Standing Rock Community

by Edith Berry Sexton

Standing Rock Community is located about ten miles southwest of Dover, Tennessee off Highway 79.

This is a beautiful community, first named Dyers, later Standing Stone and finally Standing Rock derived from a huge rock said to be forty feet high. It is made more scenic by Standing Rock Creek which heads on the Tennessee Ridge on the Tommy Lee Askew farm. Standing Rock Creek with its cold, clear water has furnished the citizens of this community much pleasure for fishing and swimming as well as much anxiety when due to heavy rains it came out of its banks to erode and wash away good soil. It was discouraging to farmers to pick up field rocks to build a dam and later see the angry waters of the rising creek break the dam and flood the fields leaving rocks in them.

Standing Rock has as its tributaries Terrapin Run, Palmer Branch and Ribbon Branch. The latter is said to have received its name from the fact that the girls there wore so much ribbon in their hair.

The forests of prime hardwood that cover the steep hills are very lovely in all seasons.

Wild flowers of many varieties abound along the roadside and on the creek banks. The wild rose, sweet williams, daisies, butterfly weed, wild geraniums, bouncing betties and blue bells add much to the beauty of the countryside. Wild grapes, muscadines, huckleberries, hazel nuts, hickory nuts and walnuts added to blackberries, mulberries, rhubarb and cultivated fruits add to the good living found in the area.

My story begins in 1795. Some of the first settlers who came to Stewart County were Brittain Sexton, James Gray, James Andrews and Elisha Dawson, all of whom came from North Carolina. Sexton, a militia major, settled on lower Standing Rock Creek. Some of his descendants continue to live active lives in the community.

Henry Hicks McGee who became a landowner of about a thousand acres of land on both sides of Standing Rock Creek and who was a leading citizen and churchman was born in 1827. In addition to being a farmer he was a blacksmith. He employed young men who at times were paid fifty cents a day.

A close friend and neighbor of Mr. McGee was Jimmy A. Jones who reared his family, including the writer's step father, George B. Jones, near the site of the present Standing Rock United Methodist Church.

Some of the other citizens who showed sterling and unusual leadership during the years were Capt. Elbert G. Sexton, a grandson of Brittain, Dr. A. M. Trawick, William Andrews, Armstrong Parker, B. F. Sizemore, the ancestors of J. M. and Nathan Williams and of Reuben and Henry Martin and members of the Dillon family.

In the years 1870-75 numbers of people moved from Louisville to Memphis. Their route was via Dover, over the Tennessee Ridge, and down Standing Rock Creek to the Tennessee River. Here they ferried at the mouth of Big Sandy River. It was here that the name Moltke was given to the area. A post office was established here. Long lines of covered wagons traveled this route. Some of the travelers stopped on Standing Rock Creek to make their homes.

The influence that churches and schools have upon a community cannot be evaluated. Standing Rock citizens have contributed much through their religious faith and continue to do so. Possibly as early as 1825 a square log building was erected by Methodists. At least three buildings have been constructed by Methodists. A frame one built in 1878 and dedicated in 1879 burned in December, 1962. The ashes had not cooled when dedicated members and persons who had formerly been members began to make plans to rebuild. Within a relatively short time a beautiful brick house of worship was ready to use. It is the opinion of many people that almost every living person whose life the church there had touched as well as others made a contribution to rebuilding. Each of the buildings has had an upper story room in which the Moriah Grove Masonic Lodge, the Odd Fellows and Rebekah have met. This building and the one that burned in 1962 were built at the foot of the hill on which the old square log church stood. (For further reading turn to page 54 in the Stewart County Heritage, 1980.)

In 1893 Baptists built Walnut Grove Church near the mouth of Standing Rock Creek. This was an active church for many years. Four of the five charter members were John Sexton, Preston Nolin, Alex Cay and Nathan Williams.

In 1940 with the coming of TVA the church building (which had housed Mullins school) was moved to its present location on Old [Highway] 79 West.

In addition to Mullins school and subscription schools in early days two others have served this community - Mulberry Hill and Sycamore. A good library was maintained in the school at Mulberry Hill. Students who took advantage of the opportunity to read these books cultivated and developed a love for reading that has given them much satisfaction as well as many benefits as they pursued further learning.

For many years a teacher was paid about thirty dollars a month. To do this was a great effort. Despite handicaps and hard times people acquired enough learning to make a living for their families and to become leaders who made their community a better one. In addition to farming people earned meager amounts of money cutting cord wood to be converted into charcoal for the iron ore furnaces nearby. This was called working in the "Coalins." Making and selling cross ties, making syrup and sugar from maple trees were other sources of income. By these means citizens were able to contribute to their churches and schools.

In 1908 a holiness camp meeting was held on upper Standing Rock. Approximately four miles north of the campsite was the Pentecostal Holiness Mission church of Nashville. Eventually the mother church in Nashville merged with the Nazarene church. but her members in Stewart County began to move during the early camp meetings from 1908 to 1911. In 1911 the first Nazarene church in Stewart County was organized and named in honor of Henry Hicks McGee whose son had provided the land. A large tabernacle or camp shelter provided a place of worship until a sanctuary was erected. Annual camp meetings attracted people from all areas of Stewart County and from neighboring counties.

In 1961 the remnant of members came to join fellowship with Dover First Church of the Nazarene.

Doctors who served the community were Dr. Trawick, Dr. Jobe, and Dr. Charley Crow.

Merchants included W. H. Cox, Henry and Reuben Martin, E. E. Douglass, Parker Brothers and Moore Brothers.

Mr. Arch Trawick, son of Dr. A. M. Trawick, after moving to Nashville Supplied the community with good books. The library was housed in the yard at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Parker for many years. this was a very worth while service given by Mr. Trawick and the Parker family and was greatly appreciated by people who enjoyed reading.

This community, as others in our county, is justly proud of its heritage. It appreciates its many citizens who have remained loyal, keeping their homes there still contributing to its welfare. It likewise takes pride in its sons and daughters who after receiving the schooling afforded them there went out into other areas to achieve honor and success in their chosen professions and callings.


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