About 1902 as the new railroad survey was being completed for the Okolona branch line into eastern Calhoun County, people began to believe that a railroad was actually coming and they decided to start a town where the railroad was planned to cross the Ellzey-to-Atlanta road. Most of the land was in woods and most of it belonged to Mr. Jim Hill. A number of men banded together and laid out the town in lots, blocks and streets.
By early 1904 the railroad was about five miles away and the settlement had really begun to grow. As the railhead edged closer, more families began arriving and one of these early families was that of J. T. McCord.
In later years his son Murray McCord recalls their moving to Vardaman:
"My family moved from Pontotoc County to Vardaman in the fall of 1904. The Mobile & Ohio railroad had just been completed to Vardaman. The town seemed to be thriving already, the streets had been laid out and were crisscrossed with large virgin pine logs and framework of new houses was in evidence everywhere.
The original store keepers were: N.R. (Dick) Lamar, McCord, Putman, Alfred Gilder, J.W. Hill, J.D. Richard &Co, R.M. Moseley, W. Embry, John M. Hanna Martin Owens, Gabe Winter, H.T. Gaines, Bill Gibson, W.A. Armstrong, Bill Overby, and one saloon operated by Dave Parker."
"There was a sawmill that cut only gum into one-inch boards, a hickory mill [that] cut poles and shafts for buggies from hickory logs, and a stave mill that cut whiskey staves from red oak."
"Along about 1906 or ‘07 a bank was organized and opened up in one corner of Dick Lamar’s store which was the old two-story building that stood near the depot. About two years later a little building was built near the depot for the bank, which building is standing today and houses a small grocery store. R.E. (Bob) Atwell was the cashier, later Strat Haman took the job. About 1910 or ’12, E.A. Enochs came to Vardaman and assumed the job of cashier. He served until the bank was moved away in 1923."
"A livery stable was operated by John Pounds and another man that I cannot name. It was started about 1906."
"Old Dr. Daughtery was in practice when the town was started. Dr. G.G. Armstrong began practice in 1904."
"Martin Owens store stood on the site of the present hardware store. It was a hardware and furniture store, it burned about 1907. Sometime later the Goza brothers purchased the lot and erected a frame iron-clad building and opened a new hardware store."
"Some of the Original families: Starting on the east side of town, C.R. Vanhorn lived about 1/3 mile east of the depot and south of the railroad. Later Mrs. Kirkpatrick built a home on the north side of the RR and in front of the C.R. Vanhorn home."
"West of Mrs. Kirkpatrick and facing the RR was the home of Dad Gatlin and his family. He was fireman at the hickory mill [which was] just across the RR from his home and owned by Pioneer Pole & Shaft Co. North of the Gatlin home stood a little three-room house which was rented to various people. Alonzo Kyle’s house was a little further east near the school property. There was another home on this avenue on the site of the Hamilton home but I don’t remember who lived there. Going north from this avenue and on the west side stood Dr G.G. Armstrong home. On the east side of the street was the G.R. Kimball [Mrs. Kimball (Minnie Evans)] home. Next house north was the H.T. Gaines home. On the west side of the street in front of Gaines stood Dr. E.B. Young’s home. Next north of Dr. Young was R.E. Goza home, and across in front of Goza was Mr. C.R. Sisler. North of Sisler and on the north side of the next avenue was the original G.R. Kimball home. C.R. [“Claude”] Whittle later lived there. West of this house stood a little house occupied by Tom & Hattie Baland" [or Boland? In parenthesis is penciled in “teacher”]
"Starting on the north end of Russell Street stood a little boxed house where the family of Dr. Gillespie, a dentist, lived. South of Gillespie and sometime later H.B. Morrow built his home. Next further south was the G.W. Dowdy home, and across Russell Street on the west side was Oliver Martin’s home later occupied by Little Sam Scarborough. Going down Russell Street south of the Martin was the J.T. McCord home - the Mrs. Lamars home- then the Tom Walton home facing the water tank - then Mr Paxton’s home, don’t know his first name or initials. He was rather fat and white headed, he had a little granddaughter about six years old with long curls, she was real cute, and she called the bitter weeds that grew all over the streets 'Vardaman Geraniums.'"
"On the east side of the street and starting just south of G.W. Dowdy’s place lived S.W. Scarborough and continuing south was W.J. Overby then S.V. Christin [sic] (in front of Tom Walton) then a Craig family in front of Paxton, then another house (just back of W.M. McCord home) lived a saw mill worker don’t know his name. Marion Blue later lived there. Starting on the east side of Main street going north from Gabe Winter drug store the Baptist [“church” penciled in] was built during the years 1906-7 and ’08, then the Byars, then a rental house and then McCord property lived Ed McCallough, then considerably further north was R.M. Moseley’s home but it faced the avenue. Then D.D. Blue’s home. Across the avenue facing south stood a home once occupied by G.M. Herring (Pene), don’t know who originally lived there. Then down the hill further north Cal Fleming lived. About 200 yards further north was the home of an old gentleman named Gable and his wife they had two sons, R.A. & Victor Gable, about ¼ mile further was the Greene Dye home. About ½ mile further north and outside the corporate limits, R. G. Young built a home, which was later owned by J.D. Edmondson."
"Crossing over to west side and starting south, T. Rich Ferguson lived in a house a little nearer town then the Greene Dye home. The P.C. Maddox family later lived there. Then B.W. Naron lived in what you would remember as the Eck Herring place, next Lee A. Sandersons home Directly back of Sanderson lived a man named Lucian Brevard and his family. Let me diverge a minute and get the school house in here. It was a two-story frame building located directly north of the Brevard home on the hill."
J. Edgar Powell taught the first school here. Next was J. Edgar Powell’s home. A road once went west between Sanderson and Powell homes, then turned north directly to the school. "The next home south was J.D. Waltons, then Thomas W. Young, then Alfred Gilder, then Bodie’s boarding house, then the livery stable. Directly back of the livery stable was J.N. Pounds home and further west was John M. Hanna’s home."
"Going west out of the business district south side was Mrs. Clara Crawfords home, then J.D. Richards and then Wiley Embry. Hollie Embry lived just south of Wiley Embry. On the north side of this avenue and in front of J.D. Richard was the home of T.J. Richard. Then across Hawkins Street was J.W. Hill’s home, and further west was the home of Mrs. Belle Philpot and her son and daughter Van and Jimmie Lee."
"Going north on Hawkins Street, J. Emerson Whitehorn on the west side, then E.I. Hawkins, then Sam T. Hawkins then John T. Hawkins. Then on past the school house then westward on the north side was the home of Levi Ferguson. Turning back past the school house about two blocks on the east side of Hawkins Street started an avenue with only one home on it which the home of William Armstrong. Let me back up and go on past Levi Ferguson to the home of William P Vanhorn which was about 200 yds. off the road. Back past the Armstrong home going south was a small rental house on the T.W. Young property."
"This concludes most of the original settlers in the town of Vardaman (Timberville P.O.) Very few other houses have been built within the original town corporate limits. My father J.T. McCord was the first mayor He used to fine Dave Parker every Saturday for selling whiskey. Parker would pay his fine, then invite everyone present to come have a drink on him."
The first mayor (1904) was J.T. McCord, and the first town clerk was J.E. Powell. The second mayor (1907) was E. I. Hawkins and the second town clerk was J. E. Whitehorn. The third mayor (1909) was T. W. Young and J. E. Whitehorn continued as the town clerk.
Embry store photo from J.E. Clark's compilation, boarding house photo by Zilla Spencer
Mayors and Town Clerks from 1904 to 1927
Early Years Part II
Table of Contents