West Tennessee is a region rich in history, tradition and resilience. It’s also home to some incredible companies that have been thriving for over a century. These legacy businesses have stood the test of time and contributed diligently to the growth and prosperity of their local communities.
TNECD is paying tribute to the Volunteer State’s centennial companies, beginning with those located in counties that were designated by the Appalachian Regional Commission as distressed in 2019.
Learn more about the companies we visited in Hardeman and McNairy counties.
Photo Credit: Bolivar Bulletin-Times
The Bolivar Bulletin was founded in 1865 by Moses R. Parish, who served as the editor until 1874, when it was managed and published by several owners. The newspaper’s content included foreign and domestic news, local affairs, market reports, railroad news, poetry and a ladies’ column that often-discussed home and garden advice.
In 1888, the Bolivar Bulletin became the West Tennessee Star, but it quickly reverted to its original name in November when R.H. Green and Hugh Williams purchased it. In 1946, the newspaper merged with the Hardeman County Times to form the Bolivar Bulletin and the Hardeman County Times. Finally, in 1981, it became the Bulletin-Times, the name it still operates under today.
To learn more about the Bolivar Bulletin-Times, visit www.bulletintimesnews.com.
J.P. SHELLY & SONS
Photo Credit: J.P. Shelly & Sons
J.P. Shelly & Sons was founded by William Henry Shelly in 1902. The family business continued when William’s son, J.P. Shelly, joined the company in 1929. Fast forward to 2024, and Keith Shelly currently represents the four generations of the Hardeman County Tennessee family that has been operating this business for more than 120 years.
Today, the store provides the necessary materials for home construction, repair, maintenance and renovation projects, including lumber, windows, doors, plumbing, electrical, tools, appliances, work boots, clothing, fertilizer, feed and seed. The store’s motto is “If we don’t have it, we can get it!”
To learn more about J.P. Shelly & Sons, visit www.jpshellysons.com.
HOCKADAY HANDMADE BROOMS
Jack Martin is a fourth-generation broom maker that has managed to carry on the family tradition of Hockaday Handmade Brooms in Selmer, Tennessee. In the early 1900s, Martin’s great grandfather, Will Hockaday, started growing broomcorn on his farm so that he could make brooms in the winter and earn extra money for his family. Back then brooms were often traded for necessities or wholesaled to local merchants.
From that time on broom making became a part of the Hockaday family’s normal winter’s work. Sometime between 1911 and 1914, Will Hockaday found a picture of broom making machinery, which led to building his own equipment. This is the same equipment that Jack Martin uses today to make brooms, one at a time, on the same family farm. Despite broom making being a large party of the family’s life through the years, farming has always been the main occupation.
To learn more about Hockaday Handmade Brooms, visit www.hhbrooms.com.
Boyette’s Dining Room
Boyette’s was founded in 1921 by Nannie Boyette and her husband Red. There have been several different owners over the years and currently, it’s owned and operated by sisters Jan Boyd and Fran Hearn. They inherited the business from their parents Jack and Mary Frances Richardson, who operated the restaurant from 1968-1988.
The restaurant has welcomed guests from all around the world and is known for its regional cuisine consisting of southern fried catfish, country ham, fried chicken and all the trimmings. Boyette’s is one of West Tennessee’s most popular restaurants and is known to serve thousands of customers in one weekend.
To learn more about Boyette’s Dining Room, visit reelfoot.com/boyettes.
Lake County Banner
Photo Credit: Lake County Banner
The Lake County Banner is a weekly newspaper that is published each Wednesday. It is the descendent of the Lake County News, which was published in neighboring Ridgely in the early 1920s and the Tiptonville Times, which started in the 1800s.
The newspaper has had various owners throughout its 100-year history, but in 1985, Evan Jones assumed the role of managing editor until 2013 when he sold the Banner to Dennis and Lisa Richardson, owners of Magic Valley Publishing Co. (MVP) in Camden, Tennessee. Today, MVP owns and operates 17 newspapers, a printing facility, FM radio station and a vinyl sign business.
To learn more about the Lake County Banner, visit lakecountybanner.com.
Bank of Halls
Photo Credit: Bank of Halls
A group of local doctors and businessmen opened the Bank of Halls on October 8, 1899, in the rear of McDearman and Rhodes Grocery Store with Mr. Isaac Burton Tigrett as the sole employee. In the early days, the bank endured many harsh critics until it gained the trust of the community.
Since the bank’s humble beginning, it has expanded, and today, it oversees 16 banking locations in four western Tennessee counties. These financial institutions allow the Bank of Halls to serve a greater number of customers and communities, as well as provide local employment.
To learn more about the Bank of Halls, visit www.bankofhalls.com.
Lauderdale County Enterprise
The Lauderdale County Enterprise has been publishing news about the Ripley area for nearly 140 years, making it the oldest business in the county. The newspaper started in 1885 when L.A. Palmer launched The Ripley Enterprise. Charles Campbell and Col. J.W. Hedgepeth purchased the newspaper in 1893 and changed the name to The Lauderdale County Enterprise.
Today, the newspaper prints and distributes more than 4,600 copies each week through subscription and copy sales. Despite two fires and a flood from a busted water pipe, the newspaper has never missed a single issue. Beverly Hutcherson, the current owner of The Lauderdale County Enterprise, still goes by the motto of the early owners – Campbell and Hedgepeth – to build up and not destroy.
To learn more about the Lauderdale County Enterprise, click here to visit the newspaper’s Facebook page.