Following is a brief account of the town of Garrettsburg Tennessee. It is drawn primarily from the work of researchers who have told its story before. It is re-presented here to accompany the bios and records of the Garrett family for whom it was named. A few thoughts about Garrettsburg residents and their relationships with the Garrett family are included.
Garrettsburg was a small community in the southeast quadrant of Carroll county Tennessee; today, a little north of I40, about halfway between Memphis and Nashville. A current map should identify the small community of Westport, and the nearby Big Sandy River. Then, the reader can apply this past description; “Garrettsburg was once a small town built where the road from Westport crossed the Sandy River by the Long Bridge.”
The Garrettsburg community centered around a mill, built and operated by Jeremiah Marr “Jerry” Garrett, and probably came into existence in the 1880’s. Jerry Garrett, born in 1845, was the son of Stephen Garrett and Nancy Walker. He grew up in Benton county Tennessee where he married, in 1868, Harriett Ann Aden, daughter of Winston King Aden and Jane Farrar. Jerry and Harriett eventually established their home in neighboring Carroll county, and raised a family of five children.
When James E Jones was reminiscing in 1972, he gave some good detail on Jerry Garrett’s mill - “Powered by a mill wheel, this mill (said to have been three stories high) not only ground corn and flour but carded wool and operated a lathe . . . In its heyday, The Garrettsburg Mill was so popular that it had customers from as far away as Decatur County.”
Garrettsburg neighbors and buildings were also included in James E Jones descriptions of the town – “An ice house was dug into the bank of the road on the same side as the mill . . . On up the road there were two stores - one run by Martin Butler - then the houses of Terry [Jerry] Garrett and Levi Butler. Lewis' barn was across the road.” A Post Office graced the town of Garrettsburg from 1892 to 1903. Caswell Cole (nephew of Jeremiah Garrett) was the original postmaster, and he was followed by Jerry Garrett.
Browsing through the 1880 and 1900 census records brings to light a few interesting neighbors of Jerry Garrett. It is difficult to determine if they lived in the “town” of Garrettsburg, or in the general vicinity. But, several were bound to the Garrett family by ties of kinship. Descendants of Eli Butler, Joseph Townsend, John King, and Calvin Cole all intermarried with the Garrett family. Many of these families lived in the area of Garrettsburg.
Census records show all of Jerry Garrett’s siblings living in Carroll county Tennessee – Joseph H Garrett (wife Julia Harmon), Mary Ann Garrett Cole (widow of Calvin Cole), Nancy Garrett Holland (Greenberry Holland), Martha Jane Garrett Wyatt (William Wyatt), and Susan J Garrett Sanders (Ferman Sanders).
The 1880 census introduces an interesting, but unidentified, character to the story – Jerry Garrett’s near neighbor George W Garrett, born 1820, and his wife Isabel (Ibby). To date, they do not appear on Jerry Garrett’s family tree, but it is hoped that they might shed new light on the Garrett family story. This George Garrett appears to be the same man who married Isabel Stover, and is living in 1860 Overton county Tennessee, and then 1870 Allen county Kentucky, before appearing 1880 in Carroll county Tennessee. He may not be closely related to Jerry Garrett.
Jeremiah King and his wife Maude Holland (niece of Jeremiah Garrett) appear next door to Jerry Garrett in the 1900 census of Carroll county Tennessee. King’s occupation is given as Miller. Also, appearing in their own households in the 1900 census are two of Jerry Garrett’s children, Hulen (Jeremiah Ulan) Garrett and his new bride Lillie Cole, and Vandelia Garrett Butler with her husband Levi Butler.
Researchers record that Jerry Garrett eventually sold the Mill to his partner, Gideon Spellings, and removed with most of his family to the community of Marmaduke in Greene county Arkansas. This move probably took place not long after the turn of the century. The “sell-out” to Gideon Spellings raises a few questions of interest to “understanding the Garrett family.” Gideon Spellings owned a stave mill across the road from Jerry Garrett’s operation. He was married several times, and researchers name his last wife as Malinda Lutisha Garrett. Her identity remains in question! Spellings research suggests that Gideon and Malinda were married in 1877 and had several children. Gideon then died in 1879. This timeline seems unlikely, and the question remains as to when Garrett sold the Mill to Spellings. Gideon Spellings’ son, Edward Spellings, operated the mill for a time. Malinda G Spellings, born 1850, does appear as a widow in the 1900 census of Carroll county Tennessee. She has two daughters and a grandson in her household, and the youngest daughter was born in 1883. Jerry Garrett’s brother, Joseph H Garrett, is one of her near neighbors.
Garrettsburg storytellers mention a row of unique pine trees that were planted and tended by Jerry Garrett before his family moved on to Arkansas. During the first decade of the twentieth century the work at the Garrettsburg Mill declined. In James E Jones’ 1972 reminiscence he closes, “ . . The mill burned about 1910. After that, the town went down, and now-a-days, a stranger would never guess that there had ever been a town there. Nothing is left but Levi Butler's house and the tall old pines.”
For more details on Jeremiah Marr Garrett, visit his page at Family Stories, pamgarrett.com.
Jeremiah Marr Garrett is my husband’s first cousin, four times removed.
About the Photo: The photo included here is not the Garrett Mill at Garrettsburg Tennessee. It burned about 1910, and I have not been successful in locating a photograph. Any photos of Garrettsburg would be warmly received. The photo above is of the grist mill at Cade’s Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is listed on the National Historic Register, and this photo is available at Wikimedia Common, 2007.