Giles County History

 

The Giles County Courthouse

The Giles County Courthouse is the fifth courthouse to be built after the fourth one was destroyed by fire on April 20, 1907. It had been completed in 1859, cost about $27,000, and was constructed of the best materials by the finest workmen available at the time.

It had stood the ravage of the War between the States when the town was occupied by Federal troops and the flag of the Union flew over it. The amount of insurance covering the courthouse was only $14,000.

The current Courthouse was built by George Moore and Sons of Nashville, Tennessee at a cost of $97,600 and was completed in 1909. The entire cost of the house and furnishings has been estimated at $132,000, and B.B. Smith was the architect. Citizens of the county were so upset at the cost that they voted out of office all the Commissioners.


 

GILES COUNTY, TENNESSEE

The Courthouse is decorated with lights that are lit up from Thanksgiving until after New Years. Many people come to see it. It is a beautiful site to behold as you drive in from any direction.

The history of Giles County, Tennessee, began when Tennessee was carved out of North Carolina, whose western boundary extended to the Mississippi River. As early as 1769, there were settlements in Eastern Tennessee along the Watauga. In 1779, General James Robertson and others pushed westward and established Nashboro on the Cumberland River in Middle Tennessee. No Revolutionary War battles were fought in the area, but the British incited their Indian allies to wage terrible warfare on these western outposts.

At the end of the War, North Carolina was bankrupt and decided to pay her soldiers in western lands. Land offices were set up in Hillsborough and Nashboro as men crossed the mountains to stake out their lands, much of which were purchased for six cents per acre.

Although many Revolutionary Soldiers sold their grants, more than sixty settled and died in Giles County.

Many pioneers found that the land they purchased in Giles County lay within Indian territory and they had to wait until Indian titles were extinguished by treaties in 1805, 1806, and 1816. Settlers who drifted into Indian territory were systematically driven out by soldiers from Fort Hampton in Alabama.

The first men came in 1783 to seek out and mark the 35 degrees North latitude, which was North Carolina's southern boundary. Among them were Absolum Tatum, Isaac Shelby, Anthony Bledsoe, William Bradshaw and James and Elijah Robertson. These men gave names to places and waterways. James Robertson named Richland Creek, Elijah Robertson named Robertson's Fort for himself and the group gave William Bradshaw's name to a creek into which he fell.

In 1783 the Cumberland settlements were organized into Davidson County, embracing in its territory all of Middle Tennessee north of the Duck River. As the population increased, new counties were cut off: Williamson, including all territory south to the 35 degrees North parallel in 1799, Maury from Williamson in 1807, and Giles from Maury in 1809.

Giles County was created in 1810 by an act of the General Assembly November 14, 1809. It was formed out of Maury County and is bounded on the north by the counties of Maury and Marshall, east by the counties of Marshall and Lincoln, south by the State of Alabama, and west by Lawrence County and has an area of 600 square miles. The new county, "Giles," was named for Governor William Branch Giles of Virginia, who, as a Congressman, had manipulated Tennessee's admission into the union in 1796.

Pioneers entered Giles County by two routes, by water coming down the Tennessee and up the Elk Rivers to Richland Creek, and by land through Cumberland Gap and Kentucky. Both Elkton and Prospect claim the distinction of being settled first. Lynn Creek, Campbellsville, Pulaski, Bodenham, Cross Water, Aspen Hill, and Blooming Grove were settled soon afterwards.

It is believed that Lewis Kirk, Alexander Black and his brother Robert Black were the first people to settle in Pulaski and they came early in the fall of 1807. Lewis Kirk was the first tavern keeper in 1810, Richard Scott, the first merchant, opening a small store near Kirk's house in 1809. He sold this store to John G. Talbott and William Ball opened a grocery store in the same vicinity. Records show these were the only houses in the town at that time. Lots were sold in 1811 and businesses moved into the Town Square. The city of Pulaski was named for Count Casimir Pulaski.

Sherranlynn Kincaid Nichols
©1997-2007