History of Rossville, TN
The Town of Rossville is one of the oldest towns of Fayette County, Tennessee. It was founded from a village named LaFayette which was named from General DeLaFayette of France.
Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de LaFayette (1757-1834) was a French General and Statesman who, despite the opposition of his government, sailed for America in 1777 to join George Washington. In 1824-25, he spent several months touring the United States. Enthusiasm and admiration for him ran high among the pioneer settlers because of his active part in fighting during the American Revolution. Our county and town were named in his honor.
One of the early settlers was Thomas M. Ross who donated property in the present sit of Rossville in 1859. Thus the town was renamed Rossville.
Rossville has suffered some setbacks during its existence. Union soldiers camped in the town for nearly three years during the Civil War, plundered and destroyed, and left the problem of rebuilding when the war ended. The yellow fever epidemic in the late 1870s took its toll in Rossville. Dr. Lipscomb , the Town’s first physician, ministered to the patients throughout the epidemic. Other setbacks included a flood in 1844 a fire in 1922 which destroyed an entire block in the business district, the Methodist Church and several homes.
The first school, a one room building, was erected in 1866. The building was replaced in 1899 by a two-story frame building, and many additions and improvements were made through the years. During the 1920s, the older children rode the train to Somerville to attend school. For this daily trip back and forth to Somerville, the children rode “Old Mike”. Actually, the engineer’s name was Mike Brady, but the train took on a personality of its own . Most Rossville students lived in dormitories in Somerville. According to Mrs. Rosa Anderson, the train rides were the highling of those eyars and many a romance began on “Old Mike”.
In 1947, a new Rossville Elementary School was erected on Third Street. Miss Freddie Mae Thomas was among the staff of three, and she was responsible for the elementary classes and provided a wonderful education to many students despite the challenge of teaching children in as many as six different grades in one classroom. One student fondly remembers how the children were separated into different areas of the room and their teacher went from group to group giving each child special attention.
The oldest home in Rossville is near the railroad tracks on Second Street and was built by Dr. A.V. Warr who came to Fayette County in 1855. The present owners have restored the home to its original beauty.
The first church in Rossville was built about 1870 by the Baptists and it offered worship services for both Methodist and Baptist religions until 1892 when the first Methodist church as built. Then the Baptists built another church on Second Street. In 1922, the Methodist Church was destroyed by a fire and they again returned to the Baptist Church. On Easter Sunday in 1923, the first service was held in the new Methodist Church on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Crawford. The Methodists still worship in the historic church on Main Street and the Baptist congregation has a new church on Hwy. 57.
Rossville was incorporated in 1903 and John B. Ballard was the first Mayor.