- Buford A. Townsend received his early education in the Elementary Schools of
Sevier County, Tennessee. He attended Smoky Mountain Academy which was a four
year accredited high school at that time, and was operated and owned by the
Baptist Church. In the earlier years it seemed that all the high schools were
church owned and operated. The State and County soon began to build and
operate the schools, which caused most denominational schools to disband and
give their support and attention to colleges they owned and operated.
Mr. Townsend considers himself to be a self-educated man since he always worked
to help pay his expenses when he was away in the boarding schools. He
graduated from Murphy College which was a high school and a Junior College at
the time. The school offered two years of accredited college work which could
be used when entering Senior Colleges.
After he graduated from Murphy College he did post graduat work and while there
he taught a firt year Latin class and a Math class to help pay some of his
He taught his first class in Sevier County, Tennessee at the age of seventeen.
The county schools were short terms at that time and he would enter school as
soon as possible. He continued his education when not teaching.
He was principal of a four-teacher school the first year Sevier County,
Tennessee had a term as long as eight months. This was a consolidated school
with the first busing system in the county, even though it was a covered wagon
which hauled the children from a community where there had previously been a
one room school. He and his wife taught together in this school.
After nine years of teaching, Mr. Townsend decided to further his education by
attending Law School in Knoxville. Since he was married to Bess Whaley and
they had a home in Sevierville, he decided to commute to school. His wife,
Bess Townsend, was teaching in the Sevierville Elementary School. She taught
for twenty six years. It was a challenge trying to go to school, doing part
time work, commuting and studying law at night school.
Mr. Townsend received his Law Degree in 1934, and was licensed to practice in
the State , Appeallate and Federal Courts of the State of Tennessee.
Mr. Townsend enjoyed a very successful law practice until he was elected
Chancellor of the 13th Chancery Division in 1958. He was President of the
Sevier County Bar Association for several years. He was elected Chancellor for
two eight year terms without an opponent. This was the first time anyone had
entered the race without an apponent in forty years.
When he was elected for the first term, the 13th Cancery Division was composed
of eight counties: Blount, Cocke, Greene, Grainger, Union, Hamblen, Jefferson,
and Sevier Counties.
Sevier County was his home station where he held Chambers Day every Friday,
when it was not a regular term in one of the other counties. This gave the
attorneys from the surrounding counties an opportunity to appear for motions
and ex-parte matters without delay. At that time, a term of Court was
scheduled to be held in each county twice a year. Each term of court usually
lasted two weeks or longer, depending on the number of cases ready for trial in
each county. Some counties had much larger dockets than others.
The case load became so heavy during his first term in office, that the
division was split, or divided, into two divisions.
Judge Townsend continued to hold court in the new 13th Cancery Division, which
now consisted of only four counties-- Blount, Cocke, Jefferson, and Sevier.
The Governor appointed a Chancellor to prside over the counties until the
The records show that during Judge Townsend's last full year as Chancellor, he
disposed of more cases than any one Chancellor in the State of Tennessee.
While serving as Chancellor, Judge Townsend was elected Vice President of the
State Judiciary during his second year in office. He served on many
responsible State Judicial Committees, attended many special Judicial
Conferences, which included some out of the state.
Mr. Townsend was a member of the First Baptist Church of Sevierville, Sevier
He was a member of the Tennessee State Legislature 1942-1943.
He served on the Sevier County Board of Education for sixteen years, and was
Chairman of the Sevier County Board of Education for twelve years.
He was a charter member of the Sevierville Lions Club and the Sevierville
He was a member of the Local, State, American and Federal Bar Associations.
"Smoky Mountain Clans, Volume 3", Donald B. Reagan, 1983, p 22.
Rosa Lee Downey notes, 16 June 1983, p 163.
"Smoky Mountain Family Album," Gladys Trentham Russell, 1984, p 29.
"The Townsend Heritage", Kathy Townsend, 1984, p 77, 81-84.