‘Tell Me A Good Story!’ Hurley Town, Tennessee
By Bill Wagoner, County Historian
History records that the Hurley’s came to America from Ireland. In the early 1700’s five Hurley brothers left their homes in Ireland. It was the custom that any inheritance went to the oldest son. AT the time of the Hurley’s departure, the country was experiencing bad economic circumstances due to the potato famine. Those who could, sought passage to America hoping for a better life and fortunes.
When the original Hurley brothers arrived in New York, they married and began to raise families. In Maryland they lived in Prince George and St. John’s Parish. Sometime later on their children migrated to North Carolina as there was talk of a gold strike. Some of the Hurley’s worked in the mines. Eventually one or two Hurely’s owned their own gold mines.
Josiah Hurley (b. 1795) moved from North Carolina to Hardin County, TN. On a wagon train headed west. The Hurley’s, James and Thomas L., acquired land on what is now Shiloh National Military Park. At the western edge of Hardin County, N., there were so many Hurleys the community was named Hurley town. Most of the Tennessee Hurleys had their roots in this section. Josiah Hurley had three people living in his household in the 1840 census. A son Thomas L. Hurley was 3 years old in the 1850 census.
Thomas L. grew to manhood, married and had Rose, Ida, Rufus Payton, Edwin and Herbert. Rufus Payton Hurley was destined to remain in the Hurley Town area while James’ descendants moved to Yantis, Hood County, Texas, where his descendants remain today. Rufus Payton was born in 1885. He married Pearl F. Wardlow. They had 8 kids and she died of cancer at 365 years. The children were Paul, Luke and John, Kate (Pounds), Jewel (Humphries), Lorraine (Pettigrew), Ethel (Houston) and Hazel (Matlock).
Rufus Payton, after the death of Pearl, married a second time to a woman 20 years his junior. She had a daughter by a previous marriage.
“We all called him pappy! A bit ornery, he had a mean streak in him a yard wide. His second wife got fed up, zapped him with a full Coke bottle and left him. I came in the store at Hurley Town just as she let him have it! I ran home and told the folks that she had killed pappy. We went back, pappy came to as she was loading up a case of pink salmon in a large trunk,” said Dean Hurley. HE, Billy Joe and Loretta Emmons are the children of Paul and Essie Hurley.
James M. Hurley operated a grocery store at Hurley Town as did Rufus Patyon Hurley. Old timers can remember the J. A. Reid Store. IT sat on a knoll just west of the Wallace Fullwood property. The Hurleys were farmers, store owners, cotton gins, sawmills and brick makers. Most Hurleys originated at Hurley Town, Tn. While some Hurley’s settle din North Mississippi, it is found that they went to Texas in 1857.
The store at Hurley Town closed under J. A. Reid about 1948. Rufus Payton Hurley built a nice house north of Stanton ville in 1901. IT stood till 1994. The community held a name designation on the maps showing it on Hwy. 57 that was later changed to Hwy. 142. The J.A. Reid Store was moved by Wallace Fullwood. What remains of it is now located in back of the Fullwood home.
Road signs identifying Hurley Town were moved during construction improvement. The signs are being replaced and Hurley Town will be on the map again thanks to the descendants of Rufus Payton Hurley and Paul Blount, Com missioner of the Hardin County Hwy. Dept.
There will be a public dedication of signs Sat., July 30, at 10:00 am at Old Hurley Town, Hwy. 142 and 22, Shiloh Park.
Contributing to this story were Dean, Billy Joe Hurley, Larry Hurley (Texas), Ronnie Fullwood and Connie Lewis, Hardin Co. Library.