Hickman County

Iron mining near Wrigley in 1939
PHOTO: TN State Library and Archives

 

Here are 4 interesting things about Hickman County history:

1. When most people think of a place named for chewing gum millionaire William Wrigley, most think of Wrigley Field in Chicago.

There is a also small community in Hickman County named for him. In the 1920s, Wrigley was one of the investors in the Tennessee Products Corporation, which owned and operated coal, iron and phosphate mines and factories in Chattanooga, Rockwood, Whitwell, Rockdale and other places.

Wrigley, in Hickman County, was one of the Tennessee Products Corp.’s “company towns.”┬áIt was named for William Wrigley, the owner of the chewing gum company and an investor for Tennessee Products. The main thing produced at the Tennessee Products’ Wrigley operation was charcoal.

Pearl and Roy Acuff on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry
PHOTO: Country Music Foundation

2. Sarah Cannon is the most famous person to ever come from Hickman County. But most people knew her by her stage name — Minnie Pearl.

Cannon went to Ward-Belmont College in Nashville–a finishing school for young ladies. But she had a bubbly personality and a great sense of humor, and soon she became an actress. The Minnie Pearl character became a regular on the Grand Ole Opry starting in 1940. Today the very mention of the word, “HOW-DEE!” brings to mind the woman from Hickman County.

1818 Melish map

3. Hickman County is one of several Tennessee counties that moved its county seat. As you can see from this 1818 map (on the right), Hickman County originally covered quite a bit of area, and Vernon was its the first county seat.

After several other counties were carved out of Hickman County, a new town called Centerville was created that was more centrally located, and the courthouse was moved there.

The Lee and Gould Furnace

 

 

4. In Hickman County’s early days, iron manufacturing was a big part of the economy. Today you can see a small remnant of this at the Lee and Gould Furnace (also known as the Sugar Hill Furnace.) This can be found just off I-40, near the community known as Only, Tennessee (see photo on the left).