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By John Oliver, President, Historical Society

Several people from Hartsville and Trousdale County have held state offices, including the State House of Representatives and the State Senate.

When doing research on who has represented Trousdale County over the years, our efforts are complicated by the fact that before 1870, Trousdale County didn’t exist.

For many years we were part of a much larger Sumner County. That county has been cut, sliced and chopped up over the years, including when tiny Trousdale County was created, with the largest chunk coming from Sumner County.

In fact, before the Civil War Hartsville was Sumner County’s second-largest city!

Submitted photo
This illustration of Tennessee State Senator A.B. Newsom appeared in the Nashville newspapers in 1896. Newsom was from Hartsville and had a short political career!

Many people had represented us, but they represented us as citizens of Sumner County or Macon, Smith or Wilson Counties.

The first local fellow to represent “Trousdale County” was Mr. N.C. McConnell of Hartsville in 1873. And, this was at a time when not only did women not pursue politics, but they weren’t even allowed to vote.

Now McConnell did not just represent Trousdale County.

Rather he represented several counties, of which Trousdale County was the smallest.

Lines determining state congressional districts can change as population determines how large a district is.

So Trousdale County has often been thrown into a district that includes Macon County, or Smith County, or Sumner County, or Wilson County.

Today we are in the same district as a part of Sumner, all of Trousdale, all of Smith and most of DeKalb County.

Districts like ours, the 40th State Congressional District, are called “Floterial” districts. The name implies that by itself, Trousdale County does not have the population to warrant its own congressional district. Nor evidently does Sumner, Smith or DeKalb.

N.C. McConnell may have been the first state representative to actually represent a place called “Trousdale County” and to come from Hartsville, but he wasn’t the only one over the years!

Last week we wrote about state legislator Morgan C. Fitzpatrick of Hartsville.

This week we write about the Honorable A.B. Newsom, who served in the Tennessee State Senate and who had something in common with Fitzpatrick as both men died young.

Newsom was born in Sumner County in 1838, but in a part of that county that became Trousdale County in 1870. His father was a successful farmer and the family was considered to be one of the pioneer families of Middle Tennessee.

Like most young men of his day, he got his education from local schools and chose to join the Confederacy during the Civil War. After the war, he studied law and began his practice right here in Hartsville.

When the opportunity presented itself, he sought the position of a state senator.

Now there is more to the story than that.

It was an unwritten, but well understood, agreement that the three counties that made up our floterial district would take turns choosing the state representative.

That is, one session the representative would come from Macon County, then the next session the representative would come from Sumner County, and the next session the representative would come from Trousdale County. In 1896, those three counties made up our floterial district.

This worked at a time when the state voted Democratic and when the Democratic Party had a strong state presence and could pick candidates. Today, that system is gone and the race is usually between individuals who simply have enough money to run on their own.

Newsom was chosen to run and the rest was simply procedure, because who ever got the party nomination would also be elected since the state always voted for the Democratic nominee.

Newsom, however, only got to serve part of his two-year term.

An article in the Nashville Tennessean newspaper from Aug. 7, 1895 reported that Hon. A.B. Newsom “…died this afternoon at 3 o’clock at the home of his cousin…(he) had been sick ten days…”

NOTE: The Trousdale County Historical Society will meet on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 2 p.m. at the County Archives building, 328 Broadway. Sara Beth Urban with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development will be our featured speaker. All meetings are open to the public.