Tennessee Colony History Written in 1936
Tennessee Colony. The beautiful little town of Tennessee Colony took its name from its first settlers. It was in 1847 when a wagon train of colonists, from Alabama and Tennessee, arrived in Anderson County seeking homes. The fertile valleys, blooming slopes plentiful wood and water supplies of a section fifteen miles northwest of Palestine pleased them most, they elected to remain. They called themselves the “Tennessee Colony,” in affectionate remembrance of the old home.
Prominent among these first families were: Mr. and Mrs. G. F. Shelton, Mr. M. A. Avant, Col. Thomas Hanks, Mr. John Wolverton, Mr. Joe Tucker, Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Seagler. Practically all brought negro slaves with them. Mr. Peter Hughes, deceased, financier of Palestine, who was a resident of the Colony for about eleven years, came about 1867. Thomas Shelton opened a carpenter shop for the express purpose of making various articles of household furniture. Shop was closed when its patriotic proprietor answered the South’s call to arms in 1861.
A dramatic incident occurred in 1860 when there was an uprising of the negroes. A crowd of blacks (presumably run-aways) from Louisiana and Mississippi had come in and were partly responsible. Two white men named Cable and Wyrick, however, were the prime movers in a scheme truly diabolical. Several citizens of the community overheard the plot. It was to poison the drinking water in the wells, but to spare a number of the white girls, whom the negroes intended to marry. The white men were arrested, summarily tried, convicted and hanged from the branch of a great oak tree a few yards north of the church. The trial had been held in the building which served both as a church and a school house. As to the negroes’ punishment, many were whipped, while others were forced to leave. By these drastic measures safety was secured and richly merited punishment meted out.
Scarcely less disturbing, tho’ less tragic, was the arrival in the colony in 1869 of a man named Seymour, whose expressed mission was to organize a negro school. Tennessee Colony, still shuddering from the narrow escape from the negroes’ fiendish plot of 1860, was in no mood to further the enterprise. Instead, in lack of any local court to which to resort, a committee of leading citizens, prominent among whom was the late Mr. Peter Hughes, then a resident of Tennessee Colony, waited upon the gentleman, escorted him several miles out on the Tyler road and, by no gentle means, persuaded him to leave forever.