First and Second Reports of the Bureau of Agriculture for the State of Tennessee.



Assisted By

To whom local assistance was rendered by
C. W. CHARLTON, of East Tennessee
H. L. BENTLEY, of West Tennessee.

Prepared Under the Direction of the Bureau of Agriculture.

Nashville, Tenn.:
Tavel, Eastman & Howell,
Printers to the State



            Madison county, in wealth, population, quantity of products and political influence, will compare favorably with any of the counties in the Western Division of the State, with the exception of Shelby, in which Memphis is located. In the number of acres assessed for taxation it stands seventh, having on the tax list, exclusive of town lots, .361,842 acres, valued at $3,863,124, or $10.67 per acre, while in the value of taxable property it stands fourth—Shelby, Gibson and Fayette ranking it. The whole value of taxable property for 1873 was $6,248,727. It has an area of about 575 square miles, and a population of nearly 23,000. In 1870 its population was 28,480, of which 10,152 were colored. Since that report was made, a fraction of the county, about twenty-five square miles has been cut off and given to the new county of Crockett. The act creating Madison county was passed on the 7th of November, 1821, and on the 17th of the following month, the organization of the county was effected by the following commissioners, who also constituted the first County Court: Adam R. Alexander, Bertholomew G. Stewart, David Jarvett, Wm. Atchison, Robert H. Dyer, .John Thomas, Duncan MCIvor, Joseph Lynn, .James Trousdale, Herndon Harelson, Wm. Braden, Samuel Taylor and Wm. Woolfork. The first court was held on the 17th of December, and Herndon Harelson was chosen chairman, and Roderick McIvor clerk. The original settlers were Virginians and North Carolinians, and the high social virtues which distinguished them, have been preserved by their descendants. In no county can there be found more prosperity, a more generous appreciation of merit, a more cordial sympathy with intelligence, or a more self sacrificing devotion to duty. Courteous by nature, with an inherited love for the truthful, it is much more common for the citizens to give credit to the stranger for virtues that are wanting than to withhold what is his due. There is no better society to be found anywhere than in the county of Madison.

            Physical Geography—Soils. The country immediately around Jackson, which is near the center of the county, is gently undulating, going north or north-west to the county line, it is more level, although still undulating. The same thing is the case toward the west, but the southern and extreme eastern sections of the county are very rolling. The prevailing color of the soil is dark chocolate, with mixture of clay and sand. In the northern and western districts the subsoil is dark yellow, while in the southern and eastern it is red. Both soil and subsoil are very porous, without being very thirsty, the subsoil generally commencing about eight inches below the surface, though it produces well to a depth of at least eighteen inches. The clay which ms below the surface, forming the beds upon which the subsoil rests is from three to four feet deep; then comes a formation of what is called Orange Sand, which is in beds or strata and extends over the greater portion of the county. Sometimes, instead of this sand are found calcareous formations or indurated clay, called locally "hard pan clay." North of Jackson this clay, when found, is harder than it is in the other counties. The whole of Madison county is on the Plateau or Slope of West Tennessee, and no regular strata of the older and hard rocks are to be looked for. In the southern part of the county local masses of red ferruginous sandstone are occasionally met with. Iron ore is sometimes associated with this, but to no considerable extent. The sandstone is generally found near the surface, but is confined principally to the hills and bluffs along the banks of’ the Forked Deer River and of the creeks in the southern part of the county. The lands of Madison produce freely and stand droughts well. The best cotton lands rest upon the beds of Orange Sand. The general appearance of the county is good. The scenery is subdued and pleasing rather than wild and romantic.

            Artificial Mounds. Pinson’s mounds, in the south-eastern portion of the county, near Pinson’s Station, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, are curiosities worthy of mention. Several of them are from 50 to 60 feet long, from 45 to 50 feet in height and from 50 to 75 feet in diameter, being nearly hemispherical in shape. Around these is a semi-circular enclosure made by throwing up earth, as in building for fortifications. This enclosure, if completed, would form a circle not less than 600 feet in diameter. It is supposed that these mounds were ancient burying grounds, but who were the builders we know not. A little west of Jackson are several mounds very similar in appearance, but much smaller iii size.

            Rivers and Creeks. There are other counties in West Tennessee which are better watered than Madison, but it has running through it a goodly number of streams, which supply plenty of water for ordinary purposes. The following are deserving of mention: Middle Fork of Forked Deer River enters the county in the north-eastern corner, from Carroll county, runs south-west, passes almost entirely through the northern part of the county and enters Gibson county about sixteen miles north-west of Jackson. South Fork of Forked Deer River enters the county from Henderson county, near the southeast corner, runs nearly west, and passes into Haywood county, fifteen miles north-west of Jackson and near the boundary line of Crockett. Little Middle Fork of Forked Deer River rises in Henderson county, passes into Madison a little south of the center of the line dividing Henderson and Madison, runs west and empties into the South Fork of Forked Deer, four miles east of Jackson. Greer’s Creek rises about eight miles north-east of Jackson, ranges south and empties into Little Middle Fork of the Forked Deer, seven miles east of Jackson. Jones’ Creek rises about three and a half miles north-east of Jackson, runs south and empties into the South Fork of Forked Deer, one and a fourth miles south-east of .Jackson. Johnson’s Creek rises about one and a half miles south of Jackson, runs north-west and empties into the South Fork of Forked Deer, six miles west of Jackson. Cub Creek rises about eight miles south-west of Jackson, runs north-west and empties into the South Fork of Forked Deer thirteen miles northwest of Jackson. Big Black, Clover and Turkey creeks do not rise in the county, but pass through portions of it, the two first emptying into Hatchie River in Haywood county, the last named emptying into the Forked Deer, twelve miles south-east of Jackson. Dyer Creek rises two miles north of Jackson and is a tributary of Middle Fork (locally North Fork) of Forked Deer River. The larger streams in the county are lasting and afford milling facilities, though a majority of them have sluggish currents with unstable banks. The water of the county is freestone. On Turkey Creek in the south-east part of the county chalybeate springs are met with.

            Timber. Oaks are plentiful all over the county, and there was formerly much good poplar, but it is becoming scarce. There is also plenty of good hickory, and on the river banks there is very fair cypress. Ash, beech and the other varieties usually found in Tennessee are met with to a limited extent, with the exception of pine, which is not found in this or any of the northern counties of West Tennessee.

            Land and Crop Statistics. An estimate for 1873 has been made by several gentlemen, of the crops, which will be found to be approximately correct. It will be seem: that the amount of products is not so great as in 1870, but since that date a portion of the county has been taken off. We give the estimate only as an approximation.

Value of farms
Value of farming implements and machinery
Value of orchard products
Value of market garden products
Value of forest products
Value of home manufacture
Value of all live stock


Number of horses
Number of mules and asses
Number of milch cows
Number of other cattle
Number of sheep
Number of swine


Bushels of winter wheat
Bushels of corn
Bushels of oats
Bales of cotton
Pounds of wool
Bushels of Irish potatoes
Bushels of sweet potatoes
Pounds of butter


            No estimation is made of the quantities of spring wheat, rye and barley, or of tobacco, for the reason that the production of these is so limited as to make it almost impossible to be at all accurate. The following estimates are made by some of the leading men and best farmers in the county and may be relied on:

Per cent of improved lands rented in 1873
Per cent of lands for sale at reasonable prices
Average rental of best lands per acre
Average rental of other lands per acre
Average price of best lands per acre
Average price of medium lands per acre
Average price of inferior lands per acre


            The low prices of lands in the county is owing to the fact that there are a great many large bodies which the owners are anxious to sell, being unable to cultivate so much profitably. When the land is rented on shares, the land-owner gets one-third of the crop if the laborer supplies himself, otherwise he gets one-half. The usual terms of sale are one-third cash, the balance in one and two years, with lien reserved to secure the payment of the second and third installments; interest is generally charged on the deferred payments, especially the last. The proportion of swamp land in the county is very small, and this can be reclaimed by drainage.

            Labor. There is a fair supply of labor, principally colored, though there are some white men who are willing to work for wages. The colored labor is better than in many other counties, probably because it is directed by more intelligence. The farmers of this county are unusually well informed, and act with justice and moderation toward their ex-slaves. The following wages are paid for labor:

Farm hands, per year
Farm hands, per month
Farm hands, per day
Cooks, per month
House servants, per month


            The demand for good cooks in town and country is great, and house servants are much wanted in the towns.

            Products. Cotton is the great staple in the county. It absorbs almost the entire attention of the farming community. Only a home supply of corn is raised. Wheat (winter) and oats are raised to a limited extent, but the other small grains are not raised in any quantities. There is little or no tobacco grown, though the soil is said to be well adapted to its growth. The best cotton lands yield one-half bale of 500 pounds to the acre, while the medium lands yield from one-fourth to one-third of a bale. The average yield is about 600 pounds in the seed per acre, but it must be observed that only good land is planted in cotton. The average yield of corn is about thirty bushels per acre; of wheat from six to twelve bushels. Vegetables of all kinds (especially roots) grow well in the county.

            Grasses. Clover grows well upon soils in which there is considerable clay, and herds-grass and timothy (especially the former) grow vigorously and yield abundantly. There is hardly lime enough in the soil for blue-grass, and the experiments that have been made are not very satisfactory. A few farmers have been trying orchard-grass, and-report favorably as to its growth. Timothy and clover yield on best lands, per acre, 4,250 pounds; herds-grass, 3,750 pounds.

            Fruits. Peaches and the standard pears are the most reliable fruits, though the others (especially the small fruits) do well; the peaches, however, and the dwarf pears are short lived, and the latter are subject to blight. Some persons have met with considerable success in the growing of grapes. The Isabella, which has proved a failure in Middle Tennessee, is said to do well in Madison county. The Scuppernong, however, is the most reliable, and gives general satisfaction. The woods are filled with wild grapes, which grow in wanton profusion, and thousands of bushels may be gathered any fall. Berries of almost every variety are found in the fields and in the woods.

            Forest Products. Lumber is not one of the staples, not a sufficiency being made to supply the home demand; a large proportion of that used is imported from the adjoining counties.

            Stock and Stock-raising. The people of Madison county pay very little attention either to the breeding or fattening of stock, though a few men are converting their farms into stock farms with the view of engaging in this branch of industry.

            Markets. Nearly everything that is raised in the county is sold at remunerative prices in Jackson, and a good deal of cotton and produce is brought to Jackson from other counties. In cotton alone, Jackson does a large business, buying annually from 15,000 to 20,000 bales, which are shipped to New York and New Orleans, and some to Cincinnati, and some is shipped every year direct to the factories in New England. The city of Jackson has improved more in proportion than any other portion of the county, but this is partially owing to the fact that a great many persons from the country have rented out their farms and have moved into the city to secure advantages which they could not enjoy in the country. In no city in the State is there found a better society than in Jackson.

            Immigration. The principal immigration since 1870 has been from the counties of East and Middle Tennessee, though a good many families have moved into the county from the Southern States.

            Roads. The roads are generally in bad condition and will admit of very great improvement. Across the river and creek bottoms there are improved roads, which are kept in only tolerable condition. The new road law is in force in the county, and is giving general satisfaction.

            Railroads. There are but two railroads in operation in the county, the Mobile and Ohio and the Mississippi Central, both of which run through the suburbs of Jackson. Efforts are being made, with fair prospects of success, to build roads from Jackson to Huntingdon, from Jackson to Birmingham, Ala., and from Jackson to the Tennessee River by the way of Lexington, Tennessee.

            Towns and Villages. Jackson, the county seat, is one of the best laid off towns in the State. It includes within the corporate limits four square miles. The streets are wide and the residences neat and tasteful. It is located near the center of the county; has about 7,000 inhabitants; is at the junction of the Mobile and Ohio and the Mississippi Railroads; has four female schools, or colleges, under the supervision of the following churches: Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and Catholic. The Baptist University has been located here, which will be richly endowed. There are ten churches, representing the following denomiations: 2 Methodist, 1 Old School Presbyterian, 1 Cumberland Presbyterian, 1 Baptist, 1 Christian, 1 Episcopalian, 1 Catholic, 1 colored Methodist and 1 colored Baptist, the Methodist being the strongest church numerically and financially; 3 planing-mills, 1 foundry, 1 barrel factory, 1 brewery, 1 soda-water factory, 1 tannery, and the two railroads centerinng here have located their workshops in the town. The following is the estimated trade of .Jackson : The dry-goods, clothing, boots, shoes and hat business aggregated $753,000; the grocery business, $668,000; manufactures, $210,000; hotels and restaurants, $145,000; the marketing business of licensed dealers, including pork dealers, $301,000; the drug-business, $73,000; hardware business, $90,000; liquors, wholesale and retail, $175,000; confectioneries, fancy and notion stores, $33,500; jewelers, $50,000; livery and sale stables, $45,000; coal trade of the city, $25,000; sewing machine business, $25,000; ice trade of the city, $13,000; lumber trade and builders’ material, by dealers in the city, $130,000; salt sold, $9,000; millinery and dress-making, $45,000; cotton compress, $2,800; barbers, $7,500; gun-shops, $5,000; bakers, $15,000; receipts for telegraphing, $3,500; printing business, $57,000; banking business, gross, $5,000,000; income of colleges, $85,000, showing $7,966,300 as the grand total of the business circulating medium of Jackson. Altogether, Jackson has about eighty business houses, including two banks, and is a thrifty city, with fair prospects for the future. The disproportion of manufacturing establishments is the only unfavorable sign. Cotton factories to work up the cotton grown in the county would add wonderfully to its wealth and prosperity. Medon is twelve miles south of Jackson, has about 300 inhabitants, and is a station on the Mississippi Central Railroad. It has ten business houses and does a good deal of country trade. Denmark is twelve miles south-west of Jackson, and has about 300 inhabitants. It has four or five stores. Spring Creek is thirteen miles north-east of Jackson, and has about 50 inhabitants. Cotton Grove is nine miles east of Jackson, and has about 100 inhabitants. Pinson is twelve miles south-east of Jackson, and has about 275 inhabitants. It ships about 1,100 bales of cotton. Carroll is on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, eight miles north of Jackson, and has about 50 inhabitants. Henderson, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, ten miles south of Jackson, has 300 inhabitants, and ships 2,500 bales of cotton. It has eight or ten business houses.

            Public Schools. The people of Madison county have never taken a very great interest in public schools. No tax has been levied for that purpose. The State school fund has kept up a number of public schools for two or three months, but the number of private schools has served to give excellent educational advantages to the people. The scholastic population between six and eighteen is 7,566, of which 3,610 are colored. There are 804 between eighteen and twenty-one years of age, of which 308 are colored.

            Other Statistics. In 1873 the number of town lots in the county was 1,059, valued at $1,692,495; volume of mills, $8,800; stock in bank and insurance companies, $51,568 ; notes, due-bills, etc., $453,356; bonds, stocks, etc., $4,875 ; value of horses, mules and jacks, $80,458; value of furniture, plate, jewelry, etc., $66,983 ; value of wheel vehicles, $12.962 ; machinery, presses, etc., $29,269; all other property, $181,837 white polls, 3,962. The exemptions of $1,000 worth of property for the county amount to $197,000.

            Churches. Every neighborhood is convenient to churches, the Methodist being the leading denomination, the Baptists ranking second, and the Presbyterians third.

            Newspapers. .Jackson is a place of newspapers, the following being published in the city: Whig and Tribune, the Jackson Courier, the .Jackson Herald, and the .Jackson Dispatch, all of which, except the first named, have recently been established. They are all Democratic, and conducted with marked ability, exercising a potent influence in the politics of the State.

            Farmers’ Organizations. The West Tennessee Agricultural and Mechanical Association, with fair grounds near Jackson, is in its fifth year, and is in a very flourishing condition. It has handsome buildings, and is managed with skill and financial ability.

            The County since the War. When the war closed Madison was in a very demoralized condition, but since that the it has very greatly improved. The town of Jackson then had only about 2 000 inhabitants while it now has about 7,000. The character of the buildings throughout the county is better than formerly; fences are in a good condition; improved agricultural implements are more extensively used ; fertilizers are introduced; attention is paid to hillside ditching, horizontilization, etc; the people are becoming more sociable; the school interests have improved, and, in fact, a spirit of enterprise is actively at work throughout the county.