In October, 1845,
Jonathan D. Hale and John F. Jouett petitioned the General Assembly of
Tennessee, as citizens of the counties of Fentress and Overton, that they
desired to erect a grist and saw mill, and other valuable machinery on
Wolf River, at a place known as the Huddleston Place. Their opinion was
that it would be of great public utility and that the navigation of said
stream would not be injured.
Jonathan Hale established
a mill and a store and was postmaster at Hale's Mill. The post office
was established around 1850; the mill was located just below the present
bridge on Highway 111 on Wolf River at the mouth of Ford Branch.
Hale was a native
of New Hampshire, and a strong Union man in the Civil War. After John
"Jackie" Zachary hid in the bluff overlooking the road and killed
Lafayette Allen, a C.S.A. Soldier, the Confederate guerillas burned the
mill. After the mill was burned, J.D. Hale moved his family to Clinton
and Adair Counties in Kentucky, bur returned to Tennessee after the war.
The above text was based on "History of Pickett County, Tennessee"
1973. The Hale family owned the place until about 1900, when they
sold it to J.M. Flowers. It was then known as the Asberry Farm.
Champ Ferguson "aquired"
a piano from Dr. Hale. With a team of oxen it was shipped over the rough
terrain from Byrdstown to Ferguson's new home along the Calfkiller River
in White County, where he reportedly sold it for $200.
Both Dr. and Mrs.
Hale testified at the trial of Champ Ferguson in Nashville.
Hale's Mill Cemetery,
also known as the Hale Cemetery, is located across from the J.C. Asberry
house [on old 42]. There are 12 to 15 graves with fieldstones as markers
or are unmarked. It is not known if J.D. Hale is buried here, but his
widow, Ferby, 2 blacks, 1 female born in KY, 1 male born in TN, along
with 5 others were listed in the 1870 Fentress County, TN census. Taken
from the book "Gone But Not Quite Forgotten",
by Richard Pierce.
is an excerpt from
Patriots and Guerillas"
of East Tennessee and Kentucky The Sufferings of the Patriots
Also the Experience of the Author as an Officer in the Union Army
Including Sketches of
NOTED GUERILLAS AND DISTINGUISHED PATRIOTS
Major J. A. Brents
I will say nothing further of those well known to the nation, but will
give brief sketches of a few characters who are not so well known---not
so influential, yet as patriotic. J. D. Hale is a native of New Hampshire,
but has resided for several years past in the northeastern part of Overton
county, Tennessee, near the Kentucky line. He is about forty years old---five
feet nine inches high; has sandy hair and whiskers, rather stooped or
round shoulders, and a gray eye. He has a long and rather narrow head,
and is heavy built; is quite energetic and industrious, and has accumulated
some property. He owned a farm and a good water-mill; kept an assortment
of farmers' tools for sale; was a mechanic, and, like all other Yankees,
was quite useful as a citizen. He had acquired considerable inlfuence---was
firm and dicided, sober, and of steady habits. He was among the first
to denounce and expose secession. The Union never had a warmer and firmer
advocate, and for it he was willing and ready to do anything in his power.
In the spring of 1861, the Tennessee Legislature passed an ordinance of
secession, and submitted it to a vote of the people; but, without awaiting
the result of the vote, formed a league with Jeff. Davis' Government,
and authorized the Governor to raise fifty-five thousand troops. He immediately
commenced operations; raised a considerable force, armed them, and placed
them in different parts of the State, so as to control the election. Troops
were sent into Tennessee from other southern States. Such men as John
Bell and Andrew Ewing submitted, and advocated secession; such as Andrew
Johnson and Horace Maynard stood firm. They made speeches wherever they
could, and canvassed East Tennessee, but were not permitted to visit Middle
and West Tennessee; Union men were not permitted to talk in those divisions
of the State. In East Tennessee their friends protected them, and they
talked in spite of all opposition. It was, however, with great personal
danger; they were threatened wherever they went. Hale protected the friends
of the Union, regardless of personal danger. Hon. Horace Maynard had an
appointment to speak at Livingston, Overton county, Tenn. A large audience
was in attendance. Maynard attempted to speak, but was prevented by the
secession leaders. Just as he commenced, a committee of leading secessionists
appeared in the court house, and informed him that a meeting had been
in session, and had rresolved that he should not speak. He told them that
Judge Gill and other prominent men were present, and could reply, and
if he was wrong, they could certainly expose his false positions; and
that not criminal had ever been denied a hearing in the State of Tennessee.
They said that "the day for discussion had passed." (This was
before the people had voted upon the ordinance of secession.) He suggested
that if he was wrong, no harm would result to an intelligent people. They
replied, that his eloquence was too persuasive---that he might as well
desist, as they had determined he should not speak. He saw that it would
be useless to make the effort, and desisted; but announced that he would
speak at Monroe, the next day---a small town, about six miles from Livingston.
The secessionists declared that he should not speak; that they would be
present with the militia; and, if he attempted to speak, they would disperse
the meeting. Hale was present and heard their threats, and immediately
went to work and collected between three and four hundred Union citizens,
who were armed with squirrel rifles and shot guns. They raised the stars
and stripes, the banner of liberty, and marched in a body to Monroe, determined
to defend, as long as life lasted, that banner, free speech, and the Union.
Such was the resolve of true, determined patriots. Maynard spoke to a
large audience without interruption. With burningeloquence he exposed
the frauds and designs of the secessionists, and held up to his spell-bound
audience the sacredness of the Union cause. Burning tears rolled down
the cheeks of old, gray-headed fathers. Young men took a vow never to
forsake the cause of the Union; and well have they kept that vow. At the
conclusion of the speech, the audience gave three tremendous cheers for
the Union, and then dispersed. Hale accompanied Maynard to Travisville,
Fentress county, the next day, where he made another eloquent speech to
a large audience.
Such were the trials and difficulties of the Union men in Tennessee. None
but the brave stood firm. Hale was determined that the cause of the Union
should be defended in his part of the State, at all hazards. If Union
men everywhere had followed this noble example, the evil consequences
of secession and rebellion would not have been experienced. It required
resolution and determination to meet such a crisis.
Hale, by his unceasing exertions for the Union, became known throughout
the State of Tennessee. He was threatened in the secession prints, and
by secession orators; was hated by them, and denounced as a "Yankee."
He was told that he had no right to say anything; yet he did talk. It
was mainly by his exertions that the people of the northeastern portion
of Overton and the whole of Fentress county voted almost unamimously for
the Union. The secessionists said that if it had not been for Hale, these
people would have remained loyal to the South, and that they intended
to hang him. He was hunted and watched by them. He was compelled to leave
his home, and conceal himself among the rocks of Wolf river hills, and
was finally forced to leave the State. At the hour of midnight he loaded
his wagons with a portion of his personal effects, and, with his family,
made his escape to Albany, Ky., as he could not with safety travel the
public highway in daylight. He did not cease his labors, but assisted
Union men to escape from Tennessee, and forwarded them to Camp Dick Robinson.
His son, aged about sixteen, was captured and held as a prisoner. After
a few months his family were followed to Albany. His negro man and horses
were driven off, and other property taken. They were again compelled to
flee; and crossing the Cumberland river, stopped in Adair County, Ky.
He continued to correspond with the East Tennesseeans, assisting many
of them in escaping from their persecutors, and rendered good service
toward organizing the Tennessee troops. His labors were unceasing. Having
an iron will and constitution, he suffered and endured. He rendered very
important services, such as few would dare undertake, and which have been
acknowledged by General George H. Thomas, and other military men in the
In the last conversation I had with Hale, he remarked that he had suffered
much, and could endure more; that he would never desert the Union. Although
he was the owner of slaves, he thought more or his country than of them,
and did not consider any man patriotic that thought otherwise, however
loud his professions for the Union. He further remarked, "The Union
citizens of Overton and Fentress counties have stood by me when the rebels
were hunting for my life, and by faith I will stand by them. I will never
This page last updated on November 19, 2009