A recent news program spoke of research showing that people who watch horror movies seem to do better emotionally during the pandemic!
Of course, Stephen King wrote a novel detailing a pandemic. But another novel of horror had its beginning here in Robertson County.
That would be “A Name for Evil” by Andrew Lytle.
Lytle was born in Murfreesboro in 1902 and died in Monteagle in 1995.
He had graduated from Vanderbilt and became well-known as one of the Southern Agrarians. The group included Robert Penn Warren, who was from Guthrie, and Allen Tate, who had lived in Clarksville. As writers, they were famous as the Fugitives.
Lytle wrote more than a dozen books.
“Bedford Forrest and his Critter Company,” a biography, was the first.
“The Velvet Horn,” published in 1957, is supposed to be his best.
He taught at the University of Florida and at the University of the South.
“A Name for Evil” is about a man and his wife who move to an abandoned mansion in order to restore it. The Grove, as the place is known, still has the spirit of the former owner there. This spirit is evil and appears throughout the book.
Lytle was the owner of the old Thomas Stringer home place called Cornsilk when he wrote this “Southern gothic horror novel.”
On the National Register of Historic Places, Cornsilk had its beginning as a two-story frame house in the first district. It was built by Thomas Stringer in 1850. Stringer’s father had arrived from Edgecombe County, North Carolina, in the early 1800’s.
The house was built of yellow poplar, and square nails were used in the yellow poplar flooring.
A walnut staircase in the entrance hall led to the upstairs. This staircase went to the left side of the second floor.
A second staircase led from the parlor to the right side – the traditional “boys and girls rooms.”
Thomas Stringer’s brother William followed the same floor plan when he built his brick home.
Thomas Stringer lived in Cornsilk until his death in 1890. His widow lived there until 1911.
At that point, the property was sold to Virgil E. Crocker, according to “Robertson County’s Heritage of Homes.”
Crocker and his brothers were the sons of Henderson J. Crocker, the “prosperous merchant” of Orlinda. He was the one who built the store there.
In 1939, Andrew Lytle purchased the property. He had become enchanted with the idea of restoring the old home.
He described the process in another book – “Wake for the Living.” He said, “Rescuing what has been thrown away is exhilarating.”
He described “a good farm with a racetrack and a smokehouse….There were three tobacco barns, a log barn, an inadequate stock barn, two tenant houses…and the usual Tennessee country house, built of yellow poplar…. It was called a ‘throwed away farm.’”
Obviously, the author loved his Robertson County home. He lived at Cornsilk until 1958.
In the Eagle’s Eye is sponsored by the Robertson County Historical Society. Call 615-382-7173 for more information.