LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA
HISTORY OF LEXINGTON COMMUNITY
Written by the Sixth Grade of Lexington School, 1939-40
Contributed 19 Sep 1999, by Peggy (Joice) Horton
In my grandmother's (Rosa Ellen NEWTON JOICE) trunk, my cousin, Larry W. Statham, found a booklet called HISTORY OF LEXINGTON COMMUNITY written by the Sixth Grade of Lexington School in 1939-40, which he sent me. It was printed from a stencil and the paper is not in the best condition. There are twenty-three (23) pages about the early history, homes, churches, schools, merchants, doctors, etc. of Lexington and several different family names are mentioned.
The front cover is hand printed block letters of the title HISTORY LEXINGTON COMMUNITY, with a flower drawn under it. The children also drew pictures of an early log church, schools of yesterday and today, a horse with a saddle on it, old and new plows, a doctor tending to a sick baby, telephone lines and poles with a man working on them, a peddler's covered wagon, and a log-built blacksmith shop with an anvil visible in the doorway. The hand drawn picture of an early church, built of logs, has Virginia Cotton's name under it and is the only one so identified.
W. A. "Tickie" Newton was our great grandfather, and Will Newton, his son, our great uncle (William Taylor Newton). My sister and I believe that the Mrs. Newton who was postmistress was Will's wife, Aunt Lula, although there are several other "Newton's" it could have been.
HISTORY OF LEXINGTON COMMUNITY
We, the Sixth Grade of Lexington School, do dedicate this book to our parents, grandparents, and the many friends of our school, who have helped us in writing it.
We wish to express our appreciation to those who have willingly told us the things they know about our community and the things of interest in and around it.
Our purpose in writing this history of Lexington Community is to help us appreciate the early life in our Community and to help us to gain more knowledge of the social, economic, and industrial growth of Lexington from its earliest settlement until the present time. We have learned to work in groups, write letters, interview people, be more courteous and to organize our information.
The boys and girls who have helped to make this history are:
|Emogene Newton||Johnie Paul Goodwin|
|George Nix||Carine Putnam|
|Valeria Moriarty||Hulon Newton|
|Olene Ray||Doris Barr|
|Billy Joe Newton||Lanee Porter (or Lance?)|
|Helen Dean||Reeder Garner|
|William Howard||Christine East|
|Robert Lee Johnson||Edith Pettus|
|Marvin Wilson||Ancil White|
|Mary Christine Davis||Hubert Newton|
|Ralph Allen||Sardis Newton (or Bardis?)|
|Helen Putnam||J. D. Glover|
|Lendon Balch||Olene Holden|
|William Johnson||Billy Thompson|
|Stanley Willliams||Virginia Cotton|
We wish to acknowledge our thanks to these people who have helped us in writing this book:
|Mrs. Kate Balch||Mr. W. T. Newton|
|Miss Ada Belew||Mr. Luther Nix|
|Mrs. Bob Belew||Mrs. Letta Fay Oldham|
|Mr. and Mrs. Hose Belew||Mrs. A. L. Phillips|
|Mr. and Mrs. Felix Burgess||Mr. B. A. Porter|
|Mr. and Mrs. L. M. Foster||Mr. Frank Putnam|
|Mrs. Anna Howard||Miss Vesta Smith|
|Mr. Bob Johnson||Mrs. J. W. Taylor|
|Mr. Henry McGuire||Mr. W. L. Thompson|
|Mr. C. P. McMeans||Mrs. Mack Thompson|
|Mr. Lee Newton||Mrs. Rhoda Wilcoxson|
|Mr. Russell Newton||The Eighth Grade Class|
Miss Pearl Lanier, Teacher
The town of Lexington is located in Sections 15 & 16 T1 R8 West. Land in section 15 was entered by F. D. Westmoreland about the year 1848 and a few of the land owners were Andy Porter, John M. Davis, John W. Briggs, Wash Porter, George Cox, and William Dorit.
There has been a village in this spot since our great-grandfathers can remember. Although the business sections have changed locations several times and the community is a little isolated to become a great city, it is holding its own and growing more in strength. We have built new schools and new churches and more stores.
---Lanee Porter (or Lance?)
Early homes were made of logs. They were very far apart. The men went to the woods and cut down the best trees and trimmed off the branches. The women stayed at home and cooked the dinner and carried it to the men. Notches were cut in the end of the logs to make them fit. The cracks were daubed with mud. Big holes were cut for windows and wooden shutters were used to open and close the windows as needed. They had no screen doors or windows. The top of the houses were made of boards, that had been split out of logs. They were nailed on with big square iron nails that were made by hand. They had no locks on the doors. They used pegs or buttons to lock them. The houses were first lighted by candles or pine knots. After that they used kerosene lamps. Miss Vesta Smith and Miss Zona Newton have the oldest houses around Lexington now. Miss Vestas house is over 125 years old.
The homes of today are not made of logs. They are made of brick, stone, or wood and are very close together. Most of the houses are lighted with electricity. We have locks for the doors. We also have screen doors and windows. Some of the homes have running water. Now we have flowers and shrubs around the houses. The homes are much better now than they were then.
Back in the early days all of the furniture was made of wood and it was made by a good carpenter in the community. The bedsteads were made of a good hard wood, such as walnut, cherry, or maple. These beds had big tall posts and were corded or held together by ropes and were very high off the floor. There was a trundle bed that fitted under these high beds upon which the children slept when pulled out at night. The chairs were made of a good hard wood with splits for the bottom. The rocking chairs were very large with high backs and big rockers.
Sometimes the kitchen and dining rooms were combined into one room. They cooked on the fireplaces and had cranes to hang pots on. They didnt have stoves as we do today. The dining rooms, when there was one, had three cornered cubbards (sic) for the dishes and dining tables that had big round turned legs and folding leaves or tables that were made with rollers under the top where the food was set and then it was turned to each person who helped his own plate which was set on a lower section. These tables were round and were called Turn Tables.
Now we have modern kitchens with electric stoves, electric refrigerators, cabinets, running water, and other pretty, useful things.
Now we have beautiful dining tables, chairs, china cabinets, and buffets. We have chifferobe, bedroom suits, living room suits, easy chairs, pianos, radios and many more comforts that were unheard of in the early days of our community.
One of the first churches in Lexington was a Primitive Baptist and was in central Lexington about where our bank now stands. There was a cemetery in the church yard. In 1853 or before there were three churches here.
The second church was a Cumberland Presbyterian. It stood near the old Matthews place. The third was a Methodist Church. It was located in the northeastern part of Lexington just south of Mrs. Amanda Newtons place. All of these churches were made of logs. They were all destroyed during the war between the states.
After the War Between the States an old dwelling with the partition torn out, just east of the present Methodist church was used by the Methodist people and perhaps others for a meeting place; this house was blown away in a cyclone a number of years ago.
For a number of years there had been a Methodist Church at Asbury, or Cross Roads, just over in Tennessee and the people of that belief held their membership there, and in September, 1902, S. L. Dobbs, Presiding Elder, and G. M. Randle, Pastor of the Rogersville circuit, of which the Asbury Church was a part, held a meeting at Lexington to organize a church with eighteen charter members. This congregation struggled along until August, 1923, then thirty-two other members were added to the list under the pastorate of Rev. E. H. Harris. A lot in the grove north of the town was deeded by Mr. A. L. Phillips for a union church building. The building was started but was not completed until two years later when the Masonic Fraternity took it up and built a hall over the church. When this was finished it was as good a church building as any in Lauderdale County at that time. It was used by Methodist and Christians with a Sunday School attended by both congregations until the fourth Sunday in May, 1916, when the house and furnishings were destroyed by fire.
When the matter of re-building was taken up, it was finally decided to build two houses. Mr. Phillips deeded the Methodist a lot adjoining the former one on which to build under the pastorate of Rev. S. E. Maples who was greatly assisted by Rev. G. M. Bynum the pastor at Rogersville. A modern church building was planned but not finished until a year later under the pastorate of Rev. S. W. Brooks. Since that time the church has been gradually progressing until today we have two hundred and sixty living members with a lively Sunday School superintended by Mr. E. S. Springer, Mr. O. V. Porter, secretary, and sufficient teachers to handle seven classes.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
About the year of 1917 some of the people of Lexington community decided to build a Church of Christ. Different members gave trees to make the lumber for this building. Others gave work and some gave money. Soon the bottom part was completed. The Masonic Fraternity completed the upper story for their hall. This is a substantial frame building. There were about twenty-five members the first year, but this number has grown to about a hundred-seventy-five or eighty.
Brother J. T. Harris was the first minister. Since that time Bros. Coffman, Hottle, Holt, Thornberry, and Gibbs have served as preachers of the Gospel. This church is financed by the members giving as they are prospered. It has a Sunday School with classes for all ages with an average attendance of one-hundred-fifty. Usually, there is preaching twice a month. Each summer the church supports a meeting for a week or ten days, gives to the poor, helps mission work, helps support W.M.S.D. radio broadcasts, and many other worthy causes. This church is supported by gifts and contributions by its members each Sunday giving as they have purposed (sic) in their hearts. No assessments are made or any outside support asked for by any member.
A group of ten men and women met and organized the Baptist Church on October 8, 1933. After(ward) a tent meeting was held by Bro. Fowler. They bought two acres of land from Mr. A. L. Phillips on the Greenhill Road in the west part of Lexington and built a rock church. The church was started and is (s)till not finished, but is being used for services. When finished it will cost around $4000. There are now fifty-four members with a growing Sunday School of four classes with Mr. O. E. Barr as Superintendent and Miss Lillian Pettus as secretary. The first pastor was Bro. Fowler, followed respectively by Bros. McDougal, King, and Crosslin, who is now Pastor.
The early schools of Lexington were taught in the churches. They had a home-made teachers desk and log slabs for seats. School was in session about three or four months. There were no grades, everyone was taught in one room. The houses were made of logs and were heated by fireplaces. The children got water from the Westmoreland spring. They had slates to write on and most of their studies were from an arithmetic and the Blue Back Speller.
All the early schools were destroyed during the War Between the States. After the war, the people of the Lexington community used an old one-room house for the school. Later a one-room boxed house was built. This was used for a number of years. Then seeing the need for a better school, the citizens built a two-room frame building on a site given by Mr. A. L. Phillips and Mr. John Lanier. A short time afterwards two more rooms were added. The building served until 1922 when a brick junior high school was built with Mr. J. C. Mattox as principal.
In 1926 a four room grade school building was added and the school was made an accredited high school with a vocational agriculture and vocational home economics departments being added. In the summer of 1931, a new auditorium was added to the elementary school building. The senior class of 1932, consisting of twenty-nine boys and girls, which was the largest class to finish high school thus far, was the first to use the new auditorium.
In 1934, two new rooms were added on the south side of the auditorium. These rooms were used by the first grade which had ninety-five children enrolled that year.
In the spring of 1935, a new gymnasium was built at the cost of approximately six thousand dollars. This is a very fine asset to the recreational life of our community. In fact, Lexington is the only rural community which has a gymnasium separate from the main school building.
In the late summer of 1937 two more rooms and a principals office were added north of the auditorium. And this year, 1939-40, our school has grown until three more rooms have been added in a separate building just south of the vocational building.
We now have twenty-four teachers, eight large school buses which transport six hundred and sixty-eight children daily and cover two hundred and sixty-four miles each day.
The county furnishes us coal, chalk, floor oil, stoves, desks, and many other modern conveniences, so that we have every advantage over others who (have) gone to school here when our community was first started.
-----Mary Christine Davis
In the spring of 1920-21 when Miss Ora Devers was teaching, a few mothers met at the old school and organized a school improvement association which has later become our P.T.A.
Mrs. S. F. Cotton was chosen as its first president; Miss Ora Devers, vice-president; Mrs. L. M. Foster, secretary-treasurer.
One of the most profitable things this organization did was keeping "a school pig" which was fed bits of food, that stray dogs would have eaten, and corn donated by the children. The pig served a two-fold purpose, namely, it grew for the piano and furnished something for the children to work for, because none of them ever tired of caring for the pig. The winter of 1920-21 was spent with the interest of the school and the welfare of its children at heart.
Then the new school year of 1921-22 dawned and there was a beautiful new building in which to conduct school and as is always the case, there were many ways in which the School Improvement could help. This it did nobly. One of the greatest ways in which it made its existence felt was in seating the auditorium of the new building at a cost of $1000.
In the years that have followed, that is, from 1922-1940, a great many more things of equal importance have been done. Some of those are: equipment for the domestic science department; installing a Delco system, which furnished both light and water; a beautiful rug and curtains for the stage; building drives and hauling gravel for walks; changing roads and putting in culverts. The P.T.A. also wired the building for lighting the grounds of the school campus. Parents Day, which has become an annual event, is also sponsored by this organization.
Years ago the merchants had their merchandise hauled from Florence, Pulaski, or Tuscaloosa on wagons. It took ten days to go to Tuscaloosa and back.
Today the merchants have their goods hauled on trucks, trains, and steam boats.
When people went to church they went on horse-back, steer wagons, or walked. Later they went to church in buggies and surreys, now they go in cars. They can go other places in trains, cars, steam boats, trucks, and airplanes.
The leading occupation is farming. Since this community has the reputation of being a very rich agricultural community.
We have found that way back in the olden days they did not have plows like we have now. Many years ago the plows were made of wood. The plows were pulled by oxen and plowed fields of rice, wheat, corn, potatoes, and cotton. Now much of the plowing is done by tractors.
When the people first came here they had to clear out places to plant their crops. But now we have cleared, smooth ground. The land in this community is adapted to possibly a wider range of crops than would be found true of but very few communities in the South. To illustrate this, it is of the finest sort of soil for every crop ranging from cotton to wheat. The average production of cotton for this district being about three-fourths bale per acre, grown on profitable basis. Wheat is not grown to any great extent. Other crops grown in this vicinity are corn, hay, oats, clover, peanuts, fruits, and vegetables.
Another leading occupation is teaching. To become a teacher one must complete elementary school, have four years of high school work, and from three to six years of college training. It takes four years of college work to get a B. S. degree. Now a great many grade teachers have as much training as junior and senior high school teachers. They are paid according to their training and experience.
One of the first teachers in the Lexington community was Miss Minnie Glover who taught in a one-room school with no grade divisions.
Those early schools usually lasted about three months in summer. The children had to sit on seats made of split logs. They wrote on slates and their lessons were arithmetic, reading, writing, and spelling. The school day lasted from about seven until four oclock.
Now the school day lasts from eight-thirty until three. The children are picked up at their door and brought to school on buses. There are twenty-four trained teachers in our school and they teach separate grades or groups. The children have numerous books, maps, pictures, flowers, radios, victrolas, magainzes(sic), newspapers, globes, desks, lovely curtains, pets, electric lights, running water, hot lunches, filing cabinets, play equipment, tables, chairs, and many other things that make the school more home-like.
EARLY MERCHANTS OF LEXINGTON
William Dorit and Ed Westmoreland are the first men remembered to have sold goods in Lexington. In 1848 Mr. John M. Davis built a store and sold goods for a number of years and was a very prominent man. Two years later in 1850 George Cox built a store and was a prominent citizen of the village.
The business section of Lexington in 1853 was in the exact spot which is now a pasture owned by Mrs. A. L. Phillips. A few years ago while the pasture was being irrigated, a brick walk was found about four feet under the ground, a number of minnie balls, pieces of lead, and arrow heads were also unearthed. The number of stores was then eight or ten and they were all in a row. About three hundred yards from this place can be seen the hollowed-out place in the earth which used to be a tanning yard owned by Mr. John W. Briggs. After the leather was tanned, it was made into shoes by Mr. Charles Clark. He owned a shoe shop which was located about where the Christian Church now stands. Mr. William Taylor put up a saddle shop and was in business here until 1862. During the War Between the States soldiers came from miles around to buy shoes made in Lexington by Israel Price.
The merchants had their merchandise hauled from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on wagons. There being no near railroads. It took ten days to go and come from Tuscaloosa with a load of goods.
In north Lexington about where Mr. Bob Johnsons shop is, was a harness and bridle shop owned by Mr. Charles Quillen. Before the War Between the States this spot was also noted for a blacksmith shop run by Ed Westmoreland. Wagons were made in this community in 1853 by Samuel Lemay and are said to have been substantial, good looking wagons, they were called home-made wagons.
In 1864 Mr. James McPeters came to Lexington to sell goods. He bought the store owned by Sam Bently and sold goods for a number of years in the central part of the village. He had his merchandise hauled on wagons from Florence or Pulaski.
In the year of 1873 Mr. A. L. Phillips came to Lexington to work in the store of James McPeters and in 1883(?), he and E. C. Barnett opened a small store in the building owned by McPeters. They sold goods there for two years and dissolved partnership. In 1886 Mr. Phillips went into business for himself. He owned a little store which was built by Rev. Gibson and stood in the eastern part of the village about where Mr. Marvin Belews home stands. In 1888 he built a good sized store near where his present home stands. He sold goods there until fifteen years later. He bought another store in central Lexington from James McPeters, there he sold goods until 1920.
Somewhere near the year of 1900 G. T. Norwood and Will Vaughn, Tom Green and his brother Bob, J. H. Davis, J. A. Moore and W. A. Newton had stores in Lexington. Later V. C. Deaton built a good sized store and sold goods for a few years after which W. C. Kizer took the stock and did splendid business.
J. H. Belew, L. M. Foster and R. F. Stewart formed a company about 1910 and operated a store located in central Lexington, this store did a thriving business for several years. Mr. Stewart sold out, then J. H. Belew and L. M. Foster sold goods for a long time. Mr. Foster finally sold his part to Mr. Belew and went into the hardware business for himself. Mr. Belew continued this business until March, 1940 when he sold it to Dudley Killen, Hollis Belew, and Ernest Pettus.
D. T. Wilcoxson sold goods in Lexington where Thompson Brothers are now. Later he sold this building to Thompson Bros. and moved to a modern brick building which he had erected on the corner opposite the Bank. He is still here and is doing a good business.
Thompson Bros. are just south of the cemetery and have an up-to-date line of merchandise to supply your needs. They also operate two peddling trucks and a produce truck to Florence, Sheffield and Tuscumbia daily.
Hollis Belew sold furniture in the bottom at Newtons location for several years. Now, L. R. Newton sells goods and is doing a thriving business. Emmett Davis built a grocery store on a lot in front of J. H. Belews about three years ago and is doing a good business.
The next leading occupation of our community is that of Doctors of Medicine. One of the first doctors in the community was Dr. Barbee who lived about where Mrs. Phillips barn is. After he left there was no doctor nearer than Center Star for several years. Later Dr. Bill Harris lived where Miss Lanier lives and practiced medicine. Later Dr. J. P. Jones who lived where Miss Vesta Smith lives, was the only doctor for miles around. Drs. L. C. Harris, G. K. Waits, and E. L. McConnel preceded the present Drs. J. W. Taylor and S. F. Cotton.
Four years of training in medical school was required of the earlier doctors. Today doctors are required to have six years in medical school and two years in an accredited hospital to practice medicine. The income of a doctor in this community is very low considering the amount of education required.
MILLS OF LEXINGTON
The first mill in this community was a water mill on Second Creek about a mile and one-half from Lexington. It was moved to Mill Creek later.
There was a rolling mill where Mr. Davis lives now. Mr. Lanier, Mr. Mabe, Mr. Phillips, Mr. Wess Belew, Mr. Sam Newton, and Mr. Henry Hammonds owned this mill. They made an excellent quality of flour from the wheat grown in and around this community. This flour was called "Dixie Girl." Mr. Joe Johnston was the first miller. Later Mr. John Lanier, Mr. John Newton, and Mr. Charlie Williams served as millers with Mr. J. D. Cole working as fireman. After several years a grist mill was added. Then a farmer coming for his flour could also get meal. Finally, all the owners sold their interests to Mr. Phillips and he operated the mill a few years and went out of business.
There are now two mills in Lexington. One is a grist mill owned by Mr. Bob Johnston and the other is owned by Mr. Porter. The grinding stone on this mill has been used in Lexington since 1853 and it still makes excellent meal. Long ago the meal was ground by the aid of an undershot - ? - wheel and the bolt was changed and turned by hand to make flour.
Now Thompson Bros. own a mill in Lexington by the side of the store, They run a grist mill which is run by electricity. Mr. D. O. Clark is the miller.
THE DRUG STORE
Lexington has had a drug store for eighteen years. It has been in three different locations. It was first located in one corner of Belews Dry Goods Store and was owned by Dr. S. F. Cotton with Mr. L. M. Foster filling the prescriptions when Dr. Cotton was away.
The demands were so great upon the drug department that it was necessary to have a separate building for it. The building was erected next to the old Lexington Bank. The first owners were R. T. Belew, Dr. S. F. Cotton, and O. V. Kizer. R. T. Belew was employed to fill the prescriptions.
The present owner, Dr. J. W. Taylor, bought the building adjoining the Bank and moved into it five years ago. Mr. W. L. Nix and Mr. W. H. Phillips are employed here. The training required under the old code was four years of high school work. New rules require a high school education and four years in a school of pharmacy.
Mr. Bob Johnson was the first to have a central office in Lexington. There were about 385 telephones connected with the board. There were not many long-distance calls put through.
Eleven years ago the Lexington Telephone Company bought it. Misses Ada and Rosa Belew operated it then. They kept it four years. Mr. Dewey Clark bought it from them. He owned it until recently when he sold it to Mr. Felix Burgess. There are forty-five lines and 220 telephones. Mr. Clark has had it eighteen months.
The board is going to be moved to Mr. Burgesss house. They are now trying to get the lines ready to move. It will take a day to get the board moved after they get the post ready.
The telephone was invented in 1874 by Dr. Alexander Graham Bell of Boston. The telephone is a great help to the farmers and business men of Lexington.
BANK OF LEXINGTON
On January 3, 1917, a bank was organized with Mr. S. W. Pate as cashier. The business was carried on in the building where the telephone exchange is now located. The building cost about $900 and was owned principally by the farmers of the Lexington community. The purpose of this institution was to assist the farmers with the problems that confronted them from year to yearto give them assistance to enable them to pay cash for their fertilizer and other commodities necessary for farming purposes.
Mr. Pate was followed by Mr. Bill Nethery as cashier, who served until seventeen years ago when Mr. C. P. McMeans was employed as cashier. Mr. B. A. Porter serves as assistant cashier. The building cost about $5000. The capital stock is now about $15000.
Mr. A. L. Phillips was president until poor health forced him to retire. Mr. L. M. Foster was then made president with Mr. J. H. Belew serving as vice-president. The directors in addition to these men are: G. H. Smith, E. G. Hammond, Charles P. McMeans, Luther King, D. T. Wilcoxson, and J. R. Mabe.
People did not raise much cotton long agojust enough to spin. The first gins would not gin over 10 bales a year. They had big holes in the ground. The cotton was put in the hole where it was packed by feet and a wooden screw run by two horses. When the bale was packed it was rolled out by hand.
The first gin in this community was over on Second Creek near the place where Mr. Herschel Porter now lives. The next gin was in front of Mr. Phillips house and was owned by Mr. Phillips and Mr. Frank Newton. Later another gin was built by Mr. J. H. Belew who sold an interest to Mr. Joe Hayes. This gin is run by steam. It does a good business, ginning several hundred bales each year.
After Mr. Frank Newton went out of business with Mr. Phillips, he farmed several years; then built a gin south of Lexington on the old Rogersville Road. It was first run by steam but lately he has had it attached to the power line and is running it by electricity. His business is good.
Mr. Taylor Wilcoxson, Mr. Willie Thompson, and Mr. Charlie Williams built the first garage in Lexington. It is near Thompsons store in the forks of the Rogersville and The Cross Roads. Mr. Williams worked in it for a number of years. Later he sold his interest to Mr. Marvin Davis and now it is owned and operated by Ernest and Bob Campbell.
Several years after the first garage was built, J. H. Belew built another garage next to his store in central Lexington. Before buying a garage of their own, Ernest and Bob Campbell worked in Mr. Belews garage. Now Mr. Jim King operates it.
Some of the first peddlers who came into this community were Dock Grisham and Luther Howard. Mr. W. L. Thompson was the first peddler in Lexington. He peddled for Wilcoxson before he and his brother went into business. They used wagons and their own mules in those early days. They could not cover over 16 miles a day. They got $3.00 a day for their work. Some of the things sold were sugar, baking powder, coffee, bread, tobacco, flour, thread, and cloth. Later Belew, Wilcoxson, and Thompson Bros. operated peddling trucks. This continued a great many years until license became so high that Belew and Wilcoxson thought peddling didnt pay, therefore, they went out of business.
Licenses for the first peddling truck cost $181.00 and $230.00 for the second truck, this includes a tax of thirty-two dollars on tobacco and eight dollars on snuff.
Now Thompson Bros. are the only merchants who run peddling trucks in Lexington. They have two trucks. Today they go as far as fifty miles and serve a great many more people. They carry much more goods now than they formerly did. The peddlers of today usually work for a commission instead of a salary.
Some of the earliest shops in Lexington were near where Mr. Bob Johnson's shop now is. There was once a harness and bridle shop run by J. E. Westmoreland and wagons made by Samuel Lemay near this same spot. A Mr. Jim Morrison owned and operated a shop located about where the Ritter house now stands.
Mr. John Lanier, Jack and Bud Belew ran a shop in this community also. They would pile up chestnut wood and burn it to make coal to burn in their shop, which was located where Mr. Hart Phillips' house now stands. They shod horses, worked on farm tools, and made wagons besides many other kinds of shop work.
Mr. Bob McGuire ran a shop where the Ritter house now stands, or at the Morrison old stand, for a great many years.
Then Mr. Lanier built a shop for Marvin Belew and Herschel Lanier where the French Bros. now work. They [did] a good business for a number of years until Mr. Belew married and moved to Miner Hill, Tennessee.
Mr. Bob Johnson built a shop where he lives now and was assisted in the shop work by J. H. French for a great many years.
About this time Lee and Will Thompson built a shop just north of the Methodist church and did a thriving business. After they sold out, Johnson was the only blacksmith until Marvin Belew moved back and put up a shop on the Loretto Road just north of Mr. Johnson's, which has been operated ever since under various blacksmiths. However, Mr. Belew is there now doing a good business. Jim and Ben French are working in the old shop that Mr. Lanier built.
Colonel Mathews had the first post office in Lexington. It was where Mr. Marvin Belew's shop is now.
Mr. Tickie Newton had the next post office. Mr. Will Newton carried the mail then. The mail was very poor in those days on account of the inconvenient location of the town. Mail was probably brought across the Tennessee River to Courtland, thence to Rogersville and from there to Lexington three times a week, or it was brought from St. Joseph, Tennessee, by way of the Belew Post Office on Hurrican Creek and then to Lexington on horseback or in a one-horse cart.
The post office was moved from where Mr. Belew's shop is to Deaton and Kizer's store on the corner going out to where Mr. Henry McGuire lives now. Then it was moved from there to Mrs. Davis' house, which was located where Mr. Barr now lives. Mrs. Davis was the postmistress and Mr. Will Newton was the rural carrier. From Mrs. Davis' it was moved to Mr. Belew's store and Mr. Porter was carrier on Rural Route No. 1.
The post office was next moved to Wilcoxson's store. While here Mr. Lee Hammond and Mr. D. S. Roberts were the postmasters. O. V. Porter, E. S. Springer, and Onus Kizer were the rural carriers. Mrs. Newton was also postmistress for awhile.
When Mrs. Annie Campbell became postmistress, a new post office building was built in central Lexington. The rural carriers are still serving who served under Mr. Hammonds and Mr. Roberts were postmasters.
Mr. R. L. Johnson had the first radio in Lexington. The first radios were battery sets. Mr. Phillips had the first electric receiving set. Since that time, radios have become very common. Nearly all of us enjoy the privilege of getting world-wide news and entertainments daily.
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