History of Mt. Pleasant

Memories of the Civil War Article by Margaret Morphis Lockhart

Lands bought from Cherokee Indian in 1836; town flourished for first 15 years
The Reporter, August 11, 1988
By John Loftin, Jr.

The following historical account of the Mt. Pleasant community was written and submitted by John Loftin, Jr.

Mt. Pleasant is the community featured in August by the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce.

The land that today is Mount Pleasant passed from Indian Ownership on February 6, 1836. George Oxberry, a Cherokee, had acquired the land through his marriage to the daughter of a renowned Chickasaw chieftain, General William Colbert.

The land was deeded to the federal government and sold on the same day to a land speculator, W. Crane. In December of that year the land was purchased by D.E. Brittenum and J.H. Cloud. Brittenum established a large plantation one mile south of the settlement, clearing land and building a large house on the site. The abandoned plantation cemetery has some of the oldest monuments in the county, with birth dates from the mid-1700s and death dates in the [note from Deb Haines - this paragraph stopped here]

The village of Mount Pleasant was laid out on January 27, 1837 (town plan on file at the Marshall County Courthouse). A public square was the central focus of the town, which was divided by broad streets and narrow alleyways. North f the square was an area designated as public lands, where springs that provided the town's water were found. Also, distinctly marked were the lots designated for use as sites for a church, school, and graveyard. The church established on the site in 1841 was the Methodist Episcopal, today's Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church. The graveyard is still Mount Pleasant's cemetery. Nearly 120 other lots were laid off and sold.

Stores sprang up around the square. General stores operated by Brittenum and Cloud, Summer and Cox, and Horace and Crook were among the first to be opened, but within 10 or 15 years the number of businesses had reached nearly a dozen and included a hotel owned by the George Johnsons and later the person family, an undertaking establishment, blacksmith shop, barbershop, and a succession of cotton gins and grist mills. An academy for women, known as the Marshall Female Institute was built in affiliation with the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Sons of Temperance organized Lodge No. 173 in Mount Pleasant and were active in the community in the 1850s, with regular meetings and parades through the town. A Masonic lodge was also built.

Churches included the Methodist Episcopal Church, a Cumberland Presbyterian church, a Missionary church, and Baptist churches.

Rolls of these churches, lodges and land records give us names of the early families of the community. They included Coopwoods, Ivys, Jowers, Curls, Johnsons, Hales, Hintons, Woodys, Ballards, Beachams, Sorrills, Knoxes, Thompsons, Hutchins, Teels, Carpenters, Lundsens, Browns, Skeltons, Anthonys, Elliots, Mortons, Persons, Karrs, Loftins, Hurdles, and many others.

The Civil War destroyed the prosperity of the town, with skirmishes in the area and Union and Confederate units exchanging fire nearby. An interesting account of that time can be found in the files of the Marshall County Library. An article for the October 14, 1923 issue of the Commercial Appeal described in good detail life in the town as experienced by Margaret Morphis Lockhart who took refuge in the old hotel with her family during the war.

By the turn of the century, the town had rebounded. The stores around the square were again serving much of the surrounding area. On Saturdays and during the harvest season, the square was crowded with wagons and people who were in town to purchase supplies. Most of the needs of the households and farms could be filled in Mount Pleasant. Travel to Holly Springs, Collierville, or Memphis was the exception rather than the rule. The churches and schools provided the social focus of the community. As an example, the Mt. Pleasant High School and Training Institute offered four days of activities to mark its commencement exercises. On Sunday, June 19, 1892, the commencement sermon was given. On Wednesday evening, June 22, the annual concert of the Excelsior Literary Society was presented. An operetta was then performed on Thursday, June 23, and on Friday evening, June 24, graduation exercises were held featuring classical vocal and instrumental music; orations on responsibility, decisions, obstacles, earthly things, duty, hope and progress; and the conferring of the degrees.

After the time of the World Wars and the arrival of modern means of transportation, Mount Pleasant lost its importance as a business center to other towns and cities, and settled into a quieter existance. Today, the old plantation homes are gone, as are most of the pre-Civil War structures. There is little to suggest the history of the town. Now, two stores, a post office, bank, public and private schools, the gin, and churches provide the centers of activity in the community, but it is the people and their way of life that make Mount Pleasant an interesting part of the past and present of Marshall County.

Grandfather ran a freight wagon route from Memphis to Mt. Pleasant
The South Reporter, September 8, 1988
By Ed Owen

We enjoyed Linda Jones' feature article on Mr. and Mrs. Tracy Burchett a couple of weeks ago. Especially Tracy's grandfather's stories. My granddad, John A. Morton also ran a freight wagon route - Memphis to Mt. Pleasant - following the war between the states. Mt. Pleasant was a thriving trade center. Tons of groceries, hardware, medicines and other items for the surrounding farms were handled each Saturday by a dozen stores, blacksmith shops and 2 or 3 garages (later) when the town had an Overland, Willis and Willis-Knight auto agency.

The freight wagons made the 3-day trips as Linda reported. One day to travel to Col. White's farm (east of White Station tower), one day to travel into Memphis, secure load of freight from wholesalers and return to White's station yard and one day to return to Mt. Pleasant (servicing stores along the way). I can remember store owner on south side of road half way to Collierville being robbed and murdered about 1920. The whole country side "worked on" every crime in those days. Very few crimes are committed in complete secrecy. It is hard to understand why people are so reluctant to supply information to sheriffs and police today. Any "little" information may be just what is needed to solve a crime. However, with today's scheming, government paid, lawyers, it might take a lot more to get a criminal punished. Too often, it's the victim who is persecuted, mistreated and bears all the costs and other losses.

I first knew Tracy and others from area south of Mt. Pleasant when they came to the new consolidated school, complete with central steam heat, music teacher and running water, about 1925. Before that we packed the water, made the fires, and cleaned the old building. It was a two story building. Upstairs was the Masonic Lodge. The "goat upstairs" kept the children out. Teacher's word was law! And order was perfect.

Article excerpted from the "Holly Springs Garden Club Book"
By Margaret Lockhart

In early days, Mt. Pleasant was addressed as North Mt. Pleasant. Built around a square it was a thrifty little town from the first. This town was incorporated in 1836. Then it was one mile square. Now it is one-half mile.

On the east stood a large brick building with the Masonic Lodge above and a Male Academy below. Across on the west stood the Female Academy with music rooms above, the downstairs being used for classes and study.

Our teachers were Mr. and Mrs. Lansing (from the North) and for music we had Miss Eurdora Barbee and Miss Mary Frank Ivy. I was a mere child, being born in 1851, but I shall never forget my school days there when I read with the "Fifth Reader" class the selection "The Natural Bridge of Virginia", which later I life I passed over.

On the north side of the square was a tavern kept by Mr. McElroy. This was in 1860 before the war. On the south was a Drug store owned by Mr. Bassett Lawrence and on the south west corner a general merchandise establishment run by Mr. David Gossett & Sons. Later on a store was opened by Mr. Jeff Coopwood. Across the square still another store was operated by Messrs. James House and Robert (Bob) Clear.

The next building I remember was a big flour mill built by Mr. Eden Roach and a tan yard by his brother, Mr. Marley Roach. Much nice leather was furnished Mr. Sam Burford for making saddles, shoes, harnesses, and other articles. Another leather shop was owned by Mr. John Warren and there was a blacksmith shop run by Mr. Grippa Edwards.

Close by was a little white Methodist Church. Mr. Joiner, the pastor, was assisted by Bro. McNab, who lived on the Holly Springs road. Across the way lived his daughter, Mrs. McElwee. Both homes are old landmarks near the cemetery. Later, C. P. Luck married one of Mrs. McElwee's daughters. He was superintendent of schools in the 1880s. Mr. Steve Mullins of Holly Springs, whom we all love and appreciate, followed him in this work.

The old settlers were Clears, Clouds, Hunters, Websters, Gillilands, merchants. The first doctors whom I recall were Drs. Sales and Webb and Dr. Scruggs.

Old homes now standing are: The Hinton home now owned by Mr. John Person (2-story brick); McElwee home, now owned by Charley Luck; Crawford home; the old 2-story brick colonial home built by Dr. Brock, know as the Ivy Home, now known as "Hill-drop", owned by (Miss) Ida Saunders, and the hotel owned now by Mrs. Fannie Johnson.

It was in 1850 that my father, J. A. Morphis, thought it best to leave his farm and move to Mt. Pleasant. He bought ten acres of land and built in the center a nice, though primitive log house. All the logs were handhewn and white washed. An attractive driveway led to the big front gate. In the rear were the servants quarters. The house and yard were well kept by old Aunt Liza and Uncle Jordan (our slaves brought in from the farm).

Submitted by Martha Fant

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