Humphreys County was originally a part of the great Tennessee County of North Carolina, formed in 1788, with Clarksville as the County Seat.In 1796, the year that Tennessee became a state, Tennessee County was divided into Robertson and Montgomery Counties and gave its name to the state.A further division of Montgomery County in 1801 created Stewart County from which Humphreys County was created in 1803.Reynoldsville was the first county seat.Wavelry became the county seat when Benton County was erected, largely from territory that was previously included in Humphreys County.
On the earliest maps of the county,the present site of Waverly is marked Pavatts.It was possibly a stage stop on the old stageroad.The town was named Waverly by Steven C.Pavatt,who named it Waverly as he was a great admirer of the Waverly novels by Sir Walter Scott. Waverly was incorporated in 1838.Commissioners were appointed to reserve an area in the center of town for a courthouse.A courthouse was built on this spot in1836.A second and larger courthouse was built on this spot at a later date and stood for forty years until November 1876 when it was destroyed by fire during the setting of the Circuit Court.As the fire occurred during the daytime the records were saved.A third courthouse was built on the same spot and it to was destroyed by fire on June 10, 1898. The fire burned all record books and files of papers except the land deed records which were in a fireproof vault.The fourth courthouse was built in 1899 and demolished in 1951 and 1952 to make way for the fifth and present courthouse.One other important event in the history of Waverly was a fire in 1911 when the main downtown buildings burned. Located south of Waverly is a small area of beautiful homes and a mill known as Hurricane Mills.Hurricane Mills is dominated by an old mill and dam that stretched across Hurricane Creek. The mill and dam were constructed sometime around 1895 byJames T Anderson.A carding factory was in the area 30 years ago and made old-fashioned jeans.
CIVIL WAR IN HUMPHREYS COUNTY
On June 8,1861 Humphreys County voted 1,042-0 for secession.Federal troops were in the county to build the railroad from White Bluff to Johnsonville between October 22,1863 and May 10,1864. These troops consisted of the 12th and 13th U.S.Infantry.A fort was built on the court square and was later moved to a position on Fort Hill. This was manned by the 1st Kansas Battery and the 8th Iowa Calvary whose sole purpose was to guard the railroad. This area described as having a high amount of guerilla warfare.One Major of a Federal Patrol from Clarksville is quoted as having said "Waverly is a cesspool of guerilla warfare and should be wiped off the face of the earth." At around the same time in the vicinity of Hurricane Mills the Federal troops had built a stockade.In July of 1863 there was an attack on this stockade which resulted in several deaths. The main action of the county occurred in Johnsonville.Johnsonville was being used as a storage area for Federal Supplies left there by Federal boats to be loaded on the train and taken to Nashville.A Confederate Infantry and gun battery led by N.B.Forrest attacked the troops guarding these supplies.They destroyed 95,000 tons of supplies, 4 gunboats, 14 steamboats, 17 barges, and killed many men and captured 150.Forrest lost two men and had 9 wounded before marching away as Federal reinforcements arrived.Johnsonville was rebuilt but never became important again during the war.
Reynoldsburg,a small town once located four miles northwest of here where Dry Creek enters the Tennessee River, was first settled in 1800-1805. By an act of the Legislature on October 25, 1811, provisions were made for a permanent seat of justice for Humphreys County. The site of Reynoldsburg was chosen for the county seat because the Nashville and Memphis stage ran through it and crossed the Tennessee River at this point. Reynoldsburg grew to importance as a town along the river.It became the trading center and shipping point for the rich river bottom plantation lands.At its peak, Reynoldsburg missed being chosen capital city of Tennessee by only three general assembly votes.The County Seat was moved to Waverly in 1835 and Reynoldsburg's business died.Soon after it fell completely when travel and railroad routes switched locations.
New Johnsonville is the product of an older town once in this area.This town was Johnsonville.It was located about 11 miles west of this road sign on the Tennessee River.Johnsonville was laid out and plotted in 1864.The town was named Andrew Johnson after he rode from Nashville to the river on the first passenger train in the area. Andrew Johnson was then military governor of Tennessee.It is known the town became important during the Civil War only to decline after the war.Johnsonville was a constant struggle with nature as it was frequently flooded by the river.The record height of these floods was recorded in the spring of 1897 when the river reached 48.1 feet of water which was eighteen feet above flood stage.The town of Johnsonville was permanently covered with water when a dam was built across the river at Gilbertville, Kentucky in the mid-forties.The present site of New Johnsonville then sprung up on higher land near the railroad.
Jesse James, or Mr.John D. Howard as he was known locally, lived in this area for about two years. he rented a farm from W.H.Link in 1877.He was considered to be a good farmer by local people.None of the local people had any idea of his shocking past.Besides a good farmer he was also a horse racer.His horse was named Red Fox and was entered in local races which he always won. The original house of Jesse James is long since gone but two small graves can be seen in what was then the backyard.The grave stones are believed to have been carved by him and have been identified as the final resting places for his twins who were believed to have been about a week old when they passed away.