Willeford History

Willeford, a railroad station and former post office, lies near the south line of section 11 in Creal Springs Township. The original name was Canaville and the post office was opened May 31, 1888 when the railroad was being built from Marion to Creal Springs. When the Illinois Central bought the line in 1904, it was found the station name conflicted with another on their line in Kentucky. They chose the name of Canaville’s first postmaster and leading citizen, William H. Willeford (1855-1897), for their station and the post office was changed to conform on February 12, 1906. Mail service continued until 1912 and the Illinois Central was still using Willeford as a flag stop and prepay freight station in 1939.

Canaville Google viewPostmaster Willeford was the grandson and namesake of the first printer and newspaper publisher in Williamson County. The year before the county was formed, William H. Willeford (1798-1860) set up the first press with a font or two of wooden type. The Willeford men were all mechanically inclined, and back in Tennessee they built water-powered sawmills, made spinning wheels, and did fine cabinet work.

In his early days, Publisher Willeford taught the first school near his Williamson County home. His nephew John Bell Willeford (18391937) recalled it as a log house where all the studying was done aloud. Reading, writing, and spelling were the ordinary studies. When a pupil advanced to the heights of arithmetic he was allowed to seek the quiet of the great outdoors as an aid to concentration, and sit on a log while he ciphered.

The Willeford press prepared the first edition of the Western Family Monitor in 1850, the first publication of any sort in the county. Mr. Willeford edited and printed the bi monthly journal at his home southeast of the county seat. He continued to do the county printing as well until 1855, when the business men of Marion bought his stock and press, hired I. B. Jones as editor, and the Intelligencer succeeded the Monitor as the sole newspaper of the county.

Publisher Willeford was also a Campbellite preacher and appeared in many pulpits of the count v. He preached at Bethel or Pulley chapel from 185 2 to 1857. This was also known as Christian chapel church, and was organized in 1852 by Mr. Willeford, Robert L. and Robert Pulley, members of the family who built Pulley’s mill.

See also, Canaville History

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(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939, on sale at the Williamson County Museum)