The Cornersville Club

Compiled by Bill PAGE

The State of Texas, it is well known, is made up nearly wholly from Tennessee immigrants. Way out in Waco, where a number of Tennesseans settled twenty or thirty years ago, they have kept up an organization known as the "Tennessee Club." The membership of this club have always paid proper respect to the Fourth of July, and this being the Centennial year, they concluded to celebrate the "Fourth" at a little old log cabin up in Giles County, in this state, whence they emigrated years ago, in obedience to which determination about thirty or forty of the old boys passed through the city yesterday, "bound for Giles." Some of them were gray-headed, but as buoyant in spirit as in the days of long ago, when they crossed the Mississippi to find a home in the then wilds of Texas. (Memphis Daily Appeal, 22 June 1876, p.4)


At the cotton exchange yesterday, the following names of visitors were registered. The Texas party was composed of bankers, merchants, etc., all formerly of Tennessee. They have a club, the "Tennessee" club, and this year resolved to hold their annual celebration near their homesteads, which are mostly in Giles and Maury Counties ... B.F. RICHEY, Dr. W. H. WILKES, E.P. MASSEY, J.K. STREET, J.M. HOLT, Frank BRITTER, H. MILLER, F.P. MADDEN, W.M. RAG, J.M. KILLOUGH, all from Waco, Texas; Dr. O.P. MITCHELL, Hy. MITCHELL, S.H. MITCHELL, C.W. MITCHELL, Rev. W.H. VERNOR, M. PARKS, all from Bryan, Texas .... (Memphis Daily Appeal, 22 June 1876, p.4)

Texas and Tennessee

(from the Memphis Avalanche, June 22)

A party of between 40 and 50, from Texas, arrived in the city yesterday, put up at the Peabody Hotel, and took their departure for Middle Tennessee last evening. It consists of the "Cornersville (Tenn.) Club of Schoolmates in Texas," with their families and invited guests, to whom a grand entertainment is to be given in Cornersville, Giles County, Tenn., on the grounds of Beech Seminary, on the 25th inst., by the people of that place. The membership of the Club is exclusive and its history is one of peculiar interest. It admits to membership none but such persons of good repute, residents of Texas, who were born in Cornersville, or its vicinity, and educated at the Beech Grove Seminary, in that place.

It originated in an accidental dining, in May, 1871, of B.F. RICHEY, E.P. MASSEY, and H. MITCHELL, with their families, at the residence of Mr. E.P. MASSEY, in Waco, Texas. There, as these sturdy pioneers talked over their school boy days, discussing at the same time a genial old fashioned Tennessee dinner, it was proposed that a social club be organized, consisting only of such material as indicated, and that annual reunions be held at the residences of the members in order, the entertainment to consist simply of an old fashioned Tennessee dinner, served without parade or ostentation of any kind. Pursuant to this a meeting was held, in June, 1871, which was attended by nine of "the Cornersville boys," whose names and residences, with the dates of their births, are annexed:

  • J.H. MITCHELL, Bryan, born October 22, 1817,
  • E.P. MASSEY, Waco, born November 24, 1818,
  • B.F. RICHEY, Waco, born December 28, 1819,
  • H. MITCHELL, Bryan, born April 9, 1821,
  • J.P. MITCHELL, M.D., Bryan, born February 25, 1823,
  • C.W. MITCHELL, Bryan, born June 10, 1825,
  • J.H. RICHEY, Waco, born May 20, 1827,
  • W.H. WILKES, M.D., Waco, born April 8, 1833,
  • * T.C. RICHEY, Waco, born February 1, 1836.

*Please click HERE to see a photo of T. C. Richey.

With these gentlemen the club was organized, and to the list of members were added the names of E.M. PATRICK, of Galveston, and Judge W.S. DAY, of Hempstead, of whose ages there is no record; nor are these gentlemen on the present excursion. Since then J.K. STREET, preacher and journalist, has been admitted an active member and is with the party. Wives and children of members sharer certain privileges of the club and participate in its annual reunions, and the club has honorary members also, who have limited privileges.

At the organization as above it was agreed that the next re-union should be held at the residence of Mr. H. MITCHELL, in Bryan, and each following anniversary at the house of the next oldest settler and so on. Each member was required to furnish a bottle of wine with his name on the label, which, in the event of his death, should be opened and drunk in silence by the survivors at the following anniversary. Another bottle, with the autographs of all the club on it was put away and is to be drunk only by the last surviving member on the regular anniversary day. This bottle the excursionists have with them. According to the constitution all the effects of the association are to be inherited by the last suriving active member or his heirs. No death has yet occurred.

At the reunion of 1874 in Texas, an invitation from the people of Cornersville, Tenn., inviting the club to hold their next annual meeting at their old home was read and accepted, and this is the occasion of the present excursion. There will be great renewing of old friendships and acquaintances over a grand barbecue in the shades of the seminary grove, together with speeches, celebrations, etc., at Cornersville on the 25th. There all will feast uproariously on their old school grounds for the first time since as children they ate their luncheons together on an old poplar log under the shadows of the walls of the old seminary. There men and women in the winter of life, some that were sweethears, perhaps, will meet for the first time since the early springtime of their lives, and for a brief period live over again the golden hours of childhood and youth. In the case of the MITCHELL family, for example, four brothers and one sister will meet together for the first time in forty years. The people of Cornersville, with that hospitality characteristic of Tennesseans, are making grand preparations for the reception of their guests, and it is expected 8000 or 10,000 people will take part in the celebration.

The excursionists were called upon yesterday by several old friends and schoolmates, among them Mr. A.B. HAYNES, Mrs. J.M. PATRICK and Mrs. BALL, of this city and county. They left last evening per the Memphis and Charleston railroad, and will visit Nashville.

The club elects officers at each annual meeting. The present President is B.F. RICHEY , and C.W. MITCHELL is secretary.

The members of the club are a solid, respectable set of men, some of them highly educated, accomplished and entertaining. Among them are bankers, capitalists, merchants and professional men as well as farmers. Mr. Spain JAY, General Ticket and Passenger Agent of the Memphis and Little Rock railroad came over with the excursionists, and was active in their entertainment both on the road and in the city.

The following are the names of the Texas excursionists:

From Waco -- J.K. STREET and Mrs. M.E. STREET, editors, Street’s Illustrated Monthly; Miss Eliza STREET, Miss Mary GATES, Dr. W.H. WILKES, wife and daughter; Miss Lena STOCKTON, E.P. MASSEY, wife and daughter; J.M. HOLT, wife and child; J.M. KILLOUGH, Miss Sue KILLOUGH, Mrs. PLUNKETT and two children; F.P. MADDOX, Wm. C. ARMSTRONG, B.F. RICHEY and wife, T.C. RICHEY, Mrs. Dr. A.A. BEVILLE and three children, Mrs. Mary LANG, Mrs. O. HARRIS, Mr. T. CARRUTH and two ladies, W.M. RAGLAND, Jasper MILLER, Franklin BRITTON, J.A. WOOD, E.H. MARTIN, E.H. MARTIN, Jr.

From Bryan City -- J.P. MITCHELL, wife and son; H. MITCHELL, J.H. MITCHELL, M. PARKER, W.H. VERNON.

Huntsville -- Edward WILLIAMS, wife and daughter.

Jefferson -- F. MILLER.

(Galveston Daily News, 27 June 1876, p.4)

Waco...The Cornersville Club meets here tomorrow .... Bryan...Colonel Harvey MITCHELL and James MITCHELL left to attend the annual meeting of the Cornersville Club. (Galveston Daily News, 19 Apr. 1882, p.1)

Waco...The Cornersville Club met here to-day, and were banqueted at the McLennan Hotel. All the living, active members but one were present, and, with their guests and families, seventy-four were present. (Galveston Daily News, 20 Apr. 1882, p.1)

The Cornersville Club

(Waco Daily Examiner, 20 Apr. 1882, p.4)


(Galveston Daily News, 17 May 1883, p.1)

Rev. J.H. RICHEY, who attended the reunion of the Cornersville Club at Bryan this week, has returned. (Waco Daily Examiner, 19 May 1883, p.4)

The Cornersville Club

The club of Cornersville (Tenn.) schoolmates in Texas, held its nineteenth annual re-union in this city at the home of Col. Harvey MITCHELL on Wednesday, May 14th. We acknowledge the receipt of an invitation to be present on the occasion and regret that pressing business engagements prevented us from going.

Of the original members of this club, there were present on this occasion Judge E.P. MASSEY of Waco, E.M. PATRICK of Galveston, T.C. RICHEY of Georgetown, H. MITCHELL and C.W. MITCHELL of Bryan.

The honorary members present were Capt. J.M. HOLT, Waco, John T. WYSE, G.W. NORRELL, Jeff P. MITCHELL and R.L. WEDDINGTON, of Bryan, John MITCHELL of Franklin.

Invited guests present J.W. TABOR, W.D. COX, Mrs. Mit PARKER and Miss Fannie PARKER of Bryan. There were also present the wives, children, and grandchildren of original members as follows: Mrs. Mary MITCHELL, widow of J.H. MITCHELL, of Bryan, Mrs. T.C. RICHEY and Miss Maggie RICHEY, of Georgetown, Mrs. R.L. WEDDINGTON and Mrs. G.W. NORRELL of Bryan, and Mrs. W.H. DEAN and Miss Artie DEAN, of Ennis, Misses Adell, Weesa and Alice WEDDINGTON and Miss Ruth DOWNARD of Bryan; Miss Ethel MITCHELL, of Wheelock, Masters Harve and Dale WEDDINGTON and Mitchell and E.R. NASH, Jr. of Bryan.

The home of Capt. J.M. HOLT, of Waco, was selected for the next meeting, second Wednesday in May, 1891. Judge E.P. MASSEY was elected president and T.C. RICHEY, secretary for the next year.

After the business of the meeting was over ....

(weekly Bryan Eagle, 22 May 1890, p.8)

The Cornersville Club organized with twelve members twenty-four years ago and composed of pioneers of this country who came from Cornersville, Tenn., held an anniversary dinner at the home of Col. Harvey MITCHELL in this city May 8. There are only six members of the club living. Those in attendance were Judge E.P. MASSEY of Waco, and daughter, Col. T.C. RITCHIE and wife of Georgetown; Col. Harvey MITCHELL and C.N. MITCHELL and a number of relatives and friends, including Major TABOR, who is an honorary member of the club. (from (weekly) Bryan Eagle, 16 May 1895, p.1)

Dallas Morning News Sept. 20, 1896
Cornersville Club

Waco, Tex, Sept. 19 � Col. J.K. Street one of the original organizers of the Cornersville Club, is on a visit to Waco. Col. Street is now a resident of Lampasas Springs. This Club was organized twenty five years ago, its members consisting of former pupils of the log schoolhouse near Cornersville, Tenn. Sixteen of those pupils came to Texas and they all joined the club. After twenty five years the surviving members are J.K. Street of Lampasas Springs, T.C. Ritchie of Georgetown, and Messrs. Harvey and J.C. Mitchell of Bryan. When the club was organized sixteen bottles of wine were purchased and the bottles were labeled, each bottle with the name of a member of the club. At the annual meetings of the club the bottle of the member who last died is drunk by the survivors to the memory of the deceased member. There are only four bottles left. The last member who died was the Hon. W.H. Wilkes mayor of Waco and at the next meeting the bottle bearing Mayor Wilkes name will be drunk. When there is only one member left that member is to hold the last session alone and will drink whatever wine is left, including his own bottle.

The above paragraph was added with permission by Julie Coley.



(The following story is taken from the Bryan Daily Eagle of May 17, 1899, twenty-five years ago. It is full of heart interest and will be read with pleasure by everyone who appreciates the comrade love of school days that is kept up and treasured throughout the years; it will be especially appreciated by those in Bryan who will remember this Cornersville Club and knew its members. The final chapter of the club history is written in at the present time and closes the story of this once-famous club of Bryan.)

Three of the five surviving members of the Cornersville Club held their last meeting and were tendered a dinner by Col. Harvey MITCHELL at the Central Hotel yesterday afternoon. The members present were Colonel MITCHELL and Mr. C.W. MITCHELL of Bryan, and Col. J.K. STREET of Houston. The invited guests were Major J.W. TABOR, Mayor C.A. ADAMS, Mr. A.J. BUCHANAN, and Mr. Oscar BALDRIDGE of Galveston, a relative of Col. MITCHELL.

The Cornersville Club was organized in Bryan in 1872 at the home of Col. Harvey MITCHELL, and was originally composed of twelve members, schoolmates at the Cornersville school in Tennessee. Of the twelve, after a lapse of 28 years, only five remain, those mentioned above and T.C. RITCHEY of Georgetown and J.M. MASSEY of Galveston.

The Club was a social organization, the result of lifetime friendship, and the annual meetings were occasions of much enjoyment, not unmixed with sorrow on occasion when loved faceds were missed from around the festal board. A bottle of wine for each member, and a club bottle, bearing the names of the members, were sealed at the organization of the club, and it was the custom, after the death of a member to break his bottle and drink the wine in memory of him at the next meeting of the club.

The last meeting of the club was held yesterday and no meeting had been held for four years. Oweing to age and wide separation in residence of the members during the past few years, meetings were impractical, and it was accordingly determined to hold this final meeting and commit the archives of the club to the county in which it was organized. Accordingly a resolution prevailed to this effect and the members removed to the court house, where on behalf of the Club, Col. STREET presented to Judge A.G. BOARD, the archives and the club bottle of wine for safe keeping in the vaults of the clerk’s office. Judge BOARD accepted the trust in behalf of the people in a graceful and appropriate speech. The resolution above mentioned provided that the archives and bottle of wine shall remain in the custody of the court until May (?), 1922, the fiftieth anniversay of the club, when they shall be turned over to any surviving member of the club, if there be any survivor and if not then the descendants of the last surviving member shall claim the archives and the club bottle of wine, then to be surrendered by the authorities of the county.

From Mr. A.J. BUCHANAN, who was present on the occasion of the disbanding meeting, has been obtained the concluding chapter in the history of the club. As per the above information, said mr. BUCHANAN, the archives and the club bottle of wine were placed in the vault of the old court house. When the new court house was begun, all material from this vault was moved into SANDERS Brothers’ store, next door to the Eagle office location now. In the transfer of these materials back and forth from the old court house to the new one, the archives were lost. However, the bottle of wine remained in the custody of the county clerk and was not lost or broken. Some 12 or 15 years ago Col. J.K. STREET came down from Waco, and as the last surviving member, claimed the club bottle of wine. In company with Mr. A.J. BUCHANAN, they went to the vault of the county clerk and the bottle was given to them.

Col. STREET later removed to Dallas and became connected with the Masonic publication in that city, he being a prominent and high-ranking Mason. It was on the return trip to Waco that the last member of the old Cornersville Club passed on and the Club became but history. He went back to Waco to spend a few days with an old-time friend, Col. Williams POAGE. After dinner, Col. STREET remarked that he felt tired and went to bed early. In the morning when Col. POAGUE went to awaken him, he found that the last survivor of the club had passed to his reward during the night. (from Bryan Weekly Eagle, 22 May 1924, p.3)

The Bryan Daily Eagle January 11, 1901




His Life Was Closely Identified With Its

History---A Charter Member of

Brazos Union Lodge No. 129

A.F. and A.M.

Col. Harvey MITCHELL is dead. No more his bent form and kindly face will greet the eyes of those who have so long known and loved him. He moved amongst us as one who belonged to another day and generation and his memory was a rich storehouse in which were gathered the events of almost eighty years. He might be called the father of Brazos county, so closely has his life been linked with its history, and so marked has been the impress he made upon it. In the silent watches of the night of January 9 his brave spirit broke its prison bars and winged its way to the Infinite.

No lingering illness was his to suffer. Noiselessly the messenger came and summoned him to lay down the burden of life at the end of a day during which he was up and apparently as well as usual, at the home of his son-in-law, Mr. W.H. DEAN.

Col. Harvey MITCHELL was born at Cornersville, Tenn., April 9, 1821, where he received his education and grew to manhood. He came to Texas in 1839 and lived for a year or two in Robertson county. Later, about 1840, before this county was organized, he settled at old Boonville and has made his home continuously since in Brazos county. He gave his best services to the community in public as well as private life and acted in almost every official capacity in the early history of the county. With the removal of the county seat he came to Bryan, and continued to exert his energy and influence for the upbuilding of the county. Among other things, he was instrumental in securing the location of the Agricultural and Mechanical college near Bryan.

Col. MITCHELL was a charter member and the first worshipful master of Brazos Union Lodge No: 129, A.F. and A.M. For some time previous to his death he was the only living member of the original lodge which was instituted at Boonville under a dispensation in 1853. He formerly held large land interests in the county, and out of his bounty no man gave to the poor and needy more freely and with less ostentation than he. It is said of him that he made a practice of loading up his buggy with provisions and quietly distributing them among those in need, and that even those who knew him best learned not of this through any word of his.

Col. MITCHELL was a member of the famous Cornersville Club, composed of Tennesseans, organized and maintained for many years. The remaining members of the club met some months ago and consigned their archives and records to the vaults in the county clerk’s office and thus ended the organization. Only two members of the club now remain, Capt. Tom RITCHIE of Georgetown and Col. J. K. STREET of Houston. Col. MITCHELL’s life was marked by good deeds and replete with incidents which would make a volume of rare interest. With his death a strong link is broken connecting the present with the past, but his memory will be cherished as long as the history and traditions Brazos county are known to her sons and daughters.

Col. MITCHELL was married to Miss FOLEY, a daughter of Col. William FOLEY at Boonville in 1848, and his wife died a number of years ago. He leaves five children, Mr. Jeff P. MITCHELL, Mrs. R. L. WEDDINGTON, Mrs. W. H. DEAN of Bryan, Mrs. E. R. NASH of Waco and Mr. James E. MITCHELL of Fort Worth. His brother, Mr. Whit MITCHELL, recently died in this city at an advanced age.

Many years ago Col. MITCHELL laid off the Boonville cemetery and dug the grave of Capt. Wm. VESS, then sheriff of the county, and the first man buried in the new cemetery. There the remains of his loved ones repose and there beside his beloved wife he will be reverently laid to rest today. The funeral will take place from the residence of Mr. W. H. DEAN at 2 o’clock this afternoon under the auspices of Brazos, Union Lodge, No. 129, A. F. and A. M.