Campbellsville, Tennessee

by Mr. & Mrs. Richard Dunavant

        Campbellsville was named for Hamilton Crockett Campbell, an early settler, who, along with John Dickey and Jacob Byler, came to the area around 1808.  Primarily Presbyterians of Scotch-Irish decent, other early settlers included the Hannahs, Rheas, Alexanders, McCutcheons, Locks, Allens, Gibsons, Morrises, Englishes, Shulers, Rosses, and Wrights.

        When the Tennessee General Assembly established Giles County in 1809, John Dickey and Jacob Byler were appointed magistrates, and James Ross was a commissioner.  Dickey was elected a representative to the State Legislature in 1817.  He became Campbellsville's first mayor when the town was incorporated in 1820.

        H .C. Campbell donated land for a public square, and by 1880, Campbellsville's business district contained three stores, two blacksmith shops, a post office, a tan yard, a church, a school, a cotton gin and a tavern.  An ax handle factory moved from Williamson County in 1896, boosting the town's economy.  Large numbers of horses, mules, and cattle were raised and shipped to other areas.

        The Campbellsville Bank was organized in 1910 and continued operation until 1927 when it became part of the Union Bank in Pulaski.  In 1920, Clarence Campbell, a member of the Tennessee General Assembly, was instrumental in organizing a Short Horn Breeder's Association which shipped cows to breeders throughout the country.

        Early physicians were Drs.  Berry, Campbell, Herbert, Upshaw, Voories, Fitzgerald, Hulme and Copeland.

        Worship services were first held in brush arbors at a campground southeast of the present village.  Later the campground was moved to a place called "Poplar Top," where a log church was subsequently built.  Ann Caldwell Hannah sold a tract of land to trustees in 1856 to be used for a church and school. (Mrs.  Hannah's brother, Silas Caldwell, was James K. Polk's brother-in-law.) The now abandoned Cumberland Presbyterian Church building was erected around 1856, ten years after the local church was organized.

        The Methodist Church at Campbellsville was organized on Dry Creek as Salem Methodist Church in 1853.  After the destruction by a tornado of the Salem church, the congregation built a church at Campbellsville.  The present Methodist Church building was erected in 1967.  The structure presently housing the Campbellsville Church of Christ was built in 1950.  Original buildings of both these were built in 1914.

        No record of early schools is available.  However, it is believed there were early private schools, probably taught by preachers.  The Johnson brothers and J. T. Crossno ran a private school for girls, possibly in the late 1880's.  A curriculum including Latin and Philosophy attracted pupils from as far away as Lawrence and Marshall Counties with many boarding in the community.

        After the present Cumberland Presbyterian Church was erected, the old log church was used as a school.  Miss. Mattie Tyree was an early teacher.  In 1872 a new school building was erected, and in 1883 an addition was made so that the Masonic Lodge could use the upper floor.  The Masonic Lodge later became a part of the Pulaski Lodge No. 101.

        In the fall of 1924 a new school was opened on the site of the former Campbellsville High School, which was closed in 1978 when the county school system was Consolidated.  Over the years many fine professors taught in Campbellsville.  Among them were Messors. Yancy, Roller, Davidson and Zuccarello.  J. J. Zuccarello, whose career spanned more than 50 years, was a teacher, county superintendent and member of the Board of Education.

        The Campbellsville area has many old homes that are still in use.  Amog them are the H. C. Campbell house, owned by Eugene Dunavant; the James Hannah house, which remained in the family until 1963 and is now occupied by Dennis Dunavant; the Alexander Campbell house, which has never been out of the family and is presently owned by William Campbell Morris; the old Shuler house where Sam Davis frequently spent the night; the Mitt Knox house, which the late E. M. (Jake) Dunavant moved to a new location in 1939; the John Hannah House, owned by Patsy Hannah Ovbey; Miller Hill, now owned by Porter Hannah; and the old Wilkerson place, owned by Richard Dunavant.

        On the present site of the Mitt Knox log house once stood an antebellum Greek Revival structure, later destroyed by fire.  It was in this home that Donald Davidson was born.  Davidson was a member of a school of Southern writers originating from Vanderbilt University known as the "fugitives".  The group authored what is now known as a Southern agrarian manifesto in 1930, I'll Take My Stand.  Other members of the group included Robert Penn Warren, John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate and Andrew Lytle.  Books of poetry composed by Davidson were The Tall Man, An Outland Piper, and Lee in the Mountains. Davidson's prose included The Attack on Leviathan, American Composition and Rhetoric, and The Tennessee.

        The Civil War touched the community.  In 1863, Union troops burned two or three stores and the blacksmith shop alleging retribution for bushwhackers.  The home of Dr. James Henderson Campbell, the town physician, was also torched.

        In November 1864 a division of Union forces under the command of Gen.  John Schofield evacuated Pulaski, fearing Confederate attack.  A Confederate movement, later culminating in the Battle of Franklin and the Battle of Nashville, was in the early stages.

        Schofield's division was in Campbellsville 24 November 1864 when it was attacked by rebel forces, including a brigade under the command of Gen.  Lawrence Ross.  The Yankees were driven from Campbellsville, and a battle continued to rage as the retreating Federals fought the attacking Southerners.  The conflict maintained its fury on Minnow Branch.  When the Confederates stopped their assault, the Federal division evacuated Giles County.  A few days later, Gen.  J. B. Hood's forces attacked Schofield in the Battle of Franklin. *

        Campbellsville's sons and daughters were among the war's casualties.  Samuel Leonidas Yokely was killed in action at Raymond, Miss.  His sister, Mary Eliza, was killed when a friendly Confederate soldier's gun accidentally discharged as he drank from a spring.  She was seven years old.

        Dr. Campbell's son, George Campbell, entered the Confederate army when he was quite young.  Soon, he was given command of a company of cavalry, which was attacked near his own home.  Campbell was severely wounded and left for dead until some young women found him and nursed him back to health.  He later graduated from college and became a minister and teacher and founded Lynnville Academy.

        George's wife, Annie, was the sister of Clint Hannah, a Campbellsville resident who practiced law in Lynnville and was County Judge.  For many years, Hannah's son, Campbell, also served as County Judge.

        Traditionally, it is believed that Sam Davis spent the night before his capture near Campbellsville at the Squire Peter Shuler home.  The house is still standing and was doubtless the headquarters for Coleman's Scouts, Davis' outfit.  Campbellsvillian Polk English was also a member of Coleman's Scouts, and the home of his uncle, Bob English, was a common meeting place for the Scouts.

        Over the years some notable persons have come from the Campbellsville area.  Included are:

        -Alma Rittenberry, credited with originating the idea for national highways and their naming.

        -A. E. Wright, inventor of the Wright Brother's corn planter.

        -David Rhea, attorney, judge and State Senator.

        -Lindsey Nelson, nationally known sports announcer and commentator.

        -Grady Collins, inventor of the cloth measuring machine.

        Campbellsvillians can also boast that their community was the site of the first airplane landing in the county.

        The Campbellsville area encompasses many communities whose schools were gradually consolidated into the former school at Campbellsville.  These include Yokley (formerly Gibsonville), Rich, Minnow Branch, Rose Hill, Liberty Hill, Pleasant Valley, Brownlow Creek, Anderson Creek, Factory Creek and Dry Creek.

        Original settlers of Rose Hill were the Tuckers, Vandivers, Dickeys,  Prices and Englishes.  The community had a school as early as 1826. The last school building is still standing and is a private residence.

        The school at Liberty Hill,  Owen School, was located on the site of the present Liberty Hill Baptist Church.  The church, formerly near the site of the present cemetery, was constructed from materials from the old school.

        Yokley, once known as Gibsonville. was renamed for a prominent resident.  The present store at Yokley is housed in the old school building.

        Only the steps of the Minnow Branch School still stand where the building was located on the Minnow Branch Road.

        Rich, according to tradition, was named for a black resident, Jim Rich. The community once boasted a post office, a store, and a school, built in 1890.

*Solomon, James. Times From Giles County, 1976, p.86.

Webmaster Jennifer H. Stout Campbellsville, TN