The Second Charter

The Second Charter (1899)

Around the turn of the century Dickson had become a very desirable place to live. By 1899 it was a growing town with over 1,300 people. The debate surrounding the issue of incorporation began to come up again around this time.

The town started growing just after the Civil War ended in 1865 and by 1873 it had received its first charter. But the citizens decided to abolish the charter in 1883, and Dickson had operated as an unincorporated town for almost twenty years.

T. B. Loggins, who was an administrator at the Dickson College, favored reincorporation and so did other key leaders in town. In addition to being an educator, Loggins was also in the newspaper business. He produced “The Critic” and in the paper he published articles that outlined the benefits of reincorporation.

Public opinion had swayed and in 1899 Dickson received a second charter. The first order of business was to elect a new mayor and a group of seven aldermen to help administer the town. There would also be a Marshal who acted as the chief law enforcement officer.

C.M. Lovell was elected to serve as the first mayor following reincorporation. He was a doctor who had been born in Nashville, attended the public schools there, and graduated from Vanderbilt with a degree in medicine. After college, he practiced in Bellevue for seven years before moving west to Dickson to open a doctors office.

The first meeting of the mayor and alderman of the town of Dickson, Tennessee was held on May 12, 1899. They would meet a total of three times that month, fixing problems and planning out a new direction for the town. The first issue the new leaders had to tackle was what to do about all of the garbage.

At the time of reincorporation, the town already had several institutions to help it succeed. The Dickson College had quickly grown to become one of the best schools in the state. The college attracted people to the area from all over the South and it had officially put Dickson on the map.

The town had several churches and a few small primary schools. Dickson was not the county seat, but it did have a brand new courthouse that had just been built. There were also several hotels that gave travelers a place to stay.

By this time, the railroad had been completed from Nashville to Memphis, which meant that everything traveling between these two cities had to go through Dickson.

Because of the railroad, Main Street had become a vibrant marketplace that offered just about anything you could imagine. There were several general stores that sold basic merchandise and there were also other shops that specialized in specific goods. You could get food from the grocery store and supplies for the farm from the hardware store. There were clothing and shoe stores, a furniture store and even a jewelry store.

There were several doctors' offices and at least one drug store. In addition to the mayor being a doctor, one of the town aldermen, E.W. Ridings also had a doctor's office on Main Street.

Besides the railroad, the factories had the best paying jobs. There was a brick company and a lumber yard, but the Leathers Company had the biggest and best factory in town.

J.B. Leathers started his woodworking company in Pennsylvania around 1879. They specialized in creating wooden handles for tools. They also created other wood products such as wood floors. J.B’s son, A.H. Leathers inherited the business and decided to expand and create a second factory in Tennessee around the turn of the century, due to the abundance of timber in the area. He chose Dickson as the place he wanted to establish his new business. After a fire destroyed the original factory in Pennsylvania, A.H. Leathers moved his entire operation to Tennessee. From Dickson, the Leathers Company shipped out goods all over the country.

Within a few years, Dickson became the first town in the area, outside of Nashville, to have water, electricity, and telephone services available to its citizens. Dickson was growing at a fast pace and it seemed like nothing could stop it. But unfortunately, it would be another fire that would slow the town's growth.

On November 24, 1905 the town of Dickson experienced the worst disaster in the history of the town. A fire started in a candy kitchen and spread throughout the business district devastating the same area that had been destroyed in 1893. But just like every fire Dickson has experienced, the town rebounded and rebuilt quickly. It seemed as if nothing could keep this town down. No matter what happened to Dickson in its early days, it always came back stronger.