HISTORY OF VANLEER
The town of Vanleer, incorportated in 1915, was named for Anthony Wayne Van Leer. In 1825 Anthony Van Leer purchased the Cumberland Iron Works, located in Cumberland Furnace, Tennessee. He was a large land holder and farmed over 20,000 acres in the Vanleer area. The town of Vanleer was planned on the L&N railroad line. This railroad line went from Pond Switch to Gracie, Kentucky. Several other local communites were accessabe for the people catching the train from Vanleer, including Sylvia, Slayden, Cumberland Furnace, Clarksville.
During the 1920s Vanleer was a growing community with passenger & freight rail service. Businesses located in Vanleer in years past included the W.P. Sensing Store, Bill Rye’s Store, Jerry Davis Hotel, Bill Alsobrook’s Blacksmith Shop, J.W. Deason’s grist and sawmill, Vanleer Roller Mills, operated by Walker Duncan and later by Clarence Gilmore. Mr. Clyde Miller built the last operating flour mill across from the old depot; operations continued there until the 1950s. The first post office was located in Collier’s Store; the first post master was Ed Jernigan. Later post masters included John Mullins, H. Bateman, W.T. McGee, Eugene Miller, Herbert Hassell, Judy Logan. The post office moved into a building in 1941 on Highway 49.
There have been several schools in the community. One notable school was Cloverdale Academy. This was a college founded and operated by Professor Bell. It was located on Bell Hollow Road, established in the 1840’s and continued until 1899. One of the first schools in Vanleer was called Ebenezer School. It was located on the Oscar Bull place on Old Dry Hollow Road. Later a second school named Ebenezer was built on Highway 49 next to Hamilton Cemetery; it was a one room log building. Antioch School was built after Ebenezer across the street from Hamilton Cemetery on the Victor Wall farm. Claude Slayden taught there in 1910; other teachers were Excel Loggins, Mary Belle Bryant, Magalene Parcher. Vanleer Junior High was built at the intersection of Highway 49 and Cedar Creek roads, a two story building with lunches provided and cooked on a pot bellied stove. This was the first school in the area to have cooked lunches. Classes moved to the newer school brick building in 1941 at the intersection of Highway 49 and School Road. This remained a school until a new school was built across from the Vanleer Town Hall in 2003.
People’s Bank was a successful bank located in Vanleer. It was organized in 1906. Bank presidents included Lloyce Balthrop and Billy Averitte, both of whom were from the Vanleer Community.
One of the early enterprises of Vanleer was the shipment of ripened peaches by iced rail car to New York, Cincinnati and other northern cities. Peaches were grown in the community; one orchard was located at the current Vanleer School.
Dr. Walter Bell located his physician office in the railroad depot in 1936, after the railroad discontinued service. His office remained there until his death in 1950. Dr. Jimmy Jackson had an office next to McGee’s Store after that. Dr. William Elliott also practiced medicine in Vanleer. The Vanleer Masonic Lodge # 319 was moved to Vanleer from Yellow Creek. The Vanleer Eastern Star began meeting in 1922; a quilt made by the group now hangs at Vanleer School. There are several churches located in Vanleer including Vanleer Church of Christ, Vanleer Methodist Church, Cedar Grove Methodist Church, Faith Baptist Church and another Baptist church on High Street. There are numerous small churches also located on the outskirts of town. Although the town of Vanleer itself was not incorporated until 1915, the surrounding community was thriving with an active rural lifestyle that evolved from a pioneer spirit developing into the modern community that we have today.
Courtesy of the Heritage Book of Dickson County 1803-2006