The town of Bell Buckle was founded in 1852 as a railroad town. Before its settlement, the area was part of the Cherokee territory. Throughout its history the name of Bell Buckle has been the cause of speculation. There are many myths surrounding the origin of the name. One of the most popular myths centers around a beech tree and an Indian carving. There was a beech tree near a stream located in the Cherokee territory. On the tree the Indians had carved a buckle as a warning to white settlers that they would be killed. Also on the tree was a carving of a bell, which was a warning that the Indians would kill the settlers' cattle. Another version states that there was an actual bell and buckle attached to the tree.

For many years Bell Buckle was the center of society for those living around it; almost everything one needed could be found in the town. However, as society became less rural and more mobile, many locals began to travel to larger nearby towns to carry on their business and shopping.

From an interview with:
Mr. Roy Turrentine


Bell Buckle, founded by A.D. Fugitt, was the third town in Bedford County. During the Civil War, the Battle of Liberty Gap was fought near the town.

Some years after the war, a beer joint was opened in Bell Buckle. It was open for only one year because during that year seven people were killed and the town closed it down.

Almost everyone in and around Bell Buckle was a farmer. Until the 1950's farmers in the area used horses instead of gasoline-powered machinery.

The railroad provided transportation and shipping between Nashville and Chattanooga. Bell Buckle was one of the largest shipping stops on the route.

Bell Buckle was affected by the Great Depression. During this time, the town's stores burned. When they were rebuilt, they faced the railroad. Before this time, they had faced away from the railroad.

Salem Academy, built in 1820, was the first school in Bell Buckle. It was later named Bedford College. In 1926 Bell Buckle School was built. Webb School, a private school, was founded by Sawney Webb. He moved from Culleoka to Bell Buckle because he did not like towns selling alcohol; Culleoka sold alcohol and Bell Buckle did not.

From an interview with:
Mr. Harry Bingham
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