THE ORIGIN AND
HISTORY OF YUMA, CARROLL COUNTY, TENNESSEE
By Sue Ann Lewis
By 1850, Yuma had settlers with the surnames of Gooch, Small, Hill and
Bryant. Mr. Woodruff operated a saw mill and a school house was built. All
the area of what we call town today was owned by R.J. Hill and J.A. Gooch. A
post office was established May 9, 1884 with Albert G. Hill postmaster. The
name of Grovewood was given to the community and
later changed to Yuma February 18, 1895. Dr. Albert Hill lived next door to
the post office and served as postmaster. He also practiced medicine and sold
groceries and whiskey. Mail was brought from the Tennessee River every two
weeks. There was a public "still" near the creek operated by Mr. Suggs.
People from all over the country brought corn to be made into whiskey and
peaches and apples to make into cider and brandy. To get to Huntingdon, you
had to go by the "still" on to where the overhead trestle is toward Westport
and across the country in a westerly direction to Clarksburg to Huntingdon.
In 1891, surveyors came and a railroad was built. Grovetown boomed, new
houses and school enlarged, businesses multiplied and new enterprises came
in. Mr. John Belew built the first dwelling after
the railroad. It became a boarding house. Through the influence of Mr.
Belew, the Clarksburg Methodist Church was torn
down and built here. The building was used for all denominations. Bud King
operated the gristmill and hotel. Billy Dobson and the James Brandon family
were merchants. There was a brass band consisting of 14 musicians.
When the railroad was completed, the rail fence separating Mr. Hill’s
property form Mr. Gooch’s was taken down and this became Broad’s Ferry Road.
This allowed river traffic to get to the railroad.
Grovewood was renamed. On an inspection tour, a group of officials
stepped off the train, walked out and looked at the level land growing fine
corn. On remarked, “This looks good”. Another said, “Why not call it that?”
In Indian language, YUMA means good, peaceful and progressive.
The first charted Masonic lodge was organized near here
at Farmville in 1850. This lodge moved to Yuma in 1901. Members from Westport
and Wildersville area traveled by train to attend
lodge meetings. In about 1921, the lodge moved to
Wildersville. Yuma had one time three cotton gins, four sawmills,
one shingle mill, two hickory mills and twelve stores. The extra volume of
business came from the Natchez Trace Park when cotton, crossties, stave bolts,
chickens and eggs were marketed. Garr Bradford drove herds of cattle and hogs
to the stockyards here to be shipped by rail. The Cotton Growers Bank was
The first school was damaged by storm by 1916 a second time and the county
agreed to build a new one. Workman framed the two story building and ran out
of money. The local Woodman of the World Lodge pledged to finish the building,
but after completing the second floor, their money ran out, also. Yuma
Improvement Club organized and swung into action. They organized a brass
band, bought a new piano and ordered play books entitled “Kentucky Bell” and
staged plays in the Methodist Church to earn money to build the school stage
and stairway. Citizens signed a note at the bank for $1,650.00 for band
instruments and piano, which they repaid by having plays. Mr. Connie Blow of
McLemoresville instructed band two nights a week
for two years. This club backed the school for any money the County could not
Yuma Church of Christ was built in 1948.
The World’s Largest Pecan Tree, 163 years old, is located on one of the ridges
in the north end of Natchez Trace Park. The tree is almost 10 feet in
diameter, shades more than one acre and is probably the largest attraction in
the Park. It’s limbs, some more than one hundred
and fifty feet long must be propped up but they still bear pecans. Time and
elements have left their mark on this “granddaddy” of all pecan trees but the
concrete fillings and steel cables have helped preserve this giant. The local
legend is that the tree grew from a pecan brought back by one of Andrew
Jackson’s soldiers on his return from the Battle of New Orleans. People of the
area say the tree has changed very little in their lifetime. The U.S. Forestry
Service dates the planting about 1816. In the book “Westward to the
Roundtop”, Mr. Morris mentions the pecan tree as a
landmark in 1830. Families came to Carroll County going to Lexington from
Roundtop Community passed this tree, already