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  • Jay Brothers

Cornsilk - An "Agrarian" Connection

Updated: Jan 22

Cornsilk/ Thomas Stringer House sits on Highland Rd. near Cross Plains. Thomas Stringer (1819-1900) and Eustacia Ann Nimmo Stringer (1825-1857) built the clapboard house between 1850-1874. They wed in 1842. Its style is unique with a 2-story recessed front porch. His second wife was Lucy Eleanor Griffin Stringer (1839-1911) who he wed in 1858. Stringer was a stock raiser and farmer. After Thomas' death, his widow remained at the home until her passing.


The property was then sold in 1911 to one of her daughters, Mary Jane"Jennie" Stringer Crocker (1840-1941) who had wed Virgil Eugene Crocker in 1898. Crocker (1875-1966) was the son of Henderson J. Crocker, a prosperous merchant with a general store in neighboring Orlinda and grandson of John Crocker of Orlinda. After Mary Jane died, Virgil married Buena Vista Wrigtht (1879-1958). Crocker had helped found Orlinda. He was co-owner with a store with his father - Crocker & Sons. John C. built the Hotel at Hygeia Springs resort (40 acres) at the turn of the century near Greenbriar, TN. It is northeast of the popular Ridgetop resort. Hygeia was famous for soothing sulphur waters in three colors.


In 1939, Andrew Lytle purchased and named Cornsilk. The Southern writer Andrew Nelson Lytle (1902-1995) and his wife resided at the property for nearly 2 decades until 1958. He married Edna Barker (1915-1963) in 1938. He was a founding member of the Southern Agrarian literary movement at Vanderbilt University and had been a student of Fugitive professors Donald Davidson and John Crowe Ranson. He contributed to the Agrarian literary work I'll Take My Stand.

Photo by rossograph


He was a faculty member at Vanderbilt University, the University of Florida, and the University of the South at Sewanee. Lytle published a biography of Nathan Bedford Forrest as well as writing The Velvet Horn, A Name for Evil among other novels. He was editor of the Sewanee Review (1961-1973) when it became a renowned literary magazine. Cornsilk was named by Lytle for his ancestral home in Alabama. In 1974, Mrs. N.S. Yancy owned Cornsilk. NRHP 1974 {Fun fact: My Centre College freshman year Humanities professor and advisor, Mark Lucas, wrote The Southern Vision of Andrew Lytle - which is a main reason I recognized his name during research. Dr. Lucas was a great and legendary teacher, BTW. -Jay]


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