JOHN TUCKER - PIONEER BLACKSMITH

This is an excerpt from The Journal of Monroe County History of Mississippi Volume XXI, 1995. Published by The Monroe County Historical Society.

JOHN TUCKER - PIONEER BLACKSMITH

Letter XXXVI by W.B. Wilkes c1878

The following letter by W.B. Wilkes (1817-1881) was written as part of his sketches called Pioneer Times in Monroe county, and first appeared in "The Aberdeen Weekly" a newspaper edited by his friend, Edward P. Thompson. Edward P. Thompson was born in Monroe County, in a home near Cotton Gen Port, c1839. (This house still stands and is currently owned by Arch Dalrymple III, of Amory.) Edward P. Thompson was the son of Dr. James Y. Thompson and Martha C. Thompson. His uncle was the Hon. Jacob Thompson, at one time United States Secretary of the Interior.

In the mid 1930s, all of the available Wilkes articles were reprinted in "The Aberdeen Examiner", under the auspices of Harold Bentholl Sanders (1886-1996) who was the owner-publisher- editor of the paper.

In 1979, Mother Monroe Publishing Company included these articles in a compilation of some of the historical research of Dr. W.A. Evans (1865-1948) in a volume entitled MOTHER MONROE. The editors of MOTHER MONROE were Helen Mattox Crowford, Jo Doss Miller, Patsy Clark Pace, and Brynda Martin Wright.

William Brown Wilkes was born January 5, 1817, in Maury County Tennessee. He came to Monroe County in 1833, in the wake of the Prewitt family, with whom he had family connections. At first, Mr. Wilkes lived on the east side of the Tombigbee River near the county se4at of Athens, where he came to know all of the prominent east side pioneer families. In the 1850s, he lived on the west side of the county in the prairies where he worked at opening up and developing a considerable plantation. There, he met some of the prominent plantation families, such as the McQuistions, Conaways, and Heards. After 1857, he lived in the Gladneyville community (now part of Aberdeen), in the single story Greek revival house built by Joseph M. Eastlack, and later owned by Mayor R.A. Pullen. W.B. Wilkes's daughter Mary E. Wilkes (1844-1923) married James Dugan Shell (1832-1912), who owned and operated the Shell Drugstore in Aberdeen. James L. Crosby of Aberdeen is a descendant. W.B. Wilkes died November 26, 1881.

MARCH 5, 1936
John Tucker - Pioneer Blacksmith
Letter XXXVI

"At a very early day John Tucker settled west of Quincy, on a portion of land afterward belonging to Thos. Greenwood. It is likely his means, at that early day, were limited. He was a blacksmith, and no doubt the best in the country then. I have heard the old settlers say he was the only smith in the country that could make, shape, and polish and harden the heavy irons foe the running-gear of a cotton gin.

As the country was rapidly opened and put in cotton, making very large crops, many gins were erected at an early day, and from all portions of the county they flocked to John Tucker's shop for those heavy gudgeons.

He found plenty to do, and no doubt worked very hard; and made money very rapidly. His son, Waitsell, (afterwards Judge Tucker), was striker for his father, and in this way that fine physical organization was secured.

In a few years Thomas Greenwood settled there and John Tucker moved about three miles southeast of Athens; he lived there at on time, and likely near Hamilton, and afterward on Splunge, and in advanced life he finally settled a fine large farm about fifteen miles north of Millville, on the headwaters of Sipsey.

He raised a large family, Tighlman studied law, practiced extensively at Columbus, married a Miss McBee, of Lowndes, and on the Repudiation ticket was elected governor of the State - a man of decided prominence.

Waitsell, during his early manhood, was dissipated, a man of the most powerful physical organization, and as they were all brave, he fought many successful battles. While under the influence of liquor one day in Hamilton, he and Mat Hutchinson took a twist; they were very equally matched, both good fighters, active and powerful men. Their friends separated them, not willing to see them pound each other, as both were able to do.

Waits was much excited, got a knife and swore he would make mince-meat of Mat, who stepped back and got a pistol, took a stand before the door in readiness. The large crowd saw if they got together one or both would be killed. Waits' friends crowded around him and begged him not to such on certain death, as Mat had a pistol. He said he did not care for the pistol. He would dodge the ball and then cute Mat into Mince-meat. However. by a gently pressure thy got him off till they cooled down, as both were drinking; and so those two most powerful men, and regarded the equals of any in country, were prevented from a set fight.

Late in life Waits became steady, was elected Judge of Probate for Monroe County, and for many years he informed himself on all the law points governing his court; was elected repeatedly, and no doubt made one of the best judges of Probate Monroe ever had. He had an active and vigorous mind, and he performed the duties of his office with a conscientious regard for the interests of the minor heirs whose estates passed through his court.

Waits had a great flow of dry wit, was very popular and liked generally; in fact he was a most extraordinary man, both mentally and physically.

John Tucker had several daughters; John Wise married one, Matthew Gibbs another, and others married excellent men, the descendants of the early pioneers.

John Tucker had a active mind, thought for himself, and expressed himself without the fear of anybody, as did his descendants. He was not a drunkard, but occasionally in a crowd took a dram ahead; he was not a large man, but sinewy and active.

One day in Hamilton, for some cause, he and Bagby hitched for a fight Bagby was a very large, heavy man, and in the fight got John Tucker's thumb in his mouth and chewed it up to a fearful extent before they were separated. His disabled thumb was not only painful, but great loss to him im his shop. He nursed it well and bided his time.

One day he found Bagby so drunk he was lying asleep near the road. Tucker dismounted, got two lightwood knots; one he laid down and on it placed Bagby's thumb; with the other he cracked the thumb like a hickory nut. He the mounted his horse, and as Bagby was so drunk, he could scarcely sit up when arouse, Tucker waited till Bagby recognized him, then he gave him a good cursing, and told him he would be even when he had nursed his pet as he had had to do.

I only saw him once; he was then likely 70 years of age; he was active and vigorous, and express his convictions in as sharp a voice as a boy. He was surrounded with an abundance of this world's goods in his old age.

For all John tucker did not fear any man, still he was very timid during a storm He made a trap- door, opening under his floor, and the better to raise it, inserted a steeple and large ring, so with the use of th handspike he could raise the trap and get below during the storm.

One day, whether he was off, or the storm came up suddenly, is not know, but he was in a great hurry to raise the trap, inserted the handspike, but he failed to raise the trap. The storm blew violently, and shook the house. Tucker now made a super-human effort, and brought up the door, but in doing so strained his back, and for sometime went about holding his back. When asked what was the matter, would answer he had got his back strained. Men of his peculiar views are generally sensitive to those strange views of timidity.

Word Gideon's father was timid during a thunder storm; if caught out in woods he has been known to dismount, take off his saddle and blanket, lie down, place the blanket over his head, and the saddle on the blanket, and lie there till the storm had expended its fury.

Those noble, hardy pioneers, we will never see their like again. The circumstances surrounding them in a new country shaped their courses largely in life. With all their peculiarities they were a noble band of men and their descendants, raised in a school of hardships have made the best of citizens."

The following are some of the people mentioned in the above letter.

Thomas Greenwood (1778-1854) married Lydia Moore (1788-1856) in 1806. They came to Monroe County about 1821, and settled one mile west of Quincy, on land previously owned by John Tucker. Eventually, Greenwood owned sixteen hundred acres in the same general area of his original homestead. Part of his property was the springs area that later became the resort, Greenwood Springs. Both Thomas and Lydia Greenwood are buried at Boggan Cemetery, two and one-half miles north of old Quincy. Boggan Cemetery is in Section Seven, Township Thirteen South, Range Seventeen West. John Sheely and Dr. Patsilu Sheely Reeves of Athens Community ar Greenwood descendants.

Miss McBee was Sarah Ford McBee (born 1809), the daughter of Silas McBee (1765-1845). He was a Revolutionary War Soldier, serving under Colonel Thomas Brandon. He was a pioneer Monroe County settler. He settled in that part of Monroe County that was carved off after 1830, to form the new county of Lowndes.

Matthew Gibbs was born in Virginia c1794. His first wife Argene Tucker is accepted to have been the daughter of John Tucker. In the 1850 Monroe County Census, the Gibbs family shows Matthew's second wife, Rachel Towery Gibbs, born c1805 in Tennessee. The eldest son living at home is Tighlman T. Gibbs born c1828 in Monroe County, seemingly named for his uncle, Tighlman Tucker. The other members of the household in 1850 are Adaline, born c1831, and a young child Janet G.A. Gibbs, born c1847, probably the child of the second wife. In the next household is Nathan Fuqua Pullen, born in Giles County, Tennessee c1822, and his wife Sarah Margaret Gibbs (born c1824 in Monroe County). She is the daughter of Matthew Gibbs and his first wife. Argene/Argine Tucker Gibbs. The oldest child in the Pullen household is Argine E. Pullen born c1844. The other children listed in 1850 are Lucullus G. Pullen born in 1846, and Giles Matthew Pullen, born in 1850. Later Pullen children were Gabriel C., Galveston Abram, Gonzales, and Helen Pullen. (Ruth Pullen Brooks, of Amory, is a descendant of Lucullus G. Pullen.)

Word Gideon (1805-1880) was born in Georgia, and moved to Monroe County. He was the son of Richard Gideon (1765-1834) and Elizabeth Gideon, who died in 1847. These Gideons were not the family who came to Monroe County in Reverend Frederick Weaver's wagon train in 1816. These Gideons arrived in Monroe county in 1821, too late to be counted in the 1820 census. Word Gideon married in Monroe county, December 16, 1838, Nancy M. Owens (1817-1868). She was the daughter of Benjamin Owen, and the sister-in-law of Amanda Hardy Owen. It was Amanda Hardy Owen (c1818-1907) who sold 300 acres of land to the K.C.M. & B. Railroad for the development of the city of Amory.


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