Jerry Summers: Henry County And Paris, Tn.

  • Thursday, February 15, 2024
  • Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers

A partially-retired Chattanooga attorney recently entrusted me with a 256-page leather bound historical volume covering the 200 year celebrations of the founding of one of Tennessee's 95 counties, Henry (November 7, 1821) and the city of Paris (September 30, 1823).

In “200 Paris-Henry Bicentennial”, (Acclaim Press- Morley, Missouri) the story of the origin of the West Tennessee community is told in writing and hundreds of era photos following is a limited number of historical facts:

1. Beginning in 1818 with the signing of the Treaty of Tecumseh, the Chickasaw Indian tribe would sell 8500 square miles of land east of the Mississippi River to the United States for $300,000 paying $20,000 yearly;

2. The county was named in honor of Virginia Governor Patrick Henry and the City of Paris was named for French Revolutionary War General Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette;

3. Henry County became part of the infamous Trail of Tears that removed thousands of Native Americans from the land they had lived on to Oklahoma;

4. Chief John Ross, the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1828 until 1866, was instrumental in the removal process that allegedly started from the river wharf in Chattanooga in August 1838;

5. In the Civil War in 1862 Fort Henry fell to forces under General US Grant the Battle of Paris took place on March 11, 1862, and the town would be occupied periodically by both Confederate and Union troops;

6. The postwar history of the area is described in sufficient detail accompanied by many photos showing architectural design of many of the fine homes in the era, of which several remain standing today;

7. Henry County also made a significant contribution in World War II during the D-Day invasion of France on June 6, 1944, by forces of the 320th Barrage Battalion that were trained at Camp Tyson, the United State’s one and only Barrage Balloon Training Facility, located outside the town of Routon. While LSTs (Landing Ship Tank) unloaded supplies, equipment, and troops. Overhead silver balloons anchored to the ground by cables were used to deter enemy aircraft from entering the area to strafe or bomb the landing craft;

8. One of several Tennessee towns (up to 1953) celebrate that the “first Monday” of each month as “mule trading day” Paris has evolved into what is now known as the “World's Biggest Fish Fry” that is a week long celebration that attracts thousands of visitors including aspiring politicians and celebrities;

9. Many prominent individuals, events, and locations etc. are described and documented with photographs and family histories throughout the book.

10.Until 1951 passenger train service on the NC St. L railway was also an important part of the past in Henry County;

11.Several individuals are connected to the Chattanooga area including architect, Reuben Harrison Hunt, who designed both Camp Tyson and the Henry County Courthouse in Paris. Neal Lewis Thompson (1888-1945) was born in Paris and moved to Chattanooga where he would practice law and later serve as a judge for 8 years as a member of the Tennessee Court of Appeals;

12.The history of Paris Landing State Park on Kentucky Lake that was created during the erection of dams by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) substantially increased tourism and established it as a major industry in the area.

(The book is a great treasure trove of facts, people, and events in one of the Volunteer State’s 95 counties.)

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You can reach Jerry Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com

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