TIPTON COUNTY | Reported by John R Sloan.
Covington, Tenn., Aug. 28. – Tipton is one of the five West Tennessee counties bordering on the Mississippi river, and is noted for the fertility of its soil and the extent, variety and value of its forests.
Covington, the county seat, is situated on the plateau slope of West Tennessee, surrounded by a rich and slightly undulating country, the greater part of which is in the high state of cultivation and very productive. The town has a population of about 1400 inhabitants, twenty-two mercantile establishments, four saloons, two barber shops, two meat markets, three livery stables, one banking establishment, one tailor shop, two shoe shops, three blacksmith and wood work shops, one steam tannery, one roller flouring mill, two saw mills, one steam cotton seed huller, one steam gin, three drug stores, two weekly newspapers (Record and Leader), two dentists, six physicians, twelve lawyers, eight churches, one male high school, one female seminary, two public schools, white and black, and various benevolent organizations. It is the largest shipping point on the Chesapeake Railroad between Memphis and Paducah.
Mason, situated on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, twelve miles southeast of Covington, is the next town in size and importance in the county. It has a population of about 700, fifteen business firms, three saloons, one drug store, one livery stable, one shoe shop, one tailor shop, two steam gins, two schools, white and black, three physicians and two lawyers, and is a very important shipping point for cotton, etc.
Mt. Zion or Munford, sixteen miles southwest of Covington, ranks next. It has a population of about 300, four business firms, one drug store, two physicians, one blacksmith shop, one shoe shop, two broom factories, two churches, and the Methodist High School, a popular and well conducted institution under the control of the District Conference of the M. E. Church.
Randolph, one of the oldest towns in West Tennessee, and situated on the Mississippi river, sixteen miles west of Covington, is next in size and importance. It has a population of about 250, three stores, one drug store, one book store, two physicians, one blacksmith shop, two churches, two schools (white and black) and is an important shipping point.
Atoka, on the Chesapeake Railroad, eleven miles south of Covington, ranks next. It has a population of about 200, four business firms, two drug stores, two physicians, two churches, two schools (white and black), one blacksmith shop, one steam cotton gin, and is an important shipping point for lumber, etc.
Brighton, six miles south of Covington on the Chesapeake railroad, comes next. It has a population of about 150, five stores, one blacksmith shop, one drug store, one steam mill, two physicians, one church, one school, and is the most important shipping point in the county for country produce, staves and lumber.
Rialto, on Hatchie river and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, six miles north of Covington, has a population of 100, two stores, one church, one school and the largest and best equipped saw mill in the county. Large shipments of lumber of all kinds are made from this point, both by rail and river.
Tabernacle, a village of 100 inhabitants, is situated six miles east of Covington. It has three stores, two churches, two schools (white and black), two physicians, one blacksmith shop, mill, etc., and is the center of a refined and cultured community.
Tipton is a station on the Chesapeake road, fifteen miles south of Covington. It has one store, one blacksmith and wood work shop, one steam mill and gin, a church and a school near by, and is an important shipping point. A great deal of poplar, walnut and other timber is shipped from this place direct to Europe.
Centre, or Bride, is a prosperous little village of about 50 inhabitants. It has two stores, one blacksmith and undertaker’s shop, one church, one school, mill, etc., and is the centre of the refined and educated community, in the best cultivated and most prosperous district in the county.
Phelan, Burleson, Gilt Edge, Drummond, Richardson’s Landing, Reverie [Reverie Story], Corona, Quito, Leigh’s Chapel, Detroit, Garland, Melrose, Ebineezer, Idaville and Wright’s are postoffices, at which can be found from one to two stores, shops, mills, etc., and at all these points a good business is carried on, and large shipments of country produce made.
Tipton county has an area of 460 square miles, and about 295,000 acres, of which about 150,000 acres are in cultivation. The balance is well timbered with the best and most valuable varieties, the principal being oak, walnut, poplar, ash, hickory, red gum, black gum, maple (bard and soft), elm and beach, and the low lands abound in cypress, cotton wood, birch and hackberry.
The population of the county is about 30,000, and rapidly increasing. The estimated value of the real estate of the county is $4,000,000. The value of the annual products of the farms is estimated at $2,500,000, the principal of which are cotton, 26,000 bales, 1,300,000 bushels of cotton seed, 900,000 bushels of corn, 80,000 bushels of wheat, 45,000 bushels of oats, 1500 tons of hay (clover and timothy), 25,000 gallons of sorghum, $25,000 worth of orchard products, 45,000 bushels of sweet potatoes, 8000 bushels of Irish potatoes, the balance being made up from the products of the garden, dairy and poultry.
The value of live stock is estimated as follows: $110,000, oxen $25,000, other cattle $76,000, sheep $15,000, hogs $120,000. Here attention has been given to stock raising in the last few years more than ever before. Breeds are being improved, importations of Holstein, Jersey and Devon cattle are being made, and the number and value largely increased every year. Norman and Percheron houses and the best bred jacks are being introduced and a great deal of attention is given to raising horses and mules. These industries have increased within the last five years at least 200 percent., but are still in their infancy, with opportunities for successful development unsurpassed by any county in the state. We invite the attention of stock raisers and dairymen to Tipton county, where they will find cheap lands, a healthful climate, abundant water running springs, creeks, etc., and many advantages not found elsewhere.
No section of the state offers more advantages or better facilities for the success of dairy business than Tipton county. Cattle are free from the infectious diseases common to many other places; clover, timothy, and herd and other grasses grow here readily and luxuriantly, the yield being from one to three tons per acre; corn, bran and other feed stuffs are always abundant and cheap. We are only a short distance from Memphis, the metropolis of the South, and in direct and daily communication with it by two railroads and two rivers. A creamery would pay handsomely at any point in the county, on either of the railroads or the Mississippi river, and particularly at Covington.
The manufacturing enterprises of Tipton county are limited to a steam tannery, a roller flouring mill, an embryo box factory, seed huller, etc., at Covington, and two broom factories at Mt. Zion, all of which are quite successful, are kept busy and declare large dividends. There is a magnificent opening for a furniture or wagon factory at Covington, Rialto, Brighton, Atoka, Tipton or Randolph. In fact, the manufacture of all kinds of wooden ware could be carried on at these points successfully, since timber is plentiful and cheap and of the best quality.
The timber business has increased more rapidly in the last few years in this county, than all others. About twenty-five sawmills with a daily capacity of from 5000 to 45,000 feet are kept running constantly, and the sound of the mill whistle and the ‘cusses’ of the ox-drivers are heard throughout the land. Besides an endless number of staves are gotten out and shipped yearly. The greater part of the staves are shipped by rail and water to New Orleans, some going to St. Louis. The lumber is principally shipped to Chicago and St. Louis, some going to Louisville and Cincinnati. Shipments are made by water from Randolph, Richardson’s Landing and Cedar Point, but the greater part is shipped by the Chesapeake road from Rialto, Covington, Brighton, Tipton, Atoka, Kerrville, (in Shelby county). Large rafts of logs are floated out of Hatchie and the smaller streams into the Mississippi river, thence to Memphis, while large shipments are made direct to Europe.
The change of the farmers from cotton alone to a diversity of crops, and the particular attention given to grain and stock raising has had a most happy effect upon the condition and prosperity of the people, and by reviving the fertility of the soil, increasing their profits, etc., they have been able to throw off the incubus of mortgage and debt, which hangs like a pail over the citizens of other sections of the state, who still cling to “King Cotton.” They now buy for cash, and hence obtain the cheapest rates, which is quite an advance on Southern cotton raising methods. Every year witnesses the influx of large numbers of honest and industrious citizens from the counties east of Tipton, invited here by the fertility of the soil, the success of or farmers and the good schools and society afforded them.
The mineral resources of Tipton are, so far as known, limited to small quantities of iron, silver and coal. A silver mine has recently been discovered near Mt. Zion, but so far the precious metal has not been found in paying quantities. Coal of inferior quality is found jutting out of the line of bluffs from Randolph to the “Slip-in,” which burns freely, but is too soft for transportation. No decided effort has ever been made to discover whether a better quality underlies these “croppings”. Well informed miners insist that the Mississippi river bluffs, west of Covington, are filled with valuable minerals which only await the hand of energy and enterprise to be developed.
Tipton is favored with good transportation facilities, with Hatchie river on the north, the Mississippi on the west, the Chesapeake or Newport News and Mississippi Valley Railroad running north and south through the center, and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad running east and west through the eastern portion of the county. Two other railroads are being surveyed through the county – one from the east, entering the county at Simpson’s ferry on Hatchie river, to be run in a southwestern direction, about equi-distant between Covington and Mason, and entering Memphis between the Louisville and Nashville and the Chesapeake and Ohio roads. The other enters the county from the north at Pilljerk, on the Hatchie river, and to be run in a southern direction across the county at about equal distance between Covington and Randolph, and entering Memphis between the Mississippi river and the Chesapeake road. Either or both of these roads, if built, will prove of great benefit to our people, and it is the general wish that they may be completed at an early day.
The entire cotton crop of the county is shipped to Memphis, by river and rail, principally by rail. Fruits and early vegetables, berries, etc., are shipped principally to Northern markets, Chicago and Cincinnati getting the larger part. Leather is shipped to Boston and Lynn, Mass.
[Tipton County, Memphis Avalanche, Memphis, Tenn., 1 Sep 1887, pg 7]