A Brief History of Latham

by Nelda Rachels

(published formerly in Hometown, 2003)

 

     Latham, like many small communities, has moved slightly from its original location in order to serve customers on a rerouted and busier highway.  Fortunately, the town's main business area only had to move a few hundred yards to a rerouted Highway 118.  However, the greater mobility of the populace, the changes from a predominantly agricultural to an industrial economy, and the volume buying and cheaper prices of chain stores have all but killed the economic base of such communities in recent years.  The economic future looked much brighter in the 1850s when E.P. Latham settled in the area north of Dresden.  By the early 1900s, according to Virginia Vaughan's text about about Weakley County's history, Latham had at least two general stores, one owned by R. L. Stevens and another owned around 1919 by Winstead and Jones.  The Winstead and Jones store is said to have "sold everything from coffins to coffee."  The drug store was run by Sam Winstead, who later managed the entire general store after his father had left the business.  During the 1929s' Carlos Brundige operated a gristmill, sawmill, and general store.  Waterpower ran the gristmill while it served the community on the North Fork of the Obion River, but when the mill moved to Latham, it converted to steam power.  In addition there was a blacksmith shop and the early churches of Pisgah Methodist (organized in 1887) and Old Concord Baptist.  Later, the Calvary Missionary Baptist Church and the Church of Christ of Bible Union came to the community.  

A small school by the name of Bible Union educated many students until 1955, after which it became a community center.  It was a long white wooden structure with a row of windows down its length.  Unfortunately, this historic building burned during the summer of 1999.  This tangible reminder of the community's past, like much of any town's history, now remains only in the memories and recollections of its people.

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