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Rutherford County Historical Society
Publication No. 6
FATE SANDERS HOME
Murfrecsboro, Tennessee 37130
NOT TO LEAVE LIBRARY
RUTHERFORD COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
PUBLICATION NO. 6
The Cover - This home, constructed in 1868 by Asa
Houston Sanders and subsequently known as the Fate
Sanders home, was abandoned when the Percy Priest
Dam Reservoir was established. Before demolition
crews moved into the area, vandals struck and the
house was burned. It was located on land adjacent
to and north of the former Sewart Air Force Base
and near the Fate Sanders Boat Ramp. The sketch
was prepared by Adock. Those who were associated
with the house do not recall the first name of the
artist nor the circumstances leading to the prepa-
ration of the sketch.
Publ ished by
Rutherford County Historical Society
Murf reesboro, Tennessee
THANKS - To Rutherford County Judge Ben Hall McFarlin,
Mavis Hartman, and Susan Jones for their assistance in
the technical aspects of preparing Publ ication No. 6
RUTHERFORD COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
PUBLICATION NO. 6
Published by the
RUTHERFORD COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
President Mrs. Sue Ragland
Vice-President Dr. Robert B. Jones III
Recording Secretary Miss Louise Cawthon
Coresponding Secretary and Treasurer. .. .Mrs. Dorothy Matheny
Publication Secretary Mr. Walter K. Hoover
Directors Mr. Ernest K. Johns
Dr. Fred Brigance
Miss Mary Hall
PUBLICATION NO. 6 (Limited Edition-350 copies) is distributed
to members of the Society. The annual membership dues is $5.00
(Family-$7.00) which includes the regular publications and the
monthly NEWSLETTER to all members. Additional copies of PUBLICATION
No. 6 may be obtained at $3.00 per copy
All correspondence concerning additional copies, contributions
to future issues, and membership should be addressed to
Rutherford County Historical Society
Murfreesboro, Tenn. 37130
'116. ^ 21
/^ '? "i I p
RUTHERFORD COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
PUBLICATION NO. 6
On December 17, 1970 the Rutherford County Historical Society
was reorganized with eight people present. Since that time we have
grown to over 150 members dedicated to preserving and publishing
the history of Rutherford County for future generations to enjoy.
Our publications have been subscribed to by people across America
With outstanding monthly programs the Society continues to
grow. On our lOth. anniversery, in 1980, we expect to be the lar-
gest and most progressive historical society in Tennessee.
Sue M. Ragland
Publication No. 6 is dedicated to Mr. Henry G. Wray formerly of
Smyrna and now living in California. He was the First president of
the Rutherford County Historical Society and served as the County Ar-
chivist. The first five issues of the Rutherford County Historical
Society Publications were due to his efforts and time. He worked
many hours and traveled extensively over Rutherford County from 1969
until the spring of 1975 helping assemble the data for the three vol-
umes of cemetery records on our county. During this time he also aided
many people in their quest for genological data. During 1973 and 1974
he contributed a short article each week on the county history to the
Sunday Daily News Journal. Besides these tasks Mr. Wray was involved
in numerous other projects related to Rutherford County and its history.
Henry Gobel Wray was born August 11, 1905 in Nashville, Tennessee,
the son of Granville Moody Wray and Amelia Gobel Wray. His father was
born in Williamson County. His grandfather was Richard Robinson Wray
of the Almaville area of Rutherford County. Henry Wray was also a
descendant of the Haynes and Robinson families of early Rutherford
In 1909 Mr. Wray's parents moved to Birmingham, Ala. and he was
raised there. He attended the public schools in Birmingham until 1920,
when he enrolled at Castle Heights Military Academy at Lebanon for the
last two years of High School.
He began work in 1922 with the engineering department of the Ala-
bama Power Company. In 1924 he moved to Washington D.C. and was employed
by the Federal Government while he attended Law School there. In 1926
he returned to Birmingham to the Alabama Power Company and was married
Mr. Wray married Elizabeth Gaines O'Neill in February 1927. She
was born in Nashville in 1909 the daughter of Joseph Thomas O'Neill and
Mary Elizabeth Freese. She was a descendant of Lent Brown a preacher
and Nancy Windrow both of Rutherford County. Henry and Elizabeth Wray
had two sons. Henry Granville Wray was born in January 1928 and John
Thomas Wray was born in September 1929.
In April 1934 he was employed by the Tennessee Valley Authority
in the Maps and Surveys Division. Mr. Wray remained with TVA until
1941 when he moved to California. In 1947 he came back to Nashville
for three years and then returned to California to work with an engin-
eering firm, until he retired in 1968. At that time he moved to Smyrna,
Tennessee to be able to do Genealogical research.
Now in 1975 he has returned to California to be near his children
and grandchildren and enjoy the milder climate. He is expected to con-
tribute some articles for future publications of the Historical Society.
E. K. Johns
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A History of Link Community
by W. H. Westbrooks
History of Lavergne
by Shirley Chaney
Historical Notes on Fellowship
Church and Community
by Christine Sanders Farrar
The Sanders Family of the Old
First District of Rutherford
Sutler ' s Wagon
Rutherford County Historical
OF THE LINK COMMUNITY
OF RUTHERFORD COUNTY
In writing this short history of the Link Community,
a special effort has been made to record those events
which would normally go into the history of any community,
And in addition to that the writer has tried to record
other items which will probably be of interest only
to those who are familiar with this community and have
been a part of it.
The author would like to use this as a means of ex-
pressing his appreciation of the Link Community, for
the privilege of spending the first 21 years of his
life there and for the many fine examples of loyalty
to God and country exemplified by many who have lived
their lives in this fine community.
A HISTORY OF THE LINK COMMUNITY
RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TENNESSEE
BY HOLLIS WESTBROOKS
LINK is one of the smaller communities of Rutherford County and is
located twelve miles due south-west of Murfreesboro in the Fourteenth
Civil District, adjacent to the Bedford County line.
It is thought that the name was derived from the fact that it is
located about mid-way between two older communities, Midland and Versailes,
thus filling a gap or becoming a link in a line of general merchandise
stores which existed at the time. The general store in those days
became the heart of the community.
A list of merchants who have done business at Link begins with
Elbert (Bud) Smotherman who operated the first store and sold goods
from a large room of the house in which he and his family lived in 1885.
He was followed by Bill Gentry who sold goods from the first store
building ever erected at Link. This building was located on the west
side of the road which leads north from Old Leb Church, at the second
turn of that road. It was built in the year 1889.
Mr. Gentry sold out to Bascomb Hoi den in 1896 and Mr. Hoi den
operated until 1898 when the store and its contents were destroyed
In the year 1899 Charles Houston Williams built a new store
Oak Grove School House g
The store at Link
(Now in Cannon sbur;a:h)
building just across the road from the old site where he sold goods
until May 28, 1900 when he was cut down by typhoid fever. Mr. Williams
was said to have been a very promising young man and a very enterprising
merchant. He was very popular in the community and the name of Houston
Williams was kept alive so long as that generation lived.
After the death of Mr. Williams, a partnership of Westbrooks and
Williams followed. John Westbrooks and James M. Williams made up the
members of that firm.
J. M. Williams was doing business at Midland and was considered
to be one of the best merchants in the country, a fact which led Mr.
Westbrooks to seek him out as a partner. This partnership continued
for a period of some twelve years when the Williams interest was bought
by Westbrooks. This partnership proved to be successful due to the
fact that it increased the buying and selling power of both stores.
Westbrooks operated as a sole proprietary until his health failed
in 1928. He proved to be a "jery successful merchant also, even though
he was well known for his conservatism. He served the community well
by supplying their needs for food, shoes, clothing and many items of
hardware, doing what should be termed a general credit business, yet
during the twenty-eight years of operation lost only $4.85 due to bad
debts. This outstanding record was due, nodoubt, to his keen observ-
ation and knowledge of people in the community. This record speaks
well also for the people of the community and their basic honesty.
After his health failed in 1928 he sold the business to a part-
nership composed of Dorris Smotherman and Fred Westbrooks who conducted
it until 1934 at which time they sold to F. L. (Lester) Westbrooks
who continued the operation until the time of his death in 1961.
In 1950 Mrs. Lula Jackson erected the third store building at
Link. It was located just back of the second one and just across
a new stretch of road that had been built which eliminated the sharp
curve in the road where the Westbrooksstore was located. Mrs. Jackson
sold goods from this store until 1950 when Lester bought her stock
of goods and moved his own stock into her building. He continued to
sell from this stand until the time of his death.
Agatha Smotherman Westbrooks, widow of Lester, then took over
the operation of the store for some two or three years when she sold
out to her daughter, Mr. Billy Gil Lamb. Mrs. Lamb operated for a
short time and closed the business, leaving Link without a general
merchandise store for the first time in eighty odd years.
Link was a United States Postoffice from 1890 until the year 1905,
mail being distributed from the store and the merchant serving as
Postmaster. The exact date of its establishment was April 15th. and
the first postmaster was Wm. H. H. Gentry who served until 1896 when
he sold the store to Bascomb Holden. Mr. Holden then served until
the store was destroyed by fire in 1898.
After a new store was erected across the road the postoffice
business was conducted from that location, with Houston Williams
serving as postmaster, until the time of his death in 1900. John
Westbrooks then became the fourth and last postmaster ever to serve
The postoffice was discontinued Dec. 7, 1905 when a rural route
was established. This route originated at Christiana and was designated
as Christiana, Route 1. Prior to the establishment of this route, mail
was brought in to the Link office by horse-back riders and first came
from Rover in Bedford County. During the later years it was brought in
from Rockvale by Los Maxwell.
The first rural carrier on Route 1 was Noble D. Ellis who served
from the time the route was established until the time of his retirement
Jessee Grant Sugg succeeded Mr. Ellis and served until the time
of his retirement in 1960.
An interesting historical note is that Mr. Sugg was the Great-
grand son of James Grant, an engineer, who was in charge of building
the N & C Railroad. Mr. Grant W3S a third cousin of U. S. Grant President
of the United States. Engineer Grant was also authorized to name the
rail stops between Nashville and Chattanooga. It is a well established
fact that the Town of Christiana was named for a black woman "Christina"
who cooked and fed the railroad hands so well that they felt she deserved
having the town named for her.
Mr. Grant built his home in the village and lived there for some
years after the railroad was completed. He and his wife are buried in
unmarked graves back of the Christiana Presbyterian Church.
During the latter years of Mr. Sugg's tenure as a carrier he suffered
poor health and his wife, Estelle, served as substitute carrier and
delivered the mail to Link for some four or five years.
Next to serve as carrier was Robert Comer, who served from 1960 to
1974 when he retired.
Mr. Comer was succeeded by Frances Sugg Becton, daughter of Jesse
Grant Sugg, who is at the present time delivering the mail to the
Link probably reached the peak of its prosperity in 1915 and con-
tinued until the time of the Great Depression of 1929. During this
period Link not only had the prosperous general store but could boast
a first class blacksmith shop as well as a grist mill and feed mill.
Link's blacksmith shop was probably one of the best in the county.
It was owned and operated by Alson Spence, who followed the smithing
trade all his life. His shop was located some fifty yards west of the
store, on the exact spot where the first store had been built some
25 years before. The building was erected by John Westbrooks and leased
to Mr. Spence for his smithing operation.
Prior to this time Mr. Spence had occupied two other shops, one of
which was located about 300 yards west of Old Leb. Church on the Barton
Smotherman farm and later known as the John Wright or Frank Jackson place.
Mr. Spence was operating this shop at the turn of the century and pro-
bably some time before.
Only a few feet back of the shop at this location stood a giant
oak, which during the author's boyhood days became the "Spreading
Chestnut Tree" under which the "Village Smithy" stood and the muscles
of Mr. Spence 's arms easily became those which were as strong as Iron
Bands in the well known poem.
The next location of Spence 's Shop was about 1000 feet north of the
site of Oak Grove Schoolhouse.
Mr. Spence spent his entire life in the smithing business serving
the needs of the people in the Link community. His experience in the
profession was wide and varied. He was expert at building and rebuilding
wagon and buggy wheels, possessing every tool needed in that operation.
He made andirons and pokers, stocked bull-tongues, sharpened calf-
tongues, made double-shovels and shod horses. He was an expert welder
of iron and is said to have been able to mend anything but a broken
heart. He painted buggies and wagons, making them look like new. Temp-
ering of metals was elementary wi l:h him as he performed this feat by
heating red hot and then controlling the time of cooling by dipping
into water at the proper time. He used a "Bellows" for pumping air to
the coal-fire in which he would heat the metals. This method was con-
sidered out of date even then but he never gave it up. More modern
methods were already in use and consisted of a high-speed fan turned
by gears and powered by a crank.
Mr. Spence continued to operate this shop until he became a ■^ery
elderly man and served the people well during his entire life. At
his death the shop was taken over and operated by his son Tom Spence.
Another enterprising business flourished at Link, beginning in
1915 when a three way partnership was formed by William Carrol Pope,
Thomp Smotherman and John Wright to build a Grist Mill and Feed Mill.
The building was erected about 50 yards south of the store building
which had been erected in 1899. The machinery for this operation was
bought from John Wright's brother. Will, who had operated a similar
mill at Bell Buckle for a short time. This trio soon won a reputation
as millers over a wide area. The equipment installed was some of the
best ever seen in the area and they could grind a turn of corn into
corn-meal in half the time required by most country mills. Their re-
putation soon spread all over the country and patrons were coming from
miles around to patronize them. The fee used by millers of that time
was called "Tolling", which consisted of taking a part of each turn
as payment for the grinding. This as I remember was one eighth of the
total amount but a good way to start an argument with oldtimers is to
make a statement as to exactly what the amount was, nearly everybody
remembers it differently. There was never any question about the
tolling habits of the mill at Link but there were wild stories about
some other mills which had existed in times past, dealing principally
with the wreckless manner in which the miller went about dipping his
share of the grain.
The advent of the automobile brought improved roads and the trading
habits of rural communities shifted to larger centers where greater
stores of goods and wider range of services existed, making it difficult
for the rural businessman to compete and so these once prosperous businesses
of Link, like those of many other communities, disappeared from the face
of the earth. It is ironical but the conditions which plagued these
small rural towns and villages, now have to be reckoned with by merchants
and business men located in the Countyseat Centers.
EARLY SETTLERS in the Link community include: Smothermans, Popes,
Wrights, Rowlands, Garretts, Boyces, Westbrooks, Butts, Carltons, Williams,
Douglas, Whitworth, Courseys, Haskins, Lambs, Haynes, Holdens, Comers,
Victorys, Reeds, Hewitts, Mattox, Mangrums, Pinkertons, Spences, Stems,
Mortons, Overstreets, Heaths, Browns, Nances, Ogi Ivies, Smiths and Harris.
A "Lion's Share" of the credit for first settlers probably should
go to the Smothermans who have long since established a record of
"Getting there first" and it was said for many years, that if you met
one anywhere in the Link community and were not sure of his name,
addressing him as Mr. Smotherman would give ninety per cent odds of
Little is known of the origin of ancestry of most families in the
community except in one or two instances. Some take pride in the fact,
however, of proof of Irish, Scotch or English forefathers. There are
few records to substantiate these claims. Origin can mean little after
a few generations, since an Irish boy cares nothing about where his
pretty bride comes from and the results soon boil down to a mongrel
product. Even a mongrel can still lay claim to the best qualities of
Although the writers great grand-father came directly from England
to America the next generation's blood was mixed on a 50/50 basis with
Irish and the third with Scotch (blood that is) and he finds himself
nothing but a mongrel (I've been told I have big ears).
The Link community would be above the average as a Religious,
God Fearing place. Most families in the neighborhood had some church
connections and made an effort to live by the Golden Rule. Churches
in the community played an important role in the lives of the people.
There were two churches in the neighborhood, Methodist and Church of
Old LEB. (Lebanon) Methodist Church played a very important role
in the religious activities of the community, being the first church
established. Its history goes back to the middle of the 19th. century
when a little log building was erected. This building occupied the same
site as the present one but it faced the west and the main entrance
was from that direction. After the building was completed the need
for a name presented its-self and one of those who had helped in the
erection of the building remarked that the stately cedar trees which
made up the grove in which the little church was located, reminded
him of the Cedars of Lebanon mentioned in the old Bible and suggested
that the name be Lebanon. This name was adopted and soon was abbreviated
and became Leb. and for many years has proudly worn that name.
The ground on which the little church was built was donated by a
man whose name was Patrick Henry Sudberry (born 1817). Mr. Sudberry
owned a farm at this location and the donation was a choice corner of
this farm. Its location was in the south-west corner of the intersection
of the road from the Versailes-Longview Pike and the road leading south
toward Midland. Mr. Sudberry should have credit for an act of benevolence
which has affected more lives probably than any other one act ever to
occur in the 14th. District.
The little log building served very well for a few decades but
eventually proved too small to accommodate a growing congregation and
in the year 1900 plans were made to replace it with a more comfortable
and spacious building. While the new building would occupy the same
location the main entrance would be from the East. Mr. Zach. Jackson
of the Longview neighborhood was employed to erect this building and
it is said that he was so proficient in his trade that he cut every
stick of the framing which went into the building while working under
the shade of a big hickory tree which stood in front of the site. He
then proceeded with the erection of the building.
Early spiritual guidance was supplied by a home-grown preacher,
Reverend Isom Green Smotherman, (1821-1891). This man deserves a great
deal of credit for the way in which he faced problems which would have
defeated most men. In his early life he was attacked by rheumatism
which left him a cripple and he was never able to walk again. This
proved to be only a slight deterrent in the life of this man and his
handicap was overcome by sheer determination.
He gained quite a reputation as a Piggin Maker and would sit day
after day with his draw-knife shaping the staves that went into the
making of these piggins.
He would travel to the church, seated on a straight chair mounted
on a spring wagon and on arrival would be picked up by two of the bretheren
who would place his chair just inside the building with the Reverend
aboard. He would then proceed twoard the pulpit by tilting the chair
from side to side and walking it forward. It is said that his arrival
was always an impressive event.
In his early life he married Charity Hester and they no-doubt
took seriously the charge given Adam and Eve in the beginning to "multiply
and replenish the earth" for this one couple had 21 children, all single
births, 19 of whom lived to see adulthood. This went a long way toward
making this community the Smotherman Capital of the world, as it has
been called before.
Two sons of this couple became Methodist Preachers also and followed
in their father's footsteps. Eldest of these was Bartholomew Thomas
(Thollie) Smotherman (1860-1927). Pastorates were held by him at
Eagleville in Rutherford County, Decherd in Franklin County, Spring-
field in Robertson County and many others in Middle Tennessee.
The other son was James Lemuel (Doc) Smotherman, born Feb, 24,
1867, died August 4, 1951. He preached for churches in Middle Tennessee
which include Highland and Gainesboro in Jackson County, Carthage in
Smith County, Alexandria, Dowel 1 town and Liberty in DeKalb County and
Gassoway in Cannon County.
Another wellknown Methodist preacher was born at Link Sept. 4th.
1931. This was D. P. (Dorris Payne) Smotherman, son of Dorris and
Roberta Rowland Smotherman. He received his education at M. T. S. C.
and Vanderbilt School of Religion.
He has served as Pastor of the Church at Summertown and Pel ham
in Tennessee afterwhich he transferred to Ashville, North Carolina.
He then preached for the churches at Andrews, Kannapolis and Reidsville,
N. C. He is at present (1973) working with the church at Greensboro,
D. P. is married to the former Arlene O'Conner of Charleston W.
V. and they have two sons, Steve and Mike.
Many other preachers have worked with the congregation at Old Leb.
down through the years and a list of them as supplied by Willie and
Jody Boyce is as follows:
T. B. Fisher, M. P. Woods, J. W. Swan, H. W. Seay, J. N. Handlin, J.
F. Parsons, 0. H. Lane, H. A. Davis, all served before 1917. Beginning
with 1917: E. C. Shelton, A. L. Hodge, C. R. Wade, Allen Miller,
Elisha Henry and M. B. Williams up to the year 1929. Beginning with
1929: Fred Amacher, A. C. Parker, R. C. Crosslin, E. M. Wilcox, W. L.
Harwell, C. F. Belew, A. W. Holden, John W. Kelley, J. W. Matlock,
French Gothard, Tom Rutledge, Jimmy Bass, Troy Bunch, R. L. Greenway,
David Lifesey, Leonard Perry, Marvin Napier and Mont Duncan who is
Pastor at the present time (1973).
A majority of these men are no longer living but the influence
of their labors will, nodoubt, be felt in the Link-Old Leb Community
so long as there is a community by that name.
Old Mount Zion Christian Church was also located in the Link
Community and stood about two miles south-east of Link on the Rock
Springs road. Little is known of its origin since no records were
kept, but it is known to have existed at this location until the fall
of 1892 when a new building was erected about two miles north of Midland
on the road that now leads to Cresent and Barfield. The name was
changed to New Zion after this move was made.
This building stood until March 21, 1913 when it was destroyed
by a tornado. It was replaced by a less impressive building that same
year, this building standing at present (1973) and is still used by a
congregation of the same belief but being known as the Church of Christ.
The change in name occured in 1905 when some of the Christian Churches
adopted instrumental music in their form of worship but continued to
be known as Christian Churches. The name Church of Christ was then
adopted in order to avoid being identified with the other group.
W. C. Westbrooks, a native teacher and preacher who had preached
at the Old Mt. Zion location, lived to preach at the new location until
the time of his death in 1893. Other preachers who have worked with
this congregation down through the years include: (1896) J. N. Armstrong,
Lewis Yeagley 1900, C. E. W. Dorris 1901, J. Paul Sladen, H. Leo Boles,
C. F. Smith, L. B. Jones, E. L. Cameron, DR. J. J. Norton, C. M. Pullias,
Lem Jones, J. Petty Ezell, C. M. Phillips, Chas. Taylor, Elmer Smith,
J. Ridley Stroop, Bill Cavander, Jack Dunn, W. Douglas Harris, A. S.
Landis, Joe Spivey, Chas. Locke, Granville Brown, John Hodge Jones,
Johnny Bowman, Gerald Tenney, David Moseley, Clayton Briley, Marvin
Brothers Claud Woodroof and Glenn Ferrell who serves at present time
Credit must be given also to two members of the congregation who
did considerable preaching down through the years of their lives: W.H.
H. (William Henry Harrison) (Harry) Haynes and John (J. S. ) Westbrooks.
New Zion Church was built on a site deeded to Trustees: W. H. H.
Haynes, Paul Jones, S. L. McElroy, W. C. Westbrooks and B. B. Spence
by Britain Spence and heirs Oct. 15, 1891 Book 48, Page 169 RORC.
Schools in the Link Community began early in the 1800' s but were
nothing like schools of this day and time. The first schools were known
as subscription schools, which means that teachers were supported by
contributions from the parents of students. These subscription schools
usually lasted not longer than three months each year. There were
no qualification requirements of teachers and many of them employed
in these schools were self educated, having gained basic knowledge at
home from text-books available to them.
The first such schools were conducted in a little log house which
stood about a hundred yards north of Old Leb. Church at the southern
boundary of the field in which the Westbrooks grave-yard is located.
Nancy Smotherman Westbrooks (1846-1919) widow of Wm. Calvin Westbrooks,
said she attended school at this location, when she was a little girl,
taught by W. C. Westbrooks (1835-1893) whom she married in later years,
after she was left a widow by the death of her first husband, John
Wesley Smotherman (1842-1875).
Another school building stood about one half mile north of the
Haynes grave-yard at the first left turn of the road and generally
known as the Fate Lamb Corner.
Schools were conducted at this location for some few years after
the Civil War and had begun to receive some public funds for support.
John Westbrooks (1858-1932), who later became one of the merchants at
Link, taught school at this location.
OAK GROVE SCHOOL
Oak Grove became the third and last building ever to serve the
community's school needs and was erected in the year 1888. It was
located a hundred yards north of dry creek and about the same distance
east of the road which crosses the creek at this point.
Records in the Rutherford County Court House bear out the fact
that a tract of land thirteen poles wide and twenty-five poles long
was purchased from W. C. Sudberry for a consideration of $7.50 for
"The Erection of a School Building". This tract was deeded to W. H. H.
Haynes, W. C. Sudberry, J. G. Rowland, L. C. Lamb and W. C. Westbrooks
as Trustees of the property.
The building was well planned and was built of very good materials.
It was of frame construction and was 24 X 60 feet in size. It had a
ten foot stage running the full width of the building, with a step also
running the full width for access to the higher level. This stage was
the recitation area for the school and had two long benches sitting
against the wall at the back of the stage. This was the place where it
was soon determined whether you had been working or playing.
Four rows of double desks, two rows on the south side and two rows
on the north, made up the seating arrangement of the school. Boys
occupied the south side while the girls sat in the north section. The
desks were small down front and increased in size towards the back. The
teacher would assign a small desk to a beginner and he would move back
each year until he reached the back seat. This meant he was about
ready to go out into the big wide world. Some fell by the wayside two
or three desks short of the back.
There was a big bell mounted on the peak of the roof at the front
of the building and was rung by pulling on a rope which hung from a
hole in the ceiling. Good students were allowed the privilege of
ringing the bell to announce "books or recess" ... .strange, but I do
not recall this privilege ever being extended to me. The old bell had
a very pleasing and mellow tone and has tolled for a lot of good people
in its time.
In the year 1919 this one room school house proved inadaquate to
meet the needs of the community and another class room was added. This
room was added on the north side of the original building and had a
porch running the full length of it with the front of the porch in line
with the front of the old building.
Again in 1922 still another room was added to the original building,
this one being attached to the rear of the old one and it too had a
porch running its full length with a door opening from the west end
leading from the old room.
The room added on the north housed the seventh and eight grades
while the latter took care of the ninth and tenth grades of high school,
leaving the original room for use of grades one through six.
Many fine teachers have been indentified with Oak Grove down through
the years and their influence and efforts, nodoubt, will be felt for a
long time, not only in the Link community but wherever their students
A special effort has been made to compile a list of the teachers
who have worked with this school down through the years and we have felt
some concern about the possibility of leaving someone out, so we are
asking any of you who may review this list at any time to please add
the name of anyone who may have been omitted.
TEACHERS who have taught at Oak Grove School
Alvin Edward Hawkins
C. T. Lowe
Ida Wheel house
Carrie Wheel house
Estel le McFarl in
Robert Harrel 1
Li Hard Martin
Annie T. Crowell
Sarah Jane Alsup
Allie C. Becton
All ie Lee Pearsy
Oak Grove school represents an era or a trend in our educational
system. It came into being as a part of a free-school system that
sprang up all across the county and lasted for a period of about
fifty years. It served the Link community well and a great number
of fine and well qualified teachers have taught there.
The fruits of their labors is evident throughout the country and
although Oak Grove never produced a President or a millionaire so far
as I know, her students went out into the world and made places for
themselves being able to compete with those whom it would appear had
better advantages educationally.
In the late thirties Oak Grove fell victim to what was generally
referred to as progress in the system and she closed her doors never
to open again. Students of the community boarded buses and were trans-
ported to both Rockvale and Christiana High Schools. This arrangement
lasted for the next 35 years and in 1972 the community high schools
fell victim to the same so called progress and closed their doors also.
There had been erected in Murfreesboro two new high school buildings
costing just a few dollars less than the Louisana Purchase and the State
Of Alaska combined. It is regretable that some of our greatest successes
or mistakes require many years of experience to prove.
THE ALL-DAY SINGING AT LEB
The Link Community has always been proud of the Gospel Singers
it has produced and the fact that it is in what is generally referred
to as The Bible Belt of the Nation.
Although some names and titles are sometimes given in derision
this one is accepted as a compliment, regardless of the intended mean-
Many of the citizens of this community worked hard at learning
the rudiments of singing and enrolled in numerous singing-schools which
were held at Old Leb or New Zion.
These schools usually lasted about ten days and were planned to
take place after Laying-by time. They were directed by someone who
was thoroughly trained to instruct.
One of the outstanding singing instructors which the community
produced was Fisher Boyce. He obtained his training at the Vaughn
Conservatory Of Music at Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. He contributed a
great deal toward the promotion and improvement of Gospel Singing
during his lifetime.
He was directly responsible for keeping alive the custom of having
a Second Sunday in July Singing, with dinner on the ground. This custom
was established in 1915 and brought, as its director. Wade Gentry, a
well known man of music who originated in the Rover community but resided
the better part of his life in Nashville.
Boyce followed Gentry as director and kept this event alive during
his lifetime. After his death a son, B. C. Boyce, assumed the post
and continues to the present time.
This event continues to be the most looked-forward-to day of the
year and brings back to the community many persons who have drifted
to distant parts of the State and Nation.
POLITICAL REPRESENTATIVES OF LINK
Although Link is a very small community in comparison with many
others, it seems to have furnished its share of political representatives
in the local political picture down through the years. Goodspeed's
History of Tennessee gives the names of W. C. Westbrooks and A. W.
Leathers as being representatives of the Fourteenth District in the
Rutherford County Court in the year 1886. This was very close to the
time Link was established as a Community Center. No attempt will be
made to mention all the magistrates who have served in the court from
the district as a whole, only those who lived in the Link Community
and some who lived at points about equal distance from the two communities,
Midland and Link.
It might be said here that the people of these two communities have
always enjoyed the best of understanding and it became a custom to
elect one magistrate from the Midland Community and the other from
Link. Geographically Midland was located in the extreme southern end
of the district and Link in the northermost section.
W. C. Westbrooks served as Link's representative in the court
until his death in 1893 at which time he was succeeded by his son
John (J.S.) Westbrooks who served until the year 1910.
I. T. (Thomp.) Smotherman was then elected to succeed him, serving
until the year 1930 when W. F. (Billy) Westbrooks was elected, serving
until his death in 1947. Roy Wood was then elected and served until
The custom of electing a representative from each section of the
district continued until the year 1968 when a great cry went up from
the cities across the State that they were not being properly repre-
sented in the various elective offices and their Slogan "One Man, One
Vote" was heard from one end of the State to the other. The results
of this campaign brought law-suits and out of these came rulings from
the Supreme Courts that one man's vote should have as much weight as
another in matters of government. This brought what was known as Re-
apportionment and the results dealt a crushing blow to rural politics.
Civil Districts which had functioned so well for decades were abolished
and thrown together in order to form a single district with sufficient
population to become one of the new districts. This process almost
completely destroyed the feeling of being a part of local government.
The confusion which followed was so great and changes made so often
that many voters were not sure of their designated voting places.
J. P. (Pet) Gordon was elected to represent Rutherford County
in the Tennessee Legislature in 1923 . Mr. Gordon had served as ma-
gistrate from the Fourteenth District for many years and had also
served as School Board member a number of terms. He was a capable
leader and was regarded as one of the leading citizens of his time.
Mollis Westbrooks also served as Direct Representative in the
Legislature for three sucessive terms 1959, 1961, 1963. He had pre-
viously served as a member and Chairman of the Rutherford County
School Board for a period of fifteen years 1941-1956. He served as
Delegate to two Constitutional Conventions 1965-1971.
He was elected as a member of the Murfreesboro City Council in
1962 for a four year term and after serving two years was appointed
by the Council to act as Mayor to serve two years of the unexpired
term of Mayor Jack Todd, who had resigned due to health problems.
After serving this unexpired term he was elected to three four year
terms as Mayor.
Beecher Horton whose origin was also near the Link Community
moved to Murfreesboro in his early years, after some few years as a
School Teacher in the community, and went into the grocery business.
He was later elected to serve as Councilman in the City of Murfreesboro,
An unusual accident took the life of one of Link's leading cit-
izens in the person of Farris Douglas in the year 1909 as he, along
with some other young men, were testing their strength by raising the
drill of a well drilling rig out of the well with a hand crank. During
the process of raising the drill Farris' hands slipped and he lost his
grip of the handle. The sudden release of energy placed on the mec-
hanism caused a catch arrangement, which was designed to hold the
pressure at any point, to fail and reverse the direction of the crank
with lightning speed. The crank struck Farris on the head killing him
Farris was a young married man of about 21 years of age at the
time of his death. He is the father of Mrs. Eddy Hoi den who was an
infant at the time of her father's death. Farris was an energetic
young man who showed great promise and his death came as a shock to
the whole community.
Another tragedy shook the community around the year 1917 when
Erin Smotherman, son of Elmore and Lou Anna Douglas Smotherman lost
his life in a freak accident while feeding sorghum cane into a sorghum
Erin was a lad of about 14 years at the time and was an energetic
hard working youngfellow.
Elmore, his father. Operated the mill for a number of years some
three hundred yards due east of old Leb Church. He did custom work
as well as processing his own crops.
It was this mill which claimed Erin's life. He undertook to oil
the mill gears without stopping the team which pulled the sweep that
powered the mill. The feeder would duck and allow the sweep to go
overhead at each revolution. On this occasion Erin failed to recognize
the approach of the sweep and allowed it to catch his head between
it and the mill housing, killing him instantly.
It is ironical but this freak accident which lasted only a second
cheated the community out of a life which in all probability would
have developed into an outstanding leader, for Erin was a lad who
also showed evidence of a promising future.
THE DEATH OF KIMBRO SMOTHERMAN
Tragedy struck the little community again in 1924 taking the life
of one of its most enterprising citizens, Kimbro Smotherman, son of
Azariah and Donia Smotherman. Kimbro was using dynamite to blast road
working rock from the lower eastern slope of the Versailes knob. While
attempting to remove a charge which had failed to fire, received fatal
injuries when the dynamite accidently exploded with the full force of
its impact striking him in the face.
He lived only a few hours after the accident. He was 48 years
of age at the time of his death and was considered to be one of the
best farmers in the community. He kept informed on the latest farm
practices of the time and introduced many new ideas of his own in
modernizing his farm. He had acquired the old home place at the
death of his parents. This farm was located on the Longview and Ver-
sailes Turnpike just across the road from the Nance Graveyard. An
interesting geographical fact is that this farm lies directly on the
high point that divides the Tennessee River water shed from that of
the Cumberland. Rain which falls on the front side of this farm makes
it way to the Cumberland while that which falls on the rear goes for
THE DEATHS OF JOHN AND CLEM. WRIGHT, WILL DOUGLAS AND LIT. SMOTHERMAN
The greatest tragedy ever to hit his peaceful little community
occured August 13, 1933 when Clenimie Lee Wright shot and killed three
of its leading residents before turning the gun on himself to snuff
out his own life.
Clem, a man about 32 years of age at the time was said to have
been suffering bad health that brought on hallucinations that every-
body had turned against him.
On that sultry day in August Clem picked up his shot-gun and as
his father, John Wright, was leaving the house where he, Clem, and two
younger brothers and a sister lived, shot the elder Wright in the back.
rir. Wright fell on the back porch of the house and it is thought died
Clem then proceeded toward the store which was operated by Dorris
Smotherman and Fred Westbrooks at the time. He went across the fields
which lay between his home and the store where he picked up a water-
melon in Billy Westbrooks cotton patch where he sat down under the
shade of a tree just over the fence from the road that leads from the
Link Store to old Leb Church. As he was eating the melon three men
came traveling southward toward the church. They were Lit Smotherman,
Herman Pope and Glenn Garrett. They travelled in a Hoover Cart and
Smotherman was sitting in the middle on the single seat between the
others not being aware that Wright was anywhere around. When they got
to the right point Clem raised the gun and picked Smotherman off from
between the others. When the gun fired Smotherman cried out in pain
and the horse which was pulling the cart mistook his cry for a command
to stop. The two survivors looked back, saw the gun being re-loaded,
took to their heels and got clear of the scene.
Clem then walked down to the store where he talked with three
or four men who were there and after leaving the store went some one
hundred yards north of the store where Raymond Smotherman lived.
Raymond was a watch repairman and had Wright's watch which he was
mending. The two were standing at the front yard gate, talking, when
Will Douglas came walking along the road and stopped to chat with the
two. After a few minutes had elapsed Wright, without any warning
whatsoever, manuevered the gun in Douglas' direction and pulled the
trigger killing Mr. Douglas instantly. It was discovered later that
the shots had been taken from the shells and replaced with a ball-
bearing from a T-model Ford which fitted very neatly into the end of
After killing Mr. Douglas, Wright made his way back home through
the fields and sometime later stationed himself behind Old Leb Church
where he stayed until the whole tragic event was finished.
The news of what was going on had spread throughout the community
and many of the residents barricaded themselves im their homes not
knowing who might be the next intended victim. The Sheriff was called
to come to the community and Frank McCrary was soon on the scene with
a hastily recruited posse which soon located Wright at the church.
Not wanting to crowd him they kept a safe distance away until they
heard what they thought was a window of the church fall and they
thought Wright was going inside to shoot it out with them. After some
minutes ahd elapsed one of the braver members of the posse ventured
far enough to see around the corner of the church where he saw Wright's
body crumpled on the ground beneath the window at the south-west corner
of the church.
What had been mistaken for a falling window was actually the muffled
report of the shot-gun which Wright had pressed to his own heart before
pulling the trigger.
The church building was turned into a morgue as the other three
bodies were brought in to be prepared for burial.
Smotherman and Douglas were buried in the Westbrooks family grave-
yard and Wright and his father were placed in an old graveyard located
on the back of the farm on which they lived, known originally as the
Barton Smotherman farm and later owned for many years by Frank Jackson.
An accident also claimed the life of Marion Pope in the year 1974.
Marion was the son of Jim Will and Lilly Jones Pope who spent their
entire lives in the Link and Midland Communities.
Marion was a man of about 60 years of age at the time of his death
and had also spent his entire life in the community. He was an en-
ergetic, prosperous farmer who had acquired considerable acreage of
farm land known as the Horton farm east of Link and in the Rock Springs
area of the county.
He met his death while operating a bush-hog which he was pulling
behind his tractor. It is thought that he probably suffered a heart
attack which caused him to fall in the path of the bush hog.
His death came as a great shock to the community for Marion had
long been recognized as a leader in Religious, Political and Civic
This accident has deprived the community of valuable leadership
and effect of Marion's death will, nodoubt, be felt for many years
UNUSUAL OCCUPATIONS UNDERTAKER-COFFIN AND PIPE MAKER
A very unusual and unique occupation was carried on in the Link
community by one of its citizens from about the year 1890 through 1910.
This man's name was Jim Reed but he was generally referred to as "Guide."
He was an undertaker by trade and made the coffins which he used,
in his own shop which was located on the New Zion or Midland road about
one half mile south of the Haynes Graveyard. The methods which he used
in the manufacture of the coffins did not always produce a reliable and
substantial product and it was said that there was always a great deal
of concern at one of his funerals as to whether the handles of the
product would remain intact until there was no further use for them.
Mr. Reed supplemented his business with another manufacturing
operation. This was the making of hickory pipes which were widely used
in those days for smoking tobacco. He turned the bowl of these pipes
on a horse powered lathe and would attach a section of wild cane for the
stem. This would afford many hours of pleasure to a user of the weed
and little did they suspect in those days that the user of Mr. Reeds 's
second line product might hasten the day when his first line would be-
come a necessity.
Another unusual occupation was carried on in the community about
the same period, This was the manufacture of lime. This business
was conducted by a black man whose name was Pin Vaughn. Mr. Vaughn
owned a farm which was located about half way between Versailes and
Link. At the Foot of King Heath Hill and this farm produced a good
stand of cedar which was the basis of his business. HE WOULD put
together a great heap of cedar wood on which was then placed a generous
amount of limestone rocks, then the whole would be covered with dirt
before the wood was fired. After the fire burned out the limestone
would be left in the form of unslaked lime. This was a commodity
which was widely used in that day and time for building chimneys and
many other uses.
THE COMMUNITY CRADLE
During the early years of the nineteen hundreds there was an
old cradle in the Link community which played a very important role in
the lives of many of its families. It was probably the property of
some one of the families of the community but had been loaned and
borrowed until ownership had been lost.
Those were the days when Doctor Poplin was taking care of the
medical needs over a wide area around the Midland Community where
he made his home (after his death Doctor Gordon and Doctor Garrett
practiced in the Link community) and it was a common sight to see
him jogging by on an old stubby tailed horse with his mud-splattered
saddle-bags thrown across the horse's back just behind the saddle.
Neither the speed at which he travelled, nor the expression dis-
played on his face indicated that a blessed event was about to take
place. But then, you could hardly expect enthusiasm from one who had
witnessed hundreds of such events.
After the Good Doctors visit the proud father would then start
in the direction of the household at which the cradle had been pre-
viously spotted. Sometime the old Rock-a-bye had to be vacated some-
what sooner than expected to make way for the newest citizen. Once
it was cleared of its most recent occupant, however, the proud Papa
would then shoulder the cradle, along with a great deal of other ob-
ligations and responsibilities, and head for home.
The old cradle would then settle down again to become a part of
the newly adopted family and would willingly respond to the toe of
the proud mother as she went about the business of keeping Junior
quiet and at the same time quietly knitted away on a pair of shoes
that would soon be either chewed up or kicked off.
Nevertheless this well known piece of furniture made a great con-
tribution to the people of the Link community.
THE FLAGPOLE ATOP THE VERSAILLES KNOB
Probably the best known landmark ever to exist in the southwest-
ern area of Rutherford county was the flagpole that stood for many
years at the very peak of the Versailles Knob.
It is difficult to determine the exact time of its erection, but
sources of information considered reliable point to the 1820's. Its
purpose was to fly a white flag which was used as a reference point
by a crew of surveyors who probably prepared one of the first general
maps of the area. Another such reference point was established at
Fosterville, atop one of the highest points in that area.
The flagpole was made of cedar, which probably accounts for its
long life. It was supported by a tripod of heavy timbers bound together
with hand-wrought bands and bolts. This tripod raised the impressive
shaft far above the tops of the surrounding trees, which were of normal
heights. Its location was one of the highest point in Rutherford
County and on a clear day it could be seen for many miles distance.
It stood until the early morning hours of March 21, 1913 when a
strong tornado with winds of one hundred miles per hour swept through
the community and felled the long standing, familiar landmark.
The fallen landmark lay for many years where it fell until hunt-
ing and picnicking parties who would climb to the summit year after
year finally destroyed the last vestige of proof that this proud shaft
ever overlooked this countryside.
ELECTRIC LINE TO LINK
The electric line serving the Link community was built in the
summer of 1940. This was the early days of the Middle Tennessee
Electric CO-op. There was some doubt at the time as to whether the
community could subscribe the necessary revenue to meet the require-
ments of the Co-op since each mile of line installed must produce a
predetermined amount of revenue.
Jose Pinkerton, Lester and Mollis Westbrooks undertook the task
of selling a sufficient number of subscribers to the service to satisfy
the demands of Middle Tennessee Co-Op.
First it had to be determined just what the minimum amount of
revenue would be and to do this it was necessary to know the exact
length of line required.
To make this determination Jose and Nat Pinkerton and Mollis
Westbrooks took a surveyor's chain, began at a point near New Zion
Church where the line would connect with an existing line and measured
the distance from that point to Link Store driving a stakes numerically
so that any given stake would give the distance back to the beginning
point. Mr. Pinkerton pointed out the direction he felt the line should
take, Nat pulled the chain and Uestbrooks numbered and drove the stakes
in the ground. This operation was begun about 1:00 P.M. and was com-
pleted somewhat after nightfall of the same day.
A map of the proposed line was turned over to the Co-Op for their
study and they commented that it was the best planned line ever pre-
sented to them.
The required revenue having been determined by the preliminary
survey map Lester and Mollis Westbrooks worked at nightime calling
on prospective customers for the service. Their efforts got the
revenue within $1.50 of the required monthly amount.
Mollis Westbrooks signed up a little log house just north of the
store to round out this amount although he did not plan to have the
house wired but rather intended just to pay the monthly bill in order
to make the line possible. This pledge was transferred to the Billy
Westbrooks home just after the line was built. So the handiwork of
Mr. Edison eventually shone just as brightly in Link as it ever had
in New York.
WORKING THE PUBLIC ROADS
The public road system throughout the county was maintained by
the ablebodied men between the ages of 18 and 45 years. The residents
of incorporated towns were exempted.
The system was made up of an elected road commissioner whose
authority covered the county. The Commissioner would appoint Deputy
Commissioners to serve under him and they in turn would appoint Road
Overseers whose authority was confined to a designated stretch of road
and whereone Overseer's authority ended another began thus covering
every foot of public road in the county. The Overseer would deter-
mine in his own mind when he chose to get the job done and would
announce road working week. He then would precede to contact each
eligible worker and "Warn him in" as it was called by informing him
to be at a given spot on a given morning for the purpose of working
Elegibility was determined by where the individual had his washing
done. This trapped many a scallawag who would slip back home nearly
e'<jery week so his mama could wash his clothes.
The period of days for working the road I believe was five. Extra
credit was given if the subject furnished a wagon and team. Most of
the work consisted of digging ditches along side the road for drainage
and breaking up rock with a hammer to sort of put a bottom in the mud
holes. The large rocks or sprawls were placed at the spot where the
deepest mud hole had been during the winter. These piles of rock would
then be attacked by a number of men with little hammers who would sit
hour after hour pecking away trying to make little ones out of big ones.
The wise worker would show up with a tow-sack full of straw so
that he might at least suffer in comfort as he sat hour after hour
pecking away with little to look forward to other than getting his
There were others who like the foolish Virgins took little fore-
thought for the morrow. These soon found out that blisters and corns
are not always confined to the palm of the hands.
This system gave way to another in the early thirties when the
working of public roads was taken over by the county and state. The
new setup was under the direction of a county-wide superintendent and
a Road Board elected by zones. Much progress was made after World
War II when great advances were made in heavy equipment. Crews of
county-paid workers were employed and a system of paved roads soon
spread over the county.
Without doubt the Link Community is underlaid with a honey-comb
like formation of lime-stone caverns which follow a line on either
side of Dry Creek extending from the Pinacle to the head of Panther
During the time immediately after the Civil War, and probably
before, there existed on the Isom Green Smotherman farm a small natural
lake called Charity's Pond after the wellknown minister's wife.
This was the farm on which this couple reared the 21 children
already referred to. Twelve of fifteen of these children were boys.
Aunt Charity is said to have been a very mischievous person.
She was also a very realistic person for she sensed the dangers of
having these boys using the lake as a swimming hole and had forbidden
One day she discovered her own boys along with several other
neighborhood boys all in the pond having the time of their lives.
She slipped to the shore where they had left their clothes, gathered
all their garments and took off for the house without being discovered
in the act.
All the boys had to wait until after nightfall to return home
and Aunt Charity got a big kick out of the joke as well as giving her
own a good lesson in the penalties for disobedience.
Some time after the clothes swiping incident on a clear moonlit
night a strange thing occured. The bottom fell out of Charity's pond.
Evidently the small lake had been formed directly above one of the
lime-stone caverns that kept eating away from underneath untill the
bottom in the pond became so thin and weak that it would no longer
support the weight of the tons of water contained in the pond and
Charity's pond was no more.
A Mr. Bill Hoi den who operated a peddling wagon in the area ob-
served the next day that Panther creek was running full and muddy even
though there had been no rainfall for some time before, which bears
out the fact the chain of underground caverns does exist.
THE OLD POPLAR TREE
The Link Community's oldest living link with the past is a giant
poplar tree which stands some two or three hundred yards south of old
Leb church in what is now known as the VJhitworth Cemetery. This giant
of the forest preceded the grave yard by many decades but underneath
its branches lie buried a dozen or more bodies unknown to any generation
who has lived this side of the Civil War. Their names are unknown
because most of these graves are marked with plain field stones at
their heads. There is one exception. Frances Ogilvie's grave is marked
by a factory made stone and indicates she was placed there in the year
1823. This great tree is known to have existed and was considered to
be a large tree even in the year 1854 when Nancy Smotherman would as
a girl of eight climb to the topmost rail of the fence that surrounded
the little plot and then swing from the branches of the well known
tree. People who were born about the time when the civil war ended
and lived well over into the next century said that the old tree had
not changed in appearance during their lifetime but looked exactly as
it does today.
The writer measured the tree 18 inches above the ground and
found it to be nineteen feet in circumference at that point. This
indicates that it is a full six feet through.
One can, ofcourse, use his imagination and produce any result
which he might desire but it is logical to believe that this old tree
has furnished shelter from the elements to many a red warrior who might
have stopped under its spreading branches.
Legend has it that a white man who was killed by an Indian was
buried on this exact spot and that the tree volunteered and grew on
this man' s grave.
Be that as it may we do know that the old poplar has withstood
many decades of attack form the elements, has lived through a number
of lightning bolts and various wind storms and still stands majestically
erect with its head toward the sky and presents a friendly image to
those of this day the same as it has for many generations who also
have had a feeling of friendship toward this giant of the forest.
A FOREST FIRE
A very serious and highly damaging fire hit the Link community
in the summer of 1936 when two or three hundred acres of fine cedar
timber was destroyed. The fire was of unknown origin and started on
the farm of William Owen Victory some two miles east of the store
at Link. Because of the extremely dry conditions existing at the
time the fire spread rapidly. The men of the community not being
experienced in fighting fires were at a loss and could do nothing to
check the inferno until someone suggested "backfiring" a practice
of going ahead and starting other fires to burn back and meet the one
out of control. The backfires could be controlled and kept from
spreading. In this manner the fire was eventually brought under con-
trol. There were no buildings destroyed but the area burned over
presented a stark picture of desolation which is hard to describe,
there was not a green blade of grass nor a live leaf or bough that
was not destroyed acre after acre.
It is also hard to describe the majestic beauty of the area
as it appeared the following spring. Every foot of the burned over
area was covered with wild thrift in its varied shades of color as
if nature was trying to make amends for the mischief she had engaged
in during the preceding year.
THE STORM OF 1913
One of the most destructive wind-storms ever to hit the Link
community struck about 3 o'clock on the morning of March 21, 1913.
It was not a twister like the one which had roared through the Windrow
community one week earlier. This storm seemed to be only a straight
hard wind but reached a velocity of over one hundred miles an hour
and cutting a swath nearly two miles wide.
The village of Link was in its direct path and seemed to receive
far more damage than other parts of the country.
The store building at Link was lifted from its foundation and
slammed against a tree nearby but remained intact. Old Leb. church
suffered the same fate, being shoved about ten feet from its found-
ation. The home of Billy Westbrooks was destroyed with the exception
of one large log room in which the family was huddled. There was
not one out-building on the place that was not completely demolished
or thrown from its foundation. When the storm hit the Westbrooks
dwelling it swept all the back part of the house away like it had
been leaves, breaking the lock on the door which led from the big
log room into that portion of the house. Mr. W. was successful in
closing the door only to have the wind blast it open twice more,
throwing him aside each time as though he was not there. Parts of the
floor of the log room were dislodged leaving gaping holes. No one was
injured in the community but this same storm travelled on to Murfree-
boro and did considerable damage. A Mr. Jones in Murfreesboro
almost lost his life when a Livery Stable in which he was sleeping
was demolished pinning him underneath the debris.
The coming of dawn presented a stark picture of desolation as
far as one could see. Fences, trees, buildings all mangled together
with items of clothing hanging from limbs of the trees. Broken house-
hold furnishings were dumped everywhere with live-stock wandering
It is impossible to describe the noise which accompanied this
roaring killer. It sounded as though a hundred freight trains were
travelling along and bumping together as they went.
It is also hard to explain the mental agony that follows this
kind of catastrophe. People banded together to help one another but
in sort of a daze with the conversation always being about the storm.
They started to build storm houses as places of refuge should another
such storm occur and soon nearly every household in the community
had one. There were a few holdouts, however, and their final blow
against it was that if the Almighty wanted you he'd get you even
though you were in a hole in the ground.
Nothing is all bad and some amusing and comical stories arose
as the result of the storm. Sam Kaarson Smotherman was spending the
night with the family of his friend Alf. Williams when the storm
struck. They had all huddled in a room that pointed in the direction
from which the storm was coming and the storm got harder and harder
with the noise getting louder and louder when Sam decided it was time
to communicate with the man that controls such things and this being
something new in his own life he called upon Mr. Williams to pray.
Mr. Williams it seems was ready, so he squared off in the middle of
the room, raised his right hand to heaven and said, "Lord make us
thankful for what we're about to receive."
After the storm had passed and an unearthly quiet had taken over
Mr. Williams and Mr. Smotherman were discussing their reactions during
the storm and Mr. Smotherman remarked that he was never more calm and
collected as at the peak of the storm. Mr. Williams then asked Sam
if he were all this cool-headed why did he have his overalls on back-
wards or hind parts before. Sam, it seems, had put his overalls on
with the bibb running up his back.
A MAP OF RUTHERFORD COUNTY
One of the early detail maps of Rutherford County was made in
1915 by a crew of student surveyors from the University of Tennessee.
This team travelled e\/ery public road in the county, mapping the roads
and streams and indicating the location of e\/ery home, church, school -
house, graveyard and store. The name of the occupant of each residence
was also given.
The men who produced this map were equipped with a horse and
buggy and a drawing board with a compass mounted in one corner.
Attached to one of the front wheels of the buggy was a three pronged
hickory switch with two of the prongs securely fastened to the spokes
of the wheel leaving the third extended inwardly so that it would
trip when it struck the crook of the shaft of the buggy and make a
clicking noise as it struck a brace that strengthened the shaft.
This click indicated to the map maker that he had travelled a given
number of feet at every revolution of the wheel. The operator would
reestablish himself at every turn of the road, determine the direction
he would be travelling until he came to the next turn then count the
revolutions of the wheel as indicated by the clicker, filling in on
the master copy the distance and direction at each turn. Although
this equipment was rather simple it was very efficient and left room
only for error on the part of the operator.
A few copies of this map are still in existence and a portion
which includes the Link community is reproduced on the next page as
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THE HUTSON BARITE AND LEAD MINE
On Nov. 17, 1911 a widow, Mrs. Ada Hutson, and her three young
children moved into the Link community having bought a farm about
one mile due north of the village. The house on this farm rested
at the foot of a high hill known as the Joe Cook hill.
Shortly after moving to this new location the son, Arthur, a boy
of about twelve, while hunting for rabbit discovered a strange looking
white rock lying on the surface about two hundred yards north of the
Having a great deal of boyish curiosity he broke the white rock
and to his great surprise found a lump of bright metal embedded in
This discovery was noised abroad and for the next 18 or 20 years
prospector after prospector visited the community no doubt with visions
of hitting it rich. They used ewery device available in that day in
their search for the shiny metal.
This went on until the early days of the great depression when
Stanley Overall of Murfreesboro, not being a miner but having the ne-
cessary courage to try, took an option on the farm, hired a crew of
local men who had no experience in this kind of thing and began sinking
a shaft at a point where it was determined that most of the metal had
been picked up.
Men who worked in this mine included Bill Putnam, Sid Douglas,
L. B. Douglas, J. H. Hill, Claud Watson, Lit Smotherman, and a Mr.
Jack Finley who was brought in as a foreman.
The shaft went straight down into the earth a distance of 52
feet where the metal deposit took a turn to the east for a distance
of 40 feet where it was choked out by the closing of the crevass which
contained it. Another vein was explored toward the west for a dis-
tance of 31 feet where it also abruptly came to an end. Primitive
methods were set up and used to lower the workers to the bottom of
the shaft which consisted of a large bucket or tub lowered and raised
by a windlass powered by a man at each end. This same arrangement
was used to haul the ore to the surface.
Tons of the ore were dug and sent to the surface but never went
to market. It was said that the white rock was used in the manufact-
ure of paint. The leadlike metal was said to be galena and was no-
Residents of the community found a good use for the shiny stuff
since this was the day of Chrystal Set Radios where a tiny wire known
as a cats whisker and connected to a long, high antenna was rubbed
over a piece of n)etal known as a crystal with head-phones attacked
produced Grand Old Opera music as well as any store bought set.
These sets would also pick up airplane radioes if the plane flew close
enough to it.
Mr. Overall's operation was abandoned because of his death and
his lease surrendered to the owner.
Another lease was taken in 1951 by an Eddy Cagles who subleased
the property to Mill White Mining Co. of Tulsa Oklahoma who spent
about a year core-drilling the whole area. A crew of five men bored
18 holes as deep as 400 feet. This lease called for fifty years or
until such time as the lessee defaulted in payments on the lease the
consideration being three hundred dollars a year. In 1952 these pay-
ments stopped coming and the lease was purposely dropped.
The discovery, of course, had been listed with the Tennessee
Geological Offices in Nashville and as a result there is still an
occasional prospector but the core-drilling of the area pretty well
satisfied their curiosity.
THE LOST CIRCUS
An event took place in the Link community in 1911 which caused
more excitement, by far, than Hal ley's Comet when it appeared the
This was the passing through of Hagenbeck and Wall is Three Ring
Circus as it travelled from a showing at Eagleville to a stand at
Christiana. The directors must have been mis-directed for no-one
in his right mind would have chosen this route to travel from the
first point to the second, since the roads in the fourteenth at that
time were very poor and rough. Nevertheless the Circus came through
the out-side woods three quarters of a mile north of the store. This
was, nodoubt, the greatest event that ever took place at Link if you
let an eight year old boy make the decision. The procession of wagons
carts and wild animal cages along with the camels and elephants was
nearly a mile long. The curtains were rolled up on the wild animal
cages and the whole community enjoyed red carpet treatment so far
as seeing was concerned.
There was a wagon loaded with real Indians headed by the Chief
and including the squaws, young indians on down to the papooses. To
one who had never before seen an Indian this was an undescribable
thrill, I 'in sure Columbus was not more thrilled when he saw his first
Then someone hollered "The Elephants are Coming". This caused
a great stir among the natives assembled because anybody who wasn't
thrilled at the sight of an elephant needed attention of some kind.
We had not seen such tremendous creatures in all our born-days
and the thought of feeding such an animal was overwhelming. any
two of these critters could have cleaned out any hay-loft in the
neighborhood in about two sittings or standings whichever is proper.
Here they came, marching like soldiers, with three leaders a-
breast in the middle of the road and their followers with trunks
tightly holding on to the tails ahead of them on down to the littlest
elephant, which was bigger than our biggest mule, headed for Christ-
iana. One of the leaders of the pack evidently had worked up an
appetite in his jaunt from Eagleville because he reached out and
took the top out of a peach tree on the side of the road and kept
step as he continued down the road feasting on half-ripe peaches.
Well it was soonoverbut I was convinced that nothing would
ever equal the excitement caused when "The Circus went through
A CIVIL WAR PICKET POST
Although Link was never the site of any fighting during the
Civil War it was, nodoubt, used in the scouting efforts of both the
North and South.
There is evidence and proof that a picket-post was located exactly
where Link would be established some twenty years later.
This fact was substantiated by Mr. Buck Smotherman who said that
he as a teen-aged boy had delivered many jugs full of butter-milk to
the pickets who stood guard under a huge blackoak tree which stood
some one hundred feet south of the site where the store was later
erected. The stump of this tree lasted well over into the next cen-
Further evidence of the existence of this post was discovered
about 1915 when Ollie Spence, son of the blacksmith, found in a
thicket a cedar snag which had fallen over against another tree,
which had carved into it the words "1863 Picket". These letters
were carved by a steady hand and showed no little talent in the art
of wood carving. J. S. Westbrooks had this section of the tree cut
out and kept it around the store for years after as a souvenir of the
War Between The States.
THE RAIL FENCE PERIOD
Perhaps the greatest transformation ever to occur in the Link
community took place immediately after the turn of the century when
farm owners traded their rail-fences for those made of woven wire.
This change took place during the 1900-1925 period, at the end of
which most of the rail fences had disappeared from the face of the
These rail fences appeared with the pioneer settlers and served
that generation, as well as three or four generations to follow them.
Few people realize the debt of gratitude due our forefathers who moved
into this community while it was nothing but a vast forest and began
to hew from the raw earth the community we see to-day.
No place on the face of the earth was better supplied with the
raw material than this community. The tall stately cedars which
covered the area were ideal for this purpose and soon were trans-
formed into this very essential use.
There was much back-breaking labor which had to take place bet-
ween these forest giants and the fences which they later became,
eventhough cedar is noted for its good splitting qualities.
This was, without doubt, the greatest undertaking ever to be
attempted in the establishment of any farm community.
Most of the operation of splitting rails was carried out with
the aid of three simple tools, a good chopping axe, a heavy wooden
maul and some wooden wedges. After the tree was felled a log of
suitable length was cut from the trunk. A good rail was about ten
feet in length. The splitting operation was then begun by sinking
the axe into one end of the log, the blade running parallel with
the grain of the timber then driven still deeper by pounding it with
a heavy wooden maul. These mauls were made from a length of hickory
tree which was usually about eight inches in diameter and three feet
in length. A handle was hewn from this timber and dressed down to
grasping size for the workman's hands. Leaving a portion of the tree
trunk about twelve inches long which was to supply the jolt which
drive the axe or wedge deeper into the log. After the axe was sunk
into the log, the wooden wedges were then set up in the crack which
appeared and driven to further split the log and to hold the break
open so that the axe operation could be repeated. This procedure
was followed until a pile of neatly split rails lay at the feet of
It is difficult today to visualize the work which went into
fencing a hundred acre farm. A well fenced farm required a boundary
fence and cross fences to cut off the necessary fields and pasture
areas which were essential to a well-run farm.
Assuming that the average tree provided material for a dozen
rails and that a workman could fell and split ten trees a day, it
would require two hundred and sixty two days of one man's time to
fence such a farm.
A fence for containing house-stock was built ten rails high and
one for cattle required only eight rails. Many horses learned to
jump these fences, if too low, and to prevent this a yoke was fitted
around the horse's neck, from which was suspended a shaft about two
feet in length. This shaft would come in contact with the fence and
prevent the horse from completing the necessary movement to clear
the fence. The use of such was called yoking a horse.
These cedar rail fences served at least five generations before
giving way to the woven wire fence and the rail -fence era came to
end when the demand for cured cedar wood for the manufacture of
pencils became so great.
Mills, known as pencil factories, sprang up all around the country
and operated for some thirty or forty years. Mills within reach of
the Link community were located at Rockvale, Christiana and Unionville.
Although these mills were referred to as pencil mills they did not
make pencils but sawed small slats from the rails which were packed
into bundles and shipped to Germany, These slats were the thickness
and length of a lead pencil.
Transportation of these rails from the farms to the mills was
carried out with wagons and teams of horses or miles. There were
men around the country who followed this work as a vocation and
became known as rail-haulers. A good rail-hauler first supplied
himself with a good strong wagon and a team which was able to pull
heavy loads over roads that were very poor at that time. The best
teams were mules. A rail-hauler took a great deal of pride in his
outfit and would deck his team out in fancy harness with brass-
knobbed hames with highly colored tassels hanging from the bridles
These teams had to be well-fed in order to pull the loads which
they were expected to move so they were usually sleek and well groomed.
A number of these rail-haulers usually travelled together so that
one could help the other in case of breakdowns or stalls. It was a
matter of great humiliation to stall and to have to call upon one of
of his fellow travelers for help.
It was not uncommon to see some fifteen or twenty wagons in a
caravan, all loaded with ten foot high loads, heading for the mill.
These high loads were contained and held on the wagon by high, strong
standards which were held together with chains, then a strong chain
going completely around the load and held taut by a spring-pole.
Each rig usually had the owners lunch swinging from the hame
of the lead mile, usually neatly packed in a fresh white flour sack.
Feeding time was the high-light of the day and while the teams were
feeding the drivers would congregate, eat their lunch and boast about
the size of the loads their teams could pull.
It is with a degree of regret when I recall the days of the
split rail fences which lined both sides of the roads leading in
all directions in this community. They presented a highly picture-
sque scene with their zig-zag patterns and especially was this true
following a winter snow fall.
The fence corners which existed e'^ery seven or eight feet afford-
ed a perfect haven for wild-life and the favorite nesting place for
birds or rabbit was in a fence corner.
The wire that re-placed these romantic rails has long since
crumbled and decayed and I cannot but be reminded of Esau in the
Bible who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.
THE GREAT DEPRESSION
The economic collapse which occured in the year 1929 was generally
referred to as the Great Depression. Citizens of Rutherford County
did not feel the full impact of this great financial break down. Large
urban areas of the country fell harder than the rural.
Rutherford County had very little industry at the time, most
of its inhabitants lived on farms and produced their living from the
soil and consequently could get along better without cash than those
who followed other ocupations.
Merchants were hard pressed for cash but soon adjusted to meet
the situation. Very few of our merchants closed their doors. Prices
reached unheard of lows and remained at very low levels until the
presidential election of 1932. Some of the items that could be pur-
chased at the corner grocery were:
25 pounds of flour $.45
12 pounds corn meal 10
4 pounds of lard 25
a good broom 10
Pound of coffee 10
Chunk meat. .pound 05
Eggs per doz 06
A family of four or five could get along very well on two and
a half to three dollars a week for food.
Every bank in Rutherford County, as well as those elsewhere in
the nation, was closed by presidential order and remained closed for
a period of three days. When they opened for business they issued
script as a substitute for money. This script was nothing more that
a due-bill or lOU on the bank.
These pieces of script were issued in various denominations for
convenience and if you spent a dollar piece on a small purchase you
would likely get back pieces representing quarters, nickles and dimes.
As I recall no one cent pieces were issued. This script was used for
some two or three weeks until Congress had time to take drastic actions
to shore up and strengthen the economy and money was restored to its
One of the strange things concerning the script is that no one
saved a piece of it but spent it as fast as they could get rid of it
and since that time it has not been seen.
Conditions improved slowly for the next four or five years under
the leadership of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when World War II
was beginning to rear its ugly head in Europe and by the end of the
thirties it was thought the economy had pretty well recovered.
THE HOOVER CART
One of the most interesting and somewhat comical vehicles ever
used in this country was known as the Hoover-Cart. It was named for
President Herbert Hoover who was in the White House at the time the
great depression of 1929 hit the entire country creating conditions
that made the Hoover-Cart a necessity at the time.
The cart was created by taking the front axle of an automobile,
usually a T-Model Ford, along with the two wheels attached and the
spring which had borne the once glamorous vehicle over many hundreds
of enjoyable miles. On top of this assembly went two long, freshly
cut saplings sometime still bearing green leaves on the first trip
to town. These long shafts extended two or three feet back of the
axle and a good wide board nailed between the two made a comfortable
seat for two passengers if covered with a tow sack filled with straw
or shucks. Between the shafts in front was the power plant, usually
taking the form of a mule, which was all decked out in plow harness.
There seemed to be no need for bells, horns or other signaling
devices since everybody was travelling at about the same speed and
the jangling of the iron traces made enough noise to be heard around
the next corner at least.
Hanging from one of the hames of the mule's harness was a neatly
laundered flour sack which contained the driver's lunch and also hang-
ing from his hip pocket would be the brand tag of a sack of smoking
tobacco, called Golden Grain but more generally referred to as Hoover
Hitching yards had not completely disappeared at the time and
became quite popular again as on Saturdays Hoover Carts could be
sighted coming from every direction. During the early days of the
Auto old timers would predict that the Automobile would never replace
the horse and it looked for a spell as though old Dobbin was going
to win after al 1 .
It is not intended to leave the impression that this mode of
transportation was used only by the poor people, for that was not the
case, since many well-to-do families feeling the pinch of the abscence
of ready cash met the need for transportation by pulling the front
end out of the family automobile.
THE PANTHER CREEK GOLD MINE
In the year 1918 a mysterious visitor appeared in the Link Co-
mmunity in the person of a self-styled Oklahoma Cherokee Indian Chief.
There was no doubt about his being a genuine Indian for he had all
the characteristics of the story-book variety, minus the copper arm
bands and a marked difference in the way he was dressed.
He wore knee-length rugged leather boots with pants and coat
made of coarse jeans cloth. His dress showed much wear but was not
torn or patched.
His skin was a high copper color, his hair coarse and black and
platted into a single strand which hung dovjn his back. He looked
so Indian that he could easily have been a brother of the one on the
Everybody wondered just what his business in the community might
be after he had spent some two weeks apparently without reason.
Then out of the clear blue he showed his hand by selling to one
of the shrewdest men in the county an imaginary gold mine. The site
was adjacent to a big bend in Panther Creek and was supposedly owned
by the Chief's Tribe in Oklahoma. He produced what looked like a
well aged map of the site, along with what he said were gold bearing
gravels from the site.
Mr. Joe Smotherman, a highly respected and very successful bus-
iness man and farmer purchased the whole package from the old Indian.
The rights which were on his own farm. The old Indian, without doubt,
must have been a supersalesman for no one had ever out-traded Mr. Joe.
This was evidenced by the modest fortune he had built during
his life time.
After the trade was completed the old Indian took off for Mur-
freesboro to catch the train but before he could completely clear
the area, one of Mr. Smotherman's sons, Talmadge, learned of the
deal, took his father in a buggy and hurried to Murfreesboro arriving
just as the chief was boarding the train. They convinced him that
it would be better to refund the money than to go to jail. He re-
funded the money and took off for parts unknown.
So far as is known this was the closest thing to a gold-rush
that Link has ever had.
The first property in the area was deeded to Samuel Buchanan in
1788 but had been located in 1785 and signed by Richard Caswell Aug. 1,
1787. The 400 acre tract was located along Hurricane Creek, then Ruth-
erford County, North Carolina. The early 1819 map of Rutherford County,
Tennessee shows the boundaries to extend far into present Davidson
County, and it is easy to see how Donelson and LaVergne have the same
"back yards," so to speak. Both communities could share a few of the
early families settling along Stones River. Samuel's land was on both
sides of the creek north of the present Rutherford-Davidson County
line bridge. The line at this point has been changed numerous times
through various periods of our Tennessee State Legislature. Both
Samuel and John Buchanan were famous Indian fighters and both owned
land in this northwest section of the county.
Buchanan family records state Sam was killed by Indians at the
"Bluff" in 1783, and that he never married. Early Tennessee history
accounts such as Ransey, Putnam, Hale and Merritt, and Clayton all
agree he was killed at the hands of Indians but all vary the death
date. Most agree he was killed by 1788, however, none of these could
be accurate since Sam signed a deed transfer in 1784 and was a jurror
in 1789. His death occurred in 1793 and his inventory at death left
a widow named Rebecca.
1. Davidson County Reg. Book A. p. 324
2. Hale and Merritt, Vol . 1
3. Davidson County Wills and Inventories, Microfilm #427, Tennessee
Library and Archives, Nashville.
Sam was in a field plowing when Indians fired upon him. He ran
while twelve savage pursuers overtook and killed him. The bluff at
which he was killed was at Hurricane Creek and he had been plowing
his own field at his own station when attacked. Sam came into the
frontier wilderness with John, helped settle French Lick, fought
Indians, served several times a juror, bought and sold land, married,
ect. It would seem more likely that he would establish his own inter-
est rather than stay at the Bluff at French Lick, or for that matter
at the John Buchanan Station. His own land along Hurricane Creek
became Samuel Buchanan's station and later Buchanansville.
Official Post Office records show Buchanansville, Davidson County
changed to Mount View, March 8, 1827, then changed back to Buchanan-
sville on January 26, 1837. It was again changed to Mount View, March 1,
1842, then finally to LaVergne, Rutherford County on August 23, 1852.
Unofficially it was given several other names including Rutherford City,
Limestone, and Cedar Point. The man for whom the city was named referred
to the community as Rutherford or Rutherford City. In deciding the date
of establishment for the city seal design, 1803 seemed to be the best
date. Obviously if Sam was killed in 1793, the danger of Indian attack
was still too great to settle in the frontier land. Yet by 1803, ten
years later, the new Rutherford County was chartered and County Court
was held in 1804. Rock Springs Baptist Church was opened July 21, 1804
and its enrollment was of good size. The actual settlement date was
between 1793 when Sam was killed and 1803 when Rutherford County was
The city was named for Francis Roulhac, born in Limoges, France
March 15, 1767. He was christened at birth: Francois Leonard Gregoire
de Roulhac de LaVergne. When he came to America, he anglicized his name,
shortening it to Francis Roulhac. He was both a doctor and a lavyyer
but practiced neither profession to a great degree. In his younger-
life he preferred a mercantile life, in later years he was happiest
on his farm.
Roulhac had married Margaret Gray of North Carolina. Her sister
had married a Butler who had died or was killed, and she had been given
land in Rutherford County by her father-in-law. The Roulhacs brought
the sister to "Rutherford" and continued on to Montgomery County. A
short time later, "Aunt Butler", as the Roulhac children called her,
asked them to move to Rutherford and she would deed her land to them.
The Roulhacs came to LaVergne in 1822.
Francis knew the importance of sending to and receiving mail from
Europe, the West Indies and eastern United States, all places where
he had connections. He really couldn't have cared less WHAT the city
was named, rather THAT the city retained a post office. Because of this
intense post office concern, the community was named LaVergne for him,
the day Roulhac died. Firestone is located where Roulhac's home once
stood. One of the listed Mount View Post Offices was located a short
distance of Roulhac's home. If he could know what had now come to pass
and the projected plans for the future in Interchange City, he would
be the first to be pleased.
Williams Kimbro and John Hill were two men of means and stature
who probably were the most instrumental in setting a pattern for living
in this community. Both men served in County Court, Kimbro's land
was south of the community including the top of a high elevation.
The land was still in the Kimbro family until wery recently when it
was sold for community development. The early roads were cleared,
laid out, and the overseers were responsible men in the area. One
of these roads was a portion of the original Nashvil le-Murfreesboro-
Chattannoga Pike which came through LaVergne about where the present
1-24 highway is located. Of course, its route was changed on more
than one occasion by economic or population needs and post office
John Hill, one of the first Magistrates of the County, built
the lovely Nelson home which was recently razed to make way for the
Long-Bell Industry completed early this year. Hill was a son of Green
Hill, the Father of Methodism in Middle Tennessee. Green Hill divided
a 640 acre land grant tract between two of his sons, Thomas and John.
Squire Hill and his wife later moved to another community. Early
court minutes list a good many endeavors by John Hill when he lived
in what was to become the LaVergne community.
During the time Murfreesboro was the capital of the State, ed-
ucation seemed to be the prime interest next to and often interlocking
politics. Dr. James Priestley of Princeton University had come to
the Nashville Academy and was probably one of the greatest forces in
setting high educational standards in Middle Tennessee. His home
was located in what was to become Donelson, and he had several family
members living in the LaVergne community. A granddaughter is buried
in the Mason Cemetery off Hollandale Road. In most of the old letters
of the LaVergne Collection, references are continually made to planning
and receiving higher education within a 30-mile radius of LaVergne.
Public education did not come until a century later.
About 1833 the city was laid out by John Hill, son-in-law of
Francis Roulhac and nephew of Squire Hill. He was an enterprising
young man who had a rope and bagging factory in Lebanon. Young Hill
had a store and saw mill near his home which was located where the
Tennessee Farmers Co-op lands are now situated. However, the ear-
liest stores were operated by Joe Kimbro whose store was really a plant-
ation commissary. The Kimbro lands were on a portion of Signal
flountain and surrounding terrain, and the Kimbro store was convenient
to the Rock Springs community as well as to Mt. View, Buchanansvil le,
or LaVergne. The other early store was operated by Benjamin Ferguson
down on the river bend on the former Bob Alexander place. According
to one of the old ledgers that used to be housed in the Hermitage
Museum at Andrew Jackson's home, Jackson bought frequently from
Ferguson. Undoubtedly there had to be trading posts or other early
stores and certainly there was one in Buchanansvil le near the old
Buchanan Cemetery. The old cemetery once served as the city cemetery
and is near the heart of the Buchanansvil le community. The names
of the store owners throughout the time of settlement to a more recent
time would, more often than not, be lost to time.
The late 1840' s and 60's brought a period of time when LaVergne
spawned a lot of doctors. This was due primarily to Dr. James Charlton
who had purchased the old Stokely Donelson tract. His home contained
a post office called Elm Hill and was located north of the LaVergne
community. According to verification of a State highway historian.
Elm Hill Pike terminated at the home of Dr. Charlton. As the doctor
made his rounds twice a week in LaVergne, he also carried the mail.
He had a small rock and frame building in the far corner of his front
yard and it was here that young aspiring doctors "read" medicine
under Dr. Charlton.
"Railroad interest was at fever pitch," stated one of the early
Neal letters. It was the railroad that brought economy to LaVergne
in 1852. It was developing into a busy freight stop and was incor-
prated as a city Feb. 28, 1860. The old station was torn down at the
end of World War II, but at the turn of the century it was the gath-
ering place for the young folks. J. R. Park was station agent who
kept the station neat and clean. Brightly colored flowers were
nearly always found around the station. Park lived in the former
John Hill home, Cherry Shade, across from the station and had the
first phonograph in town. This was the obvious reason young folks
delighted in the station.
The old fort where Nathan Bedford Forrest once trained his troops
is now owned by Glen Waldron. It lies south of the old Nashville Pike
but during the War Between the States, it was found just off the Jeff-
erson Pike which continued from the Robert Pope place to the Nolens-
ville, Columbia ect. The King home was located between the old fort
and Signal Knob, a short distance to the south. Its location was one
of the reasons for its being burned to the ground during the v;ar. The
fort was the scene of several skirmishes and traded hands more than
once between Union and Confederate forces.
According to J. T. Dougherty's " Battle of LaVergne ," "General
Braxton Bragg gave orders to slow the Union Army down to avoid a
general engagement until they reached Murfreesboro. This the Con-
federates accomplished quite well. General Crittenden's Corps under
Rosecrans advanced townard Murfreesboro on the Murfreesboro Pike.
On Dec. 26, 1862, he found LaVergne to be a small village with a
desirable railroad depot that could move men and supplies closer to
Murfreesboro. His men moved toward Hurricane Creek but the Con-
federate Cavalry under the Command of mighty Joe Wheeler waited across
the creek with 2,500 men and a battery of 4 gun artillery. Critt-
enden thought he was engaged with at least a division so he sent for
re-inforcements and deployed his men in line for a major engagement.
Rosecrans appeared and thought, too, it was a major battle and sent
for Thomas. After several hours, the Confederates retreated into
the town to take up defensive positions. "Dougherty states the skirmish
became house to house combat as Wheeler's men fired from doorways
When the railroad had been built through the town, it became
necessary for the Nashvil le-Murfreesboro Pike to be nearer the rail-
road. This was accomplished by using a portion of an existing road
and the new section of Nashvil le-Murfreesboro Pike ran parallel with
the tracks for a short distance and crossed the tracks on the north
end of the underpass. A Union wagon train under the command of McCook
was progressing toward Murfreesboro with supplies. On December 30,
1862, Wheeler had been making his famed circuitous route when he came
upon McCook' s train. He attacked at the edge of the northwest side
of the village. An artist sketch depicts a church in the background
thought to be Ebenezer Methodist Church. (Later, the Presbyterian
church used the same foundation.) Burning wagons were scattered in
the surrounding fields on both sides of the present Highway #41 bet-
ween the present Tennessee Farmers Co-op land and the old Sam Buch-
An estimated $1,000,000 worth of supplies was destroyed and
700 prisoners were taken. Again, according to Dougherty's account,
"the work of parol ling prisoners, burning wagons, exchanging arms
and ammunition, and driving off horses and mules consumed the rest
of the day. On the 31st Wheeler continued toward Nolensville burning
a forage train on Rock Springs Road and another wagon train at Nol-
ensville capturing 300 men."
Only a portion of the war history can be depicted here but memtion
should be made of the Mary Neal King Diary, the story of Kate Lyle,
the account of the October 7, 1862 battle at the Old Fort, the store
of Cherry Shade being used as a hospital with its poem written by
Capt. Ira Davenport who was wounded during the Battle of LaVergne,
and the skirmishes along Stones River.
It would be impossible to list all the early families of LaVergne-
only a few are listed and then not in any special order: Kimbro, Hill,
Buchanan, Fly, May, Nance, Williams, Davis, Goodman, Morton, Thompson,
6. Walter Hoover Collection, Smyrna
7. Ernest King Johns Collection, Smyrna
8. Mary Kate, Heroine of LaVergne, Marian Herndon Dunn
9. Charles W. McKay, Attorney, Louisville
Carter, Nelson, Mason, Banton, Butler, Roulhac, Charton, Hibbett,
Gooch, White, Mullins (Mulherrin), Neal , Green, Bailey, Stephens,
Mitchell, Hartman, Akin, Austin, Montgomery, Fergus, Tune, Wood, Noe,
Johnson, Finch, Seat, Coleman, Ewing, Cannon, Gregory, Owen, Goodloe,
King, Gowen, Merritt, Ferguson, Gambill, Burt, Cawthon, and others.
Like its sister communities, LaVergne fared badly during the
War Between the States and the reconstruction days were as difficult
there as in any other place. The railroad was probably the prime
factor that kept LaVergne's economy alive and the people's determin-
ation was another factor that kept it going. Education, religion,
and politics prevailed as major concerns of the city.
The first telephone was installed in the Burt home in 1904. The
Mason family, early Middle Tennessee and LaVergne settlers, had des-
cendants with vision and foresight. Although C. I. Mason was pres-
ident of the company. Miss Dora Mason was secretary and probably knew
more of the whole installation of that period than anyone else. The
company was sold to George Kersey and a partner and then later sold
to General Telephone Company. The present dial system was preceeded
by the old wall crank telephones. The receiver was picked up, The
crank turned, and "central" said. Number please." She also gave the
time of day, where someone could be reached on emergency, and other
gems of information. Mary Kersey and Ernestine Fergus were the best
operators in town--they were also about the only operators in town.
In 1925, the city was incorporated again Allen Mason was its
first mayor. Later, electricity was introduced and 0. B. Tucker,
father of Mason Tucker of the RUTHERFORD COURIER, was station agent
and was instumental in getting the electricity installed. Most new
things are met with resistance but the reluctance to accept electricity
held fears of instant and costly street lights to the city of LaV-
ergne. Yet progress pushed itself into being and electric lights
came to LaVergne.
The oldest church in LaVergne is the Saint James Christian Meth-
odist Episcopal Church organized by Rev. Columbus Walker in 1870. Two
of its members in 1972 were Mrs. Elizabeth Trimble and Mrs. Bertha
Peebles. Both worked on getting the church history prepared and both
were 94 years of age. The church might well be the oldest black
church in the county. Its location which has remained the same is
near the corner of Highway #41 and Stones River Road. It has an
active program and is an asset to the community.
Jefferson Pike Church of Christ got its start in 1920, on the
Jim Gowen land on Jefferson Pike. Harvey Merritt and Jeff Owens
were instrumental in getting the church started. Will and George
Merritt, twin sons of Harvey Merritt followed in their father's foot-
steps and taught Bible classes in the early church. In 1951, the
congregation purchased an acre of land from Bud Pope and the building
then on the property of Sadie Charlton Herndon was given as a gift.
The building was moved to its present location. Marian Herndon Dunn
has written the church history and the full text is to be published
in the LaVergne history.
Ira Knealand Hibbitt, son of Joseph Hibbett gave the land for the
LaVergne Presbyterian Church. Joseph's will divided his land between
his children and Ira's tract contained the "Ebenezer church lot and
Road." From Margaret A. Green's History of the LaVergne Pr esbyterian
Church, "the first building is described as large and wide a coin-
modious building constructed before the formal organization of the church.
The church minutes relate the rebuilding of the church after a de-
vastating tornado in 1914 on the same foundation. The original church
was established April 16, 1887. In 1969, the original property was
sold and the church relocated on 4 acres of land given by Emmett
Waldron at the corner of Cherokee Drive and Hilltop. The new church
was dedicated Sept. 10, 1972. The church minutes have been taken to
the Tennessee State Library and Archives for microfilming. The found-
ation of the church is thought to be that of the Ebenezer Methodist
Church and that one of its part time preachers was Benjamin Sewell
King, husband of Mary Neal King who kept the Diary in 1862.
The Miracle Baptist Church grew out of Mt. View Baptist Church
on Sept. 22, 1965. The First Baptist Church of LaVergne Sponsored the
new church. Rev. Bob Dowdy was its first pastor. The first worship
sership service was held Oct. 3, 1965, with 75 present in Sunday
School and 107 in worship service. By the end of May 1966, 231 were
enrolled in Sunday School. Dedication of its new building was held
May 5, 1968. The sanctuary seating capacity is about 300. Recently
plans were made to build a new sanctuary of greater size. The church
faces the Highway #41 in the Miracle Heights Subdivision.
LaVergne Church of Christ dates its existence back to beyond
1856. In a letter dated December 3, 1856, Joshua K. Spears reported
in the MillenJal Harbinger that the work of the church in LaVergne
was progressing. The first building was near the Davidson County
line at Buchanan Springs. The building was used and destroyed by the
Union Army. The second meeting house was where the old telephone
switchboard was housed. This one burned and since there was such
limited space at this location for hitching horses with wagons and
buggies, Mr. Billy Goodman offered the ground at its present location.
The new building was erected in 1886 nearer the road than its present
building. At the turn of the century, the government paid for the
destruction of the first building and with the aid of this money, the
building was remodeled and moved back to its present site. The church
has grown progressively and helps to support a congregation in Kentucky.
Jon Gary Williams is currently preaching there. The LaVergne Church
of Christ is the oldest continuous congregation in the city--125
years. The property is located on the Old Nasville Highway not too
far from the juncture of the highway and Stones River Road. It is a
fine red brick structure and has ample parking facilities.
First Baptist Church was organized February 10, 1956 and is now
located in Eastwood Subdivision facing the Old Nashville Pike. The
first lot was given by Mr. and Mrs. R. M. Baugh and the first build-
ing was constructed on Greenwood Drive. Rev. J. V. Braswell was its
first pastor. From a very small congregation to one of about 400
members has meant a steady and substantial growth. The building
is most attractive and seats about 400 persons. An education building
adjoins the sancturary and Nathan Hale is presently the pastor of
The LaVergne Free Will Baptist Church held its first meeting
April 28, 1968 at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Macon D. Green on Sandford
Road. Rev. D. L. Sharp was its first pastor. The growth of the
mission forced the expediency of finding much larger quarters and
the church used the LaVergne Civic Auditorium. The church had pur-
chased a lot on Mason Circle and when Sewart Air Base closed, the
church bought a building and furniture. The barracks type build-
ing has been completely refinished on the inside and bricked on
the outside, and it has made a lovely and important addition to
The St. Peter Primitive Baptist Church history was prepared by
Mrs. Bertha Peebles and Elder D. J. Carothers, Pastor. The Cumberland
Association of Primitive Baptists was organized by the Lynn Creek
Primitive Baptist Association in 1880. St. Peter Primitive Baptist
Church was first named Stewart Creek Primitive Baptist and was located
at Sand Hill. Their first meetings were held in a county school -
house in 1896.
In 1918 the church began sponsoring activities to raise money
in an effort to erect a church building and land was purchased form
Mr. and Mrs. Ben Cartwright. It was located near the Jefferson Pike
railroad crossing and at this time the name was changed to St. Peters 's.
In 1943, Sewart Air Base boundary took the property and the church was
moved again. This time it was moved to Sanford Road.
Jefferson Pike Church of God is a relatively new church but it
11. History of the LaVergne Free Will Baptist Church, Charlotte Green
is one of the friendliest. Its first few years of existence found
it without a permanent meeting place. It met in a tent for a short
while on land owned by Mrs. Cora Mitchell and was located near Sewart
Air Base. Later services were held at the intersection of Jefferson
Pike and Old Nashville Highway. In December 1962 land was purchased
from Paul Waldron and the church is located on Hill View Drive.
There are only two church histories to be compiled for the city,
county, and state records. These are St. Paul's Church on Sanford
Road and Sand Hill Church of Christ. Mrs. Fannie Belle Paul Taylor
has submitted a fine history of Gilroy Church of Christ which is now
in Davidson County but was at one time in Rutherford County. Mt.
View Baptist Church also in Davidson County has many past and present
ties to the LaVergne community. The church will be asked for a church
history for the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration.
A history of the LaVergne Schools by Shirlie Chaney was printed
in the DAILY NEWS JOURNAL in the early 1960's. Walter King Hoover
included a portion of the history in his SMYRNA, THE CHURCH, THE TOWN
in addition to some good research of other schools. Several small
or one room schools listed were: Rock Springs, Paw Paw, Sinking Creek,
Hollandale, Independent Hill, Sanders School, Tipperary, and Blair
Schools but it would now be difficult to determine where many more
like those might have been. Often school would be held for children
in a neighborhood where the teacher/preacher boarded. In the early
days of county education, schools could be found on the property of
the persons representing school districts. Other schools in the
LaVergne area were located on Sanford Knob, the Johnnie Merritt
property, the Will Sutton property, on the Walter Mason farm now
inundated by the waters of the Percy Priest Reservoir, on near the
old railroad depot, another near the LaVergne Church of Christ. In
addition, ther was the Allen and Wallace School for Boys, a prepar-
atory school located behind the "Rock Store" now housing the Glass
Contractors of Tennessee, Inc. The Women's College located across
the street from the Boys school was really more of a finishing
School for girls. It became the LaVergne Academy and like others
in the county was really an equivalent to a secondary school.
County records do not pre-date 1925, and from that period until
1960 there was a slow steady growth. From the 60' s to the present
date, the amount of student enrollment has far out-numbered the pro-
jected estimates. When the students moved to an 8-room new school'
on Stones River Road in November 1961, it housed only six grades.
At the present time it has 550 enrollment, houses K-5 grades, and
is in desperate need of additional space.
Walter Hoover wrote, "Throughout this era (1850-1920), down the
dusty roads, through the wood, across the fields trudged the barefoot
children in search of the three R's and a knowledge of history and
the world outside their circumscribed farm-bound lives. Soberly
clad in dull homespun clothing and earring their midday meal in a
bucket or a basket, they walked the miles to the rude and uncomfortable
and poorly equipped one-room schools." These words well describe
the limitations the young people had in those days but there is no
way of telling how many mental business giants emanated from these
12. SMYRNA, THE CHURCH, THE TOWN, P. 259, Walter Hoover
In 1972 the city again was incorporated and Vester Waldron was
elected mayor with C. A. Chaney and A. C. Puckett as commissioners.
In 1974 Jack Moore and Joe Montgomery were added to the city comm-
issioner offices. Homer Kuykendall is City Manager and Virginia
Frizzell is Secretary. The city was preceeded by the Utility Dis-
trict form of government, however, it restricted itself to the ac-
quisition and management of an adequate water supply.
Interchange City has become an Industrial Park off 1-24 between
Rutherford and Davidson Counties. The land is being developed by
Robert McDowell Enterprises and includes several large companies.
Emniett Waldron who once owned this land used to say, "Its's a good
day, but the best is yet to come!" Francis Roulhac, another previous
owner of the land who is buried atop a hill in Interchange City would
also agree the best is yet to come.
Time has now come to plan for the nation's second birthday and
the LaVergne Bicentennial plans have been set into motion. A census
record is being prepared by A. C. Puckett, Jr., Jack Moore with the
help of the Rescue Squad: a servicemen's roster is being compiled
by the Lion's Club to commemorate all servicemen from LaVergne to
serve their country: Old Timers Day and Homecoming is being planned
by Mayor Waldron and his large committee: a parade is scheduled for
July 1976 with Joe Montgomery and Charles Talley serving as chairmen:
a city park is being planned to provide ample recreation facilities
for the youth of the community: the city's churches are to be hon-
ored by having date markers placed at each church: the business
community will have plans for participation in this program with
Jim Bowles of Firestone as chariman. The Men's Club and Home Dem-
onstration Club will plan the 1976 Bicentennial ceremonies.
Victor DeLaVergne, a family descendant and attorney from New
Orleans is to send the city a tree brought from France for the Bi-
centennial Celebration. It will be suggested the city plant a Ma-
gnolia tree in its park every August 23 to commemorate Roulhac and
LaVergne's past, and its promise of a bright future.
HISTORICAL NOTES ON FELLOWSHIP
CHURCH AND COMMUNITY
CHRISTINE SANDERS FARRAR
In the early 1800' s Bethesda Baptist Church was organized and
built on land given by Isaac Sanders for Church grounds and cemetery,
about 500 yards west of his home, on land bought from John Donelson
in 1805. This Sanders Cemetery, six miles north of Smyrna on the
Fate Sanders road is still being used 1972.
"On Saturday before the third Lords Day in December 1827,"
thirty three members of Bethesda Church withdrew from its membership
met in the home of Cornelius (Brother of Isaac) and Mary Sanders and
constituted an independent body which they called Fellowship. The
Charter members were: Elder Joshua Wollen, Deacons Darlin Jones and
Benjamin Flowers, Clerk Hezekiah Gibson. Other members: George
Underwood, Matthew Jones, James Merritt, Gideon Carter, John Hintchy,
Micajah Peacock, Mary Sanders, Mary McMennaway, Margaret Jones Sarah
Jones, Lucy Hedgepath, Lucretia Stephens, Margaret Freeman, Harriet
Freeman, Nancy Lannom, Margaret Barnett, Elizabeth McPeak, Nancy Flowers,
Katherine Ward, Nancy Wollen, Polly Robertson, Charity Wright, Polly
Merritt, Mary Edwards, Susanna Sanders, Rachel Sanders, Theresa Hintchy,
Patsy Barefoot and Mary King.
Even though the church was organized in the home of Cornelius
Sanders neither he nor his brother were among the charter members
but evidently all were well-wishers of the new church since members
continued meeting in the home of Cornelius several months for worship
and business. However, a committee was appointed consisting of Thomas
Sanders, Robert Freeman, Jesse Bloodworth, Benjamin Flowers and Micajah
Peacock to supervise the erection of a meeting house. Records do not
show when such a building was completed but it is practically certain
that it was occupied with in a year, after the church was organized.
It was a cedar log structure and was situated east of Bethesda Church
on ground given by William Freeman. In June 1852 a building comm-
ittee was appointed for the second house consisting of John Wiley,
William Meredith, Asa Houston Sanders (all sons of Isaac) Cornelius
Sanders, Jr., John B. Goodwin, N. C. McCullough, Moses R. Buchanan
and 0. G. Tucker. In March 1854 this committee reported a balance
$631.22*5 due the builder Edward Bodily, stone mason. In July 1856
a sub-committee was appointed consisting of John B. Goodwin and John
Sanders to supervise the finishing of the church with plaster and
paint. It appears the present rock structure was completed on that
date on land given by Thomas Kirkpatrick, thus the first district
of Rutherford County known as Fellowship Community for 147 years.
Written from minutes of Fellowship Baptist Church.
Bethesda Baptist Church was admitted into Concord Association
in 1814. Their annual reunion was held at Bethesda in 1835. Bethesda
has long since passed away.
Phillippi Church of Christ organized in 1830 on the site of
present building which was at that time part of the first district
of Rutherford County but now in Davidson County.
Corinth Church of Christ organized in 1867, built on land given
by Yank Til ford on the border of Rutherford and Wilson Counties,
known as the Burnett Community. First Pastor was Aesap Alsup.
Freedmans Grove Baptist Church was built by Asa Houston Sanders
after the Civil War, for negroes. The building was used 50 to 75
years and its first pastor was Mark Buchanan, colored, who had belonged
to Moses R. Buchanan. Mark was ordained to the Ministry by Fellowship
Church in 1877.
Bryants Grove was another Baptist Church for negroes built near
the Davidson County line in the latter part of 1800's.
Rockdale School 1st District. It is not definitely known what
year this school was opened but since it was in a log building on the
William Freeman land it is thought to have begun in the building Fel-
lowship Church had formerly used before 1854. In 1888 one acre was
given by Henry and Sarah Wood and J. B. and M. A. Bodily for public
school which was slightly west of the old building. This building
was a one room frame with long porch across front. Some of the teachers
were Alvis McCollough, T. Pinkney Edmondson, Miss Jinny Marlin, Miss
Amanda Miller, Miss Mable Callahan, Miss Mary Halliburton, Mr. Neal
El rod. Berry 0. Carter, Miss Inez Carter. In about 1953 a four room
brick building was erected on land given by Geo. A. Patton across
from Fellowship Church, this building was used 10 to 15 years before
all children were carried to Smyrna school by bus.
Burnetts School, 1st District was built on land of Lewis Burnett
in 1851. It was a one room log building. Some of the teachers were Ralph J,
Neal, Dr. James R. Major, Miss Vera Burnett, Miss Mamie Clemmons,
J. Norman Barnett, Miss Lillian Duggin, Mr. Alsup and Miss Zona Burnett.
It was abandoned about 1900 when the children came to Rockdale.
Scrough-Out was another early school built at the head of Spring
Creek in the first district near 1900. A Mr. Loyd and Miss Dora Sanders
were two of the teachers. It was abandoned when the children came to
Bryants Grove was the one negro school in the community. Miss
Dora Hoi den was the teacher for many years.
One of the oldest homes in the community is owned by Mrs. J.
Mabry Goodwin. In 1851 her grandfather, Lewis Garrett Burnett, bought
this two story log house and a farm on Stones River. His son. Turner
Perry Burnett, inherited a portion of this land and bought the other
heirs interest. Turner's daughter, Ottie Burnett, inherited a portion
at her fathers death and she, with her husband, J. Mabry Goodwin,
bought the interest of other heirs. In 1966 when the Federal Gover-
nment acquired this land for the Percy Priest Lake, they moved the
house to Couchville Pike where it now stands in its remodeled condition.
Turner Perry Burnett, Jr. moved to Wilson County where he has served
different terms as Sheriff. Another brother, Herman Tyler Burnett
went to Pittsburg, Penn. as a young man to work with the Reliance Life
Insurance Co. He became Vice-President and was with the company until
retirement. He died in 1970 at the age of 86 years.
Other businesses in this community were operated as side lines
to farming. Wm. Thos Barnett, Guill S. Maddux, Wm.(Pat) Hunter,
John Lewis Wright and Thadeus Kimbro operated general merchandise
stores. E. K. Bond and Joseph Wright were master in every kind of
work in their shops from building wagons to shoeing horses. Milliard
D. Spain had a small chair factory. I doubt there was a family in the
first district who could not boast of having one of Mr. Spain's chairs,
Wm. Wright made coffins and did other cabinet work. Every chimney,
cellar and building of stone can be credited to Edward D. Bodily,
a superb stone mason.
Magistrates of the court were Isaac Sanders Freeman, Hickman
Weakley Chandler, Milliard D. Spain and Roy S. Lannom to mention
John Norman Barnett, son of Wm. Thomas and Mollie Hunter Barnett,
was connected with the First National Bank of Smyrna, Tenn. for 58
years until his retirement in 1971.
Miss Arline Wright, daughter of May and William Wright, was
dedicated to mission work and was the one missionary from Fellowship
Lafayette M. Sanders had the first automobile in the district
Copied from records of Christine Sanders Poole Farrar. March
THE SANDERS FAMILY OF THE OLD FIRST DISTRICT
OF RUTHERFORD COUNTY
CHRISTINE SANDERS FARRAR
After 1766 when Uriah Stone, with his hunters and adventurers,
found the rich bottom lands along the river which now bears his name,
many families from all sections of the country came to settle in what
is now the first district of Rutherford County, Tennessee.
Among the early settlers were the names of Sanders, Weakley,
Donelson, Lannom, Burnett, Nash, Buchanan, Ridley, Wright, Carter,
Smith, Barnett, Bodily, Freeman, Smart, Goodwin, and others.
Stories of the "Long-Hunters" and "Indian Fighters" handed down
through generations leads one to believe many may have come exploring
before returning to bring their families, such is the story of the
A two room log house still stands on the Fate Sanders road about
one half mile from Couchville Pike was supposedly built in North
Carolina By the Sanders '-if true they were here before Tennessee was
Among the earliest Land Grants were 640 acres on Stones River
opposite the mouth of Stewarts Creek to Robert Weakley 1793, which
became part of the Lafayette (Fate) M. Sanders lands which the Fed-
eral Government acquired in 1966 from his daughter, Christine S.
Poole Farrar for the Percy Priest Lake. Earlier owners had been
J. H. Charlton and Asa Houston Sanders, father of Fate Sanders and
son of Isaac. An 1805 Deed of 640 acres from John Donelson to Isaac
*LAFAYETTE (FATE) MORTIMER SANDERS
*ANNIE GOODWIN SANDERS
MOSES R. BUCHANAN
The Buchanan Mill (picture circa 1915) - Was
located behind the old Sewart Air Force Base
property and near the Youth, Inc. installation
*A Sanders child appeared in each of the
two pictures .
Excerpt from Moses Buchanan's Obituary
"In 1820, Mr. Buchanan settled on a
magnificent farm, lying on Stone's River,
in Rutherford County. He built in that
year Buchanan's Mill, which is still
standing. On Stone's River, then a
navigable stream, Mr. Buchanan built
the first lock and dam at his mill ever
constructed in Tennessee." The
Daily American , May 30, 1887
and Luke Sanders was one of the first Deeds to the Sanders family.
They with Thomas, Elisha, William and Cornelius were the forefathers
of this later known as the "Sanders District". In 1850 there were
140 Sanders' in this Community and men by other names were married
to Sanders women.
Even though this was a fertile farming area the pioneer had
to be knowledgeable in many fields such as tanning leather, making
shoes, spinning and weaving cloth, cabinet making, carriage building
and carpentry. There were cotton gins, saw mills and grist mills.
Blacksmith shops, for making the many required implements necessary
in farming, were a part of e^ery community.
The six sons of Isaac and Mary Sanders were land owners and
farmed on a large scale in the community. They were Thomas, John
H. , Isaac Jr., Wiley, William Meredith and Asa Houston.
Isaac Sanders Sr. seems to have been the financier of his family.
He was the Executor of his fathers estate in North Carolina and surety
on many bonds of other members of his family. His plantation of sev-
eral hundred acres was divided among his sons. All were farmers in
the first district during their life time with the exception of Wiley,
who with his wife, Martha Hart, moved to a farm on Jefferson Pike at
Stewarts Creek where he operated a saw-mill also. Martha was drowned
trying to save a wash-woman who had fallen in the creek. Wiley Sanders'
second wife was Virginia Rucker and he with his two wives are buried
in the garden of their house which is now the center of the Smyrna Golf
The home of Thomas Sanders, oldest son of Isaac and Mary, was on
Stones River at Spring Creek where a grist mill was operated by water
power. Later a stave and hoop mill was operated by steam power where
a Mr. McKennon lost his life by getting a leg caught in a shaft. The
old home still stands and was occupied by a son, Isaac Summer Sanders,
until his death in 1915. Isaac Summer Sanders married Mary Jane
Richmond, daughter of Dr. John Richmond of Wilson County.
It was after the Civil War that Daniel Thomas, son of Isaac
Summer, went to Texas in search of cheap land but finding it was too
expensive at 50t per acre in Lamar County, he returned home and op-
erated a general merchandise store across from the mill, and named it
Lamar. It was here that one of the earliest Post Offices for the
first district was established. Mail was brought in from Walter Hill
and Mt. Juliet. The other Post Office was "May Eller", located in the
store of Wm. M. Wright on Couchville Pike across from the farm of his
father-in-law, John H. Sanders. Mail was called for at these two loca-
tions until a delivery route was sent out from Smyrna, Tenn. for some
sections and from Mt. Juliet for others.
Daniel Thomas Sanders with his wife, Almeda Word, moved to Nash-
ville when his two daughters, Dora and Callie, became librarians at
Vanderbilt University. His son, Daniel, became a Pharmicist, and
grandson. Dr. Dan, is now a well-known Pediatrician. Another son of
Daniel Thomas was Epps Richmond Sanders who operated the farm with his
grandfather, Isaac Summer Sanders. The mill was operated by a brother-
in-law, Edward Weston and later by Geo. Patton who met and married
Miss Betty Welch. Their sons are James W. Patton, Prof, of History at
the University of N. Carolina and George A. Patton, a large land owner
in the Fellowship community and a building contractor now living in
Dr. Robley Elwood Sanders, son of Isaac Summer, lived and prac-
ticed medicine in this community until he married Miss Annie Randolph
and moved to Walter Hill. Another son, John Richmond Sanders, married
Mary Frances Jones and moved to a farm near Smyrna, Tenn. and had
three daughters. Isaac Summer Sanders, Jr. married Lucy Emaline
Sander and lived across Stones River from his father's farm.
Charlie Lenord Sanders, son of Isaac Summer Sanders, married Mrs.
Annie Bonds and moved to Dallas, Texas. The Rutherford Parkes Library
at Castle Heights School in Lebanon, Tenn., was given by his son-in-
law of that name.
Thomas Marion Sanders, third son of Thomas and Mary Lannom
Sanders, married Martha Gregory and moved to a farm north of Smyrna on
the Nashville Highway. He was named for his grandfather Thomas and
Gen. Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox" of the American Revolution, under
whom he fought. Thomas Marion was a Confederate soldier quartermaster
A son of Thomas Marion Sanders was Dr. Evander (Van) Sanders,
Surgeon at Protestant Hospital, Nashville, for many years. He died
from an infection caused by a needle prick in his hand.
Leonard Sanders, another son of Thomas Marion Sanders, married
Clara Northway and operated the farm with his father. Thomas Gregory
Sanders, another son of Thomas Marion Sanders, married Frances Kimble
and is living in Sarasota, Florida at age 94 years.
Wm. Meredith Sanders, fifth son of Isaac Summer Sanders, with his
wife, Margaret Barnett, and thirteen children, operated a large farm
on Stones River between Stewart and Spring Creeks. They lost five
children during the 1850' s with typhoid fever, and his wife died in
1863. His second wife, Mrs. Sophia A. Martin, gave him his fourteenth
child and a step-daughter. He was also guardian for the nine minor
children of his brother, Thomas, who had died at age 45. Yet he was a
prosperous farmer, a churchman, and his name often appears on legal
documents which made him active in many businesses. He and his
brother, Asa Houston, were well versed in law. They were Masons, mem-
bers of the Mt. Juliet Lodge #379 and later transferred to Smyrna
Lodge where A. H. Sanders was on the Building Committee in 1872.
One son of Urn. Meredith Sanders, John Gerome, and a grandson,
James Franklin Sanders, became Baptist Ministers, lived on farms in
this community, and served as Pastors of Fellowship Church on differ-
ent occasions. Another son, Andrew Franklin, who married Martha
Lemmons, lived east of Sanders Cemetery. Their home still stands.
Isaac Sanders, Jr., born in 1807, married Sallie Mitchell. Their
two sons, William and Mortimer, were killed in the Civil War. Their
old home, owned by Oscar Mount, recently burned.
Asa Houston Sanders, born 1822, was the youngest son of Isaac
(b.l772) and Mary. He married Christine Clemmons and bought from J. H.
Charlton the acreage formerly granted to Robert Weakley, opposite the
mouth of Stewarts Creek along Stones River. He was a courageous and
prosperous farmer, recognized for his leadership in civic, political.
and church affairs. He served as guardian and executor for many, and
his name appears on legal documents of Rutherford, Wilson, and
Davidson counties, indicating his knowledge of law. Through his ten
children the names Goodwin, Mason, Bell, Edmondson, Malone, and Guill
were added to the Sanders Colony. Three sons, Isaac Franklin, who mar-
ried Tennessee Goodwin, Thos. H., who married Sallie Bell, and Isham
Harris, who married Lenora Sanders, moved to Nashville where they oper-
ated a feed and grain business. William L. married Sallie L. Sanders
and lived in the Fellowship community as a farmer and trader.
A daughter of Asa Houston Sanders, Frances Jane Sanders, married
Wm. Newton Mason, a judge of Rutherford County for 46 years. Another
daughter of Asa Houston Sanders, Josephine, married Thomas Pinkney
Edmondson, a teacher at Walnut Grove, Rockdale, and other schools.
Lafayette Mortimer (Fate) Sanders, youngest son of Asa Houston,
followed in his father's footsteps exercising civic, business, and
political leadership. After his father's death he bought the interest
of the heirs in the lands of Asa Houston Sanders and added other
adjoining acreage as it was sold through the years, making him one of
the largest landowner in the county.
Lafayette married Annie Ladocia Goodwin. Their children were
Andrew Hollis, C. Goodwin, and Christine. Goodwin died while a
student at Vanderbilt University. Hollis married Anne Baskette and
lived on and operated the farm he inherited from his parents.
Christine married Adam Johnson Poole, Jr., and they operated the
adjoining farm she had inherited, until the Federal Government
acquired the entire acreage for the Percy Priest Lake in 1966. This
is now the Fate Sanders Recreation Area. During World War II these
farms were used for "Food for Freedom" and Army maneuvers. In 1943,
U. S. Secretary of Agriculture, Claude R. Wichard, issued this family
a "Certificate of Farm War Service". In 1908, Fate Sanders was instru-
mental in getting the first bridge across Stones River which bore his
name, and was used until the Threet Bridge was completed across the
lake a few hundred yards upstream in 1967. The first telephone in
this community was a Nashville phone through LaVergne, Tenn., built by
Fate Sanders in 1907, and in later years electricity was brought into
this First District by a right-of-way given across his farm. He
bought the first automobile in that district in 1908 - a seven passen-
In 1869, Dr. Benjamin Franklin Guill moved to this community
from Mt. Juliet. He married Sal lie A. Sanders, daughter of Asa
Houston, and bought the farm adjoining her father's, formerly owned by
Wm. Meredith Sanders, where he lived as a practicing physician until
his death in 1894. Dr. Guill served two years as an Infantryman in
the Civil War before he was transferred to Hospital duty in Richmond,
Va., June 1863, by Gen. Lee, where he was paroled out of service in
May 1865. Dr. Guill was a charter member of the Smyrna Medical
Society in 1876. He had two sons, Hugh Hayes and Clarence Gardner
Guill. Clarence moved to Union City, Tenn., after his father's death,
with his mother and her second husband. Dr. J. B. Adkerson. Hugh mar-
ried Cora Jones and they lived on the Guill farm many years before
moving to Smyrna where he was Postmaster. They later moved to Texas
on account of his health. Their one son, Benjamin Hugh, served with
the Army in the Pacific during W. W. II and was later elected to the
81st Congress as the first Republican from Texas in twenty-five years.
He nominated Richard M. Nixon for Vice-President in 1953. He served
as Executive Assistant to Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield
from 1953 to 1955 when he was appointed to the Federal Maritime Board
where he served until 1960. Ben Guill is now a lobbyist for the
National Automobile Dealers Association and lives in Washington with
his wife, the former Marjorie Buckler from Pampa, Texas, and two sons,
Hugh Buckler, serving with the U. S. Army in Vietnam, and Benjamin
Allen, a student at Princeton.
John Buchanan, later known as Major John of Buchanan Fort, with
his father, brothers, and two sisters, joined James Robertson and John
Donelson at Ft. Nashboro in 1780 even though tradition tells us the
Buchanans were at French Lick in 1779. Major John was a District Sur-
veyor, a courageous soldier, and contributed greatly to the transforma-
tion of the wilderness into a great state. Due to his services and
explorations he was in a position to secure most anything in the new
territory he desired; therefore, he became one of the largest land-
owners in this section. In 1789 John Buchanan was granted 640 acres
on the narrows of Stones River, Grant No. 1030, which later became
part of the First and Second Districts of Rutherford County. It was
here that he and his brother-in-law, Moses Ridley, built the first
Mill near the narrows of Stones River. In 1808 another Grant No. 655,
to John Buchanan and Moses Ridley, was for 274 acres on the East
border of the former 640 acres. In 1817 a Grant No. 14152 was to John
Buchanan for 127 acres East of the 274 acres grant, joining Elisha
Sanders near the Sanders Cemetery. It was in 1806 that John and Sarah
Ridley I'.uchanan's son, Moses Ridley Buchanan, was born. He married
Sarah Vincent Ridley, daughter of James and Anne Hamilton Ridley, in
1827 and inherited this land at his father's death in 1832. He built
the first lock and dam ever constructed in Tennessee and operated a
Mill at this site in connection with farming. Moses Ridley deeded his
half interest in the 274 acres to his nephew and namesake and moved to
the Smyrna dred where the Sam Davis Home, a State Shrine, is now
located. Moses Ridley Buchanan was one of the county's wealthiest and
most influential citizens, possessed with all the qualities which make
a man lovable. The liberality which he displayed all through his life
was something remarkable. To him a prominent, wealthy gentleman liv-
ing in Nashville, at that time, owed his start in business to a $3,000
loan from Mr. Buchanan. A violin, said to be 200 years old and the
first one brought into Tennessee, was owned and played by Moses R.
Buchanan. He loved music and dancing, and great was the hospitality
in the home he built in the early 1800' s for his wife, Sarah, and four-
teen children. A beautiful plot by the river, shaded by giant oaks,
was known as the "Buchanan Picnic Grounds" and many were the invita-
tions sent to neighbors and friends by carriers on horses "Requesting
the honor of your presence".
But when the Civil War came his slaves were freed, provisions
taken, land stripped, and cotton gin burned leaving him unable to oper-
ate a plantation. He sold his mill and farm, with the exception of
500 acres his daughter, Sarah Anne, lived on with her second husband,
John B. Goodwin. Her first husband, Thomas J. Mabry, Jr., died in
1855. These 500 acres were passed down four generations to Christine
Sanders Poole, who owned it at the time the Federal Government pur-
chased it for the Percy Priest Lake, which is now "Pooles Knob Recre-
S. H. Miller bought the Moses Ridley Buchanan property for his
heir, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Miller Jones, who with her husband, Amzi
Jones, took possession of the home and operated the mill for many
years - thus the origin of the name "Jones Mill Road" which at present
leads from the Nashvil le-Murfreesboro highway near LaVergne, north to
the old home standing on a hill overlooking the Percy Priest Lake at
the location of Youth Incorporated.
Moses Ridley Buchanan celebrated his 81st birthday in April 1887,
one month before his death at the home of his daughter, Nancy, and her
husband, Andrew B. Vaughn, with whom he had lived for the past several
years. On this occasion he played his violin for his many friends,
relatives, and great, great grand children.
In part this is the account of his death in "The Daily American"
May 30, 1887.
"At his home in Franklin yesterday mo'^ning surrounded by his
friends and relatives, Moses R. Buchanan, well-known to almost every
man, woman, and child in Middle Tennessee, passed away. Peacefully as
a child sinking to rest, and contented, his spirit took its flight
from the body which had been its home for more than four score vears,
to seek a deserved rest after a life which had been as useful as it
had been long. Perhaps no man in Tennessee had so extensive a connec-
tion. It has been a common saying that everybody was kin to Buchanan
or Buchanan's wife. He was greatly loved by all who came in contact
with him. His heart was as tender as a woman's to any aooeal for
symoathy, though brave as a lion when danger appeared. In the 1820's
Mr. Buchanan settled on a magnificent farm lying on Stones River in
Rutherford County where he built Buchanan's Mill, which is still stand-
The deceased leaves eleven children, six daughters and five sons,
all living in the State. One of the daughters is the wife of County
Judge Caldwell. The remains will be brought here this morning on the
8 o'clock accommodation and be taken out to Mill Creek Cemetery on the
Murfreesboro Pike, where according to his request he will be laid by
the side of his wife. Dr. Strickland will conduct services at the
Other heirs who inherited lands in Rutherford County at the death
of their father. Major John Buchanan, were Nancy Mulherrin, 1169 acres,
who later married Jackson Smith, and Henry R., 1120 acres, who never
Index for Publication #6
66, 77 ,80
77 , 84
80 , 84
15 , 67
, 87, 88,
77 , 78
62 , 66
79 , 80
index cont ' d
t> , / , 1 J. ,
22 , 30
63 , 65 ,66,
5 ,9, 16
66 , 67
62 , 63
, 14 ,
24 , 36
, 62 ,
, 66, 73
61 , 66
30 , 90
, 56 , 57
63 , 67
index cont ' d
■ 9, :
, 9, :
IT IS READY!
RUTHERFORD COUNTY CEMETERIES
A joint publication by the Sons of the American
Revolution and the Rutherford County Historical Society
Complete listing of over 500 cemeteries and private
graveyards with maps and index
A magnificant assist to geneologists and others interested
in the people who played a role in the development of
historic Rutherford County
Order from: William Walkup
202 Ridley Street
Smyrna, TN 37167
Ten dollars for each volume and thirty dollars
for set of three--add 60C for postage.
THE RUTHERFORD COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc.
as of December 31, 1975
Mr. & Mrs. John P. Adams
Mr. & Mrs. W. D. Adkerson
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Mr. Donald Ball
Mr. Haynes Baltimore
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Mr. Thomas E. Batey
Mr. H. C. Brehm
Miss Margaret Brevard
Dr. & Mrs. Fred Brigance
Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Brookshire
Mrs. Lida N. Brugge
Mr. J. T. Burnette
Mrs. C. Alan Carl
Mr. & Mrs. J. D. Carmack
Mr. Cecil J. Cates
Mr. Steve Cates
Colonel Charles R. Cawthon
Miss Louise Cawthon
Mrs. George Chaney
Mr. James L. Chrisman
Mrs. James K. Clayton
Mrs. Ellen Snell Coleman
Mr. & Mrs. Fred P. Colvin
Dr. Robert Cor lew
Miss Edith Craddock
Mrs. A. W. Cranker
Mr. Russ Crichton
Dallas Public Library
Mrs. Susan G. Daniel
Mr. Charles V. Davis
Mrs. Florence Davis
Mr. John Dowd
Mrs. Constance Dunlap
Dr. Parker D. Elrod
Mrs. Moulton Farrar, Jr.
Mrs. Robert Fletcher
Miss Myrtle Ruth Foutch
Mr. John H. Fox
Mr. Don Gage
Mr. Robert T. Goodwin
Mrs . Robert Gwynne
Mr. Donald Hagerman
Miss Mary Hall
Miss Adelaide Hewgley
Mrs. Eulalia J. Hewgley
Mrs. B. K. Hibbett, Jr.
Mrs. Mary B. Hindman
History Associates of Wilson County
Mrs. Carolyn Holmes
Dr. Ernest Hooper
Miss Elizabeth Hoover
Mr. Walter King Hoover
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Hoskins
Mr. C. B. Huggins, Jr.
Dr. James K. Huhta
Mr. & Mrs. Jack I. Inman
Mrs. Dallas Ison
Mr. Robert T. Jacobs
Mr. Ernest King Johns
Mr. Thomas N. Johns
Mrs. Buford Johnson
Urs. R. H. Johnson
Mr. Homer Jones
Dr. Robert B. Jones, III
Dr. & Mrs. Belt Keathley
Miss Adeline King
Mr. & Mrs. W. H. King
Mr. & Mrs. George Kinnard
Dr. Howard Kirksey
Mrs. Lawrence Klingaman
Mrs, Louise G. Landy
Mr. John B. Lane
Dr. Samuel D. Lane
Mr. Albert D. Lawrence
Mr. William C. Ledbetter, Jr.
Mrs. Lalia Lester
Mr. T. Vance Little
Mrs. Louise G. Lynch
Mr. Michael J. Martich
Mrs. Dorothy M. Matheny
Mr. & Mrs. James C. Matheny
Mr. T. Edward Matheny
Mr. W. C. McCaslin
Maury County Public Library
Mrs. James McBroom, Jr.
Mrs. Mason McCrary
Mr. & Mrs. Ben Hall McFarlin
Mrs. Elise McKnight
Mrs. Evelyn Merritt
Miss Luby H. Miles
Mr. Donald E. Moser
Mr. Eugene R. Mull ins
Mr. Matt B. Murfree, III
Mrs. David Naron
Mr. 6c Mrs. James B. Nelson
Mr. John Nelson
Mr. Lawson B. Nelson
New York Public Library
Dr. Joe Edwin Nunley
Mrs. J. H. Oliver
Silva Wilson Partridge
Mr. Harry M. Patillo
Dr. John Patten
Mr. Charles C. Pearcy
Mr. Dean Pearson
Mr. R. L. Pinson
Dr. Homer Pittard
Mr. & Mrs. William 0. Pointer
Mr. James T. Pollard
Mr. Bobby Pope
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Ragland
Mrs. Frances R. Richards
Mr. Granville S. Ridley
Mrs. James A. Ridley, Jr.
Mr. Billy J. Rogers
Mrs. Elvis Rushing
Miss Racheal Sanders
Miss Sara Lou Sanders
Mr. John F. Scarbrough, Jr.
Dr. R. Neil Schultz
Mr. & Mrs. John Shacklett
Mr. Charles E. Shelby
Mr. William A. Shull, Jr.
Mrs. J. A. Sibley, Sr.
Mr. Don Simmons
Mr. Gene Sloan
Miss Rebecca L. Smith
Colonel Sam W. Smith
Miss Dorothy Smotherman
Mrs. Nelle Smotherman
Mr. Travis Smotherman
Mr. Jimmy Somerville
Mrs. E. C. Stewart
Mr. Allen J. Stockard
Mrs. Robert Mac Stone
Stones River DAR
Mr. Billy Summers
Mr. Roy Tarwater
Dr. Robert L. Taylor, Jr.
Mr. C. L. VanNatta
Mrs. Joe Van Sickle
Mrs. J. Wilbur Vaughan
Mrs. Frances H. Vaughn
Mrs. Emmett Waldron
Mr. Bill Walkup, Jr.
Mr. & Mrs. William Walkup
Mrs. George F. Watson
Mayor & Mrs. W. H. Westbrooks
Mr. Charles Wharton
Miss Kate Wharton
Mr. Alfred White
Mrs. Erma White
Miss Virginia Wilkinson
Mrs. Virginia Wilson
Mrs. Pauline H. Womack
Mrs. John Woodfin, Jr.
Mrs. Jane Snell Woods
Mr. Henry G. Wray
Mrs. A. H. Wright
Mr. Thomas D. Yates
Mr. F. Craig Youree
Rutherford Co. Historical Society
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY
NOT T^ V^M \MW.
3 3082 00527 4591
Vrr . ■
*C ?R 20,
HIGHSMITH # 45220