MIDDLE TN STATE UNIV.
3 3082 01501327 8
Publication No. 34
Mattie Ready and John Hunt Morgan
Murf reesboro, Tennessee 37130
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
Lyrasis IVIembers and Sloan Foundation
RUTHERFORD COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
PUBLICATION NO. 34
Rutherford County Historical Society
President Shirley F. Jones
Vice President Charles Nored
Recording Secretary Kirk McCrary
Publication Secretary Walter King Hoover
Treasurer Mary Cox
Directors Robert Walden
Publication No. 34 (Limited Edition - 600 copies) is
distributed to members of the Society. The annual membership
dues are $15.00 per family, which includes the two regular
publications and the monthly Newsletter to all members.
Additional copies of this and other publications may be
obtained by writing to the Society. A list of publications
available is included in this publication.
All correspondence concerning additional copies,
contributions to future issues, and membership should be
addressed to: MlSu Library
„^, r ,^ ^ „.^ T^ . ^ Middle Tennessee State UnlversJt
Rutherford County Historical Society Murfreesboro, Tennessee 37132
P.O. Box 906
Murf reesboro, TN 37133-0906
ZADIE BOWLING KEY
(Octoljer 20, 1921 - August 30, 1992)
Publication 34 is dedicated to Zadie B. Key, a longtime
member of our Society, whose contributions were many and
varied. She served four terms as Treasurer, from 1988 to
1992. Prior to that, she was editor of the newsletter and
served on several committees, such as Historic Preservation,
Sales, and Membership. She was also a member of our
Executive Board. Zadie was a people-oriented,
community-conscious, caring individual who strived to make a
difference. The Rutherford County Historical Society is very
appreciative of her efforts and dedication to our
organization and consider it our privilege to honor her in
this small way.
The following Publications are for Sale by:
THE RUTHERFORD COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
P.O. Box 906
Murfreesboro, TN 37133-0906
(All publications are $5.00 + $2.00 postage and handling)
Publication 1: Rutherford County Marriage Records,
(1851-1853), Bride Index, Rutherford County
Militia Commissions 1807-1811, Rutherford
County Offices and Officers (1804-1973), and
Union: Murf reesboro' s Other University.
Rutherford County Marriage Records,
(1854-1856), Bride Index (continued),
Rutherford County Militia Commissions
1812-1820, Mayors of Murf reesboro, and a
History of the Kittrell Community.
Rutherford County Marriage Records
(1857-1860), Bride Index, Griffith
Rutherford, 1803 Census of Rutherford County,
and Rutherford County Militia Records.
History of Readyville, Artists Depict Battle
of Stones River, and Census of 1810 and List
of Taxpayers not in Census.
The Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad
(1845-1872), Rutherford County Post Offices
and Postmasters, and the Rutherford Rifles.
Publication 6: A History of the Link Community, History of
Lavergne, Fellowship Church and Community,
and The Sanders Family.
Publication 7: Hopewell Church, Petition by Cornelius
Sanders for Revolutionary War Pension.
History of Bethel-Leanna Community, the
Crowders of Readyville, A view of the
Battlefield of Stones River from New York
Times (Sept. 2, 1865), Record of Jordan
Williford, Revolutionary War Soldier from
Records in U.S. Pension Office, Company Roll
of Major Hardy Murfree (Sept. 9, 1778 from
the National Archives).
Publication 9: History of Dilton Community.
Publication 10: 1864 Diary, Peter Jennings, Henderson Yoakum,
Early Methodist Church, and Overall.
Publication 11: State Capitol, Ben McCullough, Petition of
Michael Lorance, Country Store, and Soule
Publication 12: History of Smyrna, Sewart Air Force Base,
Goochland, Index of Some Actual Wills of
Rutherford County, 1802-1882.
Publication 13: Tennessee College, Coleman Scouts, New
Monuments in Old city Cemetery, and James
Bole's Revolutinary War Pension.
Publication 14: Murfreesboro Presbyterian Church, Kirks and
Montgomerys, Russell Home, John Lytle's and
John M. Leak's Revolutinary War Pension.
Publication 15: John W. Childress Home (1847), Whigs
in Rutherford County (1835-1845).
Publication 16: Hart, Childress, Miles, Fosterville, Cherry
Shade, William Cocke.
Publication 17: Jefferson 1803-1813, Will Abstracts
(1803-1814), Old City Cemetery.
Publication 18: Railroad Stations in Rutherford County, Rion
Family, Stones River.
Publication 19: Footprints ... at Smyrna, V.A. Medical
Center, Manson Family, Jenkin's Homes, Will
Abstracts (Record Books 3 & 4), Rutherford
County Historical Society, Early News, Sketch
from Macon County, Illinois, 1981 in
Publication 20: Roads and Turnpikes of Rutherford County,
includes many Rutherford County names.
Publication 21: Jefferson Springs Resort, Lascassas Baptist
Church, John Price Buchanan, Will Abstracts,
1836 Tax Records of the 25th District.
Publication 22: Ft. Rosecrans, Big Springs, East Main Church
of Christ, Tax Records District 23 & 24 for
1836, 1837, and 1849, Mathias Hoover.
Publication 23: Harding House, Milton, Country Stores in the
Jefferson Area, Will Abstracts Book 7, Tax
Records of Districts 15 and 16 (1836, 1837,
:.^ and 1849) .
Publication 24: History of Medicine in Rutherford County.
Publication 25: Legends and Stories of the Civil War in
Publication 26: A Yankee in Rutherford County, Literary
Interest Expressed by VJomen in Rutherford
County, Mt. Olivet and Hoovers Gap
Methodists, My Years at Linebaugh Library.
Publication 27: History of Central Christian Church, Alfred
Publication 28: Coleman Scouts (Henry B. Shaw, Leader; Sam
Davis, Dee Jobe , Williams Roberts, William
Manford Street, and others.)
Publication 29: The Churches of Christ in Rutherford County,
History of the Salem Methodist Church, and
Municipal Officers of the Town of
Publication 30: History of Rutherford County Farm (including
insane asylum and the pest control center).
Architecture of Rutherford County Farm.
Publication 31: The Rutherford County Rifles (a group of 150
young men from Rutherford County who
volunteered for service in the Confederacy).
Includes a list of these men and what
happened to them. Article on Violence in
Publication 32: A Researcher's Guide to Rutherford County
Records by David Rowe ; Jerry Sneak by Homer
Pittard (discovered after his death).
Publication 33: Census and Tax Records for First District.
Publication 3^- Mattie Ready-John Hunt Morgan l-.'edding; Dement
family; Two Gallant Leaders at the Battle of
The following publications are also available through the
History of Medicine in Rutherford County , Part II (A
collection of Biographies of Physicians Who Practiced in the
area during the Nineteenth Century.) Robert G. Ransom, M.D.
$16.00 + $2.00 postage
Westbrooks , WilliamSf and Related Smothermans of Rutherford
County . $14.50 + $2.00 postage
Brothers and Others and Fosterville $21.00 + $2.00 postage
History of Versailles - OUT OF PRINT
History of Ru therford County by C. C. Sims (pub. 1947)
" $12.00 + $2.00 postage
History of Ru therford County by Mabel Pittard (pub. 1983)
$12.50 + $2.00 postage
A History of Rutherford County Schools , Vol. 1 (Northern
section of the County) $12.00 + $2.00 postage
A History of Rutherford County Schools , Vol. II (Southern
section of County, including Murf reesboro)
$12.00 + $2.00 postage
1840 Ruth erford County Census with Index
$5.00 + $2.00 postage
Deed Abstracts of Rutherford County, 1803-1810
$5.00 + $2.00 postage
Cemetary Records of Rutherford County ;
Vol. I (Northwestern third of County and part of Wilson
and Davidson Counties, 256 cemeteries with index and
maps) $10.00 + $2.00 postage
Vol ■ II (Eastern third of County, cemeteries with index
and maps .) $10.00 + $2.00 postage
Vol. Ill (Southwestern third of Rutherford County and
the western part of Cannon County, 241 cemeteries with
index and maps.) $10.00 + $2.00 postage
The History of Rutherford County , Vol. I, 1799-1828 by
John C. Spence $25.00 + $2.00 postage
The History of Rutherford County / Vol. II, 1829-1870 by
John C. Spence $25.00 + $2.00 postage
A Civil War Diary by John C. Spence $25.00 + $2.00 postage
The Pictorial History of Rutherford County by Mabel Pittard
OUT OF PRINT
Map of 1878 Rutherford County (shows land owners)
$3.50 + $2.00 postage
Available from Mrs. R.A.Ragland, P.O. Box 544, Murf reesboro,
Marriage Records of Rutherford County
$10.00 + $2.00 postage
Table of Contents
Morgan's Wedding Page 1
Two Gallant Leaders at the Battle
of Murfreesboro Page 23
Pillar of Fire or Angelic Agency Page 49
Charles Dement, Tennessee Pioneer Page S'^
History of Property at 214' East
Main Street Page 62
A Fifty-Year History of Murfreesboro
Schools Page ??
Index Page 96
by Shirley Farris Jones
The Civil War was a time of uncertainty, especially
for those living in the recently established Confederate
States of America. Happiness was a brief interlude from
the reality of the horrors and deprivations inflicted
upon a people trying to protect their homeland. For
some it was a bittersweet time of both joy and sorrow.
Such is the story of Martha Ready of Murf reesboro,
Tennessee and John Hunt Morgan of Lexington, Kentucky.
John Hunt Morgan was born in Huntsville, Alabama on
June 1, 1825. The first of ten children of Henrietta
Hunt and Calvin Morgan, John was named for his
millionaire maternal grandfather, John Wesley Hunt of
Lexington, Kentucky. Although Calvin Morgan tried
various ways to become a successful businessman and
provide adequately for his family, failing business
ventures finally forced him to relocate to Lexington
when John was six, thus becoming dependent upon the
Hunt's for their livelihood and affluent lifestyle.
John Morgan had inherited by birth the status of
aristocracy. Very handsome, he was tall (6 feet) with a
strong and attractive athletic body and exhibited
excellent horsemanship. As a young man, he was very
bashful and did not feel comfortable speaking before a
group. His college career at Translyvania University
proved quite disappointing and he was suspended for
dueling in 1844. John entered the military in 1846,
after two frustrating years of trying to "find himself",
and was elected second lieutenant of Company K of the
Kentucky Volunteers in the war against Mexico. He was
then promptly promoted to first lieutenant of Kentucky's
Mounted Volunteers 1st Regiment. He distinguished
himself as a hero in the battle at Buena Vista, and
although his enlistment was up, the war over, he wanted
desperately to continue his military career. He had
gained self confidence through his experiences of war,
and enjoyed being welcomed home as the conquering hero.
More importantly, he had distinguished himself as a
Morgan of Honor 1 He had acquired one year of military
experience, although discipline was lax and contempt for
authority prevalent. This would shape his future
Morgan settled down in Lexington and entered into
business with his friend, Sanders Bruce. The Bruce
family lived across the street from Hopemont, Morgan's
ancestoral home, and were considered an established
manufacturing family, wealthy, successful, and
respected. Perhaps it was only natural that John Morgan
should then marry Sanders' sister, Rebecca Bruce. He
was 23 and she was 18 years old, on their wedding day,
November 21, 1848. In 1853, after five years of
marriage, she gave birth to their first and only child,
a son, who was stillborn. From that point on, for the
duration of her life, Becky would remain a victim of
poor health, despite trips to various doctors and places
in a fruitless attempt to find a cure for her
afflictions. Becky, suffering from both the pain and
humiliation of not fulfilling her role as wife and
mother, turned to her mother for emotional support and
to religion for comfort. After existing several years
as an invalid, confined to bed for many months, she
finally died on July 21, 1861. During this time,
Morgan's behavior was typical of so many Southern
gentlemen of his time — with Becky and his relatives,
he was always respectful, yet Morgan never denied
himself any of the wordly pleasures. He was known as a
favorite among women, as well as a gambler and
libertine. Morgan's brother-in-law and best friend,
Basil Duke, expounded the Southern code of ethics when
he pointed out that Morgan never attempted to be
secretive or hypocritical about his diversions, and he
never did anything "which touched his integrity as a man
and his honor as a gentleman." Duke later wrote: "Like
the great majority of the men of his class — the
gentlemen of the South — he lived freely, and the
amusements he permitted himself would, doubtless, have
shocked a New Englander almost as much as the money he
spent in obtaining them. ... General Morgan, with the
virtues, had some of the faults of his Southern blood
Meanwhile, John's busines ventures, many of which
were dependent upon the institution of slavery,
flourished. By the late 1850' s, the Southern system of
honor was wholly identifiable in the character of John
Morgan, and he had established his identity and
respectability as Captain of the Lexington Rifles, and
entered into the romantic social life of antebellum
Lexington. VThen all of this was threatened, John was
more than ready to go to warl
Kentucky found herself a state divided, unable to
choose between North and South, and therefore took the
position of peace and neutrality. Morgan, however,
aligned himself with other Southern sympathizers in the
state and the Lexington Rifles were among the first
volunteer companies to join the State Guard, a newly
created pro-Southern state militia organization, in
1860. In September of 1861, the Lexington Rifles left
to join Confederate forces and shorthy thereafter Morgan
began his own type of warfare against the enemy that had
driven him from his home. He entered into it with both
intensity and enjoyment, which is apparent from his
raids along the Green River. After General Albert
Sidney Johnston's defensive line in Kentucky collapsed
early in 1862, Morgan's command became part of the thin
screen thrown out to protect Johnston's army from Union
divisions under General Buell in Nashville, Tennessee.
On February 27, 1862 Morgan moved his headquarters to
near Murf reesboro.
Martha Ready Morgan was born near Murf reesboro,
Tennessee on June 21, 1840. She was the sixth of eight
children, and the second of four girls, born to Colonel
Charles Ready, Jr. and Martha Strong Ready. Mattie was
known to be a "very attractive young woman of medium
height, with a shapely figure, a fair, creamy
complexion, large blue eyes, and dark hair." She
attended Soule College in Murf reesboro and the Nashville
Female Academy during the 1850 's. Col. Ready was a
Murfreesboro attorney, who served Tennessee as a United
States representative before the Civil War and a judge
afterwards. While in Washington with her family, Mattie
was known to be a favorite among society. She was "the
first girl in Washington to wear a curl on her forehead,
which was soon imitated by a hundred others."
The Ready family was among the earliest and most
prominent Rutherford County families. They were known
to be strong supporters of the Confederacy, and offered
hospitality to the officers encamped in the area,
including the dashing cavalryman from Kentucky, General
John Hunt Morgan, who arrived in Murfreesboro in late
February of 1862. One day when Colonel Ready was
visiting the army camp, he met General Morgan and
invited him to dinner. He sent a slave home with word
that "the famous Captain Morgan was coming. Tell Mattie
that Captain Morgan is a widower and a little sad. I
want her to sing for him." In a diary entry of March 3,
1862, sister Alice describes a visit by General Morgan
to the Ready home the previous evening: "... Morgan is
an extremely modest man, but very pleasant and
agreeable, though one to see him would scarcely imagine
him to be the daring reckless man he is. An immense
crowd collected at the front door to see him, two or
three actually came in and stood before the parlor door
... ." Although his stay in Murfreesboro was brief.
Captain Morgan made quite an impression on the 21 year
old beauty. Following an expedition to Gallatin, Morgan
returned to Murfreesboro to find a Union cavalry
regiment conducting a reconnaissance outside the town.
He sent Mattie a note asking whether the town was clear
of Federals. She hurriedly penned a reply: "They are
eight miles from here. Come in haste," and handed it to
a courier who returned to Morgan, ten miles to the
north. A few hours later, in the early morning, Morgan
appeared. He and Mattie talked until daylight and
family tradition holds that they became engaged on that
March nineteenth. At dawn John bade good-bye to Mattie
by forming the soldiers on the square and leading in the
singing of "Cheer, Boys, Cheer."
Mattie was known for her spirit. One day, in the
late spring of 1862 while Murfreesboro was under Federal
occupation, she overheard some Union soldiers making
unkind remarks about Morgan. She stepped in and gave
the Yankees a royal scolding. When one of the soldiers
asked her name she replied, "It's Mattie Ready nowl But
by the grace of God, one day I hope to call myself the
wife of John Morgan I"
After a brief courtship, John Morgan presented
Mattie with one of the most unusual wedding presents in
history. Following a battle with Union forces in
Hartsville, Tennessee more than 1,800 Federal soldiers
were captured. General Morgan then had them marched to
the Ready home in Murfreesboro where they were presented
to Mattie on her front porch. That army of discomfited
"boys in blue" came to be known as "Gen. Morgan's
wedding present to his bride."
The wedding of Mattie Ready and John Hunt Morgan
was held a.t the Ready home near the Court House in
Murfreesboro on Sunday evening, December 14, 1862. The
Ready House was described as having been built in the
1350 's, and being a two-storied wooden structure facing
East Main Street along the whole block where Nations
Bank is currently located. The house actually occupied
the second lot along East Main Street; the first lot was
an ornamental garden with twin magnolia trees right
across from the Court House. Inside the house was a
large hall with flanking parlors. One of these parlors
served as the scene of the wedding. According to family
records Mattie wrote in later years, "Mama and Papa's
room was downstairs and the children's upstairs."
Windows from the upstairs rooms opened onto Main Street.
Colonel Ready's law office was in the east room on the
ground floor. This grand home was the scene of much
gaiety and hospitality — and headquarters for both
armies during the war.
The wedding was one of the great social occasions
of the Confederacy. Groomsmen were Mattie' s brother,
Horace Ready, an officer on General William J. Hardee's
staff, and Col. George St. Leger Grenfell, an English
soldier of fortune. General Leonidis Polk performed the
ceremony, while Generals Bragg, Hardee, Cheatham, and
Breckinridge looked on with the headquarters staff.
President Jefferson Davis, in Murfreesboro the day
before the wedding, had promoted Morgan to brigadier
In an Augus^ 31, 1912 issue. General Basil Duke of
Louisville recalled to a News-Banner reporter his
memories of that great celebration. "...All the
officers of high rank who could reach Murfreesboro had
assembled for the wedding — General Bragg among them.
Distinguished civilians were present in great numbers.
The house was packed with people to its full capacity
. . .and decorated with holly and winter berries — the
lights from lamps and candles flashed on the uniforms
and the trappings of the officers, and were reflected in
the bright eyes of the pretty Tennessee girls who had
gathered. ...The raven-haired, black-mustached Morgan,
in his general's uniform, looking like a hero of
chivalry, the bride, a girl of rare beauty, tall,
dark-haired, and blue eyes, with a creamy complexion and
perfect features, and standing before them, to perform
the ceremony, in his full military uniform. Bishop Polk,
himself a general of the Confederate Army, and Bishop of
the Episcopal Church. ...Miss Ready's bridal dress was
one of her best ante-bellum frocks, for it was not
possible at that time to purchase material for a
trousseau. . . . General Duke was certain that the bride
could not have worn anything more becoming. He
remembers that she wore a bridal veil. ... General
Morgan' s att-endants were as dashing a set of young
soldiers as any bride could wish ah her wedding. ...Two
or three regimental bands had been provided for the
occasion. They were stationed in the house and on the
porch, and there was plenty of music. Outside in the
streets thousands of soldiers were assembled, who by the
lighted bonfires, celebrated the wedding proper style,
cheering Morgan and his bride."
After the wedding there was a great supper served
in the Ready mansion where the wedding party and invited
guests feasted ... turkeys, hams, chickens, ducks, game,
and all the delicacies and good dishes a Southern
kitchen could produce were on the board, while Colonel
Ready's cellar still had a sufficient stock of wine to
provide for the many toasts proposed to the happy
couple. After the wedding supper, the bands were called
in and the gallant soldiers and Tennessee belles danced
to their heart's content.
Eight days after the wedding, on December 22, 1862,
the newlyweds were separated when General Morgan and his
command left for a raid into Kentucky. The second day
of the raid, on December 23, 1862, he wrote Mattie that
he hoped it would be finished within six days.
"and then my precious one I shall try and get back
to you as fast as possible and then my pretty one
nothing shall induce me to again leave you this
winter. How anxiously I am looking forward to the
moment when I shall again clasp you to a heart that
beats for you alone. Do not forget me my own
Darling and you may rest assured that my whole
thoughts are of you. Farewell my pretty wife, my
command is leaving I must be off."
The raid was a great success, and John and Mattie
hoped that it would help to dispel speculations that
marriage came first, career second. Colonel Grenfell
had participated in the wedding but said later that he
had attempted to prevent it, as he felt that marriage
would cause John to become cautious and less
enterprising. And Mattie' s family had instructed her,
"You must remember your promises, not to restrain the
General in his career of glory, but encourage him to go
forward." She promised, but she did not know what a
profound influence she would have on his life and
career. He was her hero; her knight in shinning armor.
Following the raid he wrote, "The greatest pleasure my
expedition has afforded is the knowledge that our great
success will gratify and delight you." After the war
Basil Duke stated that Mattie "certainly deserved to
exercise over him the great influence she was thought to
have possessed." There were hints that Mattie slowed
Morgan down, took away his strength and courage, and
sent his career on a downward spiral. The wedding came
at the peak of his career, one day after his promotion
to brigadier general. But instead of encouraging him to
set'ile down to regular cavalry service, the relationship
with Mattie seems to have added to the psychological
pressure to continue independent raids, even to the
point of recklessness and insubordination.
Mattie loved her husband deeply, and despite the
hardships of the war, tried to be with him whenever and
wherever she could. Three weeks after the wedding,
following the Battle of Stones River and Bragg' s retreat
from Middle Tennessee, Mattie, accompanied by her lovely
sister Alice, was forced to take flight from home. (They
did not see their parents again until after the war.
The Ready house was used by Union General Rosecrans for
his headquarters in Murf reesboro. ) Under escort by
members of General Hardee's staff, they reached the army
at Winchester, Tennessee. Three weeks after the
wedding, on January 6, 1863, Mattie wrote:
"... Come to me my own Darling quickly. I was
wretched but now I am almost happy and will be
quite when my precious husband is again with me. I
can bear anything Darling when you are with me, and
so long as I have your love — but when separated
from you and I know that you are surrounded by so
many dangers and hardships as you have been on your
last expedition I become a weak nervous child.
Have I not lived a great deal, love, in the last
three weeks? When I look back now at the time, it
seems three years. But in each hour I have passed
through, there has always been one dear face ever
before me. ... I have so much to tell you, and so
very much to hear from you. Although I have heard
nothing from you since you left Glasgow, I knew you
had accomplished what you had in view — but oh I was
so anxious for your safety. I had some dark days,
dearest, and when the battle was raging around me
in such fury, and everybody from the
commander-in-chief to the privates were praying for
Morgan to come, I thanked God in the anguish of my
heart that it was not for me to say where you
should be. ... I love to write to you. Dearest, and
your sweet letters always make me happy. It
grieved me that I could send you no word of love
from my pen while in Kty. Both-because it would
have been a relief to pour out my heart to you, and
then. Darling, I feared you would forget me. You
left me so soon. ... Good night, my Hero. My
dreams are of you."
One of General Morgan's first priorities was to
bring Mattie to his new headquarters in McMinnville. He
wrote, "Am determined to have you near me. Cannot bear
the thought of your being away from home and ray not
being with you." Once she came, Mattie declared: "My
life is all a joyous dream now, from which I fear to
awaken, and awake I must when my Hero is called to leave
me again. My husband wants me to remain with him, and
of course I much prefer it. They say we are a love sick
couple." This devotion to each other was reflected in
John Morgan's military leadership. After long and
strenuous marches, when even the strongest men were
exhausted, he would ride another fifty miles to be with
her. Mattie diverted his attention, and he lost his
single-minded devotion to the Cause. One night,
anticipating attack from the enemy, he wrote, "Altho I
fully expected to be attacked today, still my thoughts
were of you and not of war." Twenty-five miles from the
hardships at the front of battle, John and Mattie
ext:ended their honeymoon into the spring. Nearly every
afternoon they made an elegant appearance, riding
horseback into the country — she in a beautiful black
riding habit, hat, and veil, he in a blue roundabout
jacket with brass buttons, blue pants tucked into shiny
cavalry boots with spurs, and black felt hat fastened up
at the side. A correspondent for the Richmond E nquirer
observed that Mattie's "full-blown figure was certainly
"apropos to the sterling manhood of Morgan. She loves
him very ardently, and I doubt not that the affair was
entirely one of the affections. They take long strolls
every afternoon, and the evidences of attachment . . . are
delicate and dignified upon both sides."
With Middle Tennessee under Federal occupation, and
Mattie choosing to remain with John behind Confederate
lines, arrangements for Mattie's escape in case of enemy
attack were always first and foremost in his mind. John
provided an ambulance and wagon and kept her informed on
the most feasible escape route. She kept her bags
packed for immediate evacuation. On April 19, 1863,
Colonel Robert Minty's Michigan cavalry burst through
picket lines and into Morgan's headquarters at
McMinnville. Two officers were seriously wounded while
creating a diversion to give Morgan time to put Mattie
in the ambulance and send her racing out of town. John
and his headquarters escort escaped on horseback across
the fields. Mattie was captured but immediately
This was a foretaste of what was to become habitual
for Mattie — flights before the enemy, lonely vigils,
brief intervals with her husband. In the summer of
1863, during the Confederacy's "farthest north" raid.
General Morgan was captured and imprisoned in Columbus,
Ohio. He wrote to her two or three times a week in
terms of cheer and confidence, but his concern for her
steadily increased. During this time the "happy" days
were over for Mattie. She and Alice became war-time
refugees — in Knoxville, in Augusta, Georgia, in
Knoxville again, and finally in Danville, Virginia.
Mattie wanted to be as near Richmond as possible in
order to do everything she could to speed up the parole
of her beloved husband. When they heard that their
brother Horace was wounded at Chickamauga, Alice hurried
off to take care of him. Alone and desperately anxious,
Mattie grew seriously ill. Her baby daughter was born
prematurely and lived only a short time.
General Morgan made his miraculous escape from the
Ohio prison on November 27, 1863 (the day his daughter
was born) and managed to reach Mattie in time for
Christmas. It was later felt that John's overwhelming
desire to be with her inspired this reckless plan. After
the couple was reunited, they were more devoted than
ever. And more determined than ever to be together.
They even made a covenant to this effect. Mattie
accompanied him to Richmond in early January of 1864 for
a nearly three month ovation in the capitol. They were
wined, dined, and extensively made over. He was
celebrated as the South' s great hero; Mattie enjoyed it
all and continued to gain strength.
At the end of March 1864, General Morgan was given
command of the Confederacy's Southwestern Virginia
Department (which included part of east Tennessee) and
they moved to the headquarters in Abingdon, Virginia.
This was Morgan's first and only departmental command
and one of the most undesirable in the entire army. The
next few months brought a different picture into focus.
At this time in his career, Morgan was a very
disenchanted man. There were clouds of suspicion and
disgrace from previous unauthorized military actions
hovering around him and a court of inquiry threatening
to ruin his career. His intense love for Mattie was the
only bright spot in his life during this dark time. On
his way back to Abingdon from the Last Kentucky Raid, he
wrote: "How very anxious I am to see you & to hold you
in my arms. Do not think I shall permit myself to be
separated from you again." His appearance indicated
that he was a tired, sick man who had aged considerably,
and Basil Duke, who had just been released from the Ohio
prison, was appalled at the change in Morgan. The new
command was a mixed group, with many untrustworthy
elements among them, while most of his former command
was still in prison in Ohio. During the summer while
operating in Greenville, Tennessee he revoked the parole
of a Union officer whom a townswoman by the name of Lucy
Williams had "befriended" and it was always believed by
Morgan's family and friends that it was she who sought
On August 28/29, 1864, General Morgan and his men
once again rode off from Abingdon, Virginia to
Greenville, Tennessee. Even though Tennessee was a
Confederate state, it was widely divided, and this part
of east Tennessee was very pro-Union. Though strongly
advised to the contrary on separating himself from his
men, Morgan selected the largest and most comfortable
house in the area for his headquarters, that of Mrs.
Catherine Williams, a friend of Mattie's family. Mrs.
Williams had three sons, two of whom fought for the
Confederacy and one for the Union. The Union
soldier-son was married to Lucy, a woman of questionable
character. Although there was no evidence to actually
prove Lucy's betrayal as to informing the Federals of
Morgan's whereabouts, it was generally accepted that
this was indeed the case. She herself never denied the
accusations and Joe Williams began divorce proceedings
almost immediately. He later visited the Ready family
Four days after leaving Mattie in Abingdon, a Union
cavalry force, commanded by Military Governor of
Tennessee Andrew Johnson's adjutant general, Alvan C.
Gillera, surprised the Confederates and John Hunt Morgan
was shot and killed by Union private, Andrew J.
Campbell. (it was believed that Johnson, himself a
native of Greenville, felt it his duty to promote the
Union cause in the area and was particularly offended by
Morgan being recognized as a hero by Southern
sympathizers.) Morgan was the only headquarters
officer killed, and many believe that he was murdered
after surrender and his body desecrated. Others feel
that he chose death over surrender and indefinite
separation from Mattie. Perhaps the covenant he and
Mattie had agreed upon previously entered into his
decision to gamble on life, rather than death. This was
on September 4, 1864 — the same day that Atlanta fell.
Mattie learned of her husband's death and claimed
his body under a flag of truce. Grief stricken and
pregnant, she returned to Augusta, Georgia to stay with
relatives. Seven months after the death of General
John Hunt Morgan, Mattie gave birth to their daughter,
and named her Johnnie. (Johnnie Hunt Morgan was born on
April 7, 1865, just two days before General Lee's
surrender.) The child was a great comfort to Mattie in
her grief. During the summer of 1865, Mattie and
little Johnnie returned to her parents' home in
Murf reesboro, where she devoted most of her time and
energy to raising her young child and representing her
late husband as the widow of a Lost Cause hero. Her
home, her family, and the Southern way of life she had
previously known were gone forever. The period
following the war years was a difficult time for
everyone, and the Ready family was no exception. In
1870, in order to help alleviate the shortage of family
funds, the "New Ready House" opened as a boarding house,
with Mattie' s brother, Ex-Colonel Horace Ready, as its
proprietor, "keeping a ledger of those who came to
dinner and to spend the night." This was after the
"Great Fire" in Murf reesboro in 1868, when perhaps the
old house was either burned or badly damaged.
Mattie remarried on January 30, 1873 after about
eight years of widowhood. Her second husband was Judge
William H. Williamson of Lebanon and they were the
parents of five children. In the early 1880 's, Mattie
was described in Prominent Tennesseans as "noted for her
fine address, intellectual vigor and cultivation, her
strength of character and devotion to her children.
Handsome in person, and clothed with the graces of the
highest order of womanhood, she is naturally of great
influence in the community." Martha Ready Morgan
Williamson died on November 16, 1887 at the age of 47.
Her love for Morgan was apparent even after death. On
her tombstone is the following inscription, "Our Mother
- First the wife of Gen'l John H. Morgan - And then of
Judge Wm. H. Williamson."
Six months after her mother's death, Johnnie
married the Rev. Joseph W. Caldwell. On June 28, 1888,
shortly after her honeymoon, Johnnie died of typhoid
fever, thereby leaving no direct descendants of John
Hunt and Martha Ready Morgan.
Article from the FREE PRESS , Murf reesboro, Tennessee,
Sunday, February 28, 1988.
Arnette, C.B. From Mink Slide to Main Street . Williams
Printing Company, Nashville, TN, 1991.
Jones, Katharine M., Ed. Heroines of Dix ie; Spring of
High Hopes , Bobbs-Merrill , 1955. ~
Memoirs of General Basil W. Duke, interview with
" NEWS -BANNER " reporter, Louisville, Kentucky, August 31,
Neff, Robert 0. Unpublished manuscript based on
interview and information obtained from Mrs. Samuel B.
Gilreath of Lebanon, Tennessee in 1985. Mrs. Gilreath is
the granddaughter of Mattie and Judge Williamson.
Pittard, Mabel. History of Rutherford County , Memphis
State University Press, 1984.
Ramage, James A. Rebel Raider; The Life of General
John Hunt Morgan , The University Press of Kentucky —
Lexington, KY, 1986.
"Tennessee Historical Quarterly", Spring, 1991, vol. L.
No . 1 . '
Shirley Farris Jones is a staff member at Middle
Tennessee State University, Mur f reesboro, Tennessee. She
is currently serving her fourth term as President of the
Rutherford County Historical Society. she also serves
as Vice President of Friends of Stones River National
Battlefield and 1st Vice President of the Martha Ready
Morgan Chapter of the United Daughters of the
Confederacy. A direct descentant of three Confederate
grandfathers, she is a member of the Real
Great-grandaughter' s Club of the UDC. "Civil War history
is more than just a hobby, it has been a "passion" since
childhood," according to Ms. Jones, who has had several
articles published previously in "Civil War Regiments,"
"The Journal of Confederate History," and the United
Daughters of the Confederacy monthly magazine. This
research was done in conjunction with Newmark Publishing
U.S.A., Louisville, KY, for the "Orphan Brigade:
Journey Through the Civil War" limited edition prints
series by artist John Paul Strain. "Morgan's Wedding"
was the sixth of this series to be released.
TWO GALLANT LEADERS AT THE BATTLE OF MURFREESBORO*
Harris D. Riley, Jr., M.D.
*From the Children's Hospital of Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma
Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
"In the cedar-brakes that border the stream of
Stone River, in Tennessee, was fought on the
last day of 1862 an action that must always be
memorable in the history of war. When first
its story was flashed over the land, men only
saw that a battle, fierce and terrible beyond
all previous example in the West, had been
delivered. . . . But when the true relations of
this contest came to be apprehended, it was
perceived to have a weight and meaning beyond
that which attaches to any mere passage of
arms--it was seen that it bore upon the whole
life of the rebellion. . . .We readily discern
that it is one of those few pivotal actions
upon which, in very truth, turned the whole
issue of the war (1)."
This is how William Swinton in his The Twelve Decisive Battles
of the War characterized the Civil War battle of Murfreesboro (or
Stones River) in Middle Tennessee which took place on December 31,
1862- January 2, 1863. As battles go, the fierce and far-reaching
encounter at Murfreesboro between Braxton Bragg 's Confederate Army
of Tennessee and William Rosecrans ' s Federal Army of the
Cumberland ranks as one of the bloodiest ever (2).
Heroes were numerous on each side at Murfreesboro. Of the
many, I have selected two — one from each side — to tell about
because of the key role each played in the battle. They were
Brigadier General James E. Rains, Confederate States Army,
commander of the 2nd brigade, McCown's division of General
Hardee's corps (Fig. 1) and Colonel George Washington Roberts,
United States Army, commander of the 3rd brigade, Sheridan's
division of McCook's right wing (Fig. 2). Although they were
opponents in the battle, there were certain pertinent similarities
between them. Both were graduates of Yale University. Both
belonged to the same social fraternity — Delta Kappa Epsilon. In
civilian life both were attorneys. Both were killed leading
charges in the battle. However, before looking at their individual
roles, let us consider the general military situation, and
particularly that in the Western theater, in late 1862.
December, 1862--the last month of the first full year of the
Civil War — showed a military picture quite different from that of
the summer and early fall. Confederate arms had been victorious
on the Peninsula in Virginia, at Second Manassas and for a time in
Kentucky and at Sharpsburg in Maryland had held its position in the
face of an army twice as large. Despite this there were foreboding
signs for the Confederacy. In Virginia, Burnside's Army of the
Potomac was obviously preparing for direct action against Lee at
Fredericksburg; in Middle Tennessee, Bragg at Murf reesboro,
southeast of Nashville, was confronted by a readying Rosecrans at
Nashville, and on the Mississippi Grant was building up for a drive
by land or by river against Vicksburg. In Arkansas, from New
Orleans and along the Carolina, Georgia, and Texas coasts smaller
forces were preparing to attack the Confederacy. Offshore there
was always the naval blockade, although penetrated by the
spectacular roaming of CSS Alabama. President Davis of the
Confederacy, well aware of the threat of the poised Northern
armies, was attempting to gather his widely spread forces together
despite lack of men and materiel (3).
On December 26, 1882, Major General William S. Rosecrans, and 2^
his Federal Army of the Cumberland numbering some 47,000 officers
and men, launched an offensive southeast from Nashville, Tennessee.
His immediate target was the Confederate Army of Tennessee which
was at Murfreesboro blocking the main road and railway routes to
Chattanooga. It was under the command of General Braxton Bragg
and numbered slightly less than 38,000 troops (4).
Rosecrans' army consisted of three corps commanded, from right
to left, by Generals Alexander McD. McCook, George H. Thomas and
Thomas L. Crittenden. Rosecrans' plan was to turn the Confederate
left while refusing Crittenden's corps (5).
The Union army required four days to march the 25 to 30 miles,
being retarded by rain, fog, and the highly effective delaying
tactics of "Fighting Joe" Wheeler's Confederate cavalry. In fact,
the advance was virtually one continuous skirmish, in which the
Federal infantry was forced to deploy at every hillcrest. The
Union cavalry was not so well handled and as a consequence
Rosecrans was ignorant of his opponent's moves while Bragg was well
informed by Wheeler (6).
By the evening of December 30, it was obvious to both
commanders that preparatory maneuvering was over and the next day
would see the onset of battle along the banks of Stones River.
Interestingly, each was planning to attack the other's right.
Early in the evening of the 30th Rosecrans sent orders to Major
General McCook to have large camp fires built on his right to
deceive the enemy, making him think that troops were being massed
there. Murfreesboro has been criticized as a place to do battle
because it was vulnerable to attack from several different
directions ( 7 ) .
The Confederate division of Breckinridge was left east across
Stones River, northwest of Murf reesboro, while Hardee's other two
divisions--McCown (4,500) and Cleburne (7,000) — moved into position
opposite the Federal right. The Confederate center was held by
Polk's two divisions: Withers (8,500) in front, and Cheatham
(5,500) to his rear. McCown's division was to attack at dawn (8).
The alignment of the opposing forces early on the morning of the
Dec. 31, the first day of the battle, is shown in Fig. 3.
Brigadier General James E. Rains commanded the 2nd brigade,
one of three brigades of McCown's division directed by Major
General J. P. McCown. Rains' brigade contained the 3rd and 9th
Georgia battalions, the 29th North Carolina and the 11th Tennessee
Infantry regiments, and the Eufaula (Alabama) light artillery.
It was on the far left of the Confederate line (9) (Fig. 3).
Stones River Tenn.
Dec. 31- Jan. 3 1862-3
The Federal right, where the initial Confederate blew was ^
about to fall, was held by McCook's corps; Johnson's division
(6,300) was on the extreme right flank, on the Franklin road, with
the divisions of J. C. Davis (4,600) and Sheridan (5,000) extending
left to the Wilkinson Pike. Negley's division (4,700), of Thomas's
corps was in the center of the line. Crittenden's division of
Palmer (4,400) and Wood (5,100) extended the line to the river.
In conformity to the Union plan of attacking with their own left,
two divisions were in assembly areas behind this f lank--Rousseau' s
(6,200) of Thomas's corps, and Van Clave ' s (3,800) of Crittenden' s.
Two of Thomas's divisions were absent: Mitchell's was garrisoning
Nashville; Reynolds was pursuing General John Hunt Morgan's
Confederate raiders. Only one brigade of Fry's division took part
in the battle; one arrived on January 2 and the other was pursuing
Morgan. Rosecrans had ordered his attack to start at 7:00 a.m.,
after his troops had eaten breakfast (10).
Colonel George W. Roberts, U.S.A., commanded the 3rd brigade,
one of three brigades of the 3rd division under the direction of
Brigadier General Phillip H. Sheridan of McCook's right wing. It
was made up of the 22nd, 27th, 42nd, and 51st Illinois Infantry
regiments (11). It was located on the left of McCook's right wing
Bragg gained the ascendancy in the battle by moving first.
He ordered General Hardee commanding the far left of the
Confederate line to attack the enemy at daylight on Wednesday,
December 31, the attack to be taken up by Lieutenant General
Polk's command in succession to the right flank (Fig. 3).
As the 11,000 Confederate infantrymen of McCown and Cleburne's
divisions moved in the half-light of early morning against McCook's
extreme right, about at the juncture of Grisham Lane with the dirt 28
road to Franklin, the full force of their attack fell on the
brigades of Kirk and Willich of Brigadier General Richard W.
Johnson's division of that corps. Kirk's men were up and under
arms, with a strong picket line in their front; but just about
dawn some of the horses of their artillery were unhitched and
taken to water. It was at this moment that the yelling
Confederates came swarming into them. The resulting confusion was
compounded when General Kirk was mortally wounded in the first few
minutes of the engagement. General Willich was not with his
brigade, having gone to see General Johnson. His men were cooking
and eating breakfast, their arms stacked. Willich, returning, was
captured before giving an order. The surprised Federals fought
gallantly, but over-matched and confused, were forced to retreat
McCown's 2nd brigade, under Brigadier General James E. Rains,
had marched directly west, staying south of the Franklin road, then
turned sharply north, sweeping across the road and around the right
flank of the Union position. It led the Confederate attack. Also
swinging around the Federal right wing and vigorously slashing at
their right and rear was Brigadier General John A. Wharton's
cavalry brigade, which succeeded in capturing about 1,500
prisoners, a four gun battery, several hundred wagons, and
generally spreading terror behind the front line. One of the
Federal commanders said he saw cavalry on his right, infantry
assailing his left, and heavy masses rushing to assault his front.
The only alternative to annihilation or capture was to be at a
rapid retreat (13).
Two of the three Yankee brigades were overwhelmed. Leaving
their artillery in the hands of the enemy, the brigades broke up 29
and streamed back to the northwest (14).
The Confederates were pressing with fury and driving the
Federals on McCook's right, but they were paying a heavy price in
lives. As his brigade slashed into the Union lines. General Rains
himself was shot through the chest, falling from his horse
mortally wounded. Rains' last words were, "Forward, my brave
boys. Forward!" His men pushed on (15). A Captain McCauley, who
was with Rains watched spellbound, then attempted to tell one of
his men that Rains had been hit, only to have a bullet rip through
his rib cage, knock him to the ground, and paralyze his right leg.
McCauley states that the site at which Rains was killed was reached
after driving the enemy approximately one and one-half miles (16).
General McCown reported that Rains was shot through the heart at
the moment the enemy was routed (17). Rains' brigade suffered 199
casualties ( 18) .
James Edwards Rains was born in Wilson County, Tennessee,
April 10, 1833 (19). He was the son of Rev. John and Lucinda
Rains. His father's means being limited, young Rains was obliged
to work to assist in the support of the family; up to his
seventeenth year he had attended school but five months. At this
time he entered Washington Institute, a seminary near Nashville
and attended for one five-month session. He was then sent to
Connecticut where he was under a private tutor for a few weeks.
Rains then entered the sophomore class at Yale University (20).
He joined Delta Kappa Epsilon. James Rains was greatly beloved
by his classmates. After graduating from Yale in the class of 1854
at the age of 21, he returned to Tennessee and assumed charge of
Millwood Academy in Cheatham Co. (21). Rains held this position
for two years and in his spare time prepared himself for the
profession of law. He then entered the law office of John Trimble
of Nashville and devoted himself to legal studies until admitted
to the bar. Taking an interest in politics, he stumped Tennessee
during the gubernatorial canvass of 1857, and made frequent
speeches in behalf of the candidates opposed to the Democratic
ticket. After the election, Rains became associate editor of the
the Nashville Banner , the oldest political journal in Tennessee,
and a long recognized exponent of Whig doctrines. He performed
most effectively in this capacity during the one year period with
the newspaper. In 1858, he resumed the practice of law and was
elected city attorney of Nashville. During his term of office, he
compiled and published in book form the corporation statues (22).
On June 22, 1858 Rains was married to Miss Ida Yeatman, a
step-daughter of U.S. Senator and Presidential Candidate John Bell
of Tennessee. They had one child, a daughter born in 1859. In
1860, he served as district attorney general for the counties of 31
Davidson, Williamson, and Sumner (23). Rains was said to oppose
secession and had voted for the Bell and Everett ticket in the
presidential campaign of 1860 (24). However, he went with his
native state of Tennessee when it seceded.
At the outbreak of the Civil War Rains enlisted in April, 1861
as a private in the 11th Tennessee Infantry. He was elected and
commissioned colonel of the regiment on May 10, 1861, which was
ordered to East Tennessee. During the winter of 1861-62, Rains
occupied Cumberland Gap in East Tennessee, but was finally flanked
out of his position by superior manpower in June, 1862. Rains'
bravery at Cumberland Gap became well-known (25). When Kirby Smith
advanced into Kentucky, he left Stevenson's division, including a
brigade under Rains, to operate against Federal General Morgan in
the Gap. For his services in forcing Morgan northward. Rains was
promoted to brigadier general on November 4, 1862. He was made
brigade commander and was assigned to Major General John T.
McCowan's division of Lieutenant General Hardee's corps positioning
near Murfreesboro (26).
Brigadier General St. John R. Liddell, a brigade commander in
Cleburne's division at Murfreesboro, states that on the night
before the battle opened, he encountered "young General Rains of
Nashville," now commanding a brigade under Major General McCown,
in conversation with General Cleburne in a deserted house near the
battlefield. Liddell goes on to state, "I soon found Rain (sic)
to be an able and prompt officer. By reference to my locality the
day before, he quickly made known to me my new position which had
been taken in the dark. This brave young man was killed the next
day at the head of his men. His death was greatly regretted."
Professor N.C. Hughes, the editor of Liddell's Record , commented:
"Not yet thirty. Rains had made his mark politically in middle
Tennessee. As a lawyer turned soldier, he proved to be a leader
and promised to become an effective general" (27).
General John P. McCown, division commander, terming Rains "a
gallant officer and accomplished gentlemen," praised his
performance in the battle and his great value to the army (28).
When McCown's men had exhausted their momentum, Cleburne moved
up and continued the assault. Meanwhile the front brigades of
Polk's left were driving in on the right of Cleburne and McCown,
and Wharton's cavalry had swung around the Federal right and
smashed at their right and rear (29) (Fig. 3).
Following the rout of Johnson's division, the Confederates
fell on Brigadier General Jefferson C. Davis' division driving it
back towards the Nashville Pike. Davis' troops were able to delay
the Confederates only long enough for Brigadier General Phillip
H. Sheridan to prepare his men to receive the first shock of the
Southern attack. Sheridan's command, the left division of McCook's
corps, received the first attack on terrain that was largely
cultivated and thus had little cover. Nevertheless, they threw off
three successive attacks made by the brigades of Cheatham and
Withers from Polk's left (30). Robert's brigade was in the center
of this ferocious fight (Fig. 3).
About 9:30 a.m. Sheridan counterattacked with Robert's brigade
and gained sufficient time to withdraw to a new position behind
the Nashville Pike and at a right angle to Negley's division (31).
Finally, however, as Cleburne pressed in on Wither ' s left,
Sheridan was overpowered by the envelopment and the enfilading
artillery fire and was forced to give way towards the Nashville
Pike. Rousseau's division had been sent to Sheridan's support, but
there was no stopping the fury of the Confederate drive. Rousseau
was swept back, and even Sheridan was forced to withdraw. As
Sheridan commenced to fall back, Patton Anderson's brigade of
Wither 's division moved against the division of Major General
Negley posted in a dense cedar glade on Thomas' right, near the
Wilkinson Pike. Federal artillery raked the cotton field across
which Anderson's men had to advance, repulsing Anderson's first
charge. But A. P. Stewart's brigade was brought up in support,
and the Confederates charged again. The Federals fell back,
abandoning eleven cannons, most of which had belonged to
Sheridan's division, and which had caused such havoc (32).
So determined and irresistible was the Confederate attack and
follow-through that by 10:00 a.m. they had put Johnson's and Davis'
division of McCook's corps to flight in a wide sweep of four or
five miles to the Nashville Pike (Fig. 4). Sheridan's division was
still fighting hard during this period. Indeed Sheridan's troops
were never put to flight. Sheridan's left brigade under Colonel
George W. Roberts bore the brunt of the attack by Anderson and
Stewart. The first Rebel assault on Roberts was beaten back, and
Roberts made a counterattack before he also retreated to join the
remainder of Sheridan's command. Alexander F. Stevenson, whose
42nd Illinois regiment belonged to Robert's brigade, recalled the
scene: "Suddenly the grand form of Colonel Roberts could be seen
riding in rear of the regiment, telling the officers not to let a
shot be fired; Then, wheeling around the left wing, he rode in
front of the regiment along the whole line, with his cap in his
hand, cheering the men to endless enthusiasm and shouting to them,
'Don't fire a shot! Drive them with the bayonet!'" Following the
order to advance, the 42nd Illinois raced forward, causing the
southerners of Manigault to retreat. However, the Illinoisans soon
found themself surrounded by a host of southerners from the units
of Polk and Wood. Sheridan attempted to establish a new line
stretching east from the Gresham house and bending back to the
north, where Roberts' brigade maintained its position immediately
south of the Wilkinson Pike. Roberts led his brigade in a
desperate bayonet charge against the command of Manigault (33). 35
But the strength of the Confederate attack was too great. Roberts'
brigade threw back three infantry attacks while an artillery duel
raged at a range of no more than two hundred yards. It was in the
midst of this fighting that Roberts was killed (34). Stevenson,
wrote that, after being hit by three bullets, Roberts gave the
order that he be strapped on his horse. He was preparing to lead
still another charge against the enemy when he died (35). Roberts
fell about 10:45 a.m. (36). Robert's determined resistance delayed
the attack on the Union right wing for a time, thus allowing the
reforming of broken columns (37). His brigade suffered 566
casualties (38). Although he lost three brigade commanders,
Sheridan conducted a fighting withdrawal. By noon, however,
Bragg' s first objective had been attained; the Federal line was
doubled back like a jackknife blade until its right wing was at
right angles to the original line of battle. But the Confederates
were not able to deliver the knock-out punch (39).
George Washington Roberts was of Welsh descent and was the son ^
of Pratt and Ann Wilson Roberts. His father had migrated from New
England to Pennsylvania. George, the eldest son, was born in
Chester County, Pennsylvania, October 2, 1833. He spent his
boyhood days on the family farm and attended the schools of West
Chester, Pa. He entered Yale University where he was a member of
Delta Kappa Epsilon. He graduated in the class of 1857 with
honors. On his graduation he first studied and then practiced law
in West Chester, until March 1, 1859, when he removed to Chicago.
Although successful in his profession there, he was determined to
enter the army and began recruiting for the 42nd Regiment Illinois
Volunteers. On July 22, 1861 he received his commission as major
of the regiment, and on September 17 was elected lieutenant
colonel. Upon the death of Colonel Webb on December 24, 1861, he
was chosen colonel. With his regiment Colonel Roberts took part
in the well-known march of General Fremont to Springfield, after
which the 42nd went into quarters at Smithtown, Missouri. After
the fall of Fort Donelson, the colonel proceeded with his regiment
to Fort Holt, near Cairo, where he held command of the post, at
that time garrisoned by the 42nd Illinois, 8th Ohio, and a battery
of the 2nd Illinois Artillery. From there he was ordered to
Columbus, Kentucky, after the evacuation by the enemy, and next
proceeded to Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River (40).
At Island No. 10, Colonel Roberts first made his mark as one
of the heroes of the army. On April 1, 1862, in the midst of a
fierce storm, he led a small expedition of 40 men in five small
boats which successfully spiked the guns of the upper battery
which allowed passage of Union gunboats. He gained further praise
in the engagement at Farmington, Mississippi where he covered the
retreat. He received praise from General Rosecrans for his
performance in the seige of Corinth following the battle of Shiloh
(41). In command of a brigade he distinguished himself in several
skirmishes during 1862 in route to Nashville (42).
Of powerful physique, he was as fearless as he was strong.
It is said that, on one occasion in the early part of the war, he
relieved a temporary blockade on a railroad by replacing a flat
truck on the track single-handed (43).
When Nashville was captured by Federal troops, Robert's
regiment was assigned to garrison duty in that city. With the
certainty that active operations in the field were impending, he
was transferred at his own request to the army near Murfreesboro.
In the ensuing battle, as previously related, he was killed.
Among the most remarkable incidents of the battle was the
tribute paid to Roberts by the Confederates who had witnessed his
bravery while directing Sheridan's 3rd brigade. The Confederates
dug a grave among the rocks and cedars. Major Luke W. Finlay, a
Yale graduate, wrapped the body in his own military cloak and read
the service of the dead over the remains; a military salute was
fired and a bugler played taps. Last of all, a group of privates
brought a large smooth stone and placed it on Colonel Roberts'
grave, having chopped an inscription on the stone (44).
General Phillip Sheridan, in his Memoirs , writes: "Colonel G.
W. Roberts came to me in the re-organization. He was an ideal
soldier both in mind and body. He was young, tall, handsome,
brave, and dashing and possessed a balanced wheel of such good
judgment that, in his sphere of action, no occasion could arise,
from which he would not reap the best results."
Rosecrans, forced by advance to change his original plans for
a flank attack on the Confederate right, gradually formed a
formidable line along the Nashville Pike, making a desperate
attempt to maintain communication with the rear. When the
Confederates had bent back the Union flank to the Nashville Pike,
Rosecrans brought Wood's and Van Cleve's division back from the
east side of Stones River to bolster the retreating Federal
defense (Fig. 5). As the Confederate drive against the Federal
right began to slow down about 10:00 in the morning, Bragg called
on Breckinridge to send from east side of the river, first one
brigade and then two brigades, to Polk's support. Through a
failure in communications, Breckinridge did not supply these
troops to help Hardee's men who had encountered the fresh Federal
line along the Nashville Pike. The new position of the Federal
line created a sharp salient at the center and in this salient was
a thick clump of trees covering about four acres. In and around
this forest Rosecran assembled every available brigade not already
in action, and backed them up with artillery on high ground in
rear of the infantry division. The general area of this
stronghold, referred to in the reports as the Round Forest, was
defended against successive waves of furiously attacking
Confederates throughout the rest of the day. Finally
Breckinridge's brigades began to come on the field from across the
river in accordance with the original orders and Bragg threw them
into action as they arrived. One by one the Confederate brigades
were hurled against the Round Forest position, with the courage
and abandon that won the admiration of the defenders, but the wall
of fire drove them back with terrific losses. At length, the
short winter twilight deepended to darkness, putting an end to the
fighting, to the great relief of both exhausted and decimated
armies ( 46 ) .
Thus closed the first day of a battle which was really two
separate battles, two distinct engagements separated by a day of
relative inactivity. In this first day's fighting the Federals
were driven from their positions on their right for a distance of
four or five miles, and the Confederates held the field at the
close of the day. Both armies had suffered shocking losses, but
the Confederates were justified in feeling that the day was theirs.
On December 31 the Confederates were so close to victory that it
can be speculated how the Union army could have escaped disaster
if Carter Stevenson's 7,500-man division had been present rather
than detached to Mississippi (47).
At the close of the first day of the battle on December 31,
the body of General Rains and many other dead and wounded were
taken to Murfreesboro. The stately little town had been converted
into a hospital. A wounded Confederate wrote, "We saw.... the long
black casket containing the body of our beloved General Rains,
which cast a deep gloom over our spirits. His presence in battle
had been equal to a regiment of men" (48).
Rosecrans seriously considered retreating during the night but
finally decided against it. New Years day was a day of relative
inactivity. Bragg returned Breckinridge to his original position
on the east side of the river. This move was countered by
Rosecrans' ordering a division across the river where they formed
a line of battle confronting Breckinridge.
For a time on the morning of January 2nd, it seemed that the
inaction might continue through another day. However, in the
afternoon Breckinridge was ordered to cross the river and drive the
Federals from the high ground west of the river. The Federals,
however, had assembled all available artillery on the west bank of
the Stones River which totalled 58 guns at McFadden's Ford.
Breckinridge's advancing lines were met by murderous fire from the
artillery and small arms delivered by the Union infantry. The
over-all result was devastating and Breckinridge was forced back
Sj^to his original position. He left 1,700 of his men dead and
wounded on the field (49).
On the night of January 3-4, 1863, Bragg withdrew his
exhausted army towards Shelbyville. Rosecrans did not pursue. It
was not until June that Rosecrans renewed operation in this area.
The Federals lost 12,906 men and the Confederates 11,739. The
historian Rope said, "Few battles have been fought which have
better exhibited the soldierly virtues than the battle of
Murf reesboro or Stone's River, the Confederate assaults were
conducted with the utmost gallantry and with untiring energy.
They were met with great coolness and resolution...." (50).
Murf reesboro was a tactical victory for the Confederates, but
Bragg lacked the strength to destroy Rosecrans' larger army or
drive it from the field. From a strategic standpoint the campaign
was a Union victory (51).
"'Stones River!' What a host of memories comes back with the
name!" wrote the author, Mrs. L. D. Whitson as she recalled the
battle. "It seems but yesterday since we laid our hands on the
cold, dead face of General [James] Rains, who was shot through the
heart, killed instantly. ... It seems but yesterday since the screams
of his sister, who refused to be comforted. .. .What must have been
the feelings of the. . .young wife. .. .environed by Yankees
in. . .Nashville, unable to come to him?" (52).
Because General Rains was a prominent citizen of Tennessee
as well as a distinguished military figure, a minister requested
permission from General Rosecrans to remove Rains' body to
Nashville, his home, for burial. Rosecrans acceded to the request
but responded: "You may have the corpse, sir; but remember
distinctly that you can't have an infernal secession 'pow wow' over
it in Nashville!" (53). For whatever reasons the disinterment was
delayed. It was not until 1888 that General Rains' remains were
transferred from the grave in Murfreesboro to the Mt. Olivet
Cemetery in Nashville (54).
Fig. 1. Brigadier General Jcunes E. Rains, Confederate States Army.
(Reprinted with permission from Yale in the Civil War , p.
Fig. 2. Colonel George W. Roberts, United States Army. (Reprinted
with permission from Yale in the Civil War, p. 138).
Fig. 3. The alignment of the opposing forces on December 31,
1862--January 3, 1863. The first day of the battle (Dec. 31)
took place chiefly west of Stones River. The first position
of Hardee's corp and two of his division (McCown and Cleburne)
early on the morning of Dec. 31 can be seen in the lower left
portion of the map. McCown 's division was first in the line
against the Federal right. Rains' brigade is shown on the
far left of McCown 's line. In the center of the map
immediately south of the Wilkinson Turnpike the position of
Roberts brigade of P. H. Sheridan's division early on the
morning of Dec. 31 can be seen.
Bragg and Rosecrans each planned to attack the others
right flank, but Bragg seized the iniative by attacking first.
By 8:00 a.m., Hardee's troops had advanced a mile crushing
Willich's and Kirk's brigade. Bragg attained his first
objective by 10:00 a.m., having driven the Federal right back
to the line of the Nashville Pike, and put to flight Johnson's
and Davis' divisions. Sheridan's division, including the
brigade of Roberts, conducted a fighting withdrawal.
Rosecrans assembled several brigades along with artillery at
the Round Forrest, a salient in the area between the railroad
and the river. The Confederates launched several charges on
this strongly defended site but were unable to deliver a
Most of the fighting on Jan. 2, 1863 took place on the
east side of Stones River. The position of the 58 Federal
guns on the west side of the river is shown. (Reprinted with
permission of Battles and Leaders , III, p. 612).
Fig. 4. The Nashville Pike out of Murfreesboro. By 10:00 a.m. on
the first day of the battle Bragg had forced Rosecrans all the
way back to the Pike. (Reprinted with permission from Battles
and Leaders , III, p. 606).
Fig. 5. Federal General Samuel Beatty's brigade (Van Cleve's
division) advanced to aid the Union right. (Reprinted with
permission from Battles and Leaders, III, p. 622).
Appreciation is expressed to DeEtta Covey and Kristi Sue Stone
for typing the manuscript.
1. William Swinton, The Twelve Decisive Battles of the War .
New York: Vick and Fitzgerald, Publishers, 1873, 178.
2. Frank E. Vandiver, Their Tattered Flags . New York: Harpers,
3. E.B. Long, Civil War Dav-bv-Day; An Almanac , 1861-1865.
Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., 1971, 291.
4. Stanley F. Horn, "The Seesaw Battle of Stones River," Civil
War Times Illustrated (Feb. 1964), 6-11, 34-39.
5. Mark M. Boatner, III, The Civil War Dictionary . New York:
David McKay Co., 1959, 803-811.
6. Horn, "The Seesaw Battle...," 6-7.
7. Ibid; Thomas L. Connelly, Autumn of Glory: The Army of
Tennessee, 1862-1865 . Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1971, 47.
8. Boatner, The Civil War Dictionary , 805.
9. James L. McDonough, Stones River — Bloody winter in Tenn-
essee . Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1980, 253.
10. Boatner, The Civil War Dictionary , 805.
11. McDonough, Stones River. . . , 235-36.
12. Horn, "The Seesaw Battle...," 8.
13. McDonough, Stones River. . . , 90-91.
14. Ibid , 91.
15. Time-Life Books, "The Struggle for Tennessee," The Civil War.
(By James Street, Jr. and editors of Time-Life Books).
Alexandria, Va. : Time-Life Books, 1985; Peter Cozzens, No
Better Place to Die: The Battle of Stones River. Urbana and
Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1990, 141.
16. McDonough, Stones River. . . , 92. ^^
17. U.S. War Department, War of the Rebellion; A Compilation of
the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies .
Volumes 128. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1880-
1901, Series I, Vol. XX, Part 1, 913; hereinafter cited as ^.
18. Ibid , 681.
19. Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Gray . Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 1959, 250-51.
20. Letter of July 30, 1985 from Wesley H. Poling, Director of
Alumni Records Office, Yale University, New Haven, CT to
21. Eliot Ellsworth, Jr., Yale in the Civil War . New Haven, CT:
Yale University Press, 1932, 38-39.
22. Letter of July 30, 1985 from Wesley H. Poling, Director of
Alumni Records Office, Yale University, New Haven, CT to
23. Warner, Generals in Gray , 250-51.
24. Ellsworth, Yale in the Civil War, 38-39.
25. Confederate Veteran , XVI, 390-91.
26. Warner, Generals in Gray , 250-51.
27. Nathaniel C. Hughes, Jr., Liddell's Record. St. John
Richardson Liddell, Brigadier General, CSA. Dayton:
Morningside Books, 1981, 107.
28. James D. Porter, "Tennessee," Confederate Military History .
Volumes 13. Atlanta: Confederate Publishing Co., 1888, VIII,
29. Horn, "The Seesaw Battle...," 9.
30. Ibid, 10-11.
31. Boatner, The Civil War Dictionary , 805.
32. Horn, "The Seesaw Battle...," 9. ^
33. Alexander F. Stevenson, The Battle of Stones' River Near
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, December 30, 1862 to January 3_l 1863 .
Boston: Jas . R. Osgood & Co., 1884, 54-57; Cozzens, No Better
Place to Die, 117-118; Stanley F. Horn, The Army of Tennessee;
A Military History . Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1941,
34. McDonough, Stones River... , 107; Report of Brigadier General
Phillip H. Sheridan, OR, Series I, Vol. XX, Pt. 1, 347-54.
35. Stevenson, The Battle of Stones ' River. . . , 68.
36. Report of Colonel L.P. Bradley, OR, Series I, Vol. XX, Pt. 1,
37. Ellsworth, Yale in the Civi l War, 39.
38. Hughes, Liddell's Record, 109; OR, XX, Pt. 1, 209.
39. Horn, "The Seesaw Battle...," 9.
40. John Fitch, Annals of the Army of the Cumberland, Phil-
adelphia: J. B.Lippincott, 1864, 250-2; McDonough, Stones
River.. . , 110; J. Smith Frithey, and Gilbert Cope, History of
Chester County Pennsylvania, with Genealogical and B i o -
graphical Sketches . Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881, 713.
41. Fitch, Annals of .^.^ Cumberland, 251; Maurice Melton, The
struggle for Rebel Island, No. 10. Civil War Times
Illustrated , 18(April, 1979):4-15.
42. Ellsworth, Yale in the Civil War, 40-41.
44. McDonough, Stones River. . . , 157.
45. Phillip H. Sheridan, Personal Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan,
General United States Army . 2 volumes. New York: Charles L.
Webster Co., 1888, II, 210.
46. Horn, "The Seesaw Battle...," 9-11. ^8
47. Ibid , 11; McDonough, Stones River. . . . 219-220.
48. McDonough, Stones River. . . , 164.
49. Horn, "The Seesaw Battle...," 34.
50. Boatner, The Civil War Dictionary . 807.
51. Ibid ; Robert G. Albion, Introduction to Military History . New
York and London: Appleton, Century Crofts, 1929, 246-7.
52. McDonough, Stones River. . . , 211.
53. Ibid .
54. Warner, Generals in Gray , 251.
Sarah F. E. Coopec's Essay.
Soule Female College.
Mupf treesbopo, Tennessee.
A.D. June 26th 1855.
In the year of the Ametrican Republic L.XXIX
Pillar of fipe
or angelic agency.
How often are the protecting arms of angels thrown
around us in the pathway of life. As a pillar of cloud by
day and a pillar of fire by night.
They mark our way, choose our steps, keeping us from a
course which might plunge us into inevitable darkness,
sorrow, or the tomb.
Angels are with us wherever we roam on earth. Though
distant from our native home, on lowland, sea, or mountains
vast, they can wave their pinions over our youthful heads
allowing us to heaven.
They hover around us whispering words of love, beguiling
us with delightful thoughts and often reminding us of those
who have gone before us in triumph, and thus inspire us to
follow them to heaven.
"Angels our noonday walks attend,
And all our midnight hours defend."
It was an angel that appeared to the Israelites in a
pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night,
throwing the mantle of protection around them, shielding them
from the enemy as they journeyed to the land of Promise. At
one time they had been overcome, had not Divine Providence
changed the pillar of fire to Egyptian darkness, enveloped
their foes in cinnerian night, and shed on Israel a luster
brighter than the sun.
Have you not read of the angel that "heralded the birth
of Christ?" when
"Heaven bursted her azure gates and posessed Her spirits
to the midnight hour."
"There was suddenly with the angel, a great assembly of
the heavenly host praising God in the highest, shouting peace
and good will towards all men." The morning stars who sang
together and the sons of God who proclaimed the eternal works
of creation were angels.
Was it not an angel that appeared to the wise men "as a
star going before them" until they arrived at Bethlehem. It
was supposed by some that this was a luninous sector prepared
for the occasion.
We cannot tell whether this is true or not, but as the
problem is solved entirely by the rule of supposition we may
suppose it a glorious angel that descended to Earth from his
heavenly abode, to proclaim the advent of Christ to the lord,
shepherds, as they were watching their flocks by night.
Heavenly angels are spiritual beings, peculiarly holy,
happy, innocent and virtuous; and the first in rank among
created beings, they are also the most intelligent. The word
angel profanely signifies a messenger. Angels are spiritual
beings of great power and of understanding vastly superior to
that of man.
It is supposed that they can assume human forms at any
time they choose. Besides this they are possessed of such
great velocity that they can descend from the third heaven to
minister to mortal woes. Meditations upon the nature of
angelic beings are ever pleasing to the humble of Earth and
often our dreams are peopled by legions of celestial
visitants. Tn my own slumbers I have often seen their
Their faces were fair, very fair, with flowing curls
clustering thickly around their heads and shoulders. Their
wings were white as snow and the tips of their feathers were
lightly fringed with azure; such a contrast made them appear
of matchless elegance.
They were beautiful, exquisitely beautiful; and as I
gazed T felt a longing to join their company. Glowing and
Utopian as this may seem, angelic grace far surpasses our
dreams and our highest conceptions of their beauty fall far
below the reality.
One evening lately I was thinking of angels at twilight,
just as the glorious sun dipped and disappeared behind the
western hills; leaving a golden hue of his gorgeous robe upon
the closing gates of day.
My spirit became so perfectly transformed in beholding
the luminous bodies of the skies, as one by one they appeared
from beneath a purple veil until the celestial globe was
illuminated with millions of sparkling gems unrivaled by the
diamond and marking the footprints of a God. In the
enthusiasm of my heart I exclaimed I wish I was an angel.
Then my enraptured spirit would take its flight to happier
scenes beyond, where the sun is never concealed by a cloud,
and where the flowers ever remain of a dazzling beauty. It
seemed to me I heard angels whisper, saying arise and come
with us and we will lead you to the sublime regions of
You shall outstrip the wings of death, and the sorrors
of time and change. I seemed to rise, to float upon the thin
air, heaven spread out before me, and I was almost within its
gates, but atlas! just then a mortal finger touched me and
broke my slumber, and the dneam dissolved.
I traised my drooping head ftrom its hard pillow and lo!
all was fancy. Yet angels were doubtless watching around me
and weaving the fabric of my vision.
Have you ever wondered what angel intercedes for you?
Often when my brow has been parched with feverish heat and
gentle winds fanned my burning cheek I have thought maybe
that the motion was caused by the flitting of an angels wings
above my pillow. If human feeling can tempt a spirit from
heaven to minister to mortal woes surely a mother's love
would bring her down to the sick bed of her child to fan the
aching head with the wings of holy tenderness.
Friends and associates may angels surround you as a
pillow of cloud by day and a pillow of fire by night in all
your daily walks through life;
"Making earth an eden land
And guiding time's departing hours."
And finally when the angel of death knocks at your door, may
the angel of the covenant who's flaming fire has directed
your wandering footsteps through all the meandering of life
gently bear you over the gloomy stream of death.
Transcribed by Shirley F. Jones (1-25-94).
Note: According to the 1850 Census of Rutherford County,
Sarah F.E. Cooper, age 12, William H. Cooper, age 13, and
Wise A. Cooper, age 10, were shown as living in the household
of Joseph and Temperance Lindsey. Joseph is shown as being
a 46 year old male who was born in North Carolina. He listed
his occupation as a Clergyman of the Methodist faith.
Temperance, female, age 70, was also born in North Carolina.
The Cooper children were all listed as having been born in
Tennessee. Based upon this information, Sarah would have been
17 years old when the above was written.
Abner Demerit's Homeplace
"Our Tennessee Pioneer"
by Samuel H. DeMent, M.D.
Charles Dement appears to be the first man of the
aforementioned surname to enter the frontier lands of North
Carolina beyond the mountains. The first record of his presence
in these parts was in January 1792 in Sumner County, when he
acquired 320 acres from James Wilson. ^
History records that Charles Dement left Bertie County, North
Carolina in November 1790 at which time he sold his acreage to
Henry Clay Milburn. ^ The land was located on Wanton Swamp on the
Cashie River and numbered 2 00 acres. He was living on the land at
the time of sale. ^
Charles Dement was an active juror in Bertie County, North
Carolina from the period of November 1774 until 1779. He was not
mentioned again in Bertie County until spring of 1783. Charles
was probably the son of John Dement who first acquired a British
Land Grant in November 1744. The Council at New Bern records his
^North Carolina Land Grants I, p 379. Sumner County Archives
^Bertie County North Carolina Court Minutes, Book P, p 114,
Bertie Co., North Carolina.
^Bertie County North Carolina Court Minutes, Book P, p 239,
Bertie Co., North Carolina.
petition for 250 acres in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. * He
is recorded in the Edgecombe County, North Carolina court minutes
(Halifax County) and sold the acreage in 1751 to John Hardy. ^ The
actual deed recorded the original land patent date as March 18,
1744. A witness to the land exchange was William Dement. In 1751
(September 6, 1;'51) John Dement acquired 400 acres from Daniel
Highsmith on Cashie Swamp (Wanton Swamp) in the area now in the
vicinity of Lewiston. ^ Two hundred acres of this land lying on
the Northeast side of Cashie Swamp was sold to William Edwards on
July 26, 1756.^
The William Dement mentioned previously also relocated to
Bertie County, North Carolina where his name is recorded in 1769
and 1778 (August 28, 1778) at which time he purchased land from the
estate of the late Benjamin Rogers. ® A William Dement served in
the American Revolution and his North Carolina pension land grant
^Colonial Records of North Carolina, Vol. IV B, pp 708, 9, 11,
Halifax Co., North Carolina Real Estate Conveyences, Vol. IV,
p 165, Halifax Co., North Carolina.
^Bertie County, North Carolina Court Minutes, Book G, p 415.
Bertie County, North Carolina.
^Bertie County, North Carolina Court Minutes, Book H. , p 417.
Bertie County, North Carolina.
°Gamon D. Records of Estates of Bertie County, North Carolina.
Raleigh: D Gamon Publis. Vol. I 1728-1744, 1762-1790, p 79, 1986.
was assigned to Archibald Lytle. ^
Charles Dement and his brother John Dement, Jr. acquired a 200
acre land grant in Brunswick County, North Carolina (Oxpen branch
of the Little Shallote River) in 1771. '° Both were listed in 1772
Brunswick County tax records. In 1773 the 200 acres were sold in
two 100 acre tracts to William Cause. ^^ On November 14, 1774,
Charles Dement was deeded the remaining 250 acres that his father
John Dement owned on Wanton Swamp. '^ Charles Dement signed an
Oath of Allegiance to the independent government in either 1774 or
1777. ^^ He apprenticed Mary Barfield in spinning and weaving in
1777. ^* In 1779 Charles Dement registered his cattle mark (crop
and nick under right ear; half moon over left) . '^ He was a member
^orth Carolina Land Grant in Tennessee 1778-1791, p 184,
%orth Carolina Land Grant #139, Nov. 1771. NC St Archives.
^^ Brunswick County, North Carolina Court Records, Book B, pps.
^^Bertie County, North Carolina Court Minutes, Book M, p 242.
Bertie County, North Carolina.
^^Bertie County, North Carolina, Revolutionary War Papers,
1774, 1777. North Carolina State Archives.
^*Haun WP. Bertie County Court Minutes 1772-1780. Durham:
WP Haun, Publis. Book IV, p 259, 1976.
"ibid p 302.
of the North Carolina Militia from Bertie County. ^® In 1780, 18
Militiamen and 112 draftees from Bertie County refused to march to
Hillsborough, North Carolina until they had received bounty, since
they were not supplied weapons. ^^ The Militia rendevoused with
General Jethro Sumner's North Carolina Continentals in 1780. These
patriots fought on the front line in several skirmishes and battles
in the Southern campaign in 1781. '° Charles Dement was noted in
Bertie County Court Minutes again in February 1783 as a juror and
again in 1785 as guardian of Sarah Thomas. ^^ He was mentioned in
1780 as the husband of Selah Thomas in her father's last Will and
Testament. ^ Charles Dement is not mentioned in Bertie County
after October 18, 1790. He may have inherited land from John
Dement (father or brother) in Burke County, North Carolina. ^'
^^Gandrud PJ, McLane BJ. Alabama Soldiers (Rev, War of 1812,
& Indian Wars) Hot Springs: Arkansas Ances. Vol VI pp 66-67, 1979.
^^Rankin H. The North Carolina Continentals. Chapel Hill: North
Carolina Press, p 239, 1971.
^°ibid, pp 247-51.
^^aun WP. Bertie County, North Carolina County Court Minutes
1781-1787. Durham: WP Haun, Publis. Book V, p 136, 1982.
^Bertie County, North Carolina Court Minutes 1780, p 158,
Bertie County, North Carolina.
^^Huggins EW. Burke County, North Carolina Land Records 1779-
1780 and Miscellaneous Records 1777-1780, Vol. II. Estate papers
1777-1795. Easley: So Hist Press, p 164, 1987.
Charles was mentioned in tax records as owning 326 acres in Captain
Adam's Company in 1790. ^ He sold several parcels over the ensuing
years (presumably as an absentee landowner). On June 18, 1793, 120
acres was deeded from Charles Dement to a son David Dement. ^
David Dement deeded the 120 acres to Mary Dement (widow of John)
in 1797. ^* Mary later sold the land in 1800.
On January 11, 1792, Charles Dement acquired 320 acres from
James Wilson in Sumner County, North Carolina. He sold this land
in 1815 to James Douglass. ^ On May 27, 1795, Charles Dement and
William Standley of Sumner County acquired 1000 acres along the
East Side of the Main Fork of the Stones River in Davidson County,
North Carolina. The land was acquired from Noah (Aquilla) Sugg,
a planter and minister. ^,^, Charles Dement later received the
entire 1000 acres through the court from William Standley. Charles
Dement was active in the Sumner County Court records from 1792
^ibid. Tax Records 1782-1793, p 128.
Muggins EW. Burke County, North Carolina Records 1775-1821,
Easley: So Hist Press. #191, 1987.
^Sumner County Deed Book, Vol. VII, p 396 Sumner County
^orth Carolina Land Grants 1, p. 13 5, Tennessee State Arch.
^^Carr J. Early Times in Middle Tennessee. Nashville: Stevenson
and Owen, p 103, 1857.
until July 1803. He was recorded as a Justice of the Peace in
1800. ^ Sumner County court records are missing from 1804 until
1810. Charles Dement received a Rutherford County Land Grant
(#4550) in the 1st District for 680 acres on November 5, 1812 from
assignee William Lytle. ^ The land was situated on the East Side
of the Stones River near Jefferson. In 1809 and 1814 he received
2 quarter sections of section #26 in the Mississippi Territory,
Madison County (NW 1/4 and SW 1/4) and was a taxpayer in Madison
County Alabama in 1815. He resided on the Madison County property
at the time of his death in 1820. His son John Dement confirmed
his burial site at Beaver Dam in his 1848 will. ^'
Charles Dement 's impact on Middle Tennessee is best reflected
by his descendants. Two of his sons, Abner and Cader, were among
the first residents in Rutherford County. In fact, they signed a
historic petition which established Rutherford County from its
parent counties, Davidson and Williamson. ^ The petition was dated
^Charles Dement, Secretary of State Revolutionary War Papers,
North Carolina State Archives.
^Rutherford County TN Deed Book, Book L, p 54.
"Madison County, Alabama Public Library, Surname: Charles
Dement -Government Entries, Madison County, Alabama.
^^Madison County, Alabama Probate Records, Book 14, pps. 181-
2. Huntsville, Alabama.
^McBride R. "An 1803 Census of Rutherford County." Ruth. Co.
Hist. Soc. No 3, pp 52-56, 1974.
August 10, 1803 and Rutherford County was organized on January 3,
1804. They probably lived on the 1000 acre plantation on the Main
Fork of the Stones River, in the Smyrna/Old Jefferson area today.
Cader Dement was a large landowner and plantar who was given power
of attorney by his father Charles on December 26, 1816. The land
involved was the aforementioned 1000 acres plus the 680 acres on
the East Fork of the Stones River. ^ Cader left many descendants
in Middle Tennessee and served in the War of 1812. ^ Abner Dement
acquired 3 land tracts totaling 816 acres from John Donaldson in
1817 in the Lascassas area of Rutherford County. ^ The original
private residence stands on the Cainsville Pike and is registered
as a National Historic Site (Figure 1) . ^ Abner was killed by a
slave, intestate, in 1825. ^^ His minor heirs were William, John
& David, who were reared by Elizabeth Dement, Abner 's widow. ^
Rutherford County Court Minutes, Vol. K, p 4 62.
■^oore JT (Ms) . Records of Commisioned Officers in the
Tennessee Militia. 1796-1815. Baltimore: Geneal Publ. Co. p 235,
^Jernigan MP. "Rutherford County, A Long Look Back." The Daily
News Journal, July 2, 1972.
■'^est M. "Dement House to Enter National Historic List". The
Daily News Journal. August 2, 1986.
■'^Minutes of the County Court of Rutherford County, Book T,
1824-5, p 189.
^ibid, p 358.
John, when of age, remained on the residence. His brother David
DeMent settled nearby along Bradley's Creek. David died in 1907
having fathered 12 children by 2 wives. ^ He is buried behind his
home, which still stands on Bradley's Creek Road. His great
grandson, David Barton DeMent, Jr., was a prominent attorney in
Murfreesboro. He also served in the State House of Representatives
and Senate for 10 years with distinction. A World War II veteran
he died at the age of 52. On January 26, 1965, a Senate Joint
Resolution was adopted and later approved which recognized his
numerous contributions (Figure 2) . ^
Yes, Charles Dement was a true Middle Tennessee pioneer and
patriot, who immigrated to this area by covered wagon and flat boat
from North Carolina several years before Tennessee statehood. Two
of his seven sons were directly involved in the establishment of
Rutherford County in 1804. Many of Charles' descendants remain
in Rutherford County, and along with others who did relocate,
continue to shape Middle Tennessee and the nation as educators,
homemakers, law enforcers, physicians, ministers, agrarians, public
servants, and etc.
DeMent SH. "Dement Family Bible Records." Bits of Dements
Vol. 10 (1) pp 18-20, 1992.
Joint Senate Resolution #6, Acts of Tennessee, 1965.
Bmutt 3fnmt BJfsnluttnn No. fi
A Senate Resolution to the Memory of
THE HONORABLE BARTON DEMENT
Whereas, On June 17, 1963, there passed away lud-
denly a veteran of many legislative battles, a man loved
■sd respected by all legislators who knew him and worked
with him during his six legislative terms, the Honorable
Barton Dement of Murfreesboio; and
Whereas, Senator Dement was often addressed in a
■piiit of triendliness and fun as "The Great Man". This
fond appellation, however, was more 6lting than not
because of his outstanding service to his community, his
Mate, and his nation; to his fellow citizens, he was truly
a great man, a jealous guardian of the rights of individuals,
of our constitutional system of checks and balances, the
aanctity of the ballot box and our jury tystem; and
Whereas, On the floor of the House or Senate, Senator
Dement was a formidable opponent and an effective ally,
sensitive to the merits of an issue, quick to spot phony
arguments or false premises, with an unerring ability to
go straight to the heart of a matter, cementing his posidon
or demolishing an opponent's view with a few deft, probing
Whereas, Senator Dement served the people of Ten-
nessee with enthusiasm and ability in six consecutive
lepslatures, beginning in I9S3 and ending in 1963, fint as
• direct Representadve from Rutherford County in 1953,
195S and 19S7, and then as a Senator representing the
13th Senatorial District in 19S9, 1961 and 1963, and was
an outstanding member of the legislative Council Com-
mittee in 1957 and 1959; and
Whereas, He also served well the people of his home
town of MurfrcciboTO, not only u a member of the Qty
Council from 1952 until the time of his death, but also u
■ charitable citizen, who made no public display of his
• y^V»*<-*Ay '^^^ /7^S'
good works, preferring instead to perform his charity
quietly, privately, without fanfare or recognition; and
Whereas, Senator Dement served his country in
World War U; and, at the time of his death, was a member
of the American Legion; Disabled American Veterans; the
Chamber of Commerce; the American, Tennessee, and
Murlreesboro Bar Associations; Stones River Country
Gub; the Church of Christ; and was a Shriner, a Moose,
a York Rile and Scottish Rite Mason, and a trustee of
the Sam Davis Home in Smyrna, Tennessee; and
Whereas, Senator Dement't passing will take away a
little something from all of us, for from him by his example,
we gained some of his strength, his vigor, his enthusiasm
for taking on the many vexing problems confronting the
legislative branch of government and through the legislative
process, coming to workable solutions;
Haw, Thereiore, Be it retolved by the Seruae oj the
Eighzy-FourUx General Assembly of the State of Tennessee,
The House of Representatives Concurring, That we by this
Resolution express the sorrow that is ours at the loss of
our dear friend and colleague. Senator Barton Dement, an
outstanding public servant, a fine lawyer, a loyal Ten-
oessean, and a patriotic American — truly The Great .
Man". We will miu him.
Be It further resolved. That a copy of this Resolution
be sent to Senator Dement's wife, Mrs. Marie Dement,
1603 Jones Boulevard, Murfreesboro, along with the
prayers and best wishes of the members of the Eighty-
fourth General Assembly for Mrs. Dement and her (our
fine children — Andrew Jackson Dement, Sam Houston
Dement, Debra Diane Dement, and Patrida Aiuette
History of Property
214 East Main Street
Henry B. Forrest
Rutherford County and Murfreesboro, Tennessee are rich because of its people,
past and present, and because of their role in history. More historic homes and sites
have disappeared than are left. Some homes and families have already gone without
recognition. One of the remaining old homes is located at 214 East Main Street. In
tracing the history of this property, it was impossible to separate it from the lives of
those who owned it. Therefore this paper will focus on its owners and their lives; how
the owners used the property throughout the years and how they use it today.
The history of the property goes back into the earliest days of Murfreesboro.
William Franklin Ly tie's parents were Scotch-Irish immigrants who came to America
in the great immigration of the 1700's. From all records the Lytles came before 1724.
They landed at New Castle, Delaware and from there went south to Pennsylvania.
William Lytle was born in Pennsylvania in 1755. His family moved to North Carolina
shortly after his birth. During the Revolutionary War, Lytle served as lieutenant and as
captain. He was with Gen. George Washington when Maj. Gen. Charles Cornwallis
surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781.^ He was transferred to the Fourth regiment
where he served under his brother, Lt. Col. Archibald Lytle, until the close of the war.2
Archibald Lytle received large grants of land in what is now Tennessee for his
distinguished service. One of the grants included 4640 acres of land on the west fork of
Stones River. Another grant of 2560 acres was located near the Harpeth River.3
Archibald Lytle, however, did not live long enough to occupy his grant. He never
married and willed his grants to his brother, William F. Lytle. Lytle's own land grant,
for his services in the Revolutionary War, included acreage in west Tennessee.
William Lytle came to Rutherford County sometime before 1800. He built a log
cabin, gristmill, and sawmill. He later added a cotton gin and warehouses. In 1810 he
began building a mansion near Lytle Creek. The mansion was razed in 1927. Haynes
Brothers Supply Company now occupies the site.^
Murfreesboro was originally called Cannonsburg in honor of Newton Cannon,
governor to be of Tennessee, but it changed names in honor of Col. Hardy Murfree, a
Revolutionary soldier. He held land granted by North Carolina as early as 1786.5 He
had succeeded Lt. Col. William L. Davidson after Davidson was promoted to Brig. Gen.
Griffith Rutherford's position. Davidson and Rutherford Counties were named in
honor of these two men, respectively.^
Little is recorded about the recreation in the early life of the county, but there is
reason to believe that in addition to hunting and target practicing, the men attended
cock fights and horse races. There was a Bradley's race track near Murfreesboro before
1820. Andrew Jackson is said to have won and lost small fortunes betting on races. A
wager aggravated the enmity between Jackson and Newton Cannon. According to
rumor, this wager cost Cannon all of his slaves. ^
The establishment of the Rutherford county court took place in 1804. The court
first met at the home of Thomas Rucker, about 4.5 miles from the present
Murfreesboro. The court continued to meet at various homes until a permanent seat
of government was established. ^ In 1811 the legislature appointed seven
commissioners to select a permanent seat of justice for the county. The legislature
directed them to consider central locations with an adequate supply of good water.
They were to secure sixty acres of land either by purchase or by donation.
Several localities competed to become the seat of justice, since it would be a
benefit to a successful community. Charles Ready offered Readyville. Also, Thomas
Rucker and William Lytle offered their places. The commissioners visited and
inspected the various places offered.
The donators made determined efforts to influence the commissioners. They
served sumptuous dinners during which the guests made many toasts and
"excitement reached the boiling point."^ Then William Lytle invited the
commissioners to his site. It is said that the lavish entertainment given and the
inducements offered accomplished the desired effect. The members voted in favor of
the Lytle place. The commission suggested naming the new town after Lytle, but Lytle
requested that they name it in honor of his close friend. Colonel Murfree, who had
recently died in Williamson County. On 29 November 1811, the county seat was
renamed Murfreesborough, later Murfreesboro.^O
Lytle made only one stipulation, and this was that one lot be redeeded to him.
The commissioners agreed, and he received the lot on the southeast corner of the
square. ^^ At that time the lot was what is now a full city block. It is bordered on the
north by East Main Street, on the south by Vine Street, on the west by Spring Street,
and on the east by Academy Street. ^2 William Lytle apparently used this as an
investment since he had already chosen his own homeplace. Throughout the years
this lot was divided and sold in separate parcels. Lytle's surveyor, Hugh Robison, laid
out additional lots from Lytle's property, and no doubt the financial returns on these
lots were considerable. ^3
According to the Central Observer 14 January 1979, the earliest Christian Church
in Rutherford County began meeting in a log house on Vine Street near Lytle Creek. 14
In 1860 the congregation bought the lot on the corner of East Main Street and Academy
Street from Robert McLane and W.W. Ross for eighteen hundred dollars. ^ 5 jhis lot
was part of the original lot redeeded to William Lytle by the agreement of 1811. In the
early 1900s the congregation of the Christian Church disagreed about several doctrines.
This is when the congregation at East Main and Academy Streets assumed the name of
East Main Church of Christ.^^
William Lytle owned the lot to the west of the present church building until 4
May 1840 when he sold it to Wilson Thomas for SISO.^'' Little is known about Wilson
Thomas except that he served as mayor of Murfreesboro in 1844.^8 On 24 March 1841,
four days after Thomas's deed was recorded, he sold the lot to William C. Fletcher for
Allen Tait Gooch gave three hundred dollars for the lot 13 January 1843.20 in
1814, when Gooch was eight years old, his family moved from North Carolina to
Williamson County, and later they moved to Rutherford County. He and his wife
made their home in Murfreesboro where he went into the mercantile business,
probably in 1829. He later took a partner, William McKnight, and the business became
known as "Gooch and McKnight Mercantile Business." In addition to his normal stock
of goods, Gooch purchased a great deal of furniture for his brother's home,
Goochland. 21 Goochland was part of the property bought by the State of Tennessee in
1942 for the construction of Sewart Air Force Base in Smyrna, Tennessee. 22
Allen Gooch sold three lots to his son-in-law, Jean Joseph Giers for five
thousand dollars 17 September 1850. Fifteen hundred dollars was "in hand paid,"23
and the balance to be paid in three notes for $1166.66, each note dated the deed date;
two of them payable at twelve months intervals and the third at two years. One of the
three lots adjoined lot eighty-two and was where Gooch's home was situated. 24
Jean Joseph Giers was born in Bonn, Germany. His history is unknown until he
resided in Murfreesboro. He wrote music and poetry and gave music lessons. He and
Mary Lucinda Gooch were married 2 May 1849.25 in 1855 Giers purchased a resort hotel
and twelve hundred acres of land fifteen miles south of Huntsville, Alabama. He
named his holdings Valhermoso Springs which meant "beautiful valley" in
Spanish. 26 Giers and his wife, and her parents, Allen and Elizabeth Gooch, all moved
to Valhermoso Springs in 1855. Evidentally, Giers and Gooch became partners and
made a successful resort hotel, where many dignitaries visited. 27 Giers became a
member of the staff of the Washington Gazette in Washington, D.C.; he spent the
winters in Washington and the summers in Valhermoso Springs. All of Allen
Gooch's sons enlisted in the Civil War from that area of Alabama. They all fought for
the Confederacy, but their brother- in-law, Jean Joseph Giers, was a northern
sympathizer. Gooch affectionately referred to his son-in-law as "that damn yankee."28
Giers, most likely, had sold the three lots in preparation for his move to
Alabama. He sold them to Madison R. Alexander 17 July 1852 for the same amount he
had paid for them; five thousand dollars. Mr. Alexander was a native of Tennessee and
one of the early settlers of Rutherford County. He married Catherine Suttle of Virginia,
who was raised in a neighborhood near the one of Thomas Jefferson. She often spoke
of Jefferson in glowing words of praise. Alexander was a well-known and prosperous
In the decade before the Civil War, Rutherford County experienced a high point
in agriculture. The agricultural expansion was the greatest ever known; nothing
comparable ever occurring in any other years. 30 There was an increase in the
establishment of business firms in Murfreesboro, and also a rapid expansion of
turnpike companies. 31 This economic boom explains the enormous jump in land
value as evidenced by the selling prices of lot eighty-two.
Madison Alexander sold the three lots to James Bivins 6 November 1855 for the
sum of $5050.32 After that sale the lots were again sold separately; lot eighty-two
changed hands several times until John W. Burton bought it. Mr. Burton was an
attorney and was mayor of Murfreesboro in 1860 and 1861.33 After the Civil War, he
served as special judge of chancery, and as special judge on the State Supreme Court of
Tennessee from 1878 to 1883.34 He sold the house and lot 10 December 1860 to
Elizabeth Ledbetter Sublett for thirty-five hundred dollars.35 In this deed is the first
reference to a house being situated on the lot. Therefore, a house must have been built
there between 1855 and 1860.
Mrs. Sublett was a descendant of William Lytle.36 After almost twenty years, lot
eighty-two was once again owned by a member of the Lytle family. Elizabeth and
George A. Sublett had married 29 May 1821. Sublett and his brother edited and
published the first newspaper in Murfreesboro. It was the policy of the Courier to give
the news rather than to mold public opinion.37 Nevertheless, according to Carlton
Sims, the Subletts were not averse to molding public opinion. In 1828 they founded the
short-lived National Vidette, vv^hose aim was to help elect Andrew Jackson president of
the United States. The paper was anti-administration and very opposed to the
reelection of John Quincy Adams.38 The Sublett brothers evidently did their share in
introducing "opinions of the west into Jeffersonian Democracy."39 George Sublett was
a charter member of the First Methodist Church of Murfreesboro.40 Elizabeth Sublett
must have been a determined woman, because she joined the First Presbyterian
Church 9 March 1834. The Subletts' four children were baptized there 1 October 1836.
There is no record of George Sublett being a member.^!
Elizabeth Sublett sold the house and lot to her daughter, Sarah A. Sublett
Stewart 17 December 1866 for four thousand dollars.'^^ Sarah Stewart was the second
wife of James W. Stewart who had been married to her sister, Mary M. Sublett, 30
November 1847.43 Sarah and James Stewart were married 28 November 1850.44 Mr.
Stewart had evidently died sometime before 1868 because Sarah Sublett Stewart was
married to James Turner when the house and lot was sold 21 September 1868.45 s. H.
Miller paid them thirty-five hundred dollars and sold it 7 September 1871 to J.F.
Vaughan for twelve hundred dollars.46 The economy had reached a peak in 1860, but
it was curtailed by the outbreak of the Civil War and the period of reconstruction that
was to follow. The recession is evidenced by the decline of the land value in the 1871
Sarah J. Richardson Fowler paid J.F. Vaughan $1550 for the house and lot 17
June 1873.47 Capt. Thomas B. Fowler and Sarah had married 6 February 1868. Captain
Fowler was born in 1838 in Cannon County, Tennessee. He left home when he was
twelve years old and came to Murfreesboro. He became a clerk in a bookstore and later
became a bookkeeper in a dry goods store. He served in the Civil War until after the
Battle of Franklin, where he lost a leg. He was revenue collector for Rutherford County
in 1866 and 1867. As soon as he was well enough, he became a bookkeeper at the
Savings Bank; later he became teller at the First National Bank. From 1870 to 1882, he
was circuit court clerk. His last known position was cashier of Stones River National
In 1901 the congregation of the Christian Church needed a larger building. The
elders were able to buy a section of land from Sarah J. Fowler. The parcel was ten feet
wide to the west side of the church and ran to the south along the west boundary
ninety-nine feet. The church paid five hundred dollars; one hundred dollars was the
down payment and $133.33 was to paid each year thereafter for three years.49 The old
building was razed, and a new building was erected. ^0
Kate Bell Fowler Cranor, the adopted daughter of Captain and Mrs. Fowler,51
inherited the Fowler house and lot upon the death of her mother; the exact date is
unknown. Kate Bell Fowler was married to George F. Cranor.
The Church of Christ began renovation plans in 1920. George and Kate Bell
Fowler Cranor sold the elders of the church their house and lot for ten thousand
dollars 20 October 1920.^2 a wing was built on the newly acquired property, measuring
approximately fifteen feet in width and the same length of the original building.
The Fowler house, as it was known, was used as a home for the ministers and
their families. Minor changes were made in the matter of electricity, bathrooms, and
window air-conditioning. 53
At the present time, the Fowler house stands vacant. It proved unsatisfactory for
the ministers to live in the house, because the families were disturbed at all hours of
the night by troubled people who needed help. For a while, the house was leased, but
this was not practical. The church was required to pay taxes on it if it was rented. After
paying taxes and repairing the damages made by the tenants, the church discovered
that using it as rental property was a losing proposition. 54
It is believed that Captain Thomas Fowler and his wife, Sarah J. Fowler, had the
present house built sometime between 1875 and the early 1880s. Speculation is that the
original house was severely damaged during the Civil War and was in an irreparable
The Fowler house is a two-story, red brick building. The walls are four bricks
thick and stand on a rock foundation. These stones are twenty-five to thirty inches
long and twelve inches thick. 55 The outside of the house is designed in the
asymmetrical form of the Victorian style. It has a small front porch with a double-door
entrance. On the left side of the porch, there is a two-story turret with three bay
windows at both levels. The turret has a pyramidal cap.56 The roof and cap were
originally made of pressed tin which had a design etched in it, but this has been
replaced by a modern tin roof.
The entrance hall leading to the stairway has an archway with the wood carved
in various designs. The front parlor on the left of the hall is separated from the back
parlor by two sliding doors, which reach almost to the fourteen feet high ceilings. The
library is on the right of the hall with a small office directly behind it. The kitchen was
originally a separate building, but now it joins the house in the rear.
There is a massive stairway leading to the second floor which has three
bedrooms; the master bedroom now adjoins a bathroom, which was probably once
used as a dressing room or storage area.
The floors are made of "fat" pine, and the wood molding is probably poplar. This
is an easy wood to work with and was used abundantly in the 1880s. The fireplaces are
srhall and shallow with low mantles made of cast-iron. The burning of coal and the
use of cast-iron was popular during this period.57 There is ornamental plasterwork on
the ceilings around the electrical openings. In the nineteenth century, coal oil lanterns
were suspended from the ceilings and lowered for use. There is elaborate wood detail
on the stairway newel posts. Other than this and the archway, there is little fancy detail
which is prevalent in most Victorian houses. 58
This research project has been a most enlightening experience. The writer's
respect for historians has increased tenfold. While tracing the history of lot eighty-tv/o,
the novice researcher repeated many times, "If only land could talk!" Regrettably, the
writer has left some missing links in the line of ownership of the property. Also, there
is an abundance of unknown information about the owners and their families. The
research has found, until now, all the owners to be prominent and honorable citizens.
Nevertheless, it is always possible in tracing a family tree to find a horse thief hanging
from one of the branches or to roll some skeletons out of the closets. In any case, lot
eighty-two is well-worth investigating.
1 William F. Lytle, Biographical Sketch, 1755-1829. Daughters of the American
Revolution, Jackson-Madison Chapter Collection, William F. Lytle Collection, State of
Tennessee Archives, Nashville.
2 Mabel Pittard, Rutherford County. Tennessee County History Series, ed. Robert E.
Corlew III (Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1984), 29.
3 Archibald Lytle, North Carolina land grant, 12 March 1784, original in
Archibald Lytle Collection, State of Tennessee Archives, Nashville.
4 William F. Lytle, Memoirs of the Lytle family, Lytle family genealogy 1703-
1829, Lytle family events and photographs, William C. Ledbetter Jr. Collection, 115
University, Murfreesboro, TN.
5 Carlton C. Sims, ed. , A History of Rutherford County (Murfreesboro: Privately
printed, 1947), 12.
6 Sims, 26.
7 Ibid., 31.
8 C. C. Henderson, The Story of Murfreesboro (Murfreesboro: The News-Banner
Publishing Co. , 1929), 4-5.
9 Ibid., 28.
^0 William C. Ledbetter Jr. of Murfreesboro, interview by author, 21 November
1988, Murfreesboro, 115 University, Murfreesboro, TN,
12 Sanborn Map Co., July 1891, Murfreesboro, TN. Map 3, 1888-1897.
13 Pittard, 26-27.
14 Murfreesboro East Main, Central Observer, 14 January 1979, 1.
15 Rutherford County Deeds, Transfer of title, Robert McLane and W.W. Ross to
Christian Church, 5 November 1860, Book 11, 476.
1^ East Main Church of Christ. Historical papers and photograph. East Main
Church of Christ Collection, Murfreesboro, TN.
17 Deeds, Transfer of title, William B. Lytle to Wilson Thomas, 20 March 1841,
Book Y, 366.
18 Henderson, 142,
19 Deeds, Transfer of title, Wilson Thomas to William C. Fletcher, 24 March
1841, Book Y, 372.
20 Ibid. , Transfer of title, William C. Fletcher to Allen T. Gooch, 13 January
1843, Book 13 January 1843, Book 1, 102.
21 Virginia Gooch Watson, 'The Gooch Family in Williamson County,
Tennessee," Williamson County Historical Society, Publication 10, Spring 1979. 28.
22 Virginia Gooch Watson of Franklin, interview by author, 22 November 1988,
Franklin, Executive House, Franklin, TN.
23 Deeds, Transfer of title, Jean Joseph Giers to Madison H. Alexander, 17 July
1852, Book 5, 562.
25 Edythe Rucker Whitley, comp. , Marriages of Rutherford County, Tennessee:
1804-1872 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1981 ), 119.
26 Watson, 29.
27 Watson, interview.
28 Watson, 29.
29 The Goodspeed Histories of Maury, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Bedford, and
Marshall Counties of Tennessee (Nashville: The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1887; repr.,
Columbia, TN. : Woodward and Stinson Printing Co., 1971), 1020.
30 PhiHp M. Hamer, ed. , Tennessee- A History: 1673-1932 (New York: The
American Historical Society, Inc. , 1933), vol. 2, 832.
31 Pittard, 63.
32 Deeds, Transfer of title, Madison H. Alexander to James Bivens, 6 November
1855, Book 19, 279.
33 Henderson, 142.
34 Sims, 83.
35 Deeds, Transfer of title, John W. Burton to Elizabeth M. Sublett, 10 December
1860, Book 11, 549.
36 Ledbetter Collection.
37 Henderson, 75.
38 Sims, 108.
40 Ibid., 196
^^ Edythe Rucker Whitley, comp.. First Presbyterian Church: Roster of Members
1812-1846. Rutherford County Collection, Williamson County Library, Franklin, TN.
^^ Deeds, Transfer of title, Elizabeth M. Sublett to Sarah A. Stewart Turner, 17
December 1866, Book 14, 403.
43 V\!hit\ey, Marriages, 114.
44 Ibid., 124
45 Deeds, Transfer of title, James Turner and Sarah A. Stewart Turner to S. H.
Miller, 21 September 1868, Book 16, 61.
46 Ibid., Transfer of title, S. H. Miller to J. F. Vaughan, 7 September 1871, Book
47 Ibid., Transfer of title, J. F. Vaughan to Sarah J. Fowler, 17 June 1873, Book 19,
48 Goodspeed, 1035.
49 Deeds, Transfer of title, Sarah J. Fowler to Christian Church, 4 May 1901,
Book 41, 471.
50 East Main Church of Christ Collection.
51 Goodspeed, 1035.
52 Deeds, Transfer of title, George A. Cranor and Kate Bell Fowler Cranor to
elders of East Main Church of Christ, 20 October 1920, Book 64, 255.
53 James Bailey of Murfreesboro, interview by author, 29 November 1988,
Murfreesboro, 214 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN.
54 Judith Minnick of Murfreesboro, interview by author, 18 November 1988,
Murfreesboro, East Main Church of Christ, Murfreesboro, TN.
56 Lawrence Grow, ed.. Old House Catalogue (New York: MacMillan Publishing
Co., Inc., Collier Books, 1982), 20.
57 Ernest K. Johns of Smyrna, interview by author, 29 November 1988,
Murfreesboro, Ernest K. Johns Construction Co., Murfreesboro, TN.
58 Marcus Whiffin, American Architecture Since 1780: A Guide to the Styles
(Cambridge, MA. and London: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 1969), 1 IS-
Bailey, James. Interview by author, 29 November 1988, Murfreesboro. 214 East Main
Street, Murfreesboro, TN.
The Goodspeed Histories of Maury, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Bedford, and Marshal
Counties of Tennessee. Nashville: The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1887; reprint,
Columbia, TN: Woodward and Stinson Printing Co., 1971.
Grow, Lawrence, ed. Old House Catalogue. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co Inc
ColUer Books, 1982.
Hamer, Phillip M., ed. Tennessee-A History: 1673-1932. Vol. 2. New York: The American
Historical Society, Inc., 1933.
Henderson, C. C. The Story of Murfreesboro. Murfreesboro: The News-Banner Publishing
Co., 1929. ^
Johns, Ernest, K., Interview by author, 29 November 1988, Murfreesboro. Ernest K.
Johns Construction Co., Murfreesboro, TN.
Ledbetter, William C. Jr. Interview by author, 21 November 1988, Murfreesboro. 115
University, Murfreesboro, TN.
Lytle, Archibald. North Carolina land grant, 12 March 1784. Original in Archibald Lytle
Collection, State of Tennessee Archives, Nashville, TN.
Lytle, William F. Biographical Sketch, 1755-1829. Daughters of the American
Revolution, Jackson-Madison Chapter Collection, William F. Lytle Collection,
State of Tennessee Archives, Nashville, TN.
Memoirs of the Lytle family, Lytle family genealogy 1703-1829, Lytle
family events and photographs. William C. Ledbetter Jr. Collection, 115
University, Murfreesboro, TN.
Minnick, Judith. Interview by author, 18 November 1988, Murfreesboro. East Main
Church of Christ, Murfreesboro, TN.
Pittard, Mabel. Rutherford County. Tennessee County History Series, ed. Robert E.
Corlew III. Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1984.
Rutherford County Deeds. Transfer of title, Robert McLane and W. W. Ross to
Christian Church, 5 November 1860. Book 11, 476.
.. Transfer of title, William F. Lytle to Wilson Thomas, 20 March 1841. Book
• Transfer of title, Wilson Thomas to William C. Fletcher, 24 March 1841.
Book Y, 372.
. Transfer of title, William C. Fletcher to Allen T. Gooch, 13 January 1843.
Book 1, 102.
Transfer of title, Jean Joseph Giers to Madison H. Alexander, 17 July 1852.
Book 5, 562.
. Transfer of title, Madison H. Alexander to James Bivins, 6 November
1855. Book 19, 279.
_. Transfer of title, John W. Burton to Elizabeth M. Sublett, , 10 December
1860. Book 11, 549.
Transfer of title, Elizabeth M. Sublett to Sarah A. Stewart, 17 December
1866. Book 14, 403.
Transfer of title, James Turner and Sarah A. Stewart Turner to S. H.
Miller, 21 September 1868. Book 16, 61.
Transfer of title, S. H. Miller to J. F. Vaughan, 7 September 1871. Book 18,
Transfer of title, J. F. Vaughan to Sarah J. Fowler, 17 June 1873. Book 19,
Transfer of title, Sarah J. Fowler to Christian Church, 4 May 1901. Book 41,
Transfer of title, George F. Cranor and Kate Bell Fowler Cranor to elders of
East Main Church of Christ, 20 October 1920, Book 64, 255.
Sanborn Map Co., July 1891. Murfreesboro, TN. Map 3, 1888-1897.
Sims, Carlton C. ed. A History of Rutherford County. Murfreesboro: Privately printed,
Watson, Virginia Gooch. 'The Gooch Family in Williamson County, Tennessee."
Williamson County Historical Society. Publication 10, (Spring 1979): 4-50.
.. Interview by author, 22 November 1988, Franklin. Executive House,
Whiffin, Marcus. American Architecture Since 1780: A Guide to the Styles. Cambridge, MA
and London: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 1969.
Whitley, Edythe Rucker, comp. First Presbyterian Church: Roster of Members 1812-1846.
Rutherford County Library, Franklin, TN.
., comp. Marriages of Rutherford County, Tennessee: 1804-1872. Baltimore:
Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1981.
TO: Murfreesboro City Board of Education
FROM: John HdpgeJones
DATE: March 5, 1990
RE: A Review of School and School System Organization— A Personal Statement
Reflecting Upon the Past, Present, and Future
Changes are rapidly taking place in Rutherford County and Murfreesboro's education institutions.
The history of where we are is relatively young and the opportunity window for change
has again been opened- Because that window is now open, it is my responsibility to give
you my perception of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Because of my own limited time
to do research, many of the dates which I will use will not be documented; it will be based
upon my memory. Conclusions which I will draw will be my own, and I will attempt to
refrain from making recommendations until the subjects are more fully researched and
A FIFTY-YEAR HISTORY
Recently a young local businessman visited my office to discuss school system unification.
He is a member of the Leadership Rutherford class which is addressing this subject. After
talking to him for approximately one hour, I realized that I had given him a lesson in local
school/school system history dating back approximately fifty years. When reflecting upon
this, it occurred to me that many of our local officials now in decision-making roles are
either younger than I or may not be natives of this community. I have often thought that
Mr. Hobgood should write down his thoughts and his knowledge of education history dating
back to the early 1900s. This would indeed be valuable, but I also realized that I possess
knowledge and experience which provide information on where and why we are at this
junction in today's local school organization and control.
My father served on the Rutherford County Court from 1936 until 1972. I started to school
at Rockvale in 1943. Dad always felt a need and expressed an interest in consolidating
the small schools throughout Rutherford County. I never heard hinn discuss school system
unification. Because of this, I developed an early interest in the organization and control
of local schools.
When I started to school in 1943, Rutherford County had more than 50 schools scattered
throughout the county. Many of these schools were one or two-teacher schools. Grades
1-12 schools were located at Eagleville, Rockvale, Christiana, Kittrell, Lascassas, Walter
Hill, and Smyrna.
There was a dual system for the races with small schools for black children being scattered
throughout the various portions of the county. Most all of these schools were one- or
two-teacher schools. Holloway was the one central high school for black high school age
children. Not only was there a dual school system, but there was also a dual pupil transportation
program. An extensive separate pupil transportation program served the entire county
with overlapping routes for black and white children.
In those days elementary children went to school for eight months and high school children
attended nine months. Schools were closed for approximately one month in the fall in
order for children to stay home and pick cotton. Many children from rural share-cropping
families dropped out of school early because of excessive absenteeism caused by staying
at home to assist their families with picking cotton and other farm work.
In Murfreesboro there were four elementary schools attended by Murfreesboro's elementary
children. Several children from the county also attended these schools. It has been reported
to me that children from upper income or so called "elite families" attended the Homer
Pittard Campus School, at that time called the Training School. Children from middle
income families enrolled at Crichlow Elementary, and children from low income families
attended McFadden Elementary. The old Bradley Academy, which now houses our maintenance
shop, was the elementary school for black children.
Central High School, according to Mr. Hobgood, became a county high school sometime
soon after World War I. Interestingly, Mr. Hobgood stated that the school originally started
because many citizens across the county wanted to develop a football power house. Prior
to that time, many Murfreesboro children had received their high school education primarily
in private schools. At some point during the twenties and thirties, the principal of Central
High School also served as the superintendent of the Murfreesboro City Schools. This
is probably one of the reasons why Murfreesboro never developed a high school program-
Murfreesboro's elementary schools encompassed grades 1-8.
Until the early 1950s, there was little change in the structure of the public school program
as discussed above. Murfreesboro began to grow in the fifties in the Mitchell-Neilson,
Reeves-Rogers, and Hobgood areas. Under Mr. Hobgood's superintendency, Mitchell-Neilson,
Hobgood, Bradley, and Reeves-Rogers were all built during the 1950s; I believe in this
order. Bellwood and Mitchell-Neilson Primary were not built until approximately 1964
and 1965. During the period of the fifties there was little change taking place in Rutherford
County in terms of school construction- Additions, of course, were being built to all schools.
Portables on campuses became popular. The Smyrna area had grown and the 1-12 grade
school in that area had split up into more than one school. The Smyrna High School was
built sometime during the mid fifties. Basketball was the center of activity for all of
the rural high schools. Central High School, under the coaching of Mr. Lee Pate, became
a power house both in basketball and Football. They nearly always competed in state
In 1954, in Brown vs Topeka, Kansas , the dual system of public education which had historically
separated the races was declared unconstitutional. Integration, however, developed slowly.
School systems across the nation first met the requirements of the Brown Decision by
establishing freedom of choice for all children. Obviously, there were few black children
to enter all-white schools, and in this area, no white children entered all-black schools.
By 1966 there were a few black children who had enrolled at Crichlow and only a handful
at the other city schools. Not many black children attended Central High School and
no white children enrolled at HoUoway High or Bradley Elementary. Practically no integration
had taken place at the schools scattered throughout Rutherford County.
Other suits to force desegregation began going through the court system of our country
and forced desegregation became a way of life. Many school systems came under court
order. Many boards and superintendents lost much of their control and school systems
were placed under the control of the judicial system. During the latter part of the 1960s,
both the black and white leadership of Rutherford County and Murfreesboro did an excellent
job developing desegregation plans and rapidly integrated our school systems. Holloway
High School was closed and became an annex to Central with most of the vocational courses
being housed at old Holloway. In 1968 Bradley was closed as an all-black school and Crichlow
was closed as a 1-8 grade school. Central, of course, became a fully integrated high school,
and Crichlow and Bradley became seventh and eighth grade schools for the City of Murfreesboro.
For the first time, Murfreesboro entered the pupil transportation business by establishing
simple shuttle routes from the Bradley and Crichlow schools to the perimeter schools
and brought seventh and eighth graders from the perimeter schools back to Crichlow and
Bradley. Crichlow and Bradley remained seventh and eighth grade schools until the fall
of 1972 when Oakland and Riverdale were opened as high schools leaving Central available
for a large seventh and eighth grade school.
Another important event was taking place in the nation up to and during the late 1960s
which had an impact upon the history of our school systems. These circumstances had
to do with the one-man, one-vote court decisions that were being made in the nation.
In an earlier decade, courts had ruled that congressional districts must be reapportioned
on a one-man, one-vote basis. They later ruled that state legislative districts must reapportion.
Not until 1968 was there a ruling on local governing bodies related to the principle of
one-man, one-vote. This ruling came from the United States Supreme Court and was
applicable to the local governing body in Midland, Texas.
A similar suit had been filed in Rutherford County against the Rutherford County Quarterly
Court and against the Rutherford County School Board. Since the Midland, Texas suit
was already pending before the United States Supreme Court, the local suits were held
in local courts waiting for the Supreme Court ruling. The Rutherford County Quarterly
Court, now called the Rutherford County Commission, was composed of fifty-four members;
only four being from Murfreesboro, which at that time had approximately forty-five percent
of the county's population.
Likewise, the Rutherford County School Board was extremely malapportioned. There
were eleven members of the Rutherford County School Board; only one representing the
City of Murfreesboro. Obviously, this kind of representation contributed to very high
provincialism for every community throughout the county making school consolidation
almost impossible. Every magistrate and every school board member were elected by people
who wanted to maintain the status quo, maintain their one- and two-teacher schools, and
particularly maintain the six rural high schools which were the focal point for high spirited
basketball games and other community activities. Practically no candidate had a Chinaman's
chance for winning an election who became associated in anyway with the subject of school
consolidation. Mr. Hollis Westbrooks defeated Mr. Wilkes Coffee in a bitterly fought
campaign for the Tennessee Legislature in the early 1960s. The issue was reapportionment
and to everyone, reapportionment meant school consolidation. Mr. Westbrooks obviously
represented the status quo on that issue. In 1966, I came much closer to winning a county-wide
election. 1 was identified as a consolidation candidate for county school superintendent,
but failed to win that election by 400 votes.
RUTHERFORD COUNTY SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION
As soon as the Midland, Texas decision was made regarding one-man, one vote at the local
level, the Rutherford County Quarterly Court and Rutherford County School Board immediately
set up a reapportionment plan. In fact, our local governing bodies reapportioned prior to
Midland, Texas, making them the first local reapportioned county government entities
in the nation. Some very progressive local citizens had been behind the local suit. Some
of these citizens were elected to the newly formed Rutherford County Commission and
Rutherford County School Board. The Commission was lowered to forty-two members,
and the new School Board was composed of seven members.
Many of the forty-two members on the new County Commission and seven board members
did not represent areas of the County composed of the six rural high schools. Therefore,
the stage was set for consolidation of many of Rutherford County Schools. The highly
credentialed, qualified, and progressive county board that was elected around 1970 invited
Mr, Hobgood, me, and other City officials to sit in with the county superintendent and
board in the development of a consolidation plan for Rutherford County. Mr. Hobgood
and I were quite actively involved in the proposal to build two new high schools at their
current sites. The county commission agreed to the Board's proposal and the city agreed
to waive certain rights to tax collections. A half cent sales tax was approved; a wheel
tax was imposed; and some increase occurred in local property taxes. The county built
Oakland and Riverdale High Schools which opened in the fall of 1972.
SYSTEMS UNIFICATION DISCUSSIONS
With a very progressive and highly credentialed county school board and recognizing a
new county commission that was able to support school consolidatation for the first time,
local city officials began to discuss with county officials the possibility of school system
unification. Mr. Hobgood and Joe Sloan, Chairman of the Rutherford County School Board,
using the Clarksville-Montgomery consolidation instrument as a guide, developed a school
system consolidation proposal for Rutherford County-Murfreesboro. It had already been
agreed that the available space at Central would become available for seventh and eighth
graders in the City of Murfreesboro. It was felt that the systems would unify and the
logical use of the old Central High School building would be for seventh and eighth graders.
It was perceived that the Crichlow facility needed to be closed for school use; therefore,
the city school board agreed to turn over the seventh and eighth grades to the County
The unification proposal called for a superintendent appointed by the county school Board.
This, along with rural suspicions, caused the 1972 vote on school system unification to
fail. Once prior to this time, I believe it was in 1969, a referendum failed on the subject
of changing the method of selecting the county superintendent to an appointed position.
Another referendum was attempted on this subject in the late 1970s and it was also soundly
In summary, because of the highly credentialed progressive school board, the newly created
progressive county commission, the effort to consolidate the school systems, and the available
space at Central, Murfreesboro lost its seventh and eighth grade program to Rutherford
Most of us are aware of the changes and developments taking place in local school systems
for the last two decades. Since 1970, there has been a change in the Rutherford County
School superintendency every four years. Mr. Hobgood retired in 1975s, Dr. Swick left
our school system in 1981, Roger Landers was superintendent for only seven months in
1982, and I became your school superintendent in August, 1982. Since the opening of Bellwood
and Mitchell-Neilson Primary School, there was no new school building opened in Murfreesboro
City until 1987 with the opening of Northfield. During that period of time, several additions
were made to Murfreesboro city school buildings. Classroom additions were added because
of increases in federal and state requirements for special education and our own efforts
to improve these programs. Additions were also made because of the new requirements
for library space in elementary buildings and with the advent of the kindergarten programs
in the early 1970s. Our schools were retrofitted for energy conservation in the late 1970s.
There were few changes in schools during the seventies and early eighties because our
pupil population stabilized during these years. In fact our pupil population had decreased
by approximately 500 students during this period while the city's population was increasing
by approximately 10,000. North Rutherford County experienced growth, and some school
construction took place in the Smyrna and LaVergne areas. The county's $40 million plus
building program got under way in about 1984.
From the foregoing history, I call your attention to the following:
1. One prime reason for the existence of the city school system was the gross malapportionment
of representation on the county court and county school board.
2. The city never developed a high school program, among other reasons, because in the
early years, the city school superintendent and the principal of Central High School
were one position-
3. The city lost its seventh and eighth program because of the anticipated approval of
a unification plan and the available space at Central when the two new high schools
4. Desegregation played a major role in the forming of our school systems as we see them
There is one other important reason for the justification of the city school system and
that relates to the city's willingness to spend more for a quality education program. I
will refer to this later in this presentation.
EVENTS SHAPING TODAY'S HISTORY
There are several items under consideration at the state and local level which may have
an impact on the Murfreesboro City School System.
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Several related discussions are taking place at the state level. First, is the suit which
has been filed by 66 small rural counties against the State of Tennessee which relate to
equity funding- Second, is the discussion regarding the Tennessee Foundation Program
(TEP) which proposes to distribute state funds to local school districts by a basic education
program (BEP); and, third, is the subject of state tax reform which is needed in order
to adequately fund the state's public school program. Unification and capital outlay notes
are also on the state agenda.
Rural Counties Vs. State
The subjects interrelate, but let's look first at the suit filed by 66 small rural counties.
Whether these counties win this suit does not seem to be of great importance at this
time. Nearly all public officials, school administrators, and the public as a whole,
acknowledge that a more equitable distribution of state funds should be implemented.
Similar suits have occurred throughout the nation. The plaintiffs in Texas won their
suit and the courts have called for reform in the Texas Foundation Program. Also,
the most drastic example is in the State of Kentucky where the plaintiffs have won
and the courts have called for a complete restructuring of the Kentucky Foundation
Program for distributing its state funds. Our State constitution is written somewhat
different from that of Kentucky causing many to speculate that Tennessee's rural
counties will not win their suit but as indicated, this seems to be a moot issue. It appears
that the Tennessee Legislature is sympathetic with the suit and are moving toward
a system of redistributing state monies.
The Foundation Program
Our current foundation program dates back to 1956. The distribution formula was
revised in 1978. Prior to 1978, state funds were distributed to local school districts
on the basis of required positions needed to operate a school program and a few other
categories which included maiirtenance and operation, pupil transportation, and provision
of free textbooks. In 1978, the formula was changed to support school systems across
the state on the basis of weighted average daily attendance with various weights being
given to pupils according to their assigned grade level.
I am on the state committee working on the new foundation program and we refer
to it as the basic education program or the BEP. While I am not in total agreement
with my colleagues on this subject, it appears they will go back to position funding
if and when such a proposal is ever approved. The assumption is that every school
and school system should have a certain number of positions in order to have an adequate
education program. The number of teaching positions and most support positions will
depend on teacher/pupil ratio requirements. For example, one guidance counselor
for each 500 elementary children, one librarian for each 500; one assistant principal
after you reach a certain point, a resource teacher, a supervisor, and a principals,
etc., according to pupil enrollment. The proposed BEP calls for the state to furnish
70 percent of the cost to meet the requirements for a basic education program, and
the local school districts across the state will supply 30 percent of the cost. The 70
and 30 percents are averages, and the degree to which a school system varies from
the average will depend upon the established relative wealth in that school district
as compared with the rest of the state. The basic difference between the BEP and
the current foundation program is that the current program is totally inadequate to
meet the needs of education across the state. Since the state is doing such a poor
job in meeting the education requirements, those school districts across the state who
do not have the local wealth to provide an adequate program are not doing so. Those
school districts across the state like Murfreesboro, Oak Ridge, Kingsport, and even
counties of relative wealth which includes Rutherford are generally considered to
be providing an adequate education program. Thus, when an adequate program depends
heavily on local ability, a wide disparity develops from school district to school district
across the state,
The third subject is tax reform. In order to implement the proposed BEP, it is estimated
that $400 million new state dollars will be needed. Most lawmakers believe that the
sales tax is fully utilized. Our own Representative John Bragg presents an excellent
case for this point- The elimination of all sales tax exemptions would bring in a significant
amount of new funds to the state, but from my observation, lawmakers are not close
to eliminating these exemptions.
A state income tax is most frequently mentioned in reference to tax reform. Many
believe Governor McWherter will most likely serve in the State House for another
four years and that he is ready to advance such tax reform. But lawmakers are now
saying that an income tax in Tennessee, if it is ever approved, will be approved under
the provisions of a constitutional amendment. Assuming that all of the proper steps
are taken and that in each step there is a green light given, lawmakers indicate this
process would take at least six years. Therefore, many of us who had hopes of achieving
tax reform because of earlier impressions are beginning to become pessimistic regarding
State Discussions on Systems Unification
Because of the foregoing discussions at the state level, other subjects are being generated
which have a direct bearing upon the Murfreesboro City Schools. The average citizen,
and I'm afraid, the average lawmaker in the State of Tennessee, feel that 141 school
districts in the 95 counties in the state is a factor contributing to inefficiency, waste,
and the lack of equity in expenditures per pupil and thus a lack of equal education
opportunity. Such positions are being promoted by William Snodgrass, Comptroller
of the Treasury for the state.
I admit that the above positions are debatable. But those of us who are students of
school finance are aware that those assumptions are not really all that obvious. The
Tennessee Municipal League has taken a stance in opposition to those points and does
a good job in defending the role, nature, and need for city school districts. But in
addition to Comptroller Snodgrass' role, it appears that city school districts do not
have a great deal of support from the current commissioner of education as well as
the state board of education. City school superintendents have been very sensitive
to the statements made from the commissioner and from the state board regarding
this subject. While the attack is generally levied at counties such as Gibson and Carrol
where there are numerous small school districts, nevertheless, I suspect that in the
long run, an effort will be made at the state level to consolidate districts into 95 county
units. Unfortunately, the basis for this movement is a financial one and does not consider
all of the other reasons why school districts should be allowed to operate as independent
units separate and apart from county governments. Quality education is seldom mentioned
nor is the right for certain geographical areas to tax themselves at a higher rate in
order to produce a superior school system.
In addition to the above, the governor has just employed Dr. Don Thomas, a well-known
consultant from the State of Utah, to spend a year in Tennessee and take a look at
Tennessee's education program and the means by which it is financed. Early indications
from Dr. Thomas indicate that he will encourage school system consolidation. He
already is speaking in terms of state incentives for promoting consolidation of school
districts. Prior to this time, the discussion has been centered around disincentives
for multiple systems. Basically they seem to be one and the same with just a different
emphasis on the positive! I recently heard Dr. Thomas speak and he stated that he
would be studying the issues of "adequacy, equity, accountability, and school governance"
in the state.
Capital Outlay Notes
As a sequel to the above, the courts and Attorney General opinions are also playing
a role in the current affairs of city and special school districts across the state. School
law requires that counties share bond proceeds with special and/or city school districts.
Rutherford County has traditionally shared such bonds with us when those bonds were
issued for elementary purposes. In the past, the city has received funds on the basis
of our elementary children to the county/city total pupil population. Bonds for high
school purposes, of course, have been waived. It is easy to see there is a mathematical
discrimination against an elementary school system in regard to such distribution.
In other words, we waive high school bonds but are paid a percent on elementary bonds
equal to our elementary pupil count as a percent of the total K-12 enrollment. But
counties have been able to go one step further. High schools have been built and former
high schools have been converted to elementary use without sharing in bond proceeds.
In recent years, the capital outlay note, or as some label it, the bond anticipation note,
has become another instrument used by counties to circumvent city payments . The
attorney general ruled last fall that it was not necessary for counties to share the
proceeds of capital outlay notes, and capital outlay notes may be issued up to a fifteen-year
period of time. Thus, if a county wishes to build an elementary school, it now has
either the option to issue bonds or capital outlay notes. If it issues the latter for a
fifteen-year period of time, it is in essence the same as a bond, except according to
the current interpretation of law, the county no longer has to raise an amount to distribute
to the city school system.
The Tennessee Municipal League has recently introduced legislation which would place
the same requirement on capital outlay notes as upon bonds. In my opinion this legislation
has no chance of making it through the legislature. In fact, I am told that Representative
John Bragg does not support this move and I personally talked to Senator Womack
and he has indicated that he does not support this legislation. His statement was "that
if cities are going to have school districts, they should be willing to support their districts"
even at the cost of double taxation for this specific purpose. Needless to say, I was
disappointed in Senator Womack's position.
As you are aware, Rutherford County is discussing an extensive elementary school
program. They are proposing schools for Lascassas, Rockvale, Kittrell, and Smyrna.
These schools will be built with core facilities for 1600 pupils. It is proposed that
the schools be completed in three stages: The first stage taking care of 800 pupils,
the second 1200, and the third stage 1600. The schools would incorporate grades K-8.
The county has already ftpproved a million dollar capital outlay note for the purpose
of purchasing four new school sites and taking care of maintenance needs. From what
I can understand by reading the Daily News Journal , apparently the delay of purchasing
school sites hinges on the location of the site at Rockvale. In a recent conversation
with Superintendent Jerry Gaither, he indicated that he believes the county school
board and county commission are almost reaoy to move on their plans for these elementary
schools. He points out that crowding in the elementary schools is becoming a major
problem with numerous portables being used throughout the county to alleviate overcrowing.
Superintendent Gaither also went on to indicate the next high school for Rutherford
County will most likely be somewhere in the area between Murfreesboro and Smyrna.
FUTURE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE CITY SCHOOL BOARD
What implications does the foregoing have for the Murfreesboro City School Board
and the Murfreesboro City Council. Obviously most of what I referred to in Chapter
II is outside of the control of the school board or the council. It appears to me, however,
that the window is now open for some major decision making which will have long-
range impact upon the Murfreesboro City Schools and education in our area. I believe
there are three basic areas that we must study at this point: (1) the subject of
unification of school systems and/or metropolitan government or some other organizational
alternative for operating public schools in the area, (2) the scope of our present school
program and consider broadening that scope to at least incorporate grades K-8 and
maybe eventually locking toward a K-12 program for the city, (3) stay charted on
our present course and develop additional K-6 schools when needed, (4) and study
our financial resources. A more lengthy and intensive study of each of these four
areas may be in order, but for the present time, I will provide you the benefit of my
thinking on these subjects.
UNIFICATION OF SCHOOLS AND/OR METROPOLITAn GOVERNMENT
As you have read above, unification of school systems is a popular subject at the state
level, and I find it is being discussed more and more locally. As indicated, the Leadership
Rutherford group is currently studying the issue. Almost every-day someone brings
this subject to my attention for comments.
Up front 1 neither support consolidation of school systems nor do I oppose consolidation
of school systems. I want it made clear that my vested interest should never be a
factor in determining what is best for children's education in this area for decades
to come. There are two major problems in having separate school systems in the same
general locality. One is the ability to do long-range planning and the second problem
is the misunderstanding which local citizens have regarding the nature of two separate
school systems. Animosity and adversarial attitudes develop among the citizens of
the county and city which generally should be seen as one community.
When thoroughly investiaged the argument that separate school systems such as ours
produce waste and inefficiency and that inequity in education opportunity are inherent
does not hold water. It is my opinion that if school system unification takes place
locally, there will be an immediate need created for additional tax payers' funds.
The funds will be turned over to the present county organizational structure where
it would be obliged to continue doing everything in a traditional and status quo manner.
This would result in having to generate millions of new dollars for school purposes
which may very well be wasted and not produce a better product.
A large bureaucracy unwilling to meet the challenges of change, efficiency, and good
management will not save money and most likely will not provide a better education
program. Unification would require that top dollar cost in any given area between
the two school systems would need to be achieved in all of those areas in the unified
school system. For example, Murfreesboro operates a most efficient and very low-cost
transportation program. Murfreesboro does not claim to give the same services that
the county gives to most children in the county who use transportation services. Immediately
tax payers inside Murfreesboro would have the right to claim the same quality service.
The county does not operate a Classroom on Wheels program; rural citizens would
have the right to demand one. Salaries for personnel would have to equal those paid
by the higher paying school system- In the case of teachers, four county teachers
for every one in the city system would need to be raised to the salary schedule level
of the city school system. While this may be a very desirable objective, there is no
guarantee that it would produce a better educated child.
Given the fact that there is difficulty in long-range planning and that a perennial misunderstanding
exists regarding the nature of two school systems, what are some of the alternatives
to unification of school systems? Traditional unification from what I have observed
involved cities going out of business . In spite of the documents that might be drafted
and agreements promulgated, in the long run, my observations indicate what happens
is that the city quits and the county takes over.
This is not an acceptable alternative to me. I do not support our school program being
turned over to the county school board and to the county commission with only the
hope that the total school program for county and city will be raised to the quality
and quantity level we now possess. I do not see the current political organization and
local governing structure capable of producing the high expectations, standards, and
reputation claimed by Murfreesboro City Schools. I do not see the unified school system
bringing to Murfreesboro the marketing value that we have brought to our citv.
We should not shut the door completely to discussions on this topic. It appears that
the state is not going to allow us to shut the doer, and we must be open minded citizens
recognizing there are problems associated with two separate school districts.
ALTERNATE NUMBER ONE— METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENTS
A county and/or unified school system is the largest cost to local government. When
administered only by the county government, it is excluded from certain taxing powers
which are possessed exclusively by Tennessee municipal governments. Metropolitan
government would prevent this. Also I am convinced that little would be accomplished
in addressing long-range planning and especially the misunderstanding that occurs
among local citizens if other branches of local governments were allowed to be separate.
The Nashville media has not helped promote metro-government. It makes us keenly
aware of all of the problems associated with Metro-Nashville. Recently Cecil Branstetter,
the man who drafted that charter, acknowledged that a lot of revision is needed in
the Metro-Nashville Charter. If we take the route of a metro-government, I would
insist that we identify and circumvent those problems in the Metro-Nashville Charter.
Also, we should be assured that the control of the school system would be placed into
the hands of a board of education that was not provincial in its vested interest. The
head of the school system should be an appointed chief education of fficerwhc is accountable
to the board of education. Also I would like to make sure that the charter contdned
provisions related to the organization and administration of the school system so that
elementary education would not become a step child to secondary programs, athletic
activities, discipline problems, and secondary administration in general.
Another alternative could be a fiscally independent school district for the total county.
This alternative would be similar to the one called for under the Metro-Nashville Charter.
The guarantees listed above would need to be incorporated into such a school district.
This alternative would make a board of education and the school district a complete
governing entity capable of raising its own taxes, fully governing and implementing
its own program. The school district would strictly be a creation of the state legislature
and would be completely separate from any other local government entities.
Another alternate could be similar to the above in which more than one school district
would be created. There would be two districts, both county wide including the cities.
One would be an elementary district and the other a secondary. Because of the large
size of Ruterford County, it is conceivable that such an alternative would be good
for the future of our community. Each of the districts would operate very similar
to that as described above. The advantage of this alternative would be the guarantee
that high emphasis would be placed on elementary education.
EXPANDING THE SCHOOL GRADES IN THE MURFREESBORO CITY SCHOOLS
The most urgent consideration is the possibility of incorporating grades seven and
eight in the Murfreesboro City Schools. The window is open on this subject because
we are adding classroom space for 1000 children beginning in August of this year.
Being crowded is everybody's definition. But from a management standpoint, especially
if we see the need to reorganize our school system and expand its scope, we would
have space for the next two years to add the seventh grade.
Another building or two would need to be started by next February and completed
by August, 1992. The eighth grade would be added on this date; I believe there is much
support for this proposal. The reason for the support lies in the fact that the county
is proposing the construction of modern K-8 facilities throughout the countryside.
These schools will handle up to 1600 pupils which will be financed in large part by
monies paid by taxpayers who live inside the City of Murfreesboro. After our city
children finish the sixth grade, they must attend school in an old facility in the middle
of downtown which has not been well maintained. Also the large middle school is
a less desirable organizational structure for educating the adolescent and young teenao-er
than the K-8 organizational structure which will be available for rural children.
We have no guarantee that the county will issue school bonds for their elementary
building program. 1 have received word through city sources that the county does
intend to issue bonds instead of capital outlay notes. This certainly is the fair approach
since Murfreesboro citizens will be major contributors to paying bonded indebtness.
Immediate study and attention should be brought to this issue.
While undocumented, because of the social changes that have occurred in recent years,
adolescent peer pressures, desire to immediately gain their license for teenage behavior
and to exercise independence; the middle school as it exists in Murfreesboro is not
the optimum environment for our thirteen through fifteen year old children. I believe
if we keep the adolescent in elementary school in a nurturing environment for two
additional years and continue to provide an elementary program rather than a pre-high
school program or a pre-teen environment for them, we would see a significant improvement
in the quality of their education.
Is such a move possible? Dr. Klaus, other staff members, and 1 have not yet been
able to intensively research this proposal. 1 believe that we can add the seventh grade,
approximately 500 students, for the next two years at a reasonable cost to city government.
In 1992-93 when we open one or two new schools for grades 7 and 8, the cost would
increase significantly. It does not necessarily mean that the cost will increase significantly
to the city taxpayers If we can operate our schools at a more efficient rate than
the county, then it is conceivable that the cost to the city tax-payers would increase
very little. They would be paying more taxes through the city government and less
through the county government.
We currently are receiving approximately 19 percent of each education dollar collected
by the county. Obviously if we increase our enrollment, this percentage will increase
and the state contributions will increase proportionally. After the state adopts and
implements the new basic education program, the City of Murfreesboro may be able
to lower its financial support; thus, the city may gain greater control over the destiny
of its students at little to no cost.
There may be major problems associated with such a move. Would this move produce
more or less efficiency in the county program? The first big question for the county
would be the dispostion of the large school facility at Central, its staff, and program.
They might continue to operate it as a middle school for certain children whom they
would bus into the city. They might close McFadden. Wishful thinking and the most
immediate ideal option would be for MTSU to lease or purchase the building for its
additional classroom space. Frankly, 1 have no idea how we could use it. For years
we have labored over how to keep students in Bradley and Hobgood. Even if the building
was restored to optimum conditions 1 think we would have problems in converting it
into an elementary school that would be adeqrstely utilized. We might, of course,
take the position that it would be the county's problem and none of our business. I
doubt if we would want to do this because, after all, we are all tax-payers in our local
community and it would have an impact upon each of us.
At this point 1 have not given thought to the subject of expanding our school program
on through the high school years. Jerry Gaither mentioned to me the possibility of
the city taking over Oakland and allowing the county to build another high school between
Murfreesboro and Smyrna. I do not believe that addressing this subject is necessary
in order for us to look at the other subject of expanding our school system to incorporate
grades seven and eight.
In addition to the nurturing atmosphere of a K-8 grade school and the continuance
of a more elementary approach to this child's curriculum, there are some advantages
which 1 will mention. These include providing almost every child an opportunity to
experience the various arts, music, languages, athletic programs, etc. These often
become electives to the child who is enrolled in a large middle school. Conceptually,
I can see Murfreesboro Recreation Department playing a big role in coordinating the
various youth league programs so that every seventh and eighth grade boy and girl
who wanted to take part, especially in basketball, baseball, and soccer, would have
an opportunity to do so. Even in football, there could be a touch league. Through
the Extended School Program, 1 could see many more children having the opportunity
to be involved in instrumental music which would include not only band but piano,
have exposure to several different foreign languages, and the visual arts. The opportunity
for expanded school day will be enhanced. Flexible scheduling to provide services
for more and more children will make for a more efficient program. Best of all, by
keeping the children in a K-8 environment they would not be exposed so quickly to
those societal elements which are creating problems for our youth. 1 think there would
be a decline in drug abuse and in teenage pregnancy. I believe an increase in parental
involvement would occur, particularly if extended school is offered.
III. STAY CHARTED ON SAME COURSE
We can, of course, remain a K-6 school system. Should we decide to take this course,
we will be placing ourselves in a position of accepting our lot as measured out by state
and county governments. My foregoing discussion regarding seventh and eighth grade
expansion indicates that severe dissatisfaction might occur because our children would
be moved from our K-6 program to a middle school program perceived less desirable than
the school organization provided for most children in Rutherford County.
Growth trends in Murfreesboro indicate that we will be building another elementary school
every three to five years. The rate of our growth will depend somewhat upon where the
county places its new large elementary schools and the degree to which the county provides
pupil transportation to these schools. Our own policy toward accepting county students
and whether the county implements an ESP program will also be factors which will impact
upon our future enrollment.
Should we add to our scope of grades, we must be very protective of the quality and quantity
of instruction that we are currently providing in K-6. We would not want the added responsibility
detracting or detering our efforts to provide the K-6 child with the best education foundation
possible. It would be unfortunate if we eroded our good reputation by assuming a larger
IV. FINANCIAL RESOURCES
Resources to expand the scope of our school program may be within our reach. Continuing
rate increases or instituting new tax sources obviously are not desired by anyone, but
we all have a tendency to be willing to pay for what we want. Many rural citizens are
going to be very excited over having a brand new school building in or close to their communities.
I believe most city school parents would welcome an expansion of our schools through
the eighth grade-
It appears that sometime within the next few years the state legislature will address and
bring about significant tax reform in Tennessee. Should this tax reform include anything
that relates to an income tax, we can expect the state to take over some of the services
currently being rendered by local governments. I would expect the state to take over
a much larger cost for public education than it is currently assuming-
Therefore, in the interim, Rutherford County and Murfreesboro have available a one-half
cent sales tax option which could be assessed if approved in a public referendum. There
have been no open discussions as to how the county intends to pay for its new buildino-
program. My guess is they will look at the half-cent sales tax as a source. Should the
county initiate a referendum on this option, any chances of approval will probably depend
upon the vote coming out of the City of Murfreesboro. If we, at the same time, were
proposing the construction of two more elementary schools and converting our program
to a K-8 program, the sales tax option might be approved. Hopefully, this tax as well
as other sales taxes would be rolled back when state tax reform is implemented. At the
present time, 1 do not have the revenue figures such a tax would yield, but 1 am convinced
that it would go a long way in financing both the county and city school building programs.
I have provided you with the foregoing in order for you to understand from my perspective
why schools are organized in Rutherford County and Murfreesboro the way they are.
I have also attempted to inform you of certain events taking place at the state and local
level which indicate that changes are coming which have an impact upon us and; finally,!
have attempted to show that we do not necessarily need to sit and wait and react in regard
to those changes. We now have the opportunity to be pro-active, not reactive. I trust
that you will study this document at length.
I am sure that you have concluded that time is urgent on this subject. If we are going
to make any move or consider making any move, the foregoing topics need to be opened
up very soon. I am pondering my responsibility to open those topics before the public.
Your suggestions or advice will be sincerely appreciated. Thank you very much.
Abner, DeInen^. Home Place 52
Adams, Capt . 57
Adams, John Quincy 67
Alexander, Madison R. 66
Barfield, Mary 55
Battle of Stones River 23,25,40
Bell, John 30
Bellwood School 79
Bivens, James 66
Bond Anticipation Notes 87
Bradley Academy 75
Bragg, Gen. Braxton
Bragg, John 85,87
Bruce, Rebecca 3
Bruce, Sanders 2
Buell, Gen. 5
Burton, John W. 66
i, 9, 23, 24,
Caldwell, Rev. Joseph 20
Campbell, Andrew Jr. 18
Cannon, Newton 63
Capital Outlay Notes
Central High School
Cheatham, Gen. 8
Christian Church 68
Classroom on Wheels
Cranor, Kate Bell Fowler 68
Crichlow School 78
Crittenden, Gen. 25, 27
Davidson, Col. William 63
Davis, Pres. Jefferson 8,
Dement, Abner 58,59
Dement, Cader 58,59
Dement, Charles 53,55-60
Dement, David 57, 59, 60
Dement, David Barton 60
Dement, Elizabeth 59
Dement, John J. 59
Dement, John 53,54,56,58,
Dement, Mary 57
Dement, William 57,59
Donaldson, John 59
Douglas, James 57
Duke, Basil 3,9,11,16
East Main Church of
Edwards, William 54
Equity funding of schools
Extended school program
Finley, Major Luke 37
Fletcher, William C. 64
Foundation program for
Fowler, Capt. Thomas
Fowler House 69
Fowler, Sarah R. 67,68
Gaither, Jerry 88,93
Cause, William 35
Giers, Jean Joseph 65,66
Gillen, Alvan C. 18
Gooch, Mary L. 65
Grant, Gen. 24
Grenfell, Col. George St.
Landers, Roger 82
Leadership Rutherford 89
Lexington Rifles 4,9
Liddell, Gen. St. John 31
Lytle, Archibald 55,62
Lytle, Capt. William 58,
Hardee, Gen. 8,26,27
Highsmith, Daniel 54
Hobgood, Baxter 77,78,81,82
Hobgood School 79
Holloway High School 78
Homer Pittard Campus School 78
Hughes, N.C. 32
Hunt, Henrietta 1
Incorporating K-8 program in
schools of Murfreesboro 88,
Jackson, Andrew 63,67
Johnson, Gen. Richard 28
Johnston, Gen. Albert Sidney
Jones, John Hodge 77,81,82
Jones, Shirley Farris 22
Kirk, Gen. 28
Klaus, Dr. 92
McCook, Gen. 25-34
McCowan, Gen. 26-33
McFadden Ford 40
McFadden School 78
McKnight, William 65
McLane, Robert 64
McWherter, Gov. 85
Middle School Program 80,
Milburn, Henry C. 53
Miller, s. H. 67
Millwood Academy 30
Morgan, Calvin 1
Morgan, John Hunt 1-27
Morgan, Johnnie 18-20
Murfree, Col. Hardy 63
Nashville Female Academy
Negley, Gen. 33
Oakland High School 81
Pate, Coach Lee 79
Polk, Gen. Leonidis 8,26,
Portable schools 79
Rains, Gen. James 23-32,41
Rains, Rev. John 30
Ready, Alice 12, 15
Ready, Col. Charles 5,6,10,63
Ready, Horace 8,15,19
Ready Home 8
Ready, Martha 1,5-19
Ready-Morgan Wedding 8-10
Reeves-Rogers School 79
Review of School Systems 77
Riverdale High School 81
Roberts, Gen. George Washington
Roberts, Pratt 36
Robinson, Hugh 64
Rosecrans, Gen. 23-25,37-41
Ross, W.W. 64
Round Forest 38
Rousseau, Gen. 37
Rucker, Thomas 53
Rutherford County Quarterly
Rutherford, Gen. Griffith 64
School Consolidation 80
Senate Joint Resolution 61
Sims, C.C. 67
Sheridan, Gen. Phillip 27,
Sloan, Joe 81
Smith, Gen. Kirby 31
Smyrna High School 79
Snodgrass, William 86
Soule College 5,49
Standley, William 57
Stewart, James 67
Stewart, Sarah Sublett 67
Stevenson, Alexander 7,34
Sublett, Elizabeth Ledbetter 66
Sublett, George 67
Sugg, Noah 57
Sumner, Gen. Jethro 56
Suttle, Catherine 66
Swinton, William 23
Tax Reform and its impact
on schools 85,94,95
Thomas, Dr. Don 86
Thomas, Gen. George 27
Thomas, Sarah 50
Thomas, William 64
Trimble, John 36
Turner, James 67
Unification of Schools
Van Cleave, Gen. 27,38
Vaughan, J.F 67
Westbrooks, Hollis 80
Wharton, Gen. John 28
Wheeler, Gen. Joe 25
Whitson, Mr. L.D. 40
Williams, Catherine 17
Williams, Joe 17
Williams, Lucy 17
Williamson, Judge 19
Wilson, James 53,57
Womack , Andy 87
Yeatman, Ida 30