by J. Mark Lowe
At the end of the 19th Century, Tennessee changed the way that roads were maintained. Prior to this change, the individuals were completely responsible for maintaining the county roads that passed near their property. This report shows the transition from full maintenance by the citizens to the use of a county work crew. This report was found in the loose papers of the Quarterly Court.
To the Honorable Quarterly County Court for Robertson county at its January term 1908. I make the following annual report for the road work for the year 1907. We do not hesitate to say that we have accomplished much in the way of improvements to our public roads, providing benefit to the public of a permanent and lasting kind. The health of the work house prisoners who assisted during the year was about on average, no serious sickness among them. We refer you first to the Wartrace Woodard hills East of town, which have been cut down and heavily graveled. The first 4 or 5 months of the year nearly all the work done was at the workhouse beating rock, which was used on the highway leading to Greenbrier. Said highway having been graded and about one mile of pike made. On the Turnersville road there was about one mile of grading done near New Chapel and the Fizer hill or Powell hill on this side of Carrs Creek changed and well graveled. On the Barren Plains road, the Sulphur Fork hill at the Woolen Mills near the bridge was filled in about four feet and lengthened out. The grade lowered and the hill graveled, on the other side of the creek and nearly as far as Mr. Ceph Armstrong’s farm the road was graded and partly gravelled. [Joe Cephas Armstrong was married to Elvira Holman. Their children at this time were: Addie, Joseph, Lula and Grace.] Another county eyesore was removed on the Cedar Hill road west of town, known as the Crow Hill. The grade was lengthened and the grade lowered about seven feet and graveled with a good substantial bridge put across the same at the foot where the road usually overflowed. The grades on all of this hill being reduced to such an extent that it is an easy matter to trot up either one of them with a horse. Before the work, they were dreaded by all who traveled over them. The best piece of work we have done outside of cutting down the big hills is the piking the old Nashville pike out to Mantlo’s crossing. It will take about 3 weeks to complete this job, afterwards we will have made about two miles of pike that is easily work $1000 per mile, however it has cost the county very little. There was some grading and graveling done on about one fourth of a mile near C.G. Holman’s Eqr in South Town also some repairing done on the Cross Plains road. It is useless to dwell upon this further, as each of you who are acquainted with these locations will readily agree that the improvements are of great benefit to the County. In each case we have been able to secure much help from the citizens in the vicinity in which the work was done. Some would subscribe money, while many others would furnish wagons and teams. With the year’s experience and with the assistance we could secure we are All in all it was I think one of the best years work the county has gotten from the work house prisoners. There are other minor jobs they did which helped swell the benefit the county has derived from the work house labor which is not necessary to mention. There was during the year an average of perhaps nine work hands, and in but one or two instances there was no trouble with the hands and the guards. The hands all seemed to be pleased with their treatment under the condition they were in and but little fault finding among them. I think with the present management in a few year that all the highways leading into Springfield will be benefited and made good. To all of which I most respectfully submit to your Honorable body for consideration.
T. G. Payne, Superintendent of Robertson County Work House