s merchants built homes either on the same lot as their store or near the downtown square on Main, College, Washington, and Lafayette Streets.
One of Brownsville’s most influential merchants at this time was Hiram Bradford. Mr. Bradford bought one of the first lots on the southeast section of the town square where he built a storeroom and a house. There was a large oak tree on this lot, which Bradford cut down and hand sawed into slabs with which he built his twelve- foot-by-fourteen-foot store. His establishment soon became the only store “where a yard of tape or paper of pins could be had between Jackson and Memphis.”Bradford, an enterprising man, next established Bradford’s Landing on the Hatchie River ten miles south of Brownsville’s landing and erected a saw mill (hand-driven).He also built the first wood frame hotel that remained until 1868 when the Exchange Hotel was constructed in its place.
Cotton was first planted in Haywood County in 1828 and soon became the basis for Brownsville’s agricultural economy. Hiram Bradford built the first cotton gin in the county and others soon followed. In 1829, the horse propelled grist mill was introduced and later a large cotton mill and compress in 1874. With access to two rivers and several county roads by wagon, Brownsville had adequate means to transport cotton products and other agricultural crops. By the 1840s, Haywood County was one of the leading cotton producers in Tennessee
* information from the Brownsville Haywood Co Library
Now the history of Brownsville and Haywood Co can be found online on various