Hickory Withe History


A withe is defined as a flexible twig or branch and it is because of the large number of hickory trees that were in this locality that the place was named Hickory Withe. The small settlement was also known by the name of Hickory Grove on an 1836 map of Fayette County and it was also known by the name of Withe. The nearby town of Arlington in Shelby County always has had a close association with Hickory Withe because of its location and the railroad depot in Arlington came to be known as Withe Depot due to its being the chief shipping point for the village of Hickory Withe in Fayette County.

Hickory Withe is in Civil District 7 about 15 miles west of Somerville. It was started about 1834 on a portion of a 73¾ acre tract in Range 3, Section 3 that was granted to Joseph and James Lenow by the State of Tennessee. The first settler was either Oren Knalls or William H. Russel They were bother here before 1830. William H. Russell operated one of the earliest businesses which was a storehouse and grocery business. He was in business in 1837 with Moses Waddel and Isaac Killough on about an acre of land out of the 28 acres that William H. Russell had settled on under an occupant claim. This grocery property was bought by the Lenow brothers at a public sale in Somerville in 1839.

The Lenows were from Southampton County Virginia. Joseph Lenow was the first postmaster of Hickory Withe in 1845. The Lenows were most successful before moving on to Shelby County about 1848. Before leaving Fayette County, Joseph Lenow was captain of the Fayette Calvary 72 well uniformed men who served in the Mexican War.

Adjoining the Lenow tract on the northeast was a 227 tract that belonged to George M. Bowers from South Carolina and the northwest lay the land of Jacob H. Young from Prosperity Newberry District, S. C. Jeffrey Murrell's land was north of Young's land separated only by Edmond Pott; Nearby was land that belonged to the heirs of Francis K. Broome. The Bowers and Lenows intermarried with the Broome family. A little to the east lay the land of Martha Dowdy and northeast other land was that of Richard Tatum. 

Samuel A. Leake taught the first school in 1846. The first doctor was Dr George M. Young. He was followed by Dr. James W. Karr. Dr. Karr was1 the son of William Karr from South Carolina who settled in the area in 1833. Another early businessman at Hickory Withe was Lewis C. Tresvant who had a co-partnership with James M. Lane as merchants trading under the firm of Trezevant and Lane. Trezevant sold out to Lane in 1847. That was the year that Trezevant advertised in a Memphis paper that "Hickory Withe Springs", situated 27 miles from Memphis, would again be open the first of June for the reception of visitors. He said that \ had roads made ample preparations for accommodating the public. "The known healing qualities of these springs make them a favorite watering place".

The first church deed was in 1838 when Richard Dowdy deeded 3 acres church erected however, was said to have been by the Old School Presbyterians in 1841 with Rev. Monroe T. Allen as the first pastor. In 1842, the Mt, Pleasant Church congregation was divided so as to form a congregation in Macon. There were a number of Presbyterian Church deeds in Hickory Withe are in the 1840's and 1850's. In June 1859 (Church Minutes) the "Mount Pleasant Society" Church was formed with preaching to be supplied by the Cumberland Presbyterians. Pastor was Rev. Marion Zeflner with Elders being P. H, Cole, J. M. Lane, Bartley Kyle, Pleasant Word, J. Q. Murrell, Hardy McCully, B. F. Murrell and Thomas Cody. In 1860, Dr. James W. Karr deeded land where the church property in use today is now situated.

In 1854, James M. Lane deeded land for the Hickory Withe Academy which had been erected on the east side of the church near the Stage Road. He was on of the academy trustees along with George Thompson, William Karr, Charles Lynn, Peter H. Cole, James W. Baker and Jacob Young.

Charles Lynn, above, represented Fayette County in the Tennessee Legislature in 1871-73, Lynn and two of his wives were buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Hickory Withe. In 1878, Hickory Withe had three dry goods and grocery stores, a wagon shop, a blacksmith shop, 1 male and female academy with about 50 pupils, two churches - The Old School Presbyterian and the Cumberland Presbyterian, two doctors and a population of about 60 people.