The community of New Castle dates to the 1820’s, when the Bowers plantation (later owned by the Chapleau’s) was established at the intersection of Somerville and Newcastle Roads in west central Hardeman County and the 12,000-acre, Oscar Polk plantation was established on Hickory Valley Road. Both plantation houses still exist in the community and are beautifully restored. The town of New Castle sprang up approximately two miles north of these plantations, after J.J. Polk opened a store in the area during the 1840’s. The store, as well as the town, was destroyed by a tornado in 1909. Wilson Well Company sits on the Polk Store site today. In addition to its businesses and churches New Castle had academies for both boys and girls.
Pine Top/Piney Grove
Prior to 1850, eighty farms bordered Piney Creek, in the beautiful hills of northeastern Hardeman County. The settlement thrived as Piney Grove until 1877, when a post office was established near Piney Grove Baptist Church and the community became known as Pine Top. A natural ground cover of wild peas and rich river bottom soil throughout the area supported the farming community. The farms were renowned for the high quality of their meat and produce. The goods of Piney were in such demand, that in 1877, a group of Toone businessmen paid for the building of a nine-mile road between the two communities to help the farmers transport their products across the Hatchie River bottom. Piney also had a clay pipe and two jug factories that shipped wares to markets in Brownsville.
An old iron railroad bridge across the Hatchie River in District 12 in central Hardeman County is virtually all that is left of the community of Serles. In addition to the bridge, three original houses, a small store and several barns are still standing. Serles grew briefly around the turn of the century, after the Gulf Mobile and Northern Railroad extended tracks through the area and built the iron bridge across the river in 1918. Shortly thereafter, the Morgan-Hitchcock Company, of Jackson, purchased the land by the bridge for its timber. The company built a number of small houses and a larger boarding house as living quarters for their lumber crews and dug an artesian well in the center of town to supply fresh water for the community. A grocery store, post office and one-room schoolhouse were also constructed. Large shipments of timber were transported by rail from the area. Wagon wheel spokes, made of red and white oak, were manufactures at Serles and shipped around the country. American Holly trees in the area were harvested for use in making spindles for mills.
In the 1820’s settlers moving into Hardeman County crossed the Hatchie River by ferry a half-mile south of Hatchie Town, in an area that was once a trading post and ceremonial meeting grounds for the Choctaw Indians. After a Dutch family established a white trading post at the ferry crossing, settlers established a community in the area they named Vildo. The Vildo settlement was later moved away from the river because of the prevalence of malaria and other mosquito-born diseases. Vildo was laid out in town lots in the early 1900’s, shortly after the railroad built tracks through the area. In its prime, the community contained more than 40 homes, 9 stores, a gristmill, a sawmill, a cotton gin, a school, a stockyard and five physicians. Residents exported native American Holly all over the country during the Christmas season and was known for its “traveling baseball team” prior to WWI. Little remains of the once thriving community today.