History of Henry County


Hampton and Her History

The following record of Hampton and Her History was printed in 1921. Taking her part in the celebration of Henry County's 100th birthday, the author gives special attention to the details of Hampton's origin and developmental accomplishments. This detail offers a unique look into Hampton and Her History.

Written by Miss. Emily Griffin


Hampton and Her History

By Miss Emily Griffin

Two surveyors once lay down to rest from the heat of the noonday's summer sun near a cool spring beneath the shade of two magnificent poplars. Shading his face from the glare of the sun's rays, one of the men raised his eyes to the branches of the larger tree and, with a smothered exclamation, he jumped to his feet and grabbed his gun; for, sitting calmly upon a limb and each in the act of "surveying" the surveyors, sat two great, black bears!  

The village, which was being laid off, had up to this time, received no name, but in the future, because of the bears which inhabited the banks of the creek, it was to become known as Bear Creek, Ga.  

The first building erected was in the year, 1848. "Lowery's Store" and the Postoffice were in this same building and was for two years the gathering place for the male inhabitants of the village.  

For the next three years the village of Bear Greek continued to grow and prosper and it was decided to move it to a more convenient spot where the best interests might have the greatest advantages. So in 1851 Bear Creek moved half a mile in a southeasterly direction.  

Among the first settlers in Bear Creek were: Messrs. Tom Barnett, who succeeded Lowery as postmaster and who was also a merchant; Jim Hightower and Pete Knight, Lem and Ben Roan, Cas Black, another merchant, and Gray Hughes, the shoemaker. These settlers' homes were in the village and they are the pioneers who first promoted the civic improvement of Bear Creek.  

The men whose plantations formed the circle that skirted the village of Bear Creek were: T. J., J. L„ and Jim Edwards, Jim Cleveland, Buck Fears, Wade Westmoreland, Smith II. Griffin, George Barnett, R. A. Henderson, R. A. Moore, R. W. Turnipseed, and John H. Smith. The descendants of nine of these old families are living on the original sites of these old homesteads today.  

As time passed on and the village became known over the state, Bear Creek, after the perversity of her sex, decided to change her name. It was fitting that a name more in keeping with the new spirit of thrift and advancement should be accredited the little village which had now reached the size of a small town. So a meeting was held and at the suggestion of one of the residents. Rev. Smith H. Griffin, it decided to re-name Bear Creek and call it Hampton, after Gen. Wade Hampton.  

Bear Creek had been incorporated in 1872, so by an amendment of the charter, which was in the year, 1873, she became known as Hampton, and Mr. Thomas Barnett, the justice of the peace, was elected mayor, and Hampton proper started on a career that she can be justly proud of.  

As "a chain is no stronger than its weakest link", so is a town or community no stronger that its schools. Realizing this fact, Hampton was maintaining a school whose boys and girls were being taught by Judge Mitcham, father of Mr. A. B. Mitcham. Judge Mitcham can be reckoned as an empire builder whose work was of lasting benefit. "The Pine Grove Masonic Lodge Building" was used for the school house and was situated beneath the giant oak on the lawn of Mrs. Irene Henderson.  

In 1851 the Central of Georgia had built her road that came through Hampton. This, of course, had been the greatest thing done for the business interests of the town. Since it was the only railroad in the section, until the Southern railroad was built in a neighboring town, Hampton was the center of every business activity within a radius of forty miles. All the cotton in surrounding counties was shipped from Hampton over the Central to its destination.  

The depot at Hampton was then in the center of the town and opposite the building now occupied by The First National Bank. The first agent was Mr. Bill Adair.  

Hotels sprang up after the building of the railroad and the first one was owned by John Turnipseed and Ben Thompson, and was under the management of Ben Thompson. Another hotel of that time was the McIntosh Hotel.  

The houses of worship, in order of their establishment, were: First—the Primitive Baptist, the Protestant Methodist, the Christian Church, and the Baptist Church. These churches are all represented today in the town, except that the Methodist Episcopal has taken the place of the Protestant Methodist. The Christian Church is a monument to the memory of "Uncle Buck Fears," who built it and who was its pastor for years. Besides these Hampton has four negro churches.  

In 1875 occurred the greatest financial boom that Hampton has known. This was the year that George Schaeffer, sent down by Atlanta cotton buyers, was stationed at Hampton; and it was no uncommon sight to see hundreds of wagons of cotton standing in the road along the railroad waiting to be disposed of and then sent down the road for other interests.  

Situated in the midst of the richest cotton section it was but natural that manufacturing industries should spring up, and on May 17, 1900, the Hampton Cotton Mills were incorporated. Mr. A. J. Henderson, a wide-awake and energetic citizen started the company that grew and prospered and which at his death, three years ago, was one of the most solid business institutions of its kind in the state. The original capital $50,000.00 and the following directors were elected: President, A. J. Henderson; Vice President, W. P. Wilson; Secretary and Treasurer, W. M. Harris; R. J. Arnold, H. G. Fields, J. L. Moore, and R. F. Smith.  

Other original stockholders were P. W. Pullin, J. T. Lewis, and Mrs. Thomas McMahon. In 1904 the capital stock was increased to $100,000.00 and in 1908 was again increased to $150,000.00. In 1917 A. J. Henderson resigned and W. M. Harris was elected president and R. M. Harris, secretary and treasurer. In 1919 its capital stock was increased to $300,000.00 and the plant of Henderson Manufacturing Company was bought. In January, 1920, R. 0. Arnold was elected a director with office of secretary and treasurer and R. M. Harris elected superintendent and general manager. In July, 1920. W. M. Harris resigned as president and R. 0. Arnold was elected president. The present officers and directors are, R. O. Arnold, President; W. P. Wilson, Vice President; R. M. Halo-is, Superintendent and General Manager; W. M. Harris, Chairman Board of Directors; J. L. Moore, H. O. Fields, J. M. Tarpley, and C. V. Williams.  

The Hampton Cotton Mills has 1,400 spindles and 41 knitting machines, and 25 sewing machines. They manufacture soft and hard yarns and ladies' underwear. Also operate an ice plant with a capacity of five tons daily. The mills consume about seven or eight thousand bales of cotton annually and employ about two hundred and fifty people.  

Besides the mills, Hampton has other industries that are growing. One is a Foundry, which is "owned and operated by Messrs. Arthur and Jim Henderson, both sons of the late A. J. Henderson. The Hampton Milling Company makes both plain and self-rising flour and also has a bleachery for patent flour. In this same plant is a corn mill which is run by electricity.  

The Planters Warehouse and Gin Company also ran a grist mill. The Fertilizer Plant, or the Porter Fertilizer Works have a capacity of fifteen thousand tons per year.  

The light and water system of Hampton is of the very best. The two deep wells furnish the water supply of Hampton; and it is given up by insurance companies that Hampton has the best water and fire equipment of any town.  

The two banks are. The Bank of Hampton and The First National Bank.  

The Bank of Hampton was organized and opened for business October 1, 1902, with a paid in capital of $25,000.00. The following were the incorporators: A. J. Henderson, Dr. R. J. Arnold, W. P. Wilson, Smith H. Griffin, W. M. Harris, J. C. Tarpley, W. D. Henderson, J. L. Moore, and I. D. Crawford. The first officers of the bank were, W. P. Wilson, President; Smith H. Griffin, Vice President; J. O. Norris, Cashier. Since the organization, the bank has paid out in cash dividends to the stockholders $57,000.00. The book value of the stock is at the present more than $300.00 per share.  

There are few banks in Georgia that have done better than The Bank of Hampton. In fact, it is considered by leading bankers, business men, and state officials as one of the best all-round banks in the State of Georgia. It has always been the policy of the bank to be conservative, yet liberal in its dealings so long as consistent with sound banking. There is no bank that appreciates its good customers more than The Bank of Hampton.  

The following are the present officers and directors of the bank: W. P. Wilson, President; David J. Arnold, Vice President; J. O. Rutherford, Cashier; Miss A. L. Rutherford, Assistant Cashier. Directors: W. P. Wilson, David J. Arnold, J. M. Tarpley, J. O. Rutherford, H. G. Fields, H. T. Moore, and J. L. Moore.  

The First National Bank of whom W. M. Harris-is President opened for business on November 14, 1911, with a paid in capital of $30,000.00; surplus $3,000.00. The first officers were: President. W. M. Harris; Vice President, A. M. Henderson and E. R. Harris, Cashier. The directors were: W. M. Harris, A, M. Henderson, E. R. Harris, R. E. Henderson, R. M. Harris, W. W. Carmichael, and T. G. Barfield. The present capital is $50,000.00; surplus and undivided profits $40,000.00. As stated W. M. Harris is the President, T. G. Barfield. the Vice President, and E. R. Harris, Cashier. Directors of this bank are: W. M. Harris, R. E. Henderson, R. M. Harris, H. M. Lovern, T. E. Lindler, R. O. Tarpley, and John B. Weldon.  

One of the best schools for any town of its size in the state, is the Hampton Public School. Mrs. Lucy P. Richard, who was for ten years connected with the Georgia Military College, has proven an able and efficient principal for the past three years, and through her suggestion and the efforts of the town at large, it is hoped that September will find the High School enlarged by an additional class. Fostered by the Woman's Club the campus has been beautified and playground equipment procured and the building and grounds are a source of pride to every resident of the town.  

Although not every farmer in Hampton is a merchant, yet most every merchant is a farmer. The oldest merchant - though not the oldest man-in Hampton, is J. C. Tarpley. Next in service as a merchant is Hamp Moore. These two have been in business on Main Street in the town for over twenty-five years.  

Two of the most modern drug stores in the county are: Cain's Pharmacy and The Service Drug Store.  

One of the most up-to-date stores in Hampton is that of H. T. Moore & Company, which is owned and operated by H. T. Moore and "The Moore Boys," Messrs. Arnold, Frank, and Norman Moore. This business house occupies two street fronts and is equipped with style and furnishings with a view to both beauty and service.  

Among the other merchants of Hampton are: H. M. Lovern, D. G. Hawkins, W. A. North, The Crescent Mercantile Company owned by Messrs. Moore and Peeples, The Hampton Hardware and Furniture Company owned by L. J. and E. C. Copeland, Henry Hand, and J. L. Turnipseed. The latter is the son of John W. Turnipseed, a pioneer of Hampton.  

Some of the prettiest homes in Henry County are those in and around Hampton. Among these may be mentioned the homes of J. L. Moore, A. B. Mitcham, W. M. Harris, Roy Harris, Will Art Wilson, Mrs. Irene Henderson, W. P. Wilson, Henry Moore, Will Edwards, Rome Moore, Robert Peeples, and Jim Minter. Two old homesteads are: The Edward's home, which is west of Hampton and the property of Lemmie Edwards; and "Oaklea," the home of Charles H. Griffin and which was built by his father, Smith H. Griffin. "Oaklea" is east of Hampton on the "Middle McDonough road," and was the scene of many a run-away marriage during the lifetime of Rev. S. H. Griffin.  

Hampton District is possessed of unlimited, undeveloped water power. It all has lain in reserve except that which the Georgia Railway and Power Company get from the Towaliga River that heads two miles of Hampton. As yet we only dream of the possibilities contained in the streams that flow between the emerald banks.  

It has been said that "History is a drama enacted upon the theater of time," and indeed it is. From the first characters, from the first mayor who presided in the early, days of Bear Creek up to now when our mayor, Mr. J. L. Pritchett, and his efficient Council play their parts in the story of our town, our history has been an unbroken, uninterrupted story with characters and acts befitting the drama which is constantly becoming bigger, better and quicker of action. It is the hope of every Hamptonian, that as the years glide by they, too, may leave works that will make the history of the next hundred years as full of benefit and promise as did the faithful ones whose work they now carry on.

By Miss Emily Griffin


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