This information being taken from a book written by Arahwana Hendren Ridens named the Dyer County and Newbern Tennessee, A history of the 39 earliest families in Dyer County. Part of this information was extracted from this publication, along with other documents and related stories and oral family histories. We continue with the entries of the McCorkle Diaries and what was entered about the from his perspective as a Newbern business owner. We pick up late in the year of 1880 and continue from our December 2015 issue.
When we ended last month, on Nov. 1, 1881 James A. Scott and family left for Texas. There is no record if they returned. On November 18, 1881 was a great day, when the first steam engine arrived in Newbern with only one passenger coach. At this point the railroad was still under construction and had been for several years with the Railroad originally dead heading just South of what is now the Jefferson Street Crossing. We can make the assumption with the passenger car here the railroad was open between Newbern and Dyersburg offering services to Trimble, Reeves, and other whistle stops. November 18 was a cold and rainy day in Newbern. The temperature dropped and the rain turned to ice in the middle of the night.
In May 1882, the constant rain and cool temperature sent the thermometer to 50 degrees when the year before it was 91 degrees. Several wore overcoats to church on May 14th.
This was the year, too, the Newbern Lodge No. 285 Free and Accepted Masons received its charter from the Grand Lodge of Tennessee. Its first Worshipful Master was W. H. Hendricks. Newbern Chapter No. 16, Royal Arch Masons was granted its charter on Feb. 1, 1883, exactly one year later. J. H. Lasley was high priest. It is not sure where the original Masonic Lodge was located, however the oldest known by this writer was above what is now Stitch and Print. When it was there the Newbern Post Office was located on the main floor with a barbershop in the rear. Until recently the typologies could still be seen it the floor. From there it was relocated to above what is now Main Line Station across from Security Bank. They are now located in a modern facility on SR. 77 near Foodrite.
Other lodges in Newbern in 1882 were the International Order of Odd Fellows, I.O.O .F. No. 92, Samuel Radford, Noble Grand. and IOOF Newbern Encampment, No. 43, E. N. Edwards was the Grand Patriarch, The International Order of Odd Fellows is similar to the Masons with a cross-over of many symbols. Two in particular is the all seeing eye and the three linked chain. As above it is unknown exactly were the first lodge was located. When the lodge closed it was located over the Palace Theater, Tigrett & Shibley Insurance, Rays Liquor and now the Farm House.
On June 30th, Mr. McCorkle recorded "Gitteau hung at Washington for murdering John A. Garfield".
July 13th, 1882, the long-awaited railroad was finally completed and running through Newbern to Memphis was completed and the railroad celebrated its completion by complimenting several of the outstanding business men in the communities to a trial run of the train to Memphis. Boarding the train in Newbern as a guest of the railroad were H.R.A McCorkle, Dr. J.S. McCorkle, John E. and F.A. McCorkle, Smith Parks, H. C. Porter and Mr. Barrett .
When the train reached the Hatchie River it stopped and the first ceremony took place . Mr. H. R. A. McCorkle, one of Newbern’s outstanding citizens, was given the honor of driving the last spike in the railroad over the river.
Several speeches were made and the railroad served the guests dinner at the river. The excursion then continued the trip to Memphis where they once again convened at the Hotel Peabody the finest hotel in West Tennessee. They continued the ceremonies until late in the evening. All those boarding the train returned from Memphis in the early hours of the next day, dropping off each guest at their respective depots along the way. Those who left Newbern arrived home around 2:00 am. The completion of the rail connected Chicago to New Orleans and Newbern got the last swing, so to speak.