AHGP Transcription Project

Calloway County

Calloway County, the 72nd in order of formation, and embracing 395 square miles, was erected in 1822, out of part of Hickman County, and named in honor of Col. Richard Callaway; it then included all of the present county of Marshall, also. It is situated in the south-western part of the state, and bounded north by Marshall County, east by the Tennessee River, south by the Tennessee state line, and west by Graves County. The land is level, the western half as level as a prairie, having been "barren lands" in 1830, but is now covered with heavy timber. The soil is fertile, and peculiarly adapted to the growth of "Gold Leaf Tobacco," the chief staple of the county. There are 15 tobacco factories in the county. The principal streams are Blood River, Clark's River, west fork of Clark's River, Rockhouse, Bee, and Jonathan creeks.

Murray, the county seat, named after the Hon. John L. Murray (afterwards member of Congress for eleven years), and incorporated in 1844, is near the center of the county, 14 miles south east of Mayfield, and about 250 miles from Frankfort; population, January 1, 1873, between 600 and 800, partially reported in the U. S. census for 1870 at 179: has 2 wholesale and 6 retail stores, steam flouring and saw mill, wool-carding mill, wagon and carriage factory, tanyard, 12 mechanical shops, 2 tobacco factories, 2 hotels, 2 churches, 5 lawyers, 4 physicians, newspaper (The Murray Gazelle), and the "Murray Institute," a beautiful building, and an excellent school for the education of both sexes; the business portion of the town, the blocks of buildings on the north and east side of the court house, was burnt during the civil war, by a detachment of Federal soldiers, but has been rebuilt.
New Concord, incorporated by that name in 1868, but as Concord in 1835, is 10 miles from Murray, in south east part of the county: population about 150; has 5 stores, tobacco factory, wagon and carriage factory, 3 mechanics' shops, 2 physicians, church, and academy.
Wadesboro, 10 miles north of Murray, has 1 store, hotel, blacksmith shop, tan yard, and 2 churches.
Boydsville, Callowaytown, and Pine Bluff, are very small villages.

Members of the Legislature from Calloway County, since 1859

John L. Irvan, 1859-63;
Col. O. A. Christian Holt, 1867-75 (elected speaker of the senate, February 16, 1871, and acting lieutenant governor until September, 1871).

House of Representatives
Virgil Coleman, 1859-61;
Daniel Matthewson, 1861-63: but expelled Dec. 21, 1861, for being "connected with the Confederate army, and for being a member of the Russellville convention," and succeeded by Leroy Brinkley, 1862-63;
John Whitnell, 1863-65, but died 1866, and succeeded by W. H. Covington, 1865-67;
Francis U. Dodds, 1867-69;
Wm. M. Hamlin, 1869-71;
W. W. Ayers, 1871-75.

The First Settlement
Probably, was in 1818, by David Jones and James Stewart, from Caldwell County, Kentucky, on land about a mile east of where Wadesboro now stands. Western Kentucky was then called "Jackson's Purchase."

The First County Seat, together with the Land Office, was at Wadesboro; which became a flourishing town of over 300 inhabitants, and was much frequented by emigrants and land speculators, for the purpose of entering vacant lands. The public land sales, authorized by the legislature, were largely attended, and occasions of great interest and excitement. After the public lands had been entered and sold, Wadesboro lost its prominence; many citizens moved away, the public buildings fell into ruins, and the county seat was removed to Murray.

The people of Calloway County, during the late civil war, were intensely Southern in their feelings. Over 500 men joined the army of the Confederate States, and about 200 the Federal army, out of about 1,800 of military age. The county was the scene of many encounters between small parties of the opposing forces; and during the last half of the war was overrun by small bands of guerrillas, who in the name and uniform of either army, plundered hundreds of the citizens of their horses, money, and other property, and murdered 30 to 40 in cold blood. Time, and the kindly associations of peace, have rapidly soothed the bitterness of war, and buried its feuds and hostilities.

Fort Heiman, on the west bank of the Tennessee River, in the south west corner of Calloway County, was occupied for some time by Confederate forces under Gen. Abram Buford, with one brigade of cavalry, one (3rd. Kentucky) regiment of mounted infantry under Col. G. A. C. Holt, and a battery of light artillery. These constituted the left wing of the Confederate army of Gen. Napoleon B. Forrest, when he made his successful assault on Johnsonville, Tennessee, on the east bank of the Tennessee River, November 4th and 5th, 1864. Col. A. P. Thompson, of this county, at the head of his regiment (3rd Kentucky, C. S. A.) was killed in the desperate assault on the fort at Paducah, March 25th and 26th, 1864. Lieut. Col. G. A. C. Holt (afterwards, 1871, acting lieutenant governor of Kentucky) succeeded to the command.

This county was called after Col. Richard Callaway, who removed with his family to Kentucky in 1776. He speedily became an efficient actor in the affairs of the infant settlements, and his services were numerous and valuable. As early as 1777, he and John Todd were elected the first burgesses to the general assembly of Virginia; while, in the spring of the same year, he had been appointed a justice of the peace. In 1779, he, with others, under an act of the Virginia legislature, was appointed a trustee to lay off the town of Boonesborough. The trustees declined to act; others were appointed. Mr. Morehead, in his eloquent Boonesborough address, classes Col. Calloway among the law-givers and defenders of the frontier. His career in the new settlements, however, was short. Like a great many other daring spirits of the times, he was killed before he had an opportunity of very greatly distinguishing himself.

Source: History of Kentucky, Volume II, by Lewis Collins, Published by Collins & Company,
Covington, Kentucky, 1874

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