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Publication No. 14
Sketch by Jimmy Matheny
THE JOHN LYTLE HOUSE
Winter 1 980
Murfreesboro, Tennessee 37130
The cover is a drawing of John Taylor Lytle' s
home which once stood on the Franklin Road six miles
from Murf reesboro. The house was torn down a few years
ago and a new home built on the same site is now owned
by the J. B. McNeil family.
Appreciation is given to James Matheny for drawing
the cover, County Executive Ben Hall McFarlin and Mrs.
Ladelle Craddock, who were very helpful in preparing
this publication for printing. The authors and persons
who furnished articles used in this publication-Dr .
Ernest Hooper, Jane Snell Woods, Tom L. Russell,
Clarice Miller and Edna Fry are also due the appreciation
and thanks from the Rutherford County Historical Society.
RUTHERFC«D COUNTY HISTCRICAL SOCIETY
PUBLICATIC»I NO. 14
Published by the
RUTHERFORD COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
President Mr. William Vfelkup
Vice-President Mr. Gene Sloan
Recording Secretary Miss Louise Cawthon
Corresponding Secretary & Treasurer. , .Mrs, Kelly Ray
Publication Secretary Mr. Walter K. Hoover
Directors Mrs. Dotty Patty
Miss Aurelia Holden
Dr. Ernest Hooper
Publication No 14 (Limited Edition- 350 copies) is
distributed to members of the Society. The annual member-
ship dues is $7.00 (Family -$9.00) which includes the
regular publications and the monthly NEWSLETTER to all
members. Additional copies of Publication No. 14 may be
obtained at $3.50 per copy.
All correspondence concerning additional copies,
contributions to future issues, and membership should be
Rutherford County Historical Society
Murf reesboro, Tennessee 37130
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TABLE of CONTENTS
-First Presbyterian Church, Murf reesboro, Tenn 1
by: Dr. Ernest Hooper
^ The Kirks and Montgomery s 3 3
by: Alexander Montgomery
furnished by Jane Snell Woods
A History of the Russell Homeplace
by: Tom L. Russell
yjohn Taylor Lytle 5 5
by: Clarice Miller
Revolutionary Pension Record of John M. Leak 72
furnished by Mrs. Edna Fry
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, MURFREESBORO, TENNESSEE
THE FIRST CENTURY
"Rev. Robert Henderson settled among us and Commenced his Labours
June first 1811." This inscription on the fly leaf of the first record
book of the congregation indicates that Presbyterians were worshiping in
the vicinity of Murfree Spring at least ten months before the formal
organization of the congregation which is recorded as follows:
A number of persons living in the neighborhood of Murfree Spring
in Rutherford County, Tennessee, being desirous that a church
should be organized in that neighborhood of the Presbyterian
order, met, and were accordingly organized into a church denom-
inated the Murfree Spring Church, by the Rev. Robert
Henderson. . . .
Next the record lists three ruling elders: Robert Wasson, John Smith,
William D. Baird and, then, fifteen other charter members: Joseph Dickson,
Margaret Dickson, Mary Dickson, Isabella Smith, John Henry, Susanna
Henry, Frances Henderson, Mary Stewart, Abigail Baird, Margaret Jetton,
Mrs. Samuel Wilson, Grace Williams, Elizabeth Kelton, Margaret Wasson,
Jane C. Smith. Assuming that each surname represented a separate family,
there were eleven families represented.
From 1812 to 1818 the minutes only list the names of the ministers:
Robert Henderson, Thomas J. Hall, James Bowman, George Newton, and Jesse
Alexander. It appears that the congregation worshipped twice a month,
first in a log schoolhouse near the spring then in another near the pres-
ent site of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
The Reverend Mr, Henderson had moved to Columbia in 1813 and, in
addition to preaching, had taught school. One of his students was James
Reverend William Eagleton, D.D.
This portrait \A/as presented to First Presbyterian
Church by the artist, Richard C. Shacklett, on
January 1 1, 1976.
In 1 829, Dr. Eagleton \A/as laid to rest beside
his \A/ife(\A/ho had preceded him in death about
two years before) in the burial plot on the
plantation of their daughter and her husband,
Elvira Eagleton Campbell and Samuel Campbell.
The Burial Site is three miles south\A/est of
Murfreesboro on the Midland Road.
K. Polk who was destined to have several connections with the Presbyterian
Church in Murfreesboro. Perhaps, on Henderson's advice, he came to
Murfreesboro and studied for a year in the academy of another Presbyterian,
the Reverend Samuel P. Black. In 1819, he would return as clerk of the
Senate and serve through the special session of 1822, which met in the
First Presbyterian Church after the courthouse burned. In 1823, he
entered the House of Representatives from Maury County. On New Year's
Day 1824, he married Sarah Childress, another Presbyterian, with her pas-
tor and his teacher, the Reverend Dr. Robert Henderson officiating. ^
Greeneville College had conferred a doctorate in divinity on Henderson in
1818, the same year he returned to Murfreesboro to serve the church he
had founded six years before.
Murfreesboro and the Murfree Spring congregation were born about
the same time, and in October 1818 the congregation changed its name to
First Presbyterian Church, Murfreesboro. By April 1, 1820 it had built
a brick building on Vine [then known as Church] Street. While the minutes
do not mention the construction, William Lytle's deed, of that date,
mentions the church building upon it.* Later (1837) the city bought land
to the east and south for a cemetery. When the congregation moved in 1867,
it sold its property for burial plots and the land is now included in the
Old City Cemetery area.
The building was approximately forty by sixty feet with a cupola,
probably capped by a dome. There were three large doors facing Vine. A
vestibule had stairs on either side leading to the gallery which surrounded
the east, north, and west walls of the sanctuary. The north part was the
choir loft, and a pipe organ was installed about 1855. In the sanctuary
there were eight-foot pews on the east and west sides with a twelve-foot
pew in the center, probably twelve or fourteen rows since the capacity
was estimated at two hundred fifty to three hundred. The pulpit was
approximately five by ten feet and two or three steps above the floor.
There are only four references to the property in the minutes before
the Civil War. We may hope that this reflected the Session's conviction
that the Church was the body of believers and not the building. There is
no record of the number of communicants when Dr. Henderson returned in
1818, but there were seventy when he left in 1825. He had seen the Church
grow four- fold in thirteen years. A newspaper notice expressing thanks
indicated that he also taught school while in Murfreesboro.°
The Reverend Dr. John W. Hall succeeded Dr. Henderson, and the
first fairly complete report recorded was in September 1826 for the
previous year. The year had begun with seventy communicants; ten had
been added by letter and twenty-one by examination; ten had been removed
from the roll: six by dismissal, one by suspension, and three by death;
leaving ninety-one conmuni cants, a gain of twenty-one or thirty percent.
Two adults and thirty infants had been baptized. The minister had been
promised $400 per year and the congregation had given a total of $176.50
to benevolences: $21.00 to Chickasaw missions, $1,00 to domestic missions,
$1.00 to Presbyterial Fund, $133.00 to a theological seminary and $20.50
to an educational fund. Dr. Hall moved to Gallatin in 1829.
The most remarkable pastorate in the nineteenth century began in
December 1829 when the Reverend William Eagleton, D. D. brought his family
across the Cumberlands from Southern and Western Seminary in Maryville and
from the Grassy Valley Presbyterian Church. Dr. Eagleton had been educated
by a very remarkable minister and teacher. When Dr. Isaac Anderson con-
cluded that he could not persuade enough ministers to come to the Southwest,
he founded the Southern and Western Seminary in Maryville-'forerunner of
Maryville College. Young William was ordained and served the Presbyterian
Church in Kingston until he was called back to teach in the Seminary.
Meantime he had married Margaret Ewing, also of Blount County, in 1817.
Dr. Eagleton's skill as a teacher is attested by the fact that after his
son, George, graduated from Union University in 1851, he studied theology
with his father for a year and was admitted by examination for the other
two years of seminary training, one at Maryville and the other at Union
Seminary in New York.
Dr. Eagleton was also an effective evangelist, both in the church
and in the camp meetings which were so popular. The records are incom-
plete, but for the twenty-eight years for which we have the figures, there
was an average of twenty-four additions per year and an average membership
of 217. Despite the fact that this was still a frontier area and large
numbers of adults were moving in, the ratio of admissions by profession
to those by certificate was better than four to one, 544 to 128. This
growth was even more remarkable when we note that a number of members
left over a church schism about 1840, that sixty-odd were encouraged to
organize a congregation at Kelton Camp Ground in 1838 and another thirty-
three organized a congregation at Sulphur Springs about 1854.
The controversies which split Presbyterians in the late 1830s divided
the Murfreesboro congregation briefly. The names of the two groups are
confusing, but in the 1830s, the general assemblies of the Presbyterian
Church, U.S.A. were riven by struggles between the New School group which
wished to continue the cooperation and easy fellowship with the Congrega-
tional Church, which had prevailed as they sought to evangelize the fron-
tier, and the Old School group which objected to receiving ministers into
Presbyterian fellowship unless they fully accepted the standards of the
Westminster Confession of Faith. The Old School group also wished to
establish denominational agencies instead of participating in the inter-
denominational mission boards that had been established. The Old School
group secured control in the assemblies of 1837 and 1838, expelled several
presbyteries and synods, and established denominational boards.
In the fall of 1839, the Synod of West Tennessee, meeting at Hunts-
ville, Alabama, divided and Dr. Eagleton and Elder William D. Baird affil-
iated with the New School Synod. When Eagleton and Baird returned to
Murfreesboro, they found Elders James Maney and Johnathan Currin prepared
with resolutions repudiating their actions and declaring that the Church
would adhere to the Old School Synod. One of the resolutions bore elo-
quent testimony to Dr. Eagleton's stature; it declared that the repudiation
was necessary "not from any want of confidence in the ministerial qualifi-
cations or piety of our beloved pastor" but because he had withdrawn himself
from the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. When the resolutions were put to a
vote, Maney and Currin voted aye. Elders George Calhoon and David Mitchell
voted nay. Elder Baird declined to vote, feeling it unconstitutional.
This left the moderator. Dr. Eagleton, under the awkward necessity of
breaking the tie, and he voted nay. Dr. Maney and Mr. Currin promptly
entered a protest claiming to be the constitutional Session and entitled
to the books, muniments, etc.
There is not space here to trace the fascinating effort at concilia-
tion; we may summarize by saying that Dr. Eagleton and the three New School
members of the Session regularly acknowledged the rights of the Old School
members to worship in the building and offered to divide the use of the
building according to the number of adherents of the two sides, which this
group judged as 188 New School to 18 Old School, but no satisfactory
arrangement was worked out. A congregational meeting elected Samuel Hodge
and David Wendel to the Session in early April 1840, and the congregation
supported the ideas of the New School church courts. It switched its
support from a ministerial student who sided with the Old School party
and it supported benevolences through the various interdenominational
The sentiments were indicated by a contribution of $53.25 in January
1841 to the American Tract Society for foreign distribution. Later in the
same month, it made a contribution of $30.00 to constitute Dr. Eagleton a
life member of the A.M.E.S. which appears to have been an interdenomina-
tional education society. In April of 1841, the Session proposed to call
attention to the benevolence requests of Shiloh Presbytery: domestic
missions, foreign missions under the American Board of Commissioners for
Foreign Missions, and the education of young men for the ministry. However,
it pled the number of calls for aid as an excuse for delay.
Elders Maney and Currin resumed their seats in the Session without
any recorded explanation on November 10, 1841. The Minutes of November 28,
1841 do say, in reference to a protracted meeting (18 days & 19 nights):
. . . the saving arm of the Lord has been uncovered and His
mercy gloriously triumphant. The [fearful] difficulties which
have distracted the councils and paralyzed the energies of this
Church have been healed and we are once more an undivided and
harmonious church. About 90 souls have been hopefully
converted. 53 members added to this branch of Zion.
In his authoritative Presbyterians of the South , Ernest Trice
Thompson cites the Murfreesboro congregation as one in which the spirit
of love overcame strife and the breach was soon healed. 7
It was fortunate that Elder Johnathan Currin returned when he did
because in April 1842, the congregation faced a financial crisis. Although
it had pledged to pay Dr. Eagleton $500 a year after his first year and
had, perhaps, increased the amount somewhat, it was approximately $1,000
in arrears by 1842. In addition, David Wendell and Samuel Hodge had
obligated themselves on behalf of the church for $300 for repairs on the
church building in 1838. The congregation agreed to transfer the parson-
age to Dr. Eagleton when he cancelled the arrearage and assumed the $300
debt. Johnathan Currin was the trustee holding title for the congregation. 8
The parsonage was a two-storied frame house set back from the Readyville
Stage Road on an eight acre lot between what is now East Main, North
Highland, and East College and Dr. Eagleton had already bought a two acre
pasture to the east taking him nearly to the Union University line.
A major role of the nineteenth century Church was discipline of its
members. Twentieth century Christians are likely to see this as meddle-
some and to scoff at people who strained at the gnat of girls attending
dancing parties while swallowing the camel of human slavery. Admittedly,
there were absurdities, but a study of the minutes of the Session indicates
concern for the members and a potent civilizing force.
The first and most frequent problem for discipline was intoxication.
In September 1825, the Session issued its first citation for a member to
appear to answer a complaint by "common fame" of intoxication. On October
8, 1825, the member appeared and
acknowledged that he was sensible of being intoxicated . . . yet
not so as to destroy his reason nor prevent him from attending
to his necessary business but inasmuch as it appeared to be dis-
covered to the wounding of the friends of Zion, to the opening
of the mouths of gainsayers against the cause of Christ and to
the injury of his own soul, he was truly sorry . . . and having
promised to be more guarded against this sin in the future, he
was restored in the spirit of love and meekness to the full
communion and fellowship of the Church.
In minutes covering about forty years, there were twenty-one citations
relating to intoxication. In nine cases, the admission and apology of
the accused was accepted. In seven cases, the member withdrew or was
Some of the explanations are very interesting. When seven were
accused at one session in December 1844, two explained that they had been
overcome by hot toddy in the heat of the 1844 presidential campaign between
Polk and Clay. On another occasion, the accused acknowledged his intoxica-
tion but stated that he had drunk to avoid a greater evil and did not admit
to any sin in the matter. The Session was very tender with an aged member
because of his infirmities and deafness, but after a year of conferences,
it finally suspended him, A militia man blamed his dereliction on the
inclement weather while he was on parade and the Session accepted his
explanation. Several drinkers insisted that they drank for reasons of
health and one admitted frequenting the dram shops, regretted the reproach
on the church, and promised to abstain. In the spirit of a Scotch cove-
nanter, he added that he believed his health required his drinking and if
his health deteriorated, he would notify the Session before resuming his
Whatever the southern tradition, the Session of the First Presbyterian
Church disapproved of dancing parties. In January of 1829, a committee
waited upon James Patton who admitted that he had opened his boarding
house for a dancing party. He insisted that he had only agreed to open
the house that the participants might sup, but the day had been rainy and
the streets muddy and it was necessary to open the house for the party or
lose all the expense to which he had gone for supper as well as antagoniz-
ing his boarders. He promised not to be taken in again, and the minutes
reveal an understanding Session which, "taking into account . . . the
indigence and inexperience of this brother did restore him to the fellow-
ship of the Church," The minister was appointed to confer with Col. F.
N. W. Burton about his breach of church discipline in permitting his
daughter to attend. There was enough concern that on June 23, 1829, the
Session adopted a preamble and resolutions disapproving of dancing parties,
calling on parents not to allow children under their control to attend,
and accepting the responsibility for the discipline of parents who offended.
In February 1831, the Session was again concerned and, after numerous
conferences, suspended James Patton on April 17, 1831 for permitting his
daughter to attend a dancing party. Colonel Burton's daughter had also
attended, but the Session accepted his assertion that he did not know it
was to be a dancing party, he disapproved, and he would use his influence
against his children attending in the future. Incidentally, it was Elder
James Maney who conferred with Burton so it may be assumed that he dis-
couraged dancing parties at Oakland. On May 15, 1845, the Session reaf-
firmed the position in the 1829 resolutions and requested the minister to
preach on the subject of dancing. As late as April 1889, the Session
overtured Nashville Presbytery to make a pronouncement on the dance, the
card table, and the theater. The Presbytery obliged with a statement to
be read from the pulpits of the Presbytery.
More significant, perhaps, was the concern of the Church over the
business practices of its members. In April of 1829, the Session heard
evidence on three charges against Dr. J. R. Wilson: that he had intoxicated
John H. Johns and defrauded him of land (Johns denied this), that he had
oppressed Mrs. Massey, a widow (she deposed that he had actually assisted
her when others were pressing her for payments due), and that he had
deceived Mr. Robert McLin in a money transaction. The Session decided
that the first two charges were disproved and that the third had not been
proved, but Dr. Wilson asked that his name be removed from the Church roll.
One of the saddest incidents in church discipline, but one which
illustrates the role of the Church in settling disputes among members,
involved two of the three charter elders. In August 1836, a committee
appointed to investigate the complaints of Elder William D. Baird that
Elder Robert Wasson was spreading false reports about him, reported that
Wasson claimed that: Baird had sought to collect twice for communion wine
which he had purchased; Baird had refused to pay the remaining $3.00 due
on a note to Wasson after Wasson had turned over the note to him; Baird
had refused to pay the interest on a note for which he had been security,
even though the signer had turned over two Negroes to Baird to cover the
debt and interest; and Baird had occasionally taken wood from Wesson's land.
Having failed at reconciliation, the Session ordered a hearing for August
22, 1836. It lasted for four days and there were a dozen or more witnesses
before Wasson requested permission to withdraw the charges and asked for
a letter of dismissal. The Session granted both and concluded that the
withdrawal of the charges was evidence that they could not be proved. The
hearing covers some ten pages in the Minute Book and provides considerable
detail. It appeared that the main grievance was that Baird was only will-
ing to pay 6% interest when the note had been written to bear 12%. Mr.
Baird preferred a slander charge against Hiram Wasson August 24, 1836; it
was continued for several months for various reasons; and May 23, 1837,
Baird requested that action be suspended because Mr. Wasson's mind had
been seriously affected for some months.
In the late 1850's there were realignments of the Old School and
New School synods and presbyteries and the Old School groups became more
conciliatory. The Presbytery of Shi 1 oh, to which the Murfreesboro congre-
gation belonged, voted its own dissolution and so the congregation had to
form a new connection. In the Session, Dr. Eagleton, Elders Maney, McFadden
and Wendel favored a recommendation to join the Old School Presbytery of
Nashville. Only Elder J. M. Baird, whose father had supported Dr. Eagleton
in joining the New School Synod in 1839, opposed the recommendation. The
congregation voted to join Nashville Presbytery by 99 to 3 with a number
of members declining to vote in the interest of harmony in the church.
This led the Session to declare that it regarded "... the brethren who
declined the ecclesiastical connexion of their own preference for the sake
of the peace of the Church as having presented on the altar of the Church
a grateful offering." After the Civil War began, Nashville Presbytery,
including the Murfreesboro Congregation, joined in the Presbyterian Church
in the Confederate States of America, which after the War became the
Presbyterian Church in the United States.
Although the official records do not indicate any hesitancy, there
must have been soul-searching for Dr. Eagleton about the course of the
South. His teacher, the Reverend Dr. Isaac Anderson for whom he had named
his second son, had been strongly opposed to slavery. Under Anderson's
influence, he had freed the few slaves he owned and sent them to Liberia
through the American Colonization Society. However, for house servants,
he had bought slaves and owned two at the outbreak of the war. We do know
something of the feelings of the Reverend George Eagleton, who greatly
admired his father. He was opposed to slavery and wished that the slaves
might be colonized, but he was also bitter about the abolitionists. As
late as December 1860, he was preaching against secession in the Hopewell
Church at Milton. He was delighted when Tennessee voted against secession
in February 1861, but furious when President Lincoln called for volunteers
after the firing on Fort Sumter. ^
In this period the Church records reveal no pressures. Just after
Tennessee voted against secession, the Session was busy raising a subscrip-
tion for the cause of missions under the Assembly's Board of Missions; it
raised $54 in March 1861. In the fateful month of April is recorded the
last admission of a slave: "Lizzie--a colored girl belonging to Samuel
Campbell was baptized and admitted to membership." Three days after Sumter,
the annual report indicated 188 communicants, salary payments to the min-
ister of $821.85, and it hinted at Dr. Eagleton's poor health, saying he
had given satisfaction and "rendered all the service that his age and
infirm health would permit." There may be a further hint at this in the
June 23, 1861, entry that the Lord's Supper was administered with the help
of the Reverend Mr. Provine of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
About the beginning of 1862, Dr. and Mrs. Eagleton went to East
Tennessee to stay with relatives in the hope that the rest would restore
their health. They were away when the church building was occupied and
It has not been possible to determine whether services were held
in the remainder of 1862. When the battle was fought along Stone's River
at the end of 1862, the building was used as a hospital by the Confederates
and then by the Union forces. The Union troops set up their camps south
and west of the cemetery and church building. There is conflicting testi-
mony on whether the soldiers began taking the bricks to build chimneys
and huts or whether the Army officially ordered the building torn down
and the materials used for government purposes. A young member, Samuel
McFadden, managed to rescue the church bell and to dispose of some heavy
The Session pursued a long effort to recover damages from the govern-
ment, beginning in 1865 and succeeding in collecting $6,500 in 1899. This
effort will be described later.
Although a number of baptisms are recorded in the minutes, it appears
that the Session did not meet between January 2, 1862, and July 18, 1864.
Dr. and Mrs. Eagleton returned to Murfreesboro in the summer of 1864,
and Mrs. Eagleton died on July 7. She was buried on the plantation of
Samuel and Elvira Eagleton Campbell, southwest of Murfreesboro. Dr.
Eagleton resumed his ministry as the Cumberland Presbyterian and Christian
Churches offered their sanctuaries.
The Session met on July 18, 1864, and the record deserves quotation.
There has been an unprecendented destruction of property both
private and public . . . and even the resting place of the dead
. . . and the sanctuary itself . . . have been and still are
desolated and desecrated l
The entries conclude:
Having made this sad record the Session would humbly rear an
Ebenezer and render thanks to God for mercies that are still
continued, and to the honor of his name acknowledge that we
have never yet seen an end of the goodness of the Lord!
Dr. Eagleton presided over the Session meetings until his death March 28,
1866. He was buried beside his wife on the Campbell plantation.
Without a postor, without deacons, without a building, and with only
three elders, the one hundred eighty-seven members had the faith to press
on. In October 1866, they called the Reverend John Witherspoon Neil to
the pastorate. Elders recalled that he
. . . was a young man but an able and eloquent preacher. He was
gifted with great executive ability and was peculiarly endowed as
an organizer. . . . preached eloquent and learned sermons,
instructing the congregation in the duties of religion and he
was unsparing in his strictures upon the derelict members.
Mr. Neil secured the use of the Circuit Courtroom and services were
held regularly. The congregation chose Gideon H. Baskette, Dr. Alex
Hartman, William D. Killough, William H. McFadden, Dr. James B. Murfree
and Dr. James E. Wendell as deacons. They were ordained and installed
December 30, 1866, and met to organize January 2, 1867.^0 Mr. Neil pre-
sided. Deacon Wendell was chosen treasurer and Deacon Murfree was chosen
secretary. The Diaconate proposed a system of financing which the Session
approved. It included subscriptions for the Pastor's salary, special
offerings on Corimiunion Sabbaths for the needy of the Congregation, and
special offerings on the third Sabbath of each month for incidental expenses.
Despite the fact that the Church was planning to build, the proposal also
;.r '. n^^j-
scheduled special offerings for the Boards of Domestic Missions, Publica-
tions, Foreign Missions, and Education.
A December 4, 1867, report— presumably for the first eleven months
of 1867--shows these receipts:
Board of Publication
Board of Foreign Missions
In the spring of 1867, the Congregation moved rapidly. It acquired
a lot on the corner of College and Spring Streets. On May 15, 1867, a
Congregational Meeting authorized the pastor to name a committee of three
to divide the church lot on Vine Street and sell it for burial plots. Mr.
Neil named Charles Ready, J. M. Baird, and E. D. Hancock.
Two days later, a meeting described as "a meeting of the male members"
passed a resolution to elect a committee of five with full power "... to
take charge, oversight, and . . . direction of everything pertaining to
the building . . . [and] to commence their work immediately and prosecute
it as rigorously as possible." The meeting balloted and chose D. D.
Wendel, J. M. Baird, Edwin A. Keeble, E. D. Hancock, and Dr. L. W. Knight.
The property on Vine Street was laid off and sold. The plat would
indicate that the eastern half of the original lot had already been used
for burials as the plat covered the western half.
The Building Committee secured the services of a Nashville architect,
W. A. Kiddell, who provided the design and specifications. It let the
contract for the brickwork to Arnold and January and for the woodwork to
pews to provide the minister's salary be discontinued, allowing members
to choose their pews and contribute as they were able. It also recommended
a salary of $1,500.00 and housing or a housing allowance of $300.00.
Apparently the pew rentals continued through 1876. For example ^ on
November 8, 1869, Dr. Murfree rented the pews for 1870 at public outcry.
Not all of the amounts were recorded, but those recorded ranged from $15.00
to $85.50. The deacons had asked that sixteen pews be reserved— whether
for visitors or new members was not specified. Pew number 1 was reserved
for "the Pastor's use" and numbers 38, 40, 41, and 80 were reserved for
"the colored people." The writer has been unable to discover how long
Negroes continued as members and worshippers. Miss Campbell reports that
some older Negro members continued to worship but no new ones joined.^'
The conclusion that the rentals ended in 1876 is based on the
Diaconate's decision, March 2, 1877, to place cards in the vestibules
and hotels announcing that the pew system "had been abolished and th^it
seats were not only free to all but that a cordial Christian welcome was
extended to the public generally."
The deacons had to be resourceful to manage. In 1868, they employed
a Negro Sexton, Edmond Wendell at $6.50 per month. In January 1869, they
employed Col. W. H. Blanch, a member, at $10.00 per month. In the spring
of 1871, they decided to reduce the pay in the spring and summer— presum-
ably because there were no fires, ashes, etc. When Colonel Blanch refused
to accept the reduction. Deacon Lewis Maney secured the service of another
Negro Sexton, S. Maney, who would accept $6.00 per month for April through
September and $10.00 per month for October through March. The deacons
regularly had to call on members to urge them to keep up their subscriptions
Presbyterian Church, Murfreesboro, Tenn
The second home of First Presbyterian Church.
This building stood on the northeast corner of
Spring and College Streets until it was destroyed
by a tornado on March 21 , 1913.
Rev G \A/ Patterson,
1893 - 1901
Rev. E.A. Ramsey, D.D.
1 884 - 1 893
When one pastor wrote urging the deacons to take more responsibility, they
responded that they were doing their best and suggested that Pastor and
Session put more emphasis on the spiritual responsibilities of stewardship.
There were some amusing items. The Church installed gas lighting
and sold its chandelier to another local Church. After about two years
a committee was appointed to confer with the other Church and suggest that
if it didn't want to pay the balance, it could return the chandelier and
receive its $40.00 back. Finally, it paid the $12.40 balance. There is
no explanation of whether the Diaconate rejected a proposal for lightning
rods for theological or financial reasons.
Church members and ministers might suspect that many boards have
"mule committees," but this Board of Deacons had both a "Mule Committee"
and a "Jack Committee." Evidently some one had given the Church a mule
and a jack. Since there are no earlier references, it has not been possi-
ble to determine how long it had owned the animals. When Dr. D. S. Knight
notified the deacons that he could no longer "accommodate the Jack of the
Church," committees were appointed to sell the two animals. In about six
months the committees secured $45.00 for the mule and $75.00 for the jack.
To return to a more serious vein, the Deacons' Minutes reveal other
things about the Church's activities. Although there was no explanation
as to why the street lamp was not lighted regularly, Dr. Murfree contracted
with the gas company--for 50(t per month--to light the street lamp in front
of the building on the nights when there were services. We learn that
there was a Ladies Society meeting on Wednesday afternoons as early as
November 1873, and a Young Men's Prayer Meeting on Thursday nights as
early as February 1874.
It may have seemed odd to a congregation which had one minister. Dr.
Eagleton, for thirty-seven years to have eight ministers and three stated
supplies in forty- three years. For seventeen of those years, the record
is limited to a few references in the Deacons' Minutes and the substitute
minute prepared to sunmarize the 1869-1885 volume of Session Minutes lost
in a fire.
The Reverend John W. Neil who led the congregation in reorganizing
and in building a new building resigned on June 4, 1871, to accept a call
to a Nashville church. Students can be especially grateful because Mr.
Neil is the reputed author of a sketch of the history of the Church to
The Reverend Henry Howard Banks of Asheville was called to the pas-
torate on September 17, 1871, and began his ministry in December. The
substitute minute recalled him as follows:
The Rev. H. H. Banks zealously entered upon his pastoral work
with great effectiveness and acceptability. Like David of old,
he was small of stature, and unprepossessing in appearance, but
armed with the Truths of the Gospel and inbued with the spirit
of the Master, he manfully fought against the Goliath of wick-
edness. Physically, he was feeble, yet he was earnest, diligent,
and faithful .... His sermons were replete with Biblical
Truths, elegant, learned and instructive, while his delivery
was earnest and forcible.
His health was so bad that in December 1873 the Session ". . . without
his solicitation granted him a leave of absence for six months--salary to
continue--in the hope that a rest from his labor would restore him to his
pristive vigor." The hope was in vain, and at the end of the leave, he
tendered his resignation. He died in Asheville a few years later.
The Reverend Dr. John Holt Rice served as Stated Supply Pastor from
December 1873 to October 4, 1874. The substitute minute expressed special
gratitude for the preaching of the Reverend Dr. J. B. West, Principal of
Soule College who "... preached to the congregation every Sabbath morn-
ing except when a visiting minister of our own denomination was with us."
In the spring of 1875, the congregation called the Reverend Henry
Sale Yerger from Palestine, Texas, and he began his ministry in June.
When the deacons wished to eliminate special offerings for benevolences
and apply all the funds to paying the debt, Mr. Yerger dissented and
requested the Diaconate to meet with the Session. Since those minutes
are not available we do not know how the issue was settled. When Mr.
Yerger tendered his resignation in the early fall of 1878, however, the
congregation declined to accept it. When Presbytery requested the con-
gregation to reconsider. It declared the pulpit vacant in October 1878.
On January 1, 1879, the Reverend Dr. John S. Arbuthnott, an English-
man who had been serving the Gallatin Church, was installed as Pastor.
The substitute minute recalled him as a very effective minister and active
In a revival beginning soon after his arrival and noted "... our church
received many additions." Dr. Arbuthnott tendered his resignation and the
pulpit was declared vacant August 9, 1883.
In January 1884, the Congregation issued a call to the Rev. G. S.
Finley of Romney, West Virginia, but he declined the call. Then it called
the Reverend John Martin Otts. The substitute minute summed up his service;
"... not seeing his way clear to accept the call, he compromised by
becoming a stated supply . . . [and] endeared himself to the whole con-
Mr. Otts served from May to September, when the Reverend Emmett
Alexander Ramsey began a six months term as stated supply on September 20,
1884. The Congregation was so pleased with him that it issued a call on
the second Sabbath of January 1885.
The Reverend Mr, Ramsey must have had boundless energy. He served
as superintendent of the Sunday School and it flourished, though he did
note a "scarcity of teachers" in 1886. He also preached at the Henderson
School House and at McClure's School House. Apparently, members were
included in the roll of First Presbyterian Church until there were enough
at "McClure's Chapel" to organize the Florence Presbyterian Church. On
October 15, 1893, eight members were dismissed to the new congregation.
After considering the idea for about four years, the Session decided
on a plan for elders to undertake responsibility for members and on Sep-
tember 9, 1891, Mr. Ramsey assigned the responsibilities for families
s. of Main and w. of Maney to Elders J. H. Allen and Charles Ordway
s. of Main and e. of Maney to Elders J. B. Murfree and W. Y. Elliott
n. of Main and w. of Maney to Elders Alex Hartman and Wm. Park
n. of Main and e. of Maney to Elders D. D. Wendel and S. H. Hodge
Earlier in 1891, Elders Murfree and Elliott had been appointed to
"consider the propriety of establishing a mission Sabbath School in the
western part of town in the suburb known as Riverside." On August 12, 1891,
the Session decided that the way did not seem clear.
Dr. Ramsey ministered to the whole community. One day he watched
the volunteer firemen at a fire and became so concerned that he took charge
and directed their efforts. The city fathers were impressed and asked him
to take charge officially. He conditioned his acceptance upon improvement
of the waterworks. The improvements were made, and he served as fire
chief until he accepted a call to the First Presbyterian Church of Memphis
in March 1893. He also served as chaplain of the First Regiment of the
Two viexA^s of the First Presbyterian Church following the tornado of
1913. The view of the interior is furnished courtesy of Mary Belle
Robinson, \A/hose father, J.W. Robinson made the photograph.
State Guard and accompanied the guardsmen when they were sent to Coal Creek
in the Cumberland Mountains because of a miners' strike.
No doubt, a bachelor minister— thirty-five when he came to Murfrees-
boro--aroused a good deal of interest in the community. He married Miss
Lena Wilhoite of Shelbyville just after accepting the call to Memphis,
but he died in less than five years. After his death, the Nashville
American recalled that, when he preached his final sermon in Murfreesboro,
the churchyard and street were filled with the overflow from the sanctu-
ary . ^ 3
Dr. George W. Patterson served the church from November 1893 to
April 1901. He was only twenty-seven when he and his wife came to
Murfreesboro and he appears to have been especially gifted in his work
with young people and in evangelism.'^
Some indication of interests and attitudes in the nineties may be
gleaned from minutes of the Session. In September 1891, the minister
named Elder William Park to the Committee on Publication and Colored
Evangelization. A presentation of the cause of Colored Evangelization
was authorized for the first Sabbath of April 1892. In May 1898, Elders
J. B. Murfree and W. E. Hudson were named "to look after" the Negro Sabbath
School begun by some of the ladies in the church, and in July, Dr. Murfree
reported that there were twenty-nine scholars and a need for Bibles and
The Session cancelled the evening worship service on the first
Sabbath in March 1893 in order to make the sanctuary available to local
Jewish citizens for services to be led by Rabbi Levinthall of Nashville.
Early in 1894, the Session declined to decide to participate in union
evangelistic services without full attendance, but it later decided to
participate and the services were held in the summer of 1894 with the
Reverend Gilbert Fife as evangelist.
In March 1899, a long effort to collect compensation for the build-
ing destroyed in the War was successful J^ On October 9, 1865 Dr. Eagleton
and the elders petitioned Major General George M. Thomas for $10,000 and
submitted affidavits estimating the cost of replacement at that figure,
stating that the building had been used as a hospital, commissary, and
barracks and had been destroyed while the Union Army controlled it. The
petition was referred to Captain E. B. Whitman, Chief Quartermaster, Dis-
trict of Middle Tennessee, and he made his report on December 28, 1865.
Captain Whitman admitted difficulty in getting information on the
points necessary for compensation. He concluded that while the building
was being used by the Amiy, woodwork had been removed by soldiers and
citizens, that the brick walls had later collapsed of their own weight or
been blown down; and that bricks had been taken by "soldiers to build
chimneys, and that citizens and officers of the Society removed others."
He added that the commander of the Post, Brigadier General Horatio Van
Cleve, "constantly used every effort in his power to protect and preserve
it from ruin." He judged the building as worth no more than $5,000, as
it stood, but estimated that it would cost $10,000 to build a modern
building of the same size.
On the critical question of the loyalty of the congregation, he was
much more positive. He insisted that the minister had preached treason
and rebellion and constantly prayed for God to foster the infant republic
and paralyze "the arm of the Federal government. ..." He believed that
most of those who signed the affidavits were "avowed rebels, or secret
sympathizers." He added that he could not judge the current attitudes but
had been informed that the few members who had been loyal to the Union had
left the congregation. He concluded that he did not believe the Church
qualified for compensation. His recommendation was approved by the Quar-
termaster General in Washington.
In February 1872, the Session and Diaconate addressed a petition to
Congress asking for compensation. The petition denied that the building
was burned or ruthlessly destroyed, insisting that it was used to care for
sick and wounded Federal soldiers, and that later the materials were used
for the comfort and benefit of the Army. It also insisted that "neither
Minister, Elders, Deacons nor any leading communicants . . . held office
or bore arms in the service of the Confederate Government."
Accompanying this petition was a set of specifications (six foolscap
pages in longhand) for a building "... in all respects the same as the
one occupied by the Presbyterian Congregation up to the late War." Bills
for compensation were introduced to Congress in 1872, 1876, and 1886. The
Claims Committee referred the matter to the Court of Claims. Lengthy
depositions were taken in Murfreesboro on August 27-28, 1890 and September
On March 23, 1898 the Court of Claims reported to the Committee on
War Claims. The report indicated that there was no evidence of disloyalty
by the Church. It judged that the building was probably worth $6,500 at
the time it was seized. It pointed out that the law provided for compen-
sation only for the value of the materials and the evidence did not dis-
close the value of the materials. The opinion pointed out that it was not
deciding the case but submitting the facts for Congress.
A claims bill, including $6,500 "to the elders of the Presbyterian
Church at Murfreesboro," was signed on March 3, 1899.^^
On March 22, 1899, Attorney John Richardson met with the Session to
discuss "the claim recently allowed by Congress" and went over the contract
the Session and Diaconate had entered into with him in 1889. On July 21
the Session met, gave each elder an opportunity to suggest how the money
should be spent, and named a committee to report to a joint meeting of the
Session and Diaconate. On July 26, the deacons joined the Session. It
was announced that the net proceeds were $4,550. The Pastor read Psalm
103 and elders and deacons joined in prayer of thanksgiving and praise.
After considerable discussion on how to use the money, including
interest in providing a manse, it was decided to refurbish the building.
Windows were repaired and memorial windows were installed: one to Dr.
Ramsey and one to William Y. Elliott and Joseph Ewing. The portico was
enlarged, the interior redecorated and new pews and carpeting installed J7
The Reverend John G. Garth served the church from December 1901 to
October 1905. Perhaps the strongest evidence of congregational concern
was the purchase in June 1903 of six $50 shares in the Luebo Mission in
the Belgian Congo. When Mr. Garth left, the Reverend Dr. James W. Gray-
bill, a former medical missionary supplied the pulpit from February to
Dr. Graybill had declined a permanent call, and the Session, on
August 29, had called a congregational meeting to choose a pastor. Four
days later, it rescinded the call because it had received a letter from
Elder John T. Woodfin, Clerk of Session of the Murfreesboro Cumberland
Presbyterian Church, proposing a union of the two congregations.
The fellowship between the two congregations was of long standing.
The Cumberland Church had made its building available on numerous occas-
ions. Ministers of the two congregations had supplied either as the need
arose. The proposal, however, arose from the plan approved for uniting
the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.--
generally known as the northern Presbyterian Church. Apparently, a sub-
stantial number of members preferred union with First Presbyterian, which
was part of the southern Presbyterian Church.
A joint committee from the two sessions worked out a plan which
involved First Presbyterian's calling the Cumberland minister, the Reverend
Reuben G. Newsome; electing all Cumberland officers to the same positions;
and continuing organizations of each congregation unless the organizations
decided to merge. The writer has not been able to locate the congregational
meeting minutes, but the union began on October 3, 1906. Miss Campbell
reports that the Reverend Mr. Newsome led the congregation from the
Cumberland building on the corner of Main and Spring. They came singing
"Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" and as they entered the sanctuary, the
two became one in song. On Wednesday night, October 13, Mr. Newsome was
Not only did the First Presbyterian Church receive Elders, A. J.
Patterson, J. T. Woodfin, A. C. Johnson, R. T. Bell, P. A. Lyon, E. J.
Raid and Deacons J. K. Poff, J. S. Nugent, Ross Nelson, and Charles
Cawthon, it received their families and a host of others who became
pillars of the congregation.
For several years there had been discussion of the need for a
"lecture room" and classrooms for the Sabbath School. Shortly after the
merger, an annex was added to the north side of the building. It included
a semi -circular basement room under the whole annex. The main floor was
a semi -circular assembly room with classrooms around the circumference.
There was a gallery around the assembly room with classrooms around its
The Reverend Mr. Newsome resigned in March 1909 to accept a call to
the Tatnall Square Presbyterian Church, Macon, Georgia. In October 1909,
Reverend Dr. J. Addison Smith arrived from Richmond, Kentucky and began a
ministry that was cut short by his death in 1920, but he began a legend
that lives on even in the minds of those who never saw him but know him
because of their parents' affection and stories. ^^
Dr. Smith was erudite and eloquent but also entertaining. Apparently,
his prayers were especially memorable. For some years he wrote a column
"Musings Under the Maples" for the Christian Observer . We shall leave the
treatment of Dr. Smith's ministry for another time because this article
was planned to cover about a century and end with a bang: a tornado, better
known as the "Cyclone of 1913."
On the night of March 21, 1913, a tornado came bounding in from the
southwest, hitting the fairgrounds. South Walnut, the northwest corner of
the Square, First Presbyterian Church and points northwest. While parts
of the walls and a couple of the stained glass windows remained standing,
the roof had fallen through; the pews, rafters, bell, etc. lay in a pile
of rubble. The recently completed Sunday School annex suffered little
damage and could soon be used for services. The organ was not destroyed
and tradition has it that the organist played a hymn of praise amidst the
rubble. ^5 The congregation, however, could join Dr. Smith in gratitude
that there were no fatalities.
How the members picked up the pieces and began anew, for the second
time, Is another story.
^Minutes of Session, Murfree Spring Presbyterian Church--later First
Presbyterian Church, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. These minutes are the source
for the bulk of the paper; citations will be limited to other sources.
Ralph M. Llewellyn, "Others Have Labored," an address at the sesquicentennial
of First Presbyterian Church, April 29, 1962. (Mimeographed.) This address
concentrates on the first two decades, the charter members and their descend-
ants who were members in 1962. Two additional member descendants have been
identified since then; Cecil Nelson Smotherman and Jane Smotherman LaPaglia,
descended from Elizabeth Kelton.
^Annie E. Campbell, "A History of the First Presbyterian Church,
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 1811-1935," p. 2. (Typewritten.) Miss Campbell,
a life-long member of the congregation was a great granddaughter of the
minister from 1829-1866. Hence, she had access to the traditions of the
congregation as well as being a participant in part of what she described.
She will be cited as Campbell, though the writer is reluctant to refer to
"Miss Annie" in that way.
^Charles Grier Sellers, James K. Polk : Jacksonian , 1795-1843 (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 19?7T7pp. TrT3, 59-61, 69-72, 76-79, 92-94.
^William Lytle to W. D. Baird, April 1, 1820, Book M, pp. 445-448,
Rutherford County Register's Office, Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
^Campbell, pp. 3-4; Congressional Jurisdiction Case 6575, Presbyterian
Church vs. U.S., Record Group Number 123, National Archives, Washington,
D.C.; ATTce N. Ray, "The State Capitol, 1819-1826," Rutherford County
Historical Society Publication 11 (Sumner 1978): 1-6. The Archives collec-
tion (hereinafter cited as C. J. Case 6575) contains hypothetical specifi-
cations prepared in 1872 and sworn depositions about the building, taken
in 1890 and 1891.
^[Murfreesboro] Courier , April 15, 1824.
^Ernest Trice Thompson, Presbyterians of the South : Volume One : 1607-
1861 (Richmond: John Knox Press), pp. 548-5457
Sjohnathan Currin, Trustee to William Eagleton, April 11, 1842, Book
Z, pp. 235-236, Rutherford County Register's Office, Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
^Alden B. Pearson, Jr., "The Tragic Dilemma of a Border-State
Moderate: The Rev. George E. Eagleton 's Views on Slavery and Secession,"
Tennessee Historical Quarterly XXXII (Winter 1973) :360-373.
l^The passage characterizing Mr. Neil is from a "Substitute Minute,"
prepared by Elders Alex Hartman, J. B. Murfree, and James Wendel to cover
the gap created when the Session Minute Book for 1869-1885 was lost in a
fire. It was entered in the minutes on October 15, 1888. Providentially
or by a remarkable coincidence, the only surviving Deacons' Minute Book
before 1918 covers the years 1867-1888. Most of what follows to 1888 is
based on these two sources.
1'' Campbell, p. 13.
^^This four page single-spaced sketch was copied by Miss Annie Campbell
from a newspaper article preserved in her mother's scrap-book.
13campbell, pp. 17-19; Nashville American , January 14, 1898.
l^Campbell, pp. 19-21.
ISjhere are very few references in the minutes, but C. J. Case 6575
provides documentation of the thirty-four year effort, summarized in these
"•^U.S. Statutes at Large . Vol. 30, Chap. 426 (1899).
17campbell, p. 20.
18"Two Mighty Oaks" is a reminiscence of Dr. Smith and of Dr. J. B.
Murfree, an elder in the church. It is Chapter 10 of Elisabeth 0. Howse
[Ridley], Falling Stars (Murfreesboro: Mrs. G. S. Ridley, 1960), pp. 126-
134. The writer would welcome stories about Dr. Smith to add to the store
he is trying to record.
l^The writer has not been able to determine whether the stained glass
windows were saved and used in the new building. Any clues from readers
would be appreciated.
"KIRKS and MCWTGOMERYS"
The Home Journal
September 22, 1903
Furnished by: Jane Snell Woods
The following was written by Alexander Montgomery Kirk, of
Oxford, Florida, who intended to deliver it as a speech at
a reunion of the Kirk Family held in the past July 1903.
But on account of unfortunate circumstances the reunion was
not held. Mr. Kirk is a native of Rutherford County, and is
now 81 years of age. His article is full of interesting
events and will be read with interest,
* * * *
Fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen:
This is one of the greatest pleasures of my life, to be
at my old homestead, where I was born over 4 score years ago,
where I spent my youthful days, and where I now have an oppor-
tunity of mingling with my fellow Tennesseans, I am glad to
be in the land of my Nativity. I am glad to be near the roof
under which I saw the light. I am also glad to be near the
trees I was nursed and reared under. But there is a sadness
hovering over me that I cannot very well get rid of. I find
that the people I left here 57 years ago - 1846 - are not here
today; that they have passed away, and await the morning of
the resurrection. And others have risen up in their stead.
Such, my friends, is life, and such is the way of the human
The object of this meeting is for the purpose of a reunion
of the Hugh Kirk Family.
The family was a large one, eleven children born to my
parents, three of whom died in infancy, eight lived to be grown.
Seven married and had families, and one-my youngest brother -
never married, was killed at the Battle of Franklin during the
Civil War. There are only two of that large family left, Mrs.
Snell (Melissa Kirk) , my youngest sister, and myself.
Mrs. Snell was the wife of James Curtis Snell, who was a
member of the Mitchell Company. He was 2nd Lieutenant of the
Company and died at Winchester during the Civil War.
Now, my friends, I am standing where I stood in 1845, 57
years ago and bade my parents, brothers and sisters farewell,
and left for the state of Mississippi. And now after the lapse
of this time I am back on the same portico. M^^ parents have
passed away, and my brothers and sisters all except the youngest
sister-Mrs. Snell-and the dewlling has passed away into other
hands. Those of Mr. Frank Overall, who has opened his doors
and grounds and unites with us in this reunion, for which we
tender him our many thanks. I find that the slaves who cultivated
the fields are all gone. I find that the citizens that lived on
Lytle Creek and Fox Camp Branch a distance of 10 miles and about
30 families in number have likewise all passed away, no one left
except my nephew Hugh Kirk, who lives on Lytle Creek. He is still
here and stands like a wall and all alone, no wife to control him,
no children to squall, and no one to morn his loss when he is gone.
So you see from the above time has wrought many changes in 57
years. My f riendsj I have been out on a long journey for 4 score
years - running from 1823-1903. Forty years of my journey have
been peacefully and pleasantly spent. My path has been smooth
and thornless with but few obstacles to impede it.
Prosperity attended me on every hand. But the next 40
years were rough and rugged, full of disasters, full of
calamities, full of affliction, my path was full of thorns,
with many obstacles difficult to overcome, besides many storms
to weather. I have been tossed to and fro many ways and many
directions. The hand of affliction fell upon me and I lay upon
my bed 9 long weeks, with a mortified foot, as helpless as a
While the Battle of Stones River was being fought I was
carried out of my room by 2 men, placed in a vehicle in bed,
hauled 14 miles away, to where my family preceded me, which was
on Tuesday of the "big" fight. On Sunday news came that "Bragg
was retreating." I had my teams hitched up, consisting of 3
horses, 2 vehicles and 3 servants with 2 small children, one of
them an infant, my wife and myself.
My wife took charge, we steered our course in the direction
of our home in Mississippi, passing through Bragg' s retreating
army - arrived at home on the 11th February 1863. We had a rough
trip, it being in the dead of winter, sometimes raining, snowing,
sleeting or hailing with roads in a wretched condition, bridges
washed away and many other difficult obstacles to overcome. With
an infant child and a helpless husband, yet my wife was equal to
With heroic and courageous effort she took us safely home,
walking the 2 last days of our journey to relieve the worn out
animals. (She was a wife among wives and surpassed by none, ever
ready at any time to do whatever she could for her helpless and
afflicted husband both by night and by day. I found her near
Murfreesboro in 1855; where they know how to raise good wives.
and lost her in my home in Mississippi in 1870 ~ leaving an
infant child just 6 months old behind her.)
I remained at home until the "Fall of Vicksburg." I
then gathered up my personal effects. With my wife still in
charge we crossed the Mississippi River and went over into Texas.
We reached the Brazos River in 1863 and struck camp. While on
my journey from Stones River in Tennessee to the Brazos River
in Texas I consulted every doctor who crossed my path. Invari-
ably their answer was - "It ought to come off in order to save
While riding out on the Brazos River prospecting I met
an old gentleman riding a mule, and seeing me riding in bed
wished to know what my trouble was. I told him I had an infected
foot for which I had been in bed for 12 months. He said he would
like to see it. I asked if he were a doctor. He replied, "I
claim to be." I showed it to him and after examining it, I told
him I had had a number of doctors to examine it and they told me
it would have to come off to save my life and I would like to
hear what he had to say. He replied "I see no use of its coming
off, but can put you to walking in a few days", which was the best
news I had heard in all my journey; of course I did not believe a
word of it, but concluded as we were in camp here I would let him
try, so he began the treatment.
Now, my friends, I will tell you in all candor this man
who rode the mule had me walking on both feet in less than 6 weeks,
with a walking cane, attending to all my business generally. I
had been greatly reduced in flesh, but under this treatment I re-
gained it until I weighed 208 pounds. He relieved me of my
suffering, which was intense, so that my sleep was sound and my
slumber sweet, both by day and night. I had suffered untold
misery and was reported twice as dead - but am still living. I
had a pair of crutches while on my journey but having no further
use for them left them on the plains of Texas. I have had 2
financial wrecks and once was covered with boils, 70 in number,
almost as many, I suppose, as Job had. I had a 9 year seige of
sickness, with half dozen doctors to attend me (at different
times) but my troubles baffled them all, and was told they could
do me no good. So I was left at sea with no hope of recovery-
a physical wreck. The only alternative seeming to be - I should
take charge, and be my own doctor, so I did. And by divine help
I discovered a remedy. And I don't think it was more than a month
until my troubles were removed. My troubles were numerous, being
5 in number - bronchial, indigestion, rheumatism, kidney and
bowel trouble. I have had charge of my case nearly 7 years and
if I did not know I was over 4 score years I would feel quite
youthful yet. So you see, my friends, I have had a pretty rough
journey, and the wonder is that I am still living, but a greater
wonder is that I have anything to live on. But I have weathered
through 4 score years and I think I will be able to make the
balance of the trip.
I want to give you a short sketch of my war record.
I was in the army 12 months. Was in 2 days fight at the
Battle of Shiloh, was in the Court Martial at Vicksburg at the
time tide Battle of Baton Rouge was fought. I lay on my back 9
weeks near Murf reesboro , but while the Battle of Stones River
was being fought, I was carried out, placed in bed, hauled 14
miles, as stated above. I now want to say to my old comrades,
the most reluctant thing I ever did in my life was to send up my
application for a discharge. "Iliey had complimented me as a
Standard Bearer at Corinth, Mississippi, and I didn't want to
leave them, but my health would not permit. As was proven after-
Now I will tell you something of my ancestors. My grand-
father Jetton was born in N. C. in 17 57, and I heard my mother
say he was of Irish descent. He married a Miss White, but I know
nothing of her nativity. There were 4 children born to them,
when he concluded to move to Middle Tennessee in about 1800 and
did so and bought lands on each side of the Manchester Pike (now
runs) 2 1/2 miles from Murf reesboro. He built a house on the right
hand side of the Pike, on a hill about 200 yards off the Pike.
There Robert Jetton, Jr., had a very handsome residence.
During the Civil War the Yankees came one night firing off their
pistols and frightening off the family, who escaped in their night
clothing. The Yankees pillaged the house and then burned it.
My grandfather Jetton opened an extensive farm, which he
cultivated for 30 years. On one occasion (?) my mother wanted
to visit her parents. She took me-a boy of 6 years with her for
company. When we arrived at my grandfather's, we found him sitting
in the yard under a shade tree in a large arm chair, with a
Revolutionary soldier's uniform on, short pants, long stockings,
and knee buckles - the first and last I ever saw.
My mother spoke to him and passed a few words, and then
she went on in the house to see her mother. I remained with him.
In order to amuse me, with his pocket knife he whittled me a
small wagon, making the wheels out of turnips and gave
it to me, which I hauled about over the yard - very proud of it.
Not long after that my grandmother died and was buried
in the old graveyard in Murfreesboro about the year 1830. That
left my grandfather all alone, his children all having married
and left him. There was a lady named Winsett that waited on my
grandmother during her illness. After a reasonable time my
grandfather addressed her and she agreed to share life with him.
They married very much against the wishes of the children, on
account of an ungovernable temper. Not long after this, his son
Isaac concluded to move to West Tennessee, and he concluded to
move with him at the age of 7 3 years, after having tilled 30
years on his fertile plantation. This move was supposed to have
been because of the opposition of his children to his marriage.
He bought a farm adjoining his son Isaac. After farming several
years, he became dissatisfied and moved back, leaving his second
wife behind him, which showed that all was not lovely between
them - caused by display of that ungovernable temper, which caused
the opposition to his union with her. He came back to his son
Robert's, and after he became rested he spent a week with each of
his children, of whom there were 2 sons and 5 daughters. He
commenced his rounds and when he got to my father's he asked if
anyone in the neighborhood could write his will. My father told
him a man by the name of Phillips, who sometimes did such work
and he sent for him. Mr. Phillips wrote his will and the sum of
$5 was left his second wife. The will was never contested.
He finished up his work and got back to his son Robert's
when he died. It looked very much like he had a presentiment
that his career was coming to a close. He was buried in the old
Murfreesboro graveyard in the 81st year of his age. He was a
Revolutionary soldier 7 years, further than that I know nothing
of his war record.
My grandfather Kirk was born in Scotland about 17 51. He
emigrated from that country to South Carolina about 1772 or 73.
He married a Miss Montgomery. But I know nothing of her birth-
place or ancestry. He farmed in South Carolina up to 1802 when
he concluded to move to Middle Tennessee, and did so buying lands
near my grandfather Jetton's, and farmed there from 1802-1821,
and died there and was buried in the Montgomery graveyard. When
I was up there in 1902 I asked my nephew to go with me in search
of his grave. When we got there we found it had been lost sight
of for a number of years, all grown up in trees, saplings and
bushes. We went in and found 5 vaults in a row. On one of them
I found Joseph Montgomery's name and date of his birth and death.
The next-his wife, the next his father James Montgomery. Joseph
was full cousin of my father's and James was a brother of my
(Continued in next issue of The Home Journal-September 25,1903)
About 10 steps away there was a headstone and a footstone
and on it was written John J. Kirk died 1821 and in the 70th
year of his age. So we accortplished what we went for and returned.
He was under Sumter during Revolutionary War. When
Teleton captured a large part of Sumter's Company, grandfather
was down on the Saluda River washing his clothes with several
others. They swam the river and made their escape. Further than
that I know nothing of his record.
Joseph Montgomery was born helpless in his limbs and when
old enough to go to school his father had a boy take him to and
back from school night and morning. Joseph was a bright boy and
learned very rapidly, by the time he was grown he had as good
an education as was given in those days and was said in after
years to have been one of the best informed and most intelligent
men in Rutherford County. His father made his will and left his
property to Joseph on account of his condition. Joseph took charge
of the property at his father's death. The same boy hauled him
over the plantation and he supervised and directed everything
and was said to have been a neat and successful farmer. Joseph
concluded he needed a companion, and I suppose he did much more
than the companion needed him. He found a Miss Rankin who
accepted him. They married and it is said they lived happily
together. Joseph was a churchgoer before and after his marriage.
The boy would drive him up to the window so he could see and hear
the preacher. She would get out and go into the church herself.
They would be driven back home by the boy.
In 2 years Joseph died and she fell heir to the property.
and with the assistance of the relatives she managed it very
successfully. In 2 years more she died, and the property all
went to her relatives. The 2 sisters did a great deal of talking,
but Mrs. Montgomery kept the property all the same. It was an
oversight in Joseph's father not making some provision for his 2
daughters. But who would have thought of Joseph's marrying?
But stranger things have happened. I always thought that Joseph
should have done something for the slave Stephen who waited on
him from childhood until 30 years of age. But if he ever gave him
anything I never heard of it.
My grandfather Kirk had a peculiar case in his family,
a son-in-law by the name of Keylov; became strangely affected.
He was like a mad man. It took 6 men to hold him in bed, and
the news spread far and near. He had a presentiment that he
wanted to go to the back of the field to get something he
wanted. So the nurses went with him and pulled out of a
hollow tree a ball. The ball was found to be composed of hair-
pins, needles and other articles. They returned to the house
and the crowd examined the ball. They threw it in the fire
and strange to say, Mr. Keylow began to improve, got well and
hearty. Then Granmother Kirk her daughter and snn- in-law moved
to West Tennessee. He went with them. In about --- my grand-
father and myself visited them in West Tennessee. We rode up
to his house just after dark.
We cried, "Hellol" He came out and my father asked, "Is
that Capt. Keylow?" He answered, "It is Major. How do you do?"
He knew him by his voice. Mr. Keylow was well and quite jovial,
and also next morning when we left. And we never heard of him
My father was born in S. C. 1785 of Scoth-Irish ancestry.
He went with his father in 1802 to Middle Tennessee in the 17th
year of his age and then started out for himself. He bought
up a large drove of horses on credit, and had to drive them
through a wilderness to New Orleans, spending one night with the
Indians. He made several trips and when the Battle of New Orleans
occurred fought by Gen. Jackson January 8, 1815 near New Orleans.
I have heard him say he had been in that city when yellow fever
was raging and hearses were running all day and night hauling the
dead bodies out of the city. He kept a bottle of whiskey with
assofallida (?) (asafetida ?), and always believed it prevented
his taking the disease. He returned home and bought a farm
from a man named Phillips, settled down to farming and married
and moved to the Phillips house 250 yards from his own house.
In 1817-18 the Creek War broke out and he raised a conpany
and enlisted under Jackson, in his campaign. After the war
he resumed farming.
In 1812 he built this dwelling on whose portico we now
stand, my friends, as well as I can calculate.
I was the first person born in this house February 22,
1823. My father continued farming and also ran a road wagon
from Nashville to different towns, hauling goods at a profit in
those days. In 1851 he died in the 66th year of his age, and
was buried in the graveyard in Murf reesboro.
I have always thought my mother unsurpassed among women.
She was a pious member of the Presbyterian Church, as was my father.
She was a very domestic woman, of untiring energy and devotion to
her family. I remember she had a shop, made lamp and often the
needle by its light till 10 o'clock at night. She had a real
factory consisting of a small flax wheel, 2 spinning wheels and
cards, a pair of winding blades, a spool frame and a pair of
winding blades and a pair or warping bows (?) and a loom. The
thread was converted into cloth for about 30 people on the place.
She would often barter bolts of cloth in Murfreesboro for such
things as she could not make at home. She was a kind and loving
mother, always giving good Christian advice. She died in 1859 in
the 62nd year of her age and was buried by my father's side.
Winding to the close of my remarks I wish to say that my
ancestors, my grandfather and my grandmother and their descendants
never had any one in jail or the penitentiary for any crime as
far as we have any account of them.
Before closing, however, I wish to mention the short and
prosperous career of Col. Robert Jetton, who was a son of my
grandfather Jetton. He was quite an important character in and
around Murf reesboro, and would be called in these times and days
"a hustler". When grandfather Jetton concluded to move to West
Tennessee Col. Robert purchased his father's landed property, and
this in connection with his own made a magnificent plantation.
It was but a few years before he had this plantation stocked
with laborers and made abundant crops. He also owned landed
property in West Tennessee. He was Colonel in Gen. Jackson's
army during the Seminole and Creek Wars. He represented Ruther-
ford County one term in the legislature. He contracted and had
the brick made and built the first Courthouse that was ever built
in Murf reesboro. He contracted for the delivery of mails all over
middle portion of Tennessee and owned the stage line. He also
contracted and built a large portion of the Nashville and Murfrees-
boro turnpike. He was engaged for a number of years in the mercan-
tile business, also owned a tan yard and a blacksmith shop and 2
furnaces and did work for the surrounding county. He also owned
a gin and did all the ginning for the surrounding neighborhood.
He also kept a horse mill so when the water was too low he could
grind with it and attend it himself, although a wealthy man. I
remember being there on one occasion when a boy his hopper was
about 10 feet above the ground with elevated steps. He took
a bushel bag and carried it up the steps, and emptied it in
the hopper and when ground brought it down, put it on the horse
for me and started me home.
The largest reception I was ever at in my life was at
his house. His son, Robert married a niece of ex-President
and Mrs. Polk. Polk was governor of Tennessee at that time, and
he and Mrs. Polk were there on that occasion. And I think all
the carriages in and around Murfreesboro were there that night.
The first piano I ever heard in my life was there that
night, and I was greatly impressed with the music. None but the
most wealthy could afford pianos at that time. He died at 55
years in the very prime of his life, and was buried in Murfrees-
boro in the old grave yard.
My friends, we are all here for a short time and like the
bird will soon pass away and be forgotten. The preacher of
olden times said, "All is vanity and vexation of spirit and no
profit under the sun of all our labors." We struggle and we toil
to lay up treasures on this earth. We build our fine mansions
and furnish them most elegantly. We have every want supplied,
we lean back and promise ourselves long lives and happiness but
the dread disease of sickness comes upon us. And we are then
prostrate upon our beds. Medical aid is summoned but they fail
to give relief. And we linger along a few days and pass away.
A coffin or casket is provided for us, and we are carried out of
the mansion feet foremost, to some lonely spot, and a hole is dug
in the earth, and we are placed therein. The dirt is heaved
upon us. And others rise up in our stead and we sink to oblivion.
and perhaps strangers occupy the fine mansions we build.
Hugh and Alexander (Montgomery) are Montgomery family names.
There was the name Hugh however in some of the earlier Kirk
Mary is an old Kirk name as is Eleanor. The family did keep
the Scottish Custom of keeping family names for hundreds of
The KIRK cemetery was found in 1978 between Elam Road
and U. S. 41. The cemetery is 1/2 mile east and be-
hind the Seventh Day Advent ist church on Elam Road.
It is about 100 feet out in a pasture from a line fence.
John Kirk' s grave was found along with Alexander
Nisbett and his wife. The base stones and pieces of
other markers indicate other graves there.
RE: KIRK 47
Hugh Montgomery, Sr.
Son: Hugh Montgomery, Jr.
Dau: Mary Eleanor Montgomery
Wed- John Kirk Sr. 17 51 - 1821, Scotland & Tennessee
I. Hugh Kirk - born 17 85 South Carolina
died 1850 in Tennessee
Wed: Jane Jetton born 17 86 South Carolina
died 1859 in Tennessee
A. Mary Kirk
Wed: Mr. Alfred Lowe - Mid Tennessee
1 . Mary Lowe
Wed: P. A. Lyon
a. Alfred Lyon
b. Adeline Lyon
Wed: A. J. Brandon, Jr.
2. Melissa Lowe
Wed: A. J. Brandon, Sr.
a. A. J. Brandon, Jr.
3. Mattie Lowe
Wed: Mr. Pinkard , 1st
Wed: Dr. J. P. Lyon , 2nd
Wed: Jim Nisbitt
a. Alene Ross Nisbitt *
b. Sara Lyon Nisbitt *
c. Helen Nisbitt *
B. Elizabeth Kirk
Wed: Mr. Tenpleton
a, Ellen Templeton
Wed: Mr. Walton
C. John J. Kirk 1820 - 1861
Wed: Nancy Parker
a. Mary Jane Kirk **
Wed: William Ossie Snell
b. Fannie Kirk
Wed: T. B, Osborn ***
c. Hugh Kirk never married
D. Alexander Montgomery Kirk
Wed: Sarah Brothers
a. Lizzy Kirk
b. William Kirk
c. Sally Kirk
d. Roberta White Kirk
e. Montgomery Kirk
All born in Washington County, Miss.
and moved to Florida
E. Franklin Kirk
* Mrs. Ramsey Snell can supply information
** Refer to Jane Stone's "SNELL " book for our long line-
Ramsey Emmett Snell, 92 and Mary Kirk Snell Ransom, 88,
are still living 1979
*** Mrs. John Osborn, Murfreesboro can supply this line.
Killed at Franklin, Tennessee
Never Married \
Wed: James C. Snell (Curtis)
(Half brother to William Ossie
Snell — above)
a. Etna Snell
Wed: Jim Johnson
b. Florence Snell
Wed: Mr. Napier
c. James C. Snell, Jr
Wed: Dora Butler **
A HISTORY of the RUSSELL HOMEPLACE
By- Mr. Tom L. Russell
A cedar log house and its surrounding land was the home
and livelihood of several generations of Russells that descended
from Pinkney H. Russell (1816-1891) who migrated from North
Carolina prior to 1845 to Wilson County, Tennessee. The house
and land was located just South of Spring Creek and in the fifth
district of Rutherford County, Tennessee. It was the homeplace
of the writer, a location of many fond memories. Below is a
brief history of the place so near to the great-great-grandson
of Pinkney H. Russell, Thomas L. Russell.
In the year 1789, the state of North Carolina granted to
Stephen Brooks of Pitt County, N. C. several hundred acres of
land in Tennessee. Some of this land lay in what was to later
be Rutherford and Sumner Counties, Tennessee. Land that was
to later be the site of the Russell Homeplace was part of the
grants to Brooks.
Some time thereafter Brooks sold the land to a Richard
Evans of Pitt County. Evans in turn sold the land to Alexander
Evans in 1817-2,560 acres (640 acres in Sumner County and the
rest in Rutherford) for the price of $5,000.00 or about $2.00
Later Alexander Evans sold the land to several men by the
names of John Barber, Joseph, Levi, William and Nathan Lannom
whose descendants still live in Rutherford and Wilson Counties.
In November of 1834 Laban Benthall, a hatter and perhaps
skilled in other trades, purchased part of the above land from
John Barber and Green B. Lannom, and heir of Joseph Lannom.
The land Benthall obtained included the site of the Russell
homeplace. Benthall 's boundary began where Fall Creek emptied
into Spring Creek, went south 1749 feet, then east 4092 feet,
then north 2359 feet and finally west 2275 feet to Spring Creek
and down the creek to the beginning of the boundary line. No
dwellings or stipulations was mentioned in the deed as was to
In October of 1836 Benthall sold the same land to Thomas
Rose with an exception of the way that the upper or northern
boundary ran. In the 1835 deed Benthall mentions (1) a dwelling,
(2) the reservation of one acre of land for the purpose of
building a meeting house for public worship and a school for
teaching children, and (3) a hatter's shop which was located
above Spring Creek Bridge. Benthall went to Dyer County in
West Tennessee apparently with Elisha Sanders of the first
district of Rutherford County, for the 1850 Census Benthall is
listed \inder the household of Elisha Sanders and a widower.
In March of 1872 William Rose, son of Thomas Rose who
died and was buried on what was to be the Russell homeplace,
sold the land to Patton A. McPeak who lived on Fall Creek, south
of the purchased land. This sale involved only 81 acres. Rose
either keeping some of the land or having already sold some of
it since the acreage had been cut in two. Again the dwelling
and reservation of one acre of land to build a meeting place for
public worship was mentioned. Another reservation was stipulated
in this deed — that of a family graveyard 32 feet by 40 feet.
This cemetery was located behind or north of the house with
a vegetable garden in between the two. Later Russell s and
other persons would be buried west of the plot stipulated by
the Rose family as a "family graveyard."
Mr. Ed Arnold, long time resident of the community, recalls
that one of the young men of the Rose family was killed by
another community resident in an argument — reason being unknown.
Most assuredly he was laid to rest along with his parents and
perhaps other members of the Rose family, a family which had
come from North Carolina.
From the above deeds and descriptions contained therein,
it appears that Laban Benthall built the cedar log house on the
Russell homeplace, a home for them from about 1878 until 1958
when the house burned. He would have built the home sometime
in 1835. The structure was made up of three rooms, one being
a kitchen setting away from the two other rooms, and half rooms
or pens over the front two rooms. A hall or breeze- way divide
the kitchen and two front rooms.
The hatter's shop built by Benthall could have been the
same structure used by W. D. Cook for a blacksmith shop since
both shops or businesses were located near and above Spring
In January of 1878 William D. Cook and Wilson H. Russell,
son of Pinkney H. Russell, purchased a fifteen acre part of the
Russell homeplace — the part where the cedar log house stood.
This purchase was made from Patton A. McPeak, wife Martha and
David F. Hunter and wife Rebecca Rowlett. (David F. Hunter was
a brother of the wife of William D. Cook, Margaret Ann Hunter) .
Seven months later, Wilson H. Russell and wife Jennie 0. Cook,
daughter of William D. Cook and Margaret Cook, became the parents
of a baby boy who was named William Pinkney Russell.
In February of 1879 McPeak and wife sold to Wilson Russell
61 acres of land joining the 15 acres purchased earlier by Cook
and Russell. This part contained the one acre reserved for the
meeting place of public worship. According to family stories
and a map of Rutherford County, a doctor's house or cabin stood
across the road from the main house. In the early 1900' s, this
cabin was moved next to this acre reserve. William P. Russell
was to raise his family in this cabin, it being located south
of the main house and near the public road on the east side.
William (Bill) Cook must not have felt the need for addition-
al acreage since he was a blacksmith and not a farmer like his
son-in-law, Wilson Russell who made the purchase alone this
time. Four years earlier, March of 1874, Wilson Russell had
written to a friend, W. B. Pafford, then in California. Russell
spoke of hard times and scarce money, and then spoke of his
farming activities of sowing oats and cleaning up some land
Bill and Margaret Cook, Wilson and Jennie Russell continued
to live together in the three room dwelling until Bill and
Margaret died near the turn of the century. Bill and Margaret
had only one child , Jennie who gave birth to several children,
three of which lived to adulthood. They were William Pinkney
who married Bertha Townes, Carrie who married Will Bridges and
Jesse who died before marriage. Jesse died in 1912; her funeral
was held in the front lot of the homeplace under the shade of a
huge oak tree. Jennie had died in 1894.
During the Cook-Russell occupation a front porch was
added along with a dining room on the East side of the kitchen.
Such was the structure for as long as the house would stand.
At the death of Wilson Russell in 1934 the homeplace
became the living place for William P. Russell, the only son
of Wilson. William's family was to live in the main house
until his death in 1944 when the oldest son of William, Clarence
Wilson Russell, would buy out his brothers and sisters, namely,
Robert Reed, Shirley Martin, Hollis Miller, Wyman Townes,
Helen Virginia and Marion Elizabeth Russell.
Clarence Russell who married Miralee Wright in 1938 and had
lived part of the time in the main house and part of the time
in the log cabin heretofore mentioned, was to raise his family
at the Russell homeplace and in the same log home built by
Laban Benthall in 1835. Clarence and Mira's children were
Thomas Lee, Kenneth Wilson, Rebecca Ann and Jennie Lynn. The
old log house was home for them until 1958 when it was destroyed
by fire. Thus, four generations of Russell s or five generations
of the same family had found home at the same place in the same
house in the fifth district of Rutherford County, south of
Spring Creek just a few hundred yards and east a few hundred
yards of the public road called Lamar Road.
Today, 1979, the knoll on which the house stood is part
of the south shore of the Percy Priest Lake which backs up into
the Spring Creek bed. Some of the maple trees of the yard and
one pear tree still stand. A new growth of trees and honeysuckle
vine cover the garden which was north of the house and the
family graveyard of the Rose family, gradually returning things
to a natural environment which Laban Benthall found on this
knoll in 1834. Gone but not forgotten because the Russell
homeplace holds many dear memories to one of her sons,
Thomas L. Russell, and I know for others as well.
JOHN TAYLOR LYTLE
The driveway of the J. B. McNeil's home six miles
out the Franklin Road from Murf reesboro, Tennessee,
winds around in a curve, skirting the house. On either
side of the driveway, the smooth, emerald grass is
shaded by huge trees with knarled trunks that speak of
olden times. There are pecan, maple, spruce, boxwood,
and a magnificent magnolia which stands quite close on
the right hand side of the house.
The modern home is built on the site of the
original home place of John Taylor Lytle, oldest son of
Captain William Lytle. The Captain had given sixty
acres of land north of "Murfree Spring Branch" in 1811
for a permanent seat of justice for the county. This
was part of the original grants to William and Archibald
Lytle after service in the Revolution War, as well as
other grants purchased by them.
William Lytle 's family migrated from Pennsylvania
to North Carolina, then to Middle Tennessee. He visited
the region in Tennessee and returned to "Hillsborough,
North Caroline, by 1786 . . . for he married Ann Taylor
that year. She was a girl of sixteen or seventeen and
C. C. Henderson. The Story of Murf reesboro,
1929. News Banner Publishing Co. p. 28.
he was a man of thirty-one." William continued to buy
land grants from Revolutionary veterans who did not
wish to come to Tennessee. After his brother, Archibald's
death, William had 26,441 acres. He probably left North
Carolina for the West in 1798 or 1799.
After they arrived in Middle Tennessee, William's
wife was referred to as Nancy. According to Andrew
Nelson Lytle, they chose a "site on level land, by a
creek, with rising ground to the south and east and
rolling hillocks to the west. To the north lay a cedar
grove." Here they built their home on the site of the
present Carnation Plant, which is no longer in use.
William Lytle died in 1829 and is buried near the original
home site. The house according to Andrew Lytle, was tvro
story of hewn cedar logs, weatherboarded on the outside,
and had ceilings of poplar painted light blue. Nancy
Lytle was the leader of fashion and patron of all balls
and parties in Murfreesboro. She died in 182 5.
When, in 1811, the Legislature appointed a
committee to choose a new site (instead of Jefferson)
for the seat of county justice, at least four locations
were eagerly proffered by the owners, the Rucker place,
the Black Fox Springs, the Captain William Lytle land,
and the Ready place . . . "Captain Lytle enhanced his
Andrew Nelson Lytle. A Wake for the Living.
Crown Publishers, Inc. New York. @ 1975.
offer far beyond the others." He staged a large
reception and banquet presided over by his wife, Nancy.
The committee accepted Lytle's offer. The lytle property
of sixty acres on a slight elevation, appeared to be
well adapted to meeting the criteria for a central
location. Lytle at first declined to suggest a name
for the new county seat, and the General Assembly, on
October 27, 1811, designated the town as Cannonsburgh
in honor of Newton Cannon. Shortly afterward, Lytle
suggested it be named Murf reesborough in memory of his
friend. Colonel Hardy Murfree. It later became
"John Taylor Lytle was the Captain's oldest son.
He was named for his mother's father and in his youth
was a wild one ... He finally got religion and built
a church house on his farm (given to him by his father.
Captain William Lytle) and made slaves and family attend
with the zeal only the saved can manifest."
His house, according to Andrew N. Lytle, six miles
out from Murfreesboro, was still standing some few years
ago. It was a frame and unlike the usual country house
of the region. The living room was paneled halfway up
and papered the rest. Across a narrow hall was the
dining room. The kitchen and out houses were mostly
gone. The house was commodious enough.
Homer Pittard. Griffith .
Andrew Nelson Lytle. A Wake for the Living .
"There were large dressing rooms upstairs attached
to the bedrooms. In the yard is a great stone brought
for his tomb. Since it was unsuitable, it was dropped
and, Andrew Lytle says, he supposes it still lies there.
At the entrance to the drive is a buggy house, with
handmade snake hinges."
Mrs. John Grooms of Murf reesboro, a descendant of
John Hartman, who purchased the Lytle place, has a
picture of the Lytle house made in approximately 1916,
or about two years before Frances Hartman (Mrs. Grooms'
mother) was born in 1918. Frances Hartman married an
Odom, which is Mrs. Grooms' maiden name. John Hartman 's
son. Jack, lived there until his marriage. His daughter,
Ida Mildred Hartman, who currently works at the Murf reesboro
Post Office, was instrumental in locating the picture of
the Lytle home place.
The large twenty by sixteen inch tinted photograph
in an oval frame of stained wood shows the house as
Andrew Nelson Lytle described it. In the picture is a
pump house next to the dwelling with a latteced porch.
It is now enclosed in concrete at the McNeil farm. The
foundation of the barn, seen in the picture, is now found
back of the current McNeil barn.
The large lawn in front of the home in the picture
has no trees except the magnolia at the right hand corner,
of the house and two large stumps. That same magnolia
THE JOHN LYTLE HOME PLACE
THE CRYPT - Mrs. McNiel stands at the west side of the
crypt where the tombstones are piled.
The small cemetery near the crypt. Notice the double gate
to allow room for pallbearers.
The McNiel home today on the siteof the former John Lytle
The stones from the buggy house near the road were laid
under the old magnolia tree at the corner of the McNiel
is still there. It is a magnificent old soldier of a
tree showing the scars of many cold winters, wind, and
snow. Limestone slabs surround the magnolia's foot.
Mrs. McNeil says the slabs came from the front
yard near the driveway entrance. She had thought they
were the foundation of a slave cabin until she learned
of the buggy house mentioned by Andrew Nelson Lytle
which stood by the entrance to the driveway.
The McNeil's became curious and interested in the
crypt found back of their home and to the right side.
It contains John Lytle 's grave with his second wife,
Mary. She was a widow when he married her, Mary Ward
Andrew Nelson Lytle says "John Lytle 's first wife
was Tabitha Morton. . . Tabitha is buried in the Lytie
burying ground on the original homeplace (at the site
of the Carnation Plant). This is set apart in a lonely
spot, although at the time no doubt a place had been
reserved by her for her husband's repose. As such things
go in a hard country, he lies by his second wife, in the
rear of his dwelling on the Franklin Dirt Road. He
built a tomb out of limestone rock, and he and my
ancestress lie there. The lightning struck the top and
through the crack it is possible to see the two skulls
^Ibid., p. 130-131.
Information given by Andrew Nelson Lytle in a
letter to the author of this article.
The old magnolia at the east
corner of the McNiel home, \A/hich
can be seen in the old picture of
the Lytle home.
This old tree, probably planted by John Lytle, was recently
blown down by a storm. It measures 75 feet high and 1 5
feet around the trunk about 2 feet from the ground.
Andrew Nelson Lytle
THE LOa CABIN
MONTIAOLt. TKNN S7SS*
Jep. 16, 1978
Dear Ulsa 11111 er:
Tablatha la buried in the Lytle
oemetary, at Carnation site. I underatand
a storm bleu the headstones ciown, but that
they have been fixed. I'm pretty aure about
this, beoaus e John is buried by his aeoond
wife. I remember she awaited him in vain.
You have my permission to quote.
If you quote too lengty passages, you might
have to get permission from the publishers.
iincerely YkurS . , .
leaning towards each other, with the constant grimace
of silence and privacy. He had chiseled into the stone
a curse on anyone who may disturb or move his bones."
The four or five inch crack is in a right angle,
and the only thing that can be seen now is something
resembling a silver knife. Mr. McNeil jokingly tells
visitors, "Old John gets up sometimes in the night and
wanders around, but he doesn't bother me and I sure
don't bother him."
The engraving on the vault reads, "Molest not the
dead, nor spoil his resting place." Mr. McNeil says he
has no intention of harming it in any way. He and John
get along well together.
Mr. and Mrs. McNeil asked to have the burying
ground researched. Mr. E. K. Johns and Mr. H. G. Wray
did the investigation of the vault and cemetery. A
copy, loaned by the McNeils, of the result of their
Since it is called Lytle-Blanks Cemetery, it is
assumed that it was a community cemetery. The 1878
map (found in Murfreesboro Historical Society) mentioned
in the research shows the home called "Rosydell" with
Captain John Lytle in residence. This must have been
John Taylor Lytle' s son, who was called Jack. According
to Andrew Nelson Lytle 's family tree, he married Helen
Mr. & Mrs. J. B. McNeil &
H.G. Wray, June 1972
LYTLE-BLANKS CEMETERY (Sheet 1 of 2)
Rockvale Quadrangle. On Highway #96, 0.8 of a mile East of
the intersection of Windrow Road (now named Coleman Rd.) The
cemetery is about 'l+OO' south of Hwy. 96 and about 100' west
of the J. B. McNeil home. A large old house once stood where
the present home now stands.
Large vault about 12' x 12' and about 5' high with a flat
roof. The walls are of finely cut limestone blocks 8" thick,
and the roof of solid limestone pieces 8" thick, 3' wide and
12' long. At one end (east) are these inscribed slabs:
John Lytles Tomb
July 9, 1788
Aug. 31. 18^1
Molest not the
dead, nor spoil
his resting place
On the west side is this inscribed slab
In memory of John & Mary Lytle
John Lytle July 9, 1788-Aug. 31, 1841
Mary W. Lytle Jan. 11, 1800-Nov. 30, 1847
About 40' southwest of the Lytle vault is a small iron fence
enclosing four graves:
Martha S. Floyd
Mar. 30, 1861
Nov. 9, 1897
James M. Floyd
Nov. 15, 1893
Feb. 5, I894
Drury S . Floyd
June 18, 1897
Oct. 13, 1897
There were nine broken tombstones stacked on the west side of
the Lytle vault and have been stacked there for a long time but
the inscriptions are well preserved.
Martha G. Lytle
Aug. 26, 1822
Aug. 18, 1825
Dec. 18, 1755
Dec. 12, 1825
Mar. 6, 1756
June 9, 1826
James E. Webb, Esq,
Sept. 6, 1794
July 9. 1873
James E. Webb
Mar. 1, 1794
Oct. 3, I872
Mary E. Vaughan
Feb. 9, 1847
Nov. 9, I89I
Mary J . Webb
Apr. 6, 1820
June 5. 1897
Harvey H. Haynes
Apr. 11, I8I5
Mar. 18, I863
LYTLE- BLANKS CEMETERY (Sheet 2 of 2)
Broken and part missing:
Burns, wife of
Burns, dau», of
Nov. , 1848
Sept. 5, 1879.
NOTE: On 1878 map this place is named "Rosydell" and lists
Capt. John Lytle as living there.
In 1820 Census Ingram Blanks had 33 slaves
The McNeils have lived on this farm for eight
years, the fifth family to live there. First the John
Lytles and heirs, then John Hartman purchased the farm
from the Lytle heirs. Later his son. Jack Hartman,
lived there, and then August Leeman purchased and tore
down the house and built a new (the current) home. The
Hugh Samples came next and the McNeils purchased the
farm from the Samples.
John Lytle gave the land in Murfreesboro for the
United Methodist Church on College Street at Church
Street. The following information was furnished by
Mrs. Lody Lytle Houston (Ivan) Brown:
The organization of this very popular branch of
the church in this country dates back to about 1812.
At that time there was held a camp meeting at the
Windrow Camp Ground at which there were many professions
of religion. Other camp meetings now held at which
itinerant ministries of the Methodist faith were present
and worked with that zeal that was peculiar to the
pioneer ministries of that faith. Rev. Robert Paine,
who became bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church,
was a circuit rider over a district embracing Rutherford
County. During the season of the General Assembly, he
preached in the courthouse and many members were present
and took a part in the exercises, among them Felix
Grundy, the distinguished lawyer and statesman. A class
was organized at a house on College Street in 1821.
The charter menbers are: Benjamin Blankenship and wife,
Edward Fisher and wife, Thomas Montague and wife, John
Lytle and wife, Martin Clark, Willis Reeves, John Jones,
William Ledbetter, G. A. Sublett , D. Henry Holmes,
Dr. W. R. Rucker, Levi Reeves, J. D. Neugent and David
Hammis. Preaching was furnished by traveling preachers
at first and services were held either in the courthouse
or in a private dwelling until the year 1823. In 1823
John Lytle deeded a lot, near where Soule's College, now
stands for the purpose of having a church erected thereon.
The lot was deeded to
John R. McLaughlin
A brick house, one story high, with gallery for
Negroes, and bell, was completed at a cost of about
Goodspeed p 8 39-840
Warranty Deed of John Lytle to Methodist Church Trustees
Dated January 11, 1823,
Registered July 3, 183 2
Register's Office for Rutherford County, Tennessee
Deed Book 5, page 5 74
The progress of the church was slow until 1828
when the first conference met in Murf reesboro, at which
a great revival was begun and the church was greatly
strengthened. John Lytle, Mrs. Wasson, and the Rev.
John Lane deserve mention for their zeal and piety;
also Captain Jones who conducted the first public
prayer meeting at the old Bradly Academy in 1818.
Goodspeed p. 839
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REVOLUTIONARY PENSICN REG CRD of John M. Leak
Furnished by Mrs. Edna Fry
STATE OF TENNESSEE )
) Circuit Court, October Term 1831
RUTHERFOID COUNTY )
On this day October 21, 1831 personally appeared in
open court before the honorable Thomas Stewart, Judge,
now sitting for said county, John M. Leak, a resident of
the county and state aforesaid, aged seventy five years;
who being first sworn according to law, doth on his oath
make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit
of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832. He states that
he was born in Amherst County, State of Virginia in the year
1758, and in January 1777 (this he is not certain) he entered
the service of his country, from the county of Amherst as a
substitute in the place of William Johnston. Declarent was
then in his seventeenth year. His Captain was David Shelton.
He was marched to the barracks in Albermarle County to aid
in guarding the prisoners then at that place. Declarent
remained in service one month; was discharged and returned home.
In April of the same year declarent was drafted and
called out under Capt. John Deggs from the county of Amherst,
and rendezvoused at the Barracks in Albermarle upon the same
duty and after a service of one month was discharged and
returned home. Declarent thinks that Col. Taylor of the
regular Army commanded at the barracks.
In November of the same year declarent entered the
service as a substitute for Josias Dodd from the county of
Amherst, and was attached to Capt. John Christian's Company,
and again marched to the Barracks in Albermarle to guard
prisoners; and was in service one month, was discharged and
Declarent was again drafted from that county of Amherst
and was attached to Capt. Richard Ballingers conpany. He
cannot recall the year but believes that it was the same
year or about the time that Arnold burnt Richmond, or the
public stores at that place. And in the month of January,
was marched to Albermarle old court house and there joined
a company commanded by capt. Joseph Tucker. The corps was
transported in canoes down the river within eighteen miles
of Richmond and was there disembarked and marched down to
the city. When the detachment reached Richmond, Capt.
Ballengers company was ordered to Hoods Fort and Capt.
Tuckers to Williamsburg. Capt. Ballengers command was
conveyed to Hoods Fort by water. The duty of the corps
on its arrival at the Fort was to guard it. Declarent
remained in service three months; was discharged and re-
turned home, and he reached home the last of May, and
declarent believes that this last tour of service was
performed in the year 1780.
The tenth of August 1781 declarent was again drafted
in the county of Amherst and entered the service under the
command of Col. Daniel Gaines. The corps was two hundred
The stores at Richmond wete burned Jan. 5, 1781
strong and was marched by the commanding officer to Rich-
mond and from there to Williamsburg, where we halted one
day. The French had reached that place, and the corp under
the command of Col Gaines was halted, until they passed
in front and the whole command then moved on to York.
While stationed at York declarent was detached part of the
time to drive a wagon for the purpose of transporting bread
from Williamsburg for Gen. Lawson's brigade. After the
capture of Lord Corn Wallace, declarent was ( ? ) and
marched with the Army to Pages Wharehouse in (Parmanky ?)
and at that point was discharged and returned home. In the
last campaign declarent was in service three months and
ten days. Declarent recollects that one (Mifsous)? was the
Quartermaster and that Thos. Low was the deputy quartermaster.
Declarent was never in any battle. Declarent recollects of
seeing at Albermarle Barracks Col. Taylor and Lee and of
Hardin of the regular army. And at York he saw Genl.
Washington, The Steuben, and he recollects a Frenchman,
a slender young man called the Marquis. He saw Genl. Wayne,
who commanded the New England troops.
Declarent has no record of his age; he was born in
17 58-Amherst County-State of Virginia, and remained there
after the war until the year 1795, and then moved to Rock-
bridge County, and in 1811 moved to Knox County, State of
Tennessee and in 1821 to Wilson County, and for the last
three years declarent has resided in Rutherford County,
Tennessee where he now lives. Declarent never had but one
discharge, and that was from Capt. Ballinger which has been
destroyed. Declarent is acquainted in his neighborhood with
Wm. Davis, William Walker, Thomas Nevil, (Edmond) Thompson,
John Edmondson, William Thompson, Joseph Cannon, Nimrod
Thompson, all of whom declarent believes will testify to
his character for veracity and their belief of his service
as a soldier of the revolution. And in the neighborhodd
where declarent moved from Wilson County where he is better
known, he can name John Sneed, William Holland, Lemuel
, James Ewing, Nelson (Bayan) , Mathew , Wm. Davis
and Rich. Hanneh all of whom would testify to their belief
of declarent serving in the war of the Revolution and to
his character for vericity. Declarent has no documentary
evidence in his possession by which he can prove his said
service, and he knows of no one now living by whom he can
He hereby relinquishes every claim whatsoever to a
pension annuity except the present, and declares that his
name is not on the pension roll of the Agency.
Sworn to and subscribed this day and year aforesaid.
John M. X Leak
We William Walker, Thos. Cannon and Joseph Cannon
residing in the neighborhood of JOhn M. Leak, Hereby
certify that we are well acquainted with said Leak, who
has subscribed and sworn to the foregoing declaration.
That we believe him to be seventy five years of age;
that he is reported and believed in the neighborhood
where he resides, to have been a soldier of the Revolution
and tint we concur in that opinion.
Sworn to and subscribed this day and year aforesaid.
Theophilus A. Cannon
A letter attached to the pension application from the
Pension office at Nashville, Tennessee dated Nov. 14, 1840
At the request of Mr. Mask Leak, the adm. of John M.
Leak, his father, who was Pensioner under the act of 7th
June 1832 and who died on the 24th day of August last, I
enclose to you the preceeding of the court in the case on
which he expect to draw the areers of the pension due the
deceased under the act of the 19 June 1840.
As I have not been furnished with any form or instruct-
ions under the provisions of the above mentioned act I have
declined making any payments to admins, or executors until
I shall be furnished with such form or instructions, by the
proper department as will enable me, to correctly, to make
J. M. Smith
Acklen Page 66
Barber 49 - 50
Bayan 7 5
Blanks 64 - 65
Br iclges——"-—'^—— """"•" '"""""•"'"'»'""'"»"»■"""•"■' ^ """'"'" ^ w«
Burton Page lo
Cannon 57-7 5-7 6
Case 31 _ 32
Christian 7 3
Cook 51 - 52 - 53
Corn Wallace 74
Davis 7 5
Deggs 7 2
Dodd 7 3
7 - 8 - 12-13-14
15 -17 - 20-25-31
Elliott 22 - 27
Fisher Page 68
Floyd 65 - 66
Fry 7 2
Hanneh 7 5
Hardin 7 4
Haynes 17 - 65
Holland 7 5
Hunter 51 - 52
Johnson Page 28- 48
Johnston -r 7 2
Jones 68 - 69
King 64 - 70
Knight 16 - 19
Lannom 49 - 50
Law son 7 4
Leak 72 ^ 75 - 76
Lee 7 4
Low 7 4
Lyon 28 - 47
Maney Page 6 - 7 - 10-12
17 - 18
Miller 55 -63
Morton 61 - 70
Neil ■ 15-16-20-31
Nevil 7 5
Newsome — 28 - 29
Newton r 1
Ogden Page 68
Park 22 - 24
Patterson 24 - 28
Phillips 39 - 43
Pr ovine 13
Ramsey 21 - 22
Ready 16 - 17 - 56
Robinson Page 71
Rose 50 - 53
Rucker 56 - 68
Shelton 7 2
Sills 61 - 70
Sneed 7 5
Snell 34 - 47- 48
Steuben 7 4
Taylor 55-70-7 2-7 4
Templeton -■ 47
Thompson — • 8 - 31- 75
Tucker 7 3
Turner Page 51 - 70
Van Cleve 25
Washington 7 4
Wendel 7 - 8-12-15-16
Woodfin 27 - 28
Wray 64 - 65
M T b U LIDMrtHT
3 3082 00527 7040
976.857 R931p v.iU
Rutherford County Historical
Society Publication No, lU