«NUGGETS OF PUTNAM COUNTY HISTORY Volume 1 Historical articles written by the late Judge Ernest Houston Boyd Sr. Compiled and indexed by Mrs. ...»
NUGGETS OF PUTNAM COUNTY HISTORY
Historical articles written by the late
Judge Ernest Houston Boyd Sr.
Compiled and indexed by
Mrs. Christine Spivey Jones
Additions added by
Audrey J. (Denny) Lambert
This book is dedicated to Cookeville Attorney, Ernest Huston Boyd,
son of Judge Boyd, because of his interest in
making these articles and other material,
written by his father, available for inclusion in this
book in order that it might be compiled, indexed, and made available to all people interested in the history of Putnam County, Tennessee.
Judge Ernest Houston Boyd Sr.
b. 1 October 1879, Putnam Co., TN –d. 27 December 1956 son of Alvin Whitten Boyd, prominent pioneer Cookeville lawyer and State Senator, and Mary Goodpasture Boyd.
MONTH OF FEBRUARY HAS PLAYED AN IMPORTANT PART IN THE HISTORY OF
COOKEVILLE AND PUTNAM COUNTY, TNFebruary 2, 1842 is the birth day of Putnam County, but, strange to say, it may be insisted, with reason, that Putnam County has two birthdays, it’ other birthday being February 11, 1854. Putnam County is the only s county in Tennessee that can be said to have two birthdays, - - the reason for its two birthdays will be explained later in this article.
The first Act of the General Assembly of Tennessee creating Putnam County was passed February 2, 1842.
It appears on Pages 186 – 190 of the Public Acts of the General Assembly of Tennessee of 1841-2. It is entitled “ Act to establish the County of Putnam to perpetuate the name and public services of General An Israel Putnam, of the territory of the new county of Putnam was taken form the older counties of White, Fentress, Overton and Jackson. The Act named nine Commissioners “ designate the place for the seat of to Justice, and report the same to the County Court of said county” and the Act further provided that “ soon, so as the said commissioners be the duty of the County Court of said county to appoint five Commissioners, who shall proceed to lay off a town at the place designed, to be known by the name of Monticello, with as many streets, and of such width as they may deem necessary, reserving at least three acres for a Public Square, a lot for a Public Jail, and lots for a male and female Academies, and for the erection of a Church for Public Worship.” The Act further provided “ That, for the due administration of Justice in said County of Putnam, the several different courts, to be holden in said county, shall be held at White Plains, in the said county, until the seat of Justice for said County shall be located and a suitable house erected for that purpose.” The new County of Putnam was completely organized by the election of all the proper officers, both civil and military, and by the holding of all of the Courts of record at White Plains, where the various county officers had their offices pending the location of a permanent County site, which was delayed on account of a warm contest between the supporters of different proposed sites.
The business of the new county proceeded in orderly manner until the Spring of 1844, - - a period of over two years 1844 an injection bill was filed in the Chancery Court of Overton County against the duly elected and acting county officers of Putnam County, enjoining them from further acting in their official capacities and attacking the constitutionality of the Act of 1842 creating the new county of Putnam upon the ground that at points the county line of the new county encroached within the prohibited distance of the county site of Overton County. And, strange to say, Putnam County and its County officers filed no answer, or demurred or other defense to the bill, with the result that, for want of any defensive pleading, the bill was taken for confessed and the said injunction was rendered perpetual, and Putnam County was declared by the Overton County Chancery Court decree not to have been legally and constitutionally established, and Putnam County and its County Officers then ceased to function for a period of almost ten years.
Editor’ note: (In subsequent issues of this paper numerous other interesting provisions of said Act will be s referred to, including the location and naming of the County site).
Pg. 2: FORMATION AND RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF PUTNAM COUNTY 1842 AND 1854.
In 1853, Major Richard F. Cooke, a prominent and wealthy citizen, whose large plantation of several thousand acres was situated near the present town of Double Springs, who had been a leader for many years in the effort to have the new county established, made the race for the State Senate from this Senatorial District for the purpose of having Putnam County re-established, with its original boundaries, by an Act of the General Assembly. A strong and resolute man, he made a vigorous canvas of the Senatorial District and he was elected. Upon his election, he immediately began his efforts to convince the other memberselect of the General Assembly of 1854 that Putnam county should be, and of right was entitled to be, reestablished and on February 11, 1854, he realized the consummation of his efforts when his bill to reestablish Putnam County passed both Houses of the General Assembly. This Act is contained in pages 744-745 of the “ Acts of the General Assembly for the years of 1853-4.” All students of the history of Putnam County should read this highly interesting Act re-establishing Putnam County. It contains many interesting provisions. It is entitled “ ACT to re-establish Putnam County.” The first Section of the Act AN recites in detail the original establishment of the County, by Act passed on February 2, 1842, and the complete organization of the county by the election of all proper county officers, both Civil and military and by the holding of all courts of record and the regular functioning of the county until the Spring of 1844 when the Injunction Bill was filed in the Chancery Court of Overton County against the county officers of Putnam County, and the decree of the Court rendering the injunction perpetual and adjudging that Putnam County had not been legally and constitutionally established, and said section then refers to the decision of the Supreme Court in 1848 holding that a court of Chancery had no power to abolish a new county, after it had been organized and put into operation, upon the ground that the Act of the Legislature creating the new county was violative of the State Constitution. Also that the boundaries of said County of Putnam should be as originally surveyed by Mounce Gore, and his deputies, except that certain lands of Smith and DeKalb Counties, the owners of which had so petitioned, should be concluded in Putnam Co.
Section 3 of said Act provided “ That for the due administration of justice in said County of Putnam, the several different courts to be holden in said county shall be held at the house of Lewis Huddleston or some other house on his premises, in the County of Putnam as originally established, until the seat of justice for said shall be located, and a suitable house erected for that purpose.” Section 4 of said Act provides “ That all officers, civil or military, in said county of Putnam, shall continue to hold their offices and exercise all of the powers and functions thereof, until others are elected and qualified under the Constitution and laws made in pursuance thereof, and it shall be the duty of the Justices of the Peace within the limits of Putnam County, as above described, for the purpose of electing county officers, according to the Constitution and laws of the state; and said officers so appointed by said county court shall have and exercise all the authority and power of the Sheriffs of other counties in this State, in holding said elections and appointing deputies and administering oaths, and in all things pertaining to holding said elections and making returns, be governed by the laws that govern such elections in this State.” Section 5 provided “That said election be held on the first Saturday in June 1854 and all future elections at the same time of other elections in this State, as established by law.” The Act of the General Assembly creating “ County of Putnam to perpetuate the name and public the services of General Israel Putnam, of the Revolutionary War,” passed February 2, 1842, provided “That, for the due administration of Justice in said County of Putnam, the several different courts to be holden in said county, shall be held at White Plains, in said county, until the seat of Justice for said county shall be located, and a suitable house erected for that purpose - - - and the said courts to be holden for the said county of Putnam, shall be under the same rules and restrictions, and shall have the same power and jurisdiction as are possessed by other courts of the same character and denomination in the other counties in this State.” Said Act of 1842 appointed Isaac Buck, Burton Marchbanks, Henry Craven Maddox and Elijah Carr as Commissioners and directed them to employ Mounce Gore, of Jackson County, to survey said county, a plat of which should be deposited, mark the lines calling for natural objects; and directing said surveyor ot designate the center of the county and said Act directed the said Commissioners to designate the place for the seat of Justice, and to report the same to the County Court of said county, which place so designate for the permanent County sear should not be more than three miles from the center of said county, as fixed upon by the said Mounce Gore, Surveyor, provided that the location of the permanent County Seat should, in no event, be East of White Plains.
Said Act of 1842 also provided “ That as seen as the said Commissioners shall report, it shall be the duty of the County Court of said county to appoint five commissioners, who shall proceed to lay off a town at the place designed, to be know by the name of Monticello, with as many streets and of such width as they may deem necessary, reserving at least three acres for a Public Square, a lot for Public Jail, and lots for a male and female Academies and for the erection of a Church for Public Worship” - - and said Act provided for, the sale of lots in said town of Monticello.
Under the Act of 1842, Putnam County had been duly organized and had been functioning as such for more than two years when the Chancery Court of Overton County passed a decree holding that Putnam County had been unconstitutionally established, - - but during this period of more than two years the county seat was not located until 1844, when, after long delay and much controversy and considerable bitterness, a Commission elected by the County Court and composed of James Bartlett, William H. Vance, John Bohannon, Edward Jackson and James Jackson, submitted its report to the County Court, locating the County Seat about one mile East of the present Public Square of Cookeville, in the vicinity of Buck College but their report was not carried out for the reason that the Chancery Court of Overton County in the same year, passed the Decree ad-juding Putnam County to have been unconstitutionally established.
In this connection it is proper to refer to the historic school named by its founders “ Andress College,”- but now generally referred to by the people of this county as “ Buck College.” It was founded by the prominent pioneer citizen and leader Isaac Buck and his son Jonothan Buck. The construction of its large buildings was begun in 1849 or 1850 and completed in 1851. The college was opened for the reception of students in the Spring of 1852. It enjoyed a large patronage until it, like all other Southern colleges, ceased to function during the Civil War. It was not revived after the close of that War. While it was in operation, one of its founders, Jonothan Buck in the college building, edited and published a weekly newspaper, named the “ Monticello Times” - - -the first newspaper published in Putnam County. Before the college, buildings were built, Jonothan Buck lived near the college location and after the college buildings were built he had a living apartment in the college. A good many years before Putnam County was first established, he procured the establishment of a Post Office at his residence by the name of “ Monticelle,”he being the Post-Master. As all Latin students, of course, know, the name Monticello means “ foot of the mountain” - - an entirely fitting name for the post office and for his weekly newspaper, - - as it would have, been for the county seat town which he twice labored untiringly to have located around the location of his post office and college.
Under both the first establishment of Putnam County in 1842 and its re-establishment in 1854, - - the stubborn contest over the location of the County Seat of Putnam County narrowed down to the site finally chosen and the proposed Monticello or Buck College location.
After the lapse of the long intervening years, it is now highly probable that the city of Cookeville, in the not far distant future, will over both of the proposed sites, - - but Isaac Buck and his son Jonothan Buck, both of whom were scholarly men and worthy pioneer leaders, died many years ago. They did not live long enough to see a “ Greater Cookeville”cover both the “ Charles Site”and the “ Buck Site.” The Act of the General Assembly of Tennessee re-establishing Putnam County, passed February 11, 1854, contains many interesting provisions.