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Celebrating Black History Month: Memories of Mt. Pelia

Celebrating Black History Month: Memories of Mt. Pelia
This year’s articles are about rural Weakley County and the hard-working men of God, its culture and their endeavor to build a community to benefit all mankind. Memories are the best part of a good melodrama.
No matter how old you get, it’s like a dream without the nightmare. Many times, my mind has drifted back into the past. I don’t think it’s bad when you think of what the good folks have done by working and sharing their blessings with all “mankind.”
When you’re in the winter of life, think of what the Bible says about young men shall have visions and old men shall “dream” dreams.
In my articles I have always stated that without the inclusion of all races, there would be incorrectness in all of God’s creation.
That’s why I go to “pundit” friend of mine, Mr. Woodrow Collier. He has lived a life of devotion along with a magnitude of integrity, and he knows a lot about Mt. Pelia and the early families that lived there.
His great-great grandfather, Beverly C. Collier lived in this town, called Middleburg then, in 1806.
Mt. Pelia, once called Middleburg and later Montpelier, is one of the oldest communities in the country. When a post office was established in 1840, the name Middleburg had to be changed since another post office in Tennessee was already using that name.
Two general stores, a grocery store, one saloon, six blacksmiths, a Masonic Hall, two churches and a school were taking care of the community’s needs in 1885. The population was then about 100 people.
The owner of the drug store at that time could not fill a prescription. The doctors would have to write them, then go to the drug store and fill them.
The Bank of Mt. Pelia served two purposes. Orin Jackson was the cashier for the bank which only had a capital of $2,500.
There was a display of caskets in the front window of the bank that were shaped like bass violins. There were no morticians or undertakers there, so the town’s men would quickly bury their own.
Jackson also ran the general store, which housed groceries, hardware, dry goods and drug store.
The store also had a soda fountain and a variety of name brand ice cream.
As Martin began to develop, many Mt. Pelia citizens relocated in the growing town.
The Blakes, the Bowdens, Dr. George W. Dibrell, who has practiced medicine in Mt. Pelia for over 20 years, and Dr. W.T. Lawler were among those who left.

Editor’s note: This information is part of the Tennessee County History Series and was written by the late historian Virginia C. Vaughn of Martin.

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