Business Growth and Industrial Recruitment

Staff Writer
Pulaski Citizen
March 2, 2004

     Business growth and industrial recruitment were as vital to Giles County in
the 19th Century as today. With the slow demise of cotton farming after the
Civil War, the Pulaski Citizen recognized the necessity of moving forward.
Much space was committed to encouraging leaders and the public to support and
invest in infrastructure development to make the county and its towns ready
for changes. Investment in railroads, turnpikes, public water sources, gas
distribution and commercial buildings, such as hotels and public square "spec"
buildings was encouraged by the Citizen.
     "Not withstanding the hard times, there isn't a vacant business house in
Pulaski," the Citizen reported, explaining that several merchants visited from
Nashville and Memphis seeking to locate here. "If some of our capitalists
would cover those vacant lots on the south side of the square with neat and
substantial store houses, we think they could realize handsome profits."
As early as 1867, Citizen publisher L.W. McCord predicted disaster for the
economy if immediate attention was not given to roads.
"If the dry goods, grocery merchants and others interested in this vital
question continue in their present apathy, they must before long wake up to
the unpleasant fact of a town cut off from the trade of one of the best
sections of the country within a radius of 60 miles around," McCord warned in
September 1867.
     In January of 1867 Gen. John C. Brown, Judge Thomas M. Jones and attorney
James McCallum from Pulaski announced that they had joined Gen. Lucius Polk
from Maury County, Gen. John M. Bright from Lincoln and other regional leaders
from Williamson County, Limestone and Madison Counties in Alabama, Chicago,
Ill., and Milwaukee, Wis., to form the Alabama, Tennessee and Northwestern Oil
and Mining Company. The Citizen commented, "It is high time that the people of
this section were waking up to the fact that something else may be dug out of
this land besides cotton."
     The Pittsburg Oil News classed Giles County as one of the finest oil regions
in the country, where the people will "wake up one fine morning and find
themselves in possession of an independent fortune."
The 1870 census counted just fewer than 33,000 citizens of Giles. Of the 20
districts in existence at that time, Lynnville Station, Cornersville and
Pulaski were the most heavily populated. The town of Pulaski had the largest
concentration with 3,041, but the Cornersville area boasted 2,141 residents.
In May of 1870 the Citizen was alerting citizens of the effort to cut off the
Cornersville area, making it part of Marshall. McCord blamed it on the fact
that Lewisburg invested in a turnpike to Cornersville, making commerce more
convenient for residents, while Giles County did not invest in an adequate
     Little by little, access was improved. In May of 1872 transportation south of
Pulaski was aided by the construction of a bridge across Richland Creek 12
miles below the city at Kelley's Ford.
The Pulaski City Board confirmed the purchase of a right of way in August 1872
through Judge Spofford's meadow for the continuance of Hemp Street, which at
the time extended as far as Mill Lane to the west. This small item of business
proved very important. Spofford's house still stands and is a bank. Hemp
Street is the part of U.S. Highway 64 known as College Street.
Even small improvements merited coverage in the Citizen. Small enterprises
were commended, like J.J. Marshall's Broom Factory, which manufactured brooms
from locally grown broomcorn.
     On Dec. 16, 1875, the paper reported that Flautt, Martin and Co. superseded
their spiral stairway by the erection of a number one elevator.
     In Sept. 25, 1873, the Citizen published a "recipe" for killing a town.
"To kill a town, underrate every present and prospective public enterprise,
speak ill of the churches and schools, tell everybody the hotels are bad,
never subscribe for the local paper, and if you are in business, refuse to