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McMahan’s History Dates To 1830

by James Chamberlain
Lockhart Post-Register (1947)

For its very beginning the settlement of McMahan dates back to 1830 when the father of Grit Tinney came to this part of the country from Germany and laid claim to most of the land now included in the community for a price of approximately nine cents an acre.

About 1840 other settlers came in, among them were the Flemings from Tennessee, The Hutchesons from Alabama. In 1853, Jesse, Matthew and John Jeffrey came to this settlement from Mississippi. About the same time the Ellises, who were of scotch-irish descent, came from Georgia, and the Coleses from Mississippi; George Rowe, who came from Tennessee, settled here immediately after the Civil War. The father of John R. Hurst, who is now past 91 years old and is still living in this community, was one of the earliest settlers.

The grandfather of most of the Bakers living here now moved here before the Civil War. Mrs J. T. Jeffrey, known by her neighbors as Aunt Lizzie, moved here in 1863 when she was 11 years old. Aunt Lizzie is now living with her daughter, Mrs. J.J. Brown on the old J. T. Jeffrey place about one-half mile south of McMahan, she is very active and very conversant about old times; she is 96 years old and does a lot of chores about the place. Descendents of these old settlers still make up a majority of the inhabitants of the McMahan community today.

In 1890, Ed McMahan (formerly from Mississippi) in cooperation with Frank Blundell, built a store at the cross roads where McMahan stands. S. C. Cole put in a blacksmith shop and Richard Cole a grist mill. A. W. Parker had built a gin a few years before. At that time Dr. Chambers was located here.

Another store was added by Record Pague. The place began to take on the aspects of a village when a drug store, owned by Sam Robertson, and a barber shop, run by Jimmey Jeffrey, was added and its fame was assured with the establishment of the post office in 1896. R.W. (Bob) McMahan, was the first postmaster, and the post office was named in the honor of his father, Ed McMahan. Mat Blundell was the first mail carrier; he came from Taylorsville horseback.

From 1900 up to the present time McMahan business has changed hands many times. Homer McGee, John Ward, O.T. Moore and S.C. Hindman were among those who owned stores, also John Bright and Johnnie Cole had grocery stores for a short time. At the present time James Chamberlain has a general merchandise store and Mrs. James Chamberlain is postmaster in the old Homer McGee building. Curtis Jeffrey has a first class garage and filling station. The gin here is owned by J. W. Smith but has been idle for the past several years.

McMahan has had many good physicians. Dr. Caleb was the first to locate here. He was followed by Dr. Chambers, who served several years; Dr. Morgan later of Lockhart, was very prominent here. Dr. Jackson, who came from Illinois, practiced here until Dr. K. Alexander, who was born and raised here, began practicing.

Dr. Keat was a very devoted doctor and citizen here for many years, always ready to go when called, even when roads were almost impassable. He always seemed anxious to server his own countrymen regardless of the extreme hardships which were often his lot.

Back in the early days most of the farming was done with oxen., but in the ‘80s mules began to take the place of oxen and today most all of the farming is done with tractors. The chief crops have always been corn and cotton, but this community has always been noted for its sweet potatoes and watermelons. Cattle, hogs and poultry have always played a great part in the industrial activities of this community; of meager proportions are sheep, goats and pecans.

The first school in McMahan was a one room “boxed” affair on the La Grande Road about a mile east of McMahan. It was used as a church too. Professor Hatchett, the father of J.B. Hatchett, taught the first school there, having an enrollment of about 40 pupils. Miss Amanda Smith and Professor Johnson were the next two teachers, then B.B. (Buck) Chamberlain taught a term or two.

In those days the “blue-back speller” was in its glory. Those were the days when “spare the rod, spoil the child” was a cherished maxim and it became necessary to apply the rod quite often under the circumstances. Five-month terms were about the limit during that time. As the enrollment increased a two-room structure was built with a round top and the school went by the name “Round Top” because of its shape. Among the first trustees were Sam Garner, Bart Hutcheson, Ambrose Hutcheson, Dick Cole and Jim Alexander.

Some of the other teachers were Frank and Joe Hackett, Burt Moore, Lonney Dannelly, Jake Tinney, Joe Paris, R.W. Jeffrey, Miss Sunia Wright, Miss Annie Jeffrey, Monroe Anexander, Mabel Cardwell, Jim Brown, Alma Scallons. The old Round Top building was destroyed by a storm.

In 1919 a tile building was constructed and Lewis Jeffrey was the first principal, with three assistants. The school continues to grow and another teacher was added in 1924. The school reached the zenith of activity about 1930, but since that time the enrollment has decreased gradually and today the services of only two teachers are required who teach six grades, those who finish here go to Lockhart by bus to finish high school.

The Primitive Baptist Church was organized here by the earliest settlers and has always had the most predominate membership. The Methodists built a church in 1900, and in 1907 sold their church to the Missionary Baptists, because their membership was so small. The two Baptist churches have active membership at the present time.

It is impossible to think of the church on the hill without remembering the Jeffrey Cemetery nearby. For the past 15 years a date in every June is designated “homecoming.” People come from all parts of the state to get together, have some prominent speaker to address the crowd, have dinner and raise funds to maintain the cemetery. By this method, McMahan has one of the best kept cemeteries in the state.

McMahan has ever been interested in athletics, holding baseball as its favorite game. Even in 1900 McMahan is said to have had one of the state’s best amateur baseball teams. R.W. Ellis, William Jeffrey and Jake Tinney were star players on the team. McMahan basketball teams have presented fair record, winning several county championships and were district champions on a few occasions.

Today the younger generation has dispersed to industrial centers where employment offers better opportunities which make it impossible to have athletic teams of any kind.

The Women’s Home Demonstration Club was organized about 1926. The McMahan ladies, by their tireless efforts and by squeezing a few dimes from their husbands, built a club house which was a great asset to the community. Frequently they have barbecued dinners and various kinds of entertainment, besides their regular routine of business.

Copyright 2012