From the Tennessee Magazine, August 2013, by Bill Carey
In the 1920s, there was a sign along Highway 70 in White County that read:
Property Line Tennessee Products Corporation For 18 miles, you are within our gate You are welcome Any of our employees will give you information or necessary assistance.
Today, it is hard to imagine a single entity other than the government owning 18 contiguous miles of land. But the Tennessee Products Corporation and its predecessor company, the Bon Air Coal and Iron Corporation did. It also owned land in Hickman, Lewis, Wayne and Hamilton counties.
The number of acres only begins to tell the story, however. Tennessee Products owned the mines as well as everything in the towns near the mines. The company owned the houses where their miners lived, the stores in which they shopped, the newspapers they read and even the cemeteries where they were buried.
Looked at in that way, the Tennessee Products Corporation might have been one of the most powerful companies in Tennessee history.
By Dean Bush
The Waverly Fort was built in 1864 by Union Forces for the primary purpose of guarding the east/west railroad that was critical to moving Union troops and equipment.
The earthen mounds of the fort remain intact on Fort Hill overlooking the town of Waverly, in virtually the same condition that the soldiers who built the fort would have seen over 140 year ago. The wooden buildings and shields have deteriorated over the years as a result of time and exposure to the elements. The fort was constructed with picks and shovels and horse drawn scoops. The Humphreys County Fort is one of the best preserved Union Forts in Tennessee.
An earlier fort had been constructed in what is now downtown Waverly at the location of the present courthouse. The fort was moved to the top of the hill in 1864 to give the troops a better vantage point to observe the railroad and surrounding area. The fort was manned by the First Kansas Artillery Battery under the command of Lt. James D. Nolan.
Humphreys County was not the center of many Civil War battles, but one noted exception occurred when Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest took on the Union navel forces at Johnsonville. General Forrest and his troops sank at least three Union navel vessels and troop barges.
Another lesser know engagement is recorded by Union Lt. John B. Colton in a report dated October 29, 1862. According to Lt. Colton, Federal forces left Ft. Donelson in Stewart County on October 22nd. The forces consisted of 140 infantry, 30 Calvary and a group of rifled men. On Wednesday afternoon, when the troops were within six miles of Waverly, the advance guard of the Union Calvary was fired on by mounted Confederate guerrillas. At sunset, they were advanced upon by a “band of 75 guerrillas which was stationed in a thicket only half a mile from the Waverly fort.”
From the Confederate prisoners taken, Lt. Colton estimated that the Confederate forces consisted of “7 to 8 hundred well mounted Confederate men.” The next morning the Union Forces were ordered to fall back about 14 miles. They camped in the White Oak Creek area. The Union soldiers were ordered back to Fort. Donelson on October 25th. Humphreys County was the scene of other smaller skirmishes. The Waverly Fort was mentioned in several reports as a major outlook and vantage point.
You can visit the Fort adjacent to the Humphreys County Museum, which houses many Civil War artifacts and interesting reports of the activities there. The museum is located on Fort Hill Road in Waverly. Admission is free and reservations can be made for group visits.
The mounds creating the round fort are still intact. They surround the entire fort, covering approximately one acre.
Bridge leading to the Waverly Fort was constructed after the war to make observing the fort more convenient.
Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate in her own right.
A native of Humphreys County, born at Bakerville on February 1, 1878, he earned a degree from Dickson Normal College in Dickson County. There she met Thaddeus H. Caraway, married him in 1902 and had three sons. The family moved to Arkansas where her husband was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1912 and to the U.S. Senate in 1920. The Senator died in 1931. Arkansas Governor Harvey Parnell appointed Hattie Caraway to her late husbandʼs seat. Her appointment was confirmed January 12, 1932.
After serving out the unexpired term of her late husband, she was invited by Vice President Charles Curtis to preside over the Senate, and she took advantage of the situation to announce that she would run for re-election. Louisiana politician Huey Long traveled to Arkansas on a nine-day campaign swing to help her get elected. She won over six other candidates. Mrs. Caraway received twice as many votes as her closest rival.
Caraway made no speeches on the floor of the Senate but built a reputation as an honest and sincere Senator. She served 14 years in the United States Senate, from 1931 until 1945, as a member of the Democratic Party.
In 1938 she ran again for re-election against John L. McCellan and was victorious after receiving support from a successful coalition of veterans, women and union members. She ran for a final time in 1944 and was defeated by J. William Fulbright.
After losing the election in 1944, Caraway was appointed to the Federal Employees Compensation Commission and the Employees Compensation Appeals Board. She was a prohibitionist and voted against anti-lynching legislation along with many other southern Senators. She was generally a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s economic recovery legislations.
Hattie Caraway suffered a stroke in early 1950 and died in Falls Church, Va. She is buried in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Jonesboro, Ark. Her grave site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 20, 2007.
You can see and read about the career and life of Senator Caraway at The Humphreys County Museum. The Museum is open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons 1 pm – 4 pm. There is no admission charge to visit the Museum. Groups can make special arrangements to visit the Museum and grounds at other times by calling (931) 296-3739. The Museum and grounds are available for special events…call and make your reservations.