Elmer Hinton, columnist for the Nashville Tennessean, was born April 26, 1905, on a farm near Mitchellville. Hinton's first foray into journalism came in 1925, when he married Lucille Woods. They established the weekly Upper Sumner Press in Portland, publishing it until 1948. He placed his column, called “Hog Head and Hominy,” on the front page.
Hinton joined the Tennessean in 1942 and worked as police reporter, copy reader, and state editor. He achieved a lasting niche in Tennessee journalism with his homespun column “Down to Earth,” a mixture of folksy philosophy, nostalgia, and gentle humor that attracted thousands of readers for nearly thirty years. “Down to Earth” was populated with recurring fictional characters like Cousin Nud and Old Bluestreak and real life personalities gleaned from the “keg-sitters” at the United Farm Supply mill in Portland, where Hinton hung out in his spare time. Readers, too, contributed to the column in an important way.
Hinton made community involvement another priority. He served six years as mayor of Portland and eighteen years as a magistrate on the Sumner County Court. In addition, he originated the Portland Strawberry Festival and the Down to Earth all-day gospel sings in Alexandria, Tennessee.
Hinton retired from full-time employment at the Tennessean in 1972 but continued to write his weekly column until he suffered a heart attack and died December 5, 1979. In 1982 the Elmer Hinton Memorial Library opened in Portland.