Westward expansion focus of book

QCS Staff

A former Logan resident’s book details the expansion westward for two towns a century apart.

“It’s a collection of essays detailing two villages triumphs, conflicts, scandals and tragedies as a result of Americans’ westward expansion,” said J.L. Walker, the book’s author.

The book “Southeast by Southwest” contains information about the time, people and settlement of Gainesboro, Tenn., and Logan.

“Each village is located 20 miles north of Interstate 40, yet are 1,300 miles apart” Walker said. “Gainesboro was settled in the early part of the 19th century. Logan was settled in the early 20th century.”

Walker said each town settlement was a testament to the spirit of American’s westward expansion.

“They were established in very different times which were uncertain,” Walker said.

Walker said in 2006 she was traveling to a cabin she had purchased in Clay County, Tenn., when she stopped in Gainesboro. She said she talked with residents of the area and began to put together a history for the town.

“It was designated as the county seat in 1817 and was named after General Edmund Pendleton Gaines,” Walker said. “Gaines was a general who fought with Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans.”

Walker said many of the residents had come to Gainesboro by wagon on Daniel Boone’s famed “Wilderness Road.”

The settlers would have to endure the turmoil of that era, the War of 1812, skirmishes with the Seminole indians, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War.

“These were indeed trying times for those who lived in Gainesboro,” Walker said. “Though the people stayed and the village prospered.”

Walker said she knew a lot about Logan’s history because she had grown up there. She said she was a graduate of Logan High’s Class of 1956.

“I had the privilege of interviewing Joe Shollenbarger in 1999,” Walker said. “The pieces about Logan can be described as personal essays.”

Shollenbarger was a lifelong Logan resident and a descendent of J.H. Shollenbarger who built Shollenbarger’s General Store in 1911. The sand stone building still stands today.

Logan was settled in the early part of the 20th century, while the Civil War had long been over, and the threat of Comanche was 20 years past, there were still many dangers and hardships the settlers would face.

“Settlers came to Logan by way of wagon, though many of them came by train,” Walker said. “The settlers and their belongings, and livestock would travel and unload at a depot that was little more than a water tower.”

Walker said settlers were driven west to lay claim to the free land, and looked at the waist-high grass prairies as paradise.

“There were still many dangers for those choosing to travel west,” Walker said. “Spanish landowners offered resistance as did cattle barons.”

Walker said during those times, gunslingers were hired to run settlers off their land. She said some accounts included houses being burned down and crops being destroyed.

“Later those settlers would have to endure the ‘Dust Bowl’ and ‘The Great Depression.’” Walker said.

Walker said the accounts also include reflection on her life growing up in Logan with her parents, L.O. and Mable White, on a small ranch south of town.

“The book is a personal take on each village’s establishment, despite there being no guarantines of success,” Walker said.