Madison County has an area of about 531 square miles, and an elevation of 400 feet above the sea. The first settlers of the County were mainly from Middle Tennessee; these, however, had come originally from Virginia and North Carolina, some from South Carolina
The streams of the county are all comparatively small, shallow and sluggish. With the exception of Big Black and Clover Creeks, which are tributaries of the Hatchie, the streams all belong to the Forked Deer system. Middle Fork, of Forked Deer, enters the county from Carroll near the northeast corner of the county, and passes southwesterly through the county and enters Gibson County about sixteen miles northwest from Jackson. South Fork, of Forked Deer, enters what was the southeast corner of the county, and passes in a western direction out of the county. Little Middle Fork enters Madison at a little south of the center on the eastern line of the county, and unites with South Fork about four miles east of Jackson. Greer Creek is a small tributary of Little Middle Fork. Turkey, Jones, Johnson and Cub Creeks are tributaries of South Fork. Dyer Creek, which rises about two miles north of Jackson, empties into Middle Fork of Forked Deer River. From their shallow beds these streams are subject to frequent overflows
The first settlers came to Madison County in 1819-20. Adam R. Alexander, who had charge of the land office for the Tenth District, settled about two miles northwest of Jackson. His place was formerly called Alexandria. He not only held the land office, but was also a justice of the peace. Robert H. Dyer, who was one of the first justices, also settled not far from Alexander’s place. Joseph Lynn, one of the commissioners for the organization of the county opened a farm about three niles west of Jackson. John T. Porter, one of the first commissioners, after the organization became the first register of the county. He lived near South Fork about three miles west of Jackson. Near Porter lived James Brown. Near Alexandria lived J. H. Raygin, a brother-in-law of Alexander. About five miles west of Jackson, beyond South Fork, James Cockrell settled with his family in September, 1821. W. G. Cockrell, his son, is now the efficient county superintendent. On the south side of Forked Deer were Frank Herron, Henning Pace and Benjamin Blythe; also Foster and Richard Golden, whose place was put in nomination for the county seat. On Johnson Creek were I3onj nun Blythe, before mentioned, John and James McClish, Wm. Cooper, Nathaniel Robinson and Thomas Lacey. In the vicinity of Denmark, Thomas and Richard Sanders settled in 1822. Col. Williamson settled on Big Black some time during the same year. James M. Jelks settled northwest of Jackson in 1821. In the same neighborhood were time Mitchells and others. In a short time there was a settlement sufficient for a school. A log school-house was built in that neighborhood in 1822, which was standing a few years ago. A man named Tyner was the pioneer teacher.
Capt. Bates, now of the Sixteenth District, is said to have assisted in building the first court house in 1822. The first marriage in the county was between B. S. Jones and Canada H. Curtis. The ceremony was performed by A. B. Alexander, January 1, 1822. Samuel Jones, son of Elijah Jones, is said to have been the first child born in the county. ______ Robertson, born at the house of Charles Sevier during a temporary sojourn of the parents, was the first child born in Jackson. A daughter of Samuel Swan, a small grocer, was the first female child. Jesse Russel came to the county in January, 1823, and his marriage, which occurred a few months afterward, was the first marriage in Jackson. Robert Russell, son of Jesse, was the first male child of a permanent resident. John Brown, a prominent lawyer of Jackson, son of Dr. John F. Brown, is but a few months younger than Rob. Russell. Col. Robt. I. Chester, born in North Carolina in 1793, came to Washington County in 1796, and to Madison County in 1823. He is still vigorous at ninety-four.
History of Madison County transcribed by David Donahue
In Goodspeed history
The early settlers had few of the luxuries of life, but plenty of the substantial things. Corn furnished most of the “staff of life.” This was eaten as hominy, or made into meal, by beating in a mortar, grinding in a hand-mill, or a small water-mill. James Cockrell brought the first hand-mill to the county in September, 1821 This served not only for his own family, but also for his neighbors. One of the Jameses built the first mill on Wallick Creek, near Cotton Grove, in 1821. This mill had a capacity of five bushels per day, or ten bushels in twenty-four hours. A. R. Alexander built a mill on his land in 1822; Duncan McIver one on his land on Jones Creek, and Ezekiel McCoy one on Trace Creek, also in 1822. In 1823 George W. Still built a mill on his forty acre tract, on Trace Creek, Clark Spencer one on Cane Creek, T. J. Hardeinan one on Pleasant Run, Obediah Mix one on Jones Creek, and Gabriel Chandler one on Young Creek; Col. Williamson built his mill on Big Black in February, 1823, and Newsom’s mill, on Meredith Creek, was built in 1824. The rapid increase of population at this time brought about a rapid increase in the number of mills.