A Little History by Pat Poston
Fisk Female Academy was established in 1803, the first school for girls in the south. The charter was received from TN Legislative in 1806. Moses Fisk and Sampson Williams each gave 1,000 acres. The academy was luxurious for the time, being built around 8 chimneys. Fisk was the most noted educator in the early days of Overton County and a graduate of Dartmouth College and a classmate of John Qunicy Adams. He dreamed that Hilham would become a great place and he certainly spent his life and his talent to achieve great things. He built his log home in 1806, a short distance south of the crossroads. He was also a great surveyor and many of the roads were established because of him. The first Fisk Academy burned in 1828 and was never rebuilt on the original site. After the fire, Hilham had no school for many years. Fisk and another New Englander taught for a while at the Old Union Church.
After the Civil War, the county fell upon hard times and nothing was done to restore the school until 1883 when a group of leading citizens formed a stock company for the teaching of girls and boys. They opened this building in 1884 and abandoned it in 1926 when a new Fisk Academy was built.
A splendid school with 3 departments: academic, intermediate, and primary which is second to no other school in the county with an enrollment of over 100 pupils. Also a nice music class under the care of the best music teacher in the state.
Hilham organized the first home telephone company in Overton County and used her infleunce to get Livingston and other parts of the county interested.
Hilham was also connected with the outside world by the Gainesboro Telephone System.
On the 1st of April when the spring trade was going on, Hilham was a lively little town.
William Cord Murphy moved to Hilham in November 1885. In 1886, the business of Hilham got on the move and went after business in such a way to attract trade from all parts of the county. The little town began to grow and by 1913 there had been 3 to 5 general stores, and all doing a fine business. In October 1913, there were 3 general stores, a drugstore, and a saddle shop which turned out made the best homemade saddles for both men and women of any place in the state. There were 2 church houses with 3 different organizations, the Christian, Methodists, and Presbyterian. Also 2 medical doctors, 2 lawyers, 2 notaries, 1 dentist, 2 blacksmith shops, a post office with 2 rural routes, 1 steam sawmill, and 2 gasoline gristmills, with a population of 250.
The Fisk Academy built in 1925 was by volunteers and donations by individuals. The building was destroyed by fire in 1943.