A Brief History of Tuckertown
Jubal Tucker was not exactly your typical pioneer type. He owned a tavern outside of Boston in the late 1700’s and married Susannah McClesky, the daughter of a well-to-do landowner named Tobias McClesky. In addition to being basically a lazy, shiftless sort of character, Jubal had an eye for the ladies. He was tall angular man with an imposing shock of black hair, a hawk-billed nose and droopy eyes. He also shuffled his feet when he walked, swaying back and forth in a sort of undulating fashion that reminded one of a camel. When he and Susannah had only been married about 6 months she caught him in a compromising situation with another lady. All Jubal could say was, “I didn’t mean to.”
Tobias had him tarred and feathered and run out of town and he was never seen in the Boston area again. The story has it that he wandered southward for the rest of that year and finally set up camp on Little Beaver Creek near what is now Tuckertown. It was a trading route used by the early settlers who were trading with the Cherokee and Catawba Indians. He built a small cabin that was later expanded into a tavern. Most of the early “hooch” that was sold to the settlers and Indians was “brewed” out behind Tuckers’ Tavern. It was horrible tasting stuff but it obviously packed quite a punch because it was an instant hit with the locals.
Gradually the settlement grew as more and more settlers found the pleasant weather, the ample water and game to their liking. Despite the lack of any ambitious undertakings on his part, the tavern prospered, along with the settlement until there were nearly a hundred hardy souls who called Tuckers’ Tavern home. In 1822 the name was changed to Tuckertown because the local circuit rider preacher, Augustus Weatherhead, thought the name Tuckers’ Tavern portrayed the wrong image of their small community.
In 1861, as the “War of Northern Aggression” was heating up, the local inhabitants of Tuckertown voted 105-44 to secede from the “whole blame country”, not because of political or philosophical differences but because Early Chester, mayor at the time, didn’t believe in fighting (unless it was over something important like a good horse) He also convinced the town counsel they could make a killing selling supplies to both sides of the conflict. So the Tuckertown Apparel Manufacturing Company converted from making men and women’s clothing to making Union and Confederate Uniforms. All went well until one order of Union uniforms delivered to General Sherman’s army in Georgia contained Union Coats and Confederate pants. Meanwhile, somewhere up in Virginia, General Lee’s troops were trying on similar mixed uniforms. No more orders were received for uniforms. Eventually the plant went back to making civilian clothing, but closed less than two years later when a fire broke out in the ladies underwear department and burned the whole thing down.
During World War II Tuckertown proudly joined in the patriotic mood of the country and announced a drive to send food to the troops. Erskine Tucker, great grandson of Jubal Tucker, decided that our troops deserved home cooking like fried chicken. So the town collected over four hundred chickens from local farmers, packed them in boxes and shipped them off to France. Problem was the chickens were alive when they put them in the boxes and none survived the long boat ride to France. They said you could smell them dead chickens clear back to Tuckertown.
Hearing that the nation was rationing gasoline for the war effort, town officials then decided that they could make gasoline for military vehicles. Harley Brassfield, who was known for producing some of the most “potent” home brew around, declared that his “squeezings” could power any kind of engine. He claimed he had run his John Deere on it for years. So they geared up to make home-made gasoline. All available stills were confiscated and the home brew was re-bottled and re-named “Shine-o-line”. Some of the locals complained because it created a shortage of Harley’s home brew and the price of what was available to drink suddenly jumped by 200. All Harley would say was, “Supply and demand, supply and demand.” They actually shipped several hundred gallons of the stuff to the United States Army at Fort Jackson. But when the Army gave the fuel a try, a massive explosion took out four jeeps, one Sherman tank, an armored personnel carrier and General Abraham’s Buick. They were asked not to make any more of the stuff!! Although several years later a man representing himself to be from the government did come to Tuckertown inquiring about the “home-made gasoline. According to Harley, he was paid handsomely for the rights to his brew. Harley said the man’s name was Von Braun or something.
Today the town is about the same size as it was during the War of Northern Aggression, but the characters are even more colorful. Now the local men gather at Harold “Mac” McFarland’s barbershop( called the Clip Joint) to exchange the latest news or gossip or swap war stories or such. Next door to the Clip Joint the local ladies are putting their spin on the same news and gossip in Maybelle’s House of Beauty and Charm. Maybelle Masterson has been the proprietor since 1932. She likes to say that she “is to Tuckertown what Hedda Hopper is to Hollywood. If it happens in Tuckertown, I know about it.”
There’s not much excitement these days in Tuckertown. It’s just a quiet little Southern town that has survived the past two hundred years or so, not by futuristic planning or forward thinking town management, but mostly by dumb luck. The computer age is still a couple of decades away and even when it gets here the locals will look on it with suspicion. Tuckertown will always remain about a decade behind the rest of the country because, as “Mac” likes to say, “change just gets in the way of taking it easy.”
Though Highway 25 runs from exit 19 off I-85 right to Tuckertown, it don’t go “through” Tuckertown, so most folks just whiz right on by unaware that there is such a place.
Occasionally a weary traveler will get lost and stop at Mac’s Clip Joint to ask directions. Generally Mac will just nod in the direction of the Interstate and tell them to “go back where you came from.” Even though the town limit sign says “Kick Off Your Shoes and Stay A While,” there is a saying among the town folks that says “if you ain’t one of us, then you’re one of them.”…….whatever that means!
So, kick off your shoes and stay awhile. Despite the suspicious nature of the locals, we really are glad you’re here. Just don’t expect no dinner invites.