SOUTHPORT “Southport is nestled among the spurs of the Elk Ridge, on the extreme southern border of Maury County; in 1/2 mile of the post office is Giles County line . . . This is claimed to be the highest location in the county . . . fifty years ago this place was nearly a virgin forest. Among the early settlers were A. J. McKnight, Thomas Wortham, William Garrett, W. H. Matthews, William McConnell, James Galloway — all of whom have crossed “over the river.” At that time it was customary to make your own whiskey. When a very small boy I recollect being hold up and given a chance to drink beer out of a barrel at the Wash Campbell’s distillery . . .” Maury County Democrat, January 1, 1891
Many branches of my family settled in and around Maury County, Tennessee in the early to mid 1800s. Southport is one of the areas where my family has lived for several generations.
The Normans were one of the families that called the Southport area home, starting with my 3rd great-grandfather, Francis Norman, who settled into the area before 1840. He is listed there in the 1840 Federal Census. Records show that he and several of his brothers journeyed from Orange County, North Carolina to their new homelands found in Maury, Marshall and Giles counties.
My 2nd great-grandfather (son of Francis and Susan Pettern Norman), Benjamin Franklin Norman, was born in 1853 in the Southport area.
Ben married Cecilia “Seley” Howell on December 27, 1872 in Giles County and remained in the area when their two (2) sons, William Franklin and John Henry were born in 1873 and 1876 respectively. Seley died early in 1880.
My great grandfather,William Franklin “Frank” Norman, was born in Southport in 1873. He married Mary R. “Mollie” Grissom and my grandfather, William Henry Norman, and his brothers (John Benjamin and Albert Jack Norman) were born and raised in the Southport area.
Then in 1932, almost 100 years after the first Normans settled in the area, my father, Charles William Norman, was born in Southport, Maury County, Tennessee.
My father continued to live in the Southport area while he was growing up. I have heard many stories of fun days and good times that my dad spent with his family there. Some of his “adventures” as a boy included time spent in and around Saltpeter Cave. Saltpeter Cave is considered one of the largest caves in the state of Tennessee and has long been a destination. During the Civil War, the cave was mined for nitrate and it also housed Confederate troops in hiding.
Today, the Southport area remains fairly rural. The rolling hills, scenic views and familiar farmlands call me back to a simpler time. I have a longing to know more about my family and the other early Tennessee pioneer families that have called Southport home.
The next few blogs I will dedicate to recording more information on my family members and others that have lived in the Southport area.