Lynnville, Tennessee is Rich in Historic Places

(Taken from an article from The Giles Free Press, Pulaski, Tennessee 38478, Thursday, August 21, 1997)

Lynnville has 59 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The old market town with a population of 409 is one of the oldest in the area. Many of the businesses are now gone, and several buildings are currently vacant and in need of repairs.

There is now a renewed effort by Mayor Frances Hewtitt and the Board of Aldermen to again make Lynnville a market place. This time they have joined hands with the non-profit Lynnville Railroad Preservation Society to market a new industry-tourism.

The Society, which now has more than 200 shareholding members, has already laid the groundwork with the purchase of an old 1927 steam engine, a passenger car, a caboose and a flat car. The Lynnville Depot is 80 percent complete, and is expected t be finished by Oct 1. President of the Railroad Society John Trunstall said, "We are very excited about the progress. We plan to show off the facility Oct. 12 when the Giles Count Historical Society's Tour of Homes takes place in Lynnville. The museum and train will have a grand opening in the spring of 1998 will be open seven days a week from May until October, according to Tunstall.

Lynnville is a unique town and has a most interesting history.

In obtaining the National Register of Historic Places honor, the following information was submitted. In the early 1800's the first permanent settlers came from Virginia, the Carolinas and their neighboring states to settle here. They crossed the Duck River to the north and came by way of the present village of Culleoka, crossing the high Elk Ridge at Dodson's Gap and built in the vicinity of what is now Lynnville. Among those who came were John A. Walker, Elisha White, John Laird, William Deering and others.

They united and built log houses for one another, cleared the hardwood forests and canebrakes, and began to plant the first crops, mostly corn. Being a religious people, they also built several small churches. The first Methodist Church in the county was organized at what is now Lynnville in 1809. Elk Ridge, the first Presbyterian Church, was organized one and one-half miles east by Gideon Blackburn and Robert Henderson the next year.

Lynnville was named for Lynn Creek, so called because "lynn" or linden trees grew abundantly along the banks, Old Lynnville, now the village of Waco, was laid off on Lynn Creek in 1810. For the next 50 years it was a flourishing place with post office, hotel, stores and factories and a wholesale coffee warehouse. At one time it had a town square and was incorporated.

In 1859 and 1860, plans were made to extend the Nashville and Decatur Railroad south from Columbia over Dodson's Gap and down the valley one mile to the east This railway was completed just before the Civil War. In the course of the conflict, Old Lynnville was raided and burned by Federal trooops under the command of General William B. Dodge. After the war, many of the residents of Old Lynnville moved over the hill to the railway, and the town of New Lynnville or Lynnville Station had its beginning Old Lynnville (Waco) declined and surrendered its charter; today the place is a small village of about 20 homes.

The Post Office was established in 1814 and was called Lynn Creek. In 1839 the name was changed to Lynnville; it moved to New Lynnville about 1865. Col. Thomas K. Gordon is remembered as the "Father of New Lynnville" as he once owned the land upon which the town is now located and for many miles around.

On Feb 14, 1907, an act was passed by the Tennessee General Assembly to incorporate (New) Lynnville. The officers of the town were (and remain) a board of mayor and five aldermen elected by the voters of the town. The first election was held the first Thursday in April 1909. C. Herbert Walker was elected the town's first mayor (salary $60/year), and aldermen were C. T. Reid, R. W. Waldrop, W. M. Gilbreath, J. M. Bray and C. B. Tate. A town marshal is elected by the council. In 1985 the town elected its first woman mayor, the Honorable Francess Hewitt.

(New) Lynnville grew up in a haphazard fashion around diagonal crossing of the Nashville and Decatur Railroad (now CSX Transportaton) and the Cornersville Turnpike. To supply the building of the town, there was a brickyard, two sawmills, a planing mill, a wood-working shop, a tin shop and othr facilities. A rock quarry on the northern edge of town provided excellent stone for buildings, pillars, chimney's and steps. This same quarry supplied the stone for the construction of the Federal Arsenal at Columbia, Tenn. in the 1890's.

The early business district (1860-1900) of the new town faced the railway and included the following establishments: dry goods: Smith Brothers, George C. Tate, Wagstaff Brothers, Witt and Bouie and J. M. Walker; groceries: J. B. McCall, Shields Brothers, H. Thomas Heindman and McIntosh; drugs: W. B. Pepper, Royster and Company; grain dealers: Griffis Brothers; tin shop: John Bouie; undertaker: J. W. Dickson; planing mill: J. B. Bray; woodworker: James Riddenberry; and bricksmiths: Thomas Fry and J. H. Lancaster.

Merchants of the early 20th Century included Frank McLaurine Tin Shop; groceries: J. P. Johnson, Knox Trigg, J. H. Griffis, W. W. Bray and Witt, Mitchell & Gilbreath; dry goods: C. T. Reid, Betts Dry goods, Journey Dry Goods, Witt & Bouie, Ross and Boyd; produce stores: W. J. Richardson, H. M. Fleming and Murphy & Spivey; harness shops: Rivers Saddle and Harness, Lynnville Harness.

The town has had five banks over the years, the Peoples Bank, Citizens Bank, First National bank, and Bank of Lynnville and Union Bank. Professonals have included dentist Dr. George Dodson and physicians, Dr. M. L. Clark and Dr. Joe B. Wright.

Lynnville had a number of early small factories and these included Lee Wiggs Coffin Shop, J. Buggs Tobacco Factory, Blow's Shoe Factory, an overalls factory and a millinery factory; after 1900, the Lynnville Roller Mills built by Chris McCord and later operated by E. E. Hall, Kraft Cheese Plant, a garment plant, an ice plant, a tomato cannery, a two-story hotel, Hickerson's Trailer Factory and two firms which bought farm produce and animal hides.

For many years after the building of the railway, Lynnville was the principal trade and shipping center for the northern part of Giles County, Cattle, mules, hogs, horses, poultry, eggs.

(Giles Paths, by Johnny Phelps)