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A HISTORY OF

DANCYVILLE

TENNESSEE


by   Joe B. Moore,  1963

Dancyville, named after Isaac Dancy, an old settler, is a post village, thirteen miles south of Brownsville, so said Goodspeed's History of Tennessee, published in 1887. Goodspeed continues, "It was established in 1837 by Fennel T. Carpenter and John Southernland, who were it's first merchants."

Legend has it that when these merchants bought their first merchandise in St. Louis, they were asked where it should be shipped. There was no post office and the community did not have a name. When the merchants told this, they were asked if there were any kind of businesses in the community.

They answered, "Nothing except a blacksmith shop run by Isaac Dancy". The wholesalers replied, "We will call it Dancyville and ship the goods there."

So that is how the boxes were addressed.. Dancyville, Tennessee.. and they went by boat down the Mississippi and up the Hatchie River to Lowery's Landing. From there they were hauled by ox cart to Dancyville.

Mr. Dancy died in 1863 and his son, John Henry Dancy, qualified as his administrator.

¹Quoting another source - Early Surnames of Dancyville area residents: Archbell, Caldwell, Cherry, Coppedge, Crawford, Dancy, Dixon, Douglas, Ford, Hughes, Hunter, Jones, Kerr, Key, Link, McFarland, MaMahon, Moore, Morris, Neblett, Payne, Ragland, Rawlins, Russell, Scott, Tanner and Tripp.

At this time roads in the vicinity of Dancyville were practically nil. The minutes of the County Court, dated March 5, 1838, shows "A committee to view and mark out a road from the Fayette County line through Dancyville in a direction to Brownsville was appointed and instructed to report at the next term of court." This committee included John Coppedge, Isaac Dancy and others.

Also a similar committee was appointed¹ on April 2, 1838, to "View and mark a road in the direction of Somerville." John B. Moore was appointed "Overseer to cut and clear said road from the corner of McFarland's field through Dancyville to the Fayette County line and work his own hands, the hands of Zachariah Payne and all the citizens of Dancyville and report said cutting to the next or succeeding term of court."

On October 7, 1839, another committee was appointed..a "Jury to view and mark a road commencing at the Fayette County line, near the Wesley Camp Ground and to intersect the Bolivar Road by running between Gridley's and Mayes' and report to the January term of Court."

The early settlers of Dancyville brought with them the principles of Christianity. The Methodist Church was established in 1837. The present edifice erected about 1850, is the second building used by this denomination.

In 1941, Eldon Roark, in his Strolling column, called the the Dancyville Methodist Church,"A veritable picture of antiquity." Although the building has been completely redecorated since that time, this atmosphere still prevails.

A Baptist Church, established soon thereafter, continued for many years but is no longer in existence. The Presbyterian Church was organized in 1852 and is still active. The original building was remodeled in 1939 and is now one of the most beautiful churches in Haywood County.

²Early Churches:   1837 Methodist Church  ~   1837 Baptist Church  ~ 1853 Presbyterian Church

A petition for a Charter to Incorporate Dancyville was presented to the County Court in Brownsville in 1854 and approved. There were thirty signers to this petition and included I.W. Coppedge and Dr. Felix McFarland.

Early in the Civil War, two companies of soldiers were formed in Dancyville. Quoting Goodspeed's History relative to the Civil War," The Dancyville Grays was organized in the Spring of 1861, at Dancyville, with the following officers: Henry Douglas, Captain; Robert Pewett, First Lieutenant; William Scott, Second Lieutenant; W.R. Tripp, Third Lieutenant. The company contained about sixty-five men and was mustered into service at Jackson, in May 1861, and assigned it's position as Company A, Ninth Tennessee Infantry."

Still quoting Goodspeed,"Company L, Ninth Tennessee Infantry, was organized at Dancyville in March 1862, with the following officers: W.J. Lyle, Captain; G.R.Pewett, First Lieutenant; T.F. Ragland, Second Lieutenant; B.F. Phillips, Third Lieutenant. It contained about sixty-five men and was mustered into service at Corinth, Mississippi."

"These two companies served under General Cheatham during the whole war. The principal battles in which they were engaged, and in all which they lost heavily, were: Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chicamauga, Atlanta, Franklin and Nashville." J.F. Ragland, killed at Chicamauga, was brought home and buried in the Methodist Cemetery.

Dancyville has ever been school minded. Many of the early schools were subscription schools, charging ten dollars per year tuition. Academies furnished the more advanced education. Some of the academies located here were: the Dancyville Female Academy, organized in 1849; Dancyville Female Institute, organized in 1851; and the Baptist Female College, organized in 1855, The academies were gradually replaced by public high schools.(County Archives, Pages 5-6)

Quoting Goodspeed again," The Brownsville Methodist District High School, established in Dancyville, in 1884, under manage of a board of trustees, is doing an excellent work."

On July 22, 1886, the community sponsored a public bar-b-que in the Joe B. Moore wood lot for the purpose of raising funds to add classrooms to the high school building. Old timers reported that over ten thousand dollars was raised that day. The two parallel pits which were used to bar-b-que the meat were each about two hundred feet long and are still there resembling miniature breast works.

In the mid-eighteen-nineties, the Methodist Church discontinued sponsorship of the Brownsville District High School, and it's name was changed to Dancyville Male and Female Academy, and as such, continued in operation for a number of years.

²Early Schools:

1849 Dancyville Female Academy (met upstairs, Masonic Lodge Building)

1851 Dancyville Female Academy School Building erected

1851 Dancyville Male Academy organized

1855 Baptist Female College organized

1884 Methodist Brownsville District High School started

¹Minutes of County Court, 1838


NOTE: This paper does not under take to report all the interesting happenings and important events incident to the history of Dancyville and vicinity, for the reason certain documentary evidence was lacking and not easily available at the time the paper was written. It is expected that a later report will recount some of the omissions, and include more current occurrences and activities. jbm

This History Was Written by JOE B. MOORE, October 1, 1963

Provided by his daughter DOROTHY  MOORE

²Quoting different source, not Mr. Moore


ADDITIONAL DANCYVILLE HISTORY

In a letter written in 1851, Dr. Samuel A. Mims states," In our little town there are five doctors". We know of a few: Drs. Haywood,George McFarland and John Rawlins. Later there were Dr. Felix McFarland and the son and grandson of Dr. Rawlins.

The last doctor to serve the Dancyville community was Dr. Paineº.
               ºcertain this spelling should be Payne

FROM A COMMISSIONER'S HAND WRITTEN DOCUMENT - 1877

(Document has not been edited - Reproduced 'as is'.)

Dancyville, a Post village 13 miles nearly due South from Brownsville was settled by John Sutherland and Fennel T. Carpenter, the first merchants of the place, in 1834. It is located in a broken, moderately fertile, and healthy section of the County, and before the era of the railroads was a place of considerable trade. It was named for Isaac Dancy, an old settler of the County, and has always been noted for morality, intelligence, good schools, and a pleasant Society.
The village has now (1877) 2 dry goods stores, 1 drug store, 3 physicians, 1 wagon maker and carpenter, 2 black-smith shops, 1 saddle shop, 1 hotel, 3 churches- Baptist - Methodist and Old School Presbyterian, 2 school houses, with 4 teachers and about 100 pupils, 1 Masonic lodge, 1 Odd Fellows lodge, 1 Temperance hall - all in a flourishing condition; and a population of about 150, of which about 25 are colored.
Dancyville is on the line of the Holly Springs, Brownsville & Ohio Railroads, now partially constructed. Should this road be completed as contemplated, the village will doubtless have new life infused into it, and (   ?  ) become an important shipping point for this part of the County, South of the Hatchie river.

It was incorporated   Dec 16, 1837 - William Wells       (A seal was applied here-ed.)
Solomon Payne, John Moore, George Cooper, David Dancy, Doctor Hawkins   -   Commissioners

FROM  TENNESSEE   TOUR  GUIDE - 1951

There are in Dancyville today three stores and a cotton gin. In addition to the cotton and soybeans raised around here, vegetables, peas, squash and okra, comprise an additional money crop. Robert Archbell's early tomatoes and strawberries are supplied to Memphis and neighboring markets.

Families who live in this area today are the Archbells, Beards, Campbells, Clarks, Crawfords, Dancys, Dixons, Goodloes, Haynes, Howses, Martins, Moores, Perrys, Pierces, Rogers, Schultzs, Smiths and Tinsleys. Some of them are the descendents of the early settlers. A few of the old homes still stand.

In 1988, Dancyville businesses were: a grocery store; a cotton gin; a cabinet shop; farming operations.

1988 family names in the area include: Archbell, Beard, Campbell, Clark, Crawford, Dancy, Dixon, Duncan, Gates, Goodloe, Howse. Martin, Maharrey, McClanahan, Moore, Morris, Perry, Schultz, Smith, Thomas, Utley and Willer. Some of these families are descended from the early settlers.

The Dancyville History, and some other material,  from the scrapbook of, and provided by, Miss Dorothy Moore.

Posted June 1999
Updated January 2001


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