TNGenWeb Project
The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1887
History of Tennessee

Rutherford County, Part I
Pages 810-825
Transcribed by Fred Smoot
Also See Part II

(Biographical Sketches, Under Construction)

       Geographically speaking Rutherford County occupies the exact center of the State, and almost the exact center of Middle Tennessee. Few if any vertical sections of any great depth have been made, and it is believed no record has been kept. The county embraces an area of over 500 square miles, the outcrop being blue limestone and shales. It is what geologists term lower Silurian. It is probable that the depth of this formation extends from 500 to 1,000 feet with occasional thin strata of other formations.

       The soil of this county is exceedingly fertile, being either of a black or brownish red color; the latter color is doubtless due to the iron oxides contained in it. Although there are many places where the ground is apparently covered with Stone, yet by careful husbandry there are few places that cannot be made to yield a rich harvest to the careful and industrious husbandman. Fields that have been cultivated for nearly a century, and are apparently worn out by the cultivation of corn and cotton, are soon reclaimed by a few years’ growth of red clover, or by seeding in the blue-grass, make excellent grazing lands.

       The native growth of timber embraces almost every kind grown in the temperate climate. The native trees that are valuable in the markets are oak, hickory, walnut, poplar and cedar, vast quantities of the latter being shipped to all parts of the county, and until within the last few decades was almost the exclusive article of produce for the market, and it is still more largely cultivated than any other one thing, yet large quantities of wheat and corn are raised. The production of these three articles is almost marvelous in some instances with a suitable season. The intelligent farmer has learned the necessity of a rotation in crops for the improvement of the land and to guard against over production in some articles and the necessary consequences - dull prices for that article. His crops are now more varied, more wheat and corn and pasture lands. This brings about a necessity for more stock, and such is now seen. The county is now largely engaged in breeding fine horses, cattle and sheep. These are bringing rich rewards to those so engaged. Large quantities of rye, oats, barley, tobacco, potatoes, hay, peas, pans, wool, butter and cheese are also produced. The product of the orchard and garden embraces everything from the smallest and sweetest berry to the finest apple. The quantity is only limited by the effort of the producer.

       The east fork of Stone River enters this county near Readyville in the eastern part of the county and flows almost in a northwest direction through its entire course. It forms a part of the boundary line between Districts No. 17 and 19; from 19 it receives Andrew and McKnight Creeks as tributaries. At the corners of Districts No. 17, 19 and 22, it received Cripple Creek (named from an accident befalling a man while crossing it) as a tributary; this with its branches rises mainly in District No. 22. Stones River passes through the central part of District No. 22, and near the western part received Cave Creek from the south and Bradley Creek from the north. The last named with Stones River forms the boundary line between Districts Nos. 22 and 15. Near the central part of District No. 21 it receives Bushman Creek. Stones River then forms the boundary line between Districts No. 15 and 5 on the north, and Districts Nos. 22, 21, 9 and 6 on the south, where it unites with the west fork of Stones River.

       The west fork enters this county near the southeastern part of the county, and forms a part of the boundary between Districts Nos. 21 and 25; at the northern extremity of District No. 25 it receives the waters of Long Creek, which is the boundary line between District No. 25 on the east and Districts Nos. 20 and 11 on the west. The main stream forms the boundary between Districts Nos. 18 and 11; near the center of District No. 11 it receives the waters of Lytle Creek, and near the center of District No. 11 it receives a tributary of its own name. The head waters of the last named is called Dry Fork. West fork passes through Districts Nos. 13 and 9; near Florence Station it receives the waters of Armstrong Creek, the two branches, east and west fork, unit, and form one stream near Jefferson. The river passes out of the county in a northwest direction; from the south on the boundary of Districts No. 6 and 2 it receives Stewart Creek. Stones River was discovered and explored as far as Jefferson by Gen. Uriah Stone and four men in 1794. It was for Stone that the river was named. Other streams in the county were named in honor of prominent families.

       Previous to 1780 the Indians held undisputed sway in the county. The old trace leading from Nashville to Chattanooga is yet to be seen. Along this route the Choctaws, Chickasaws, and particularly the Cherokees, held undisputed sway from time immemorial. Soldiers sent out by Gen. Robertson went as far as Black Fox Camp Spring in 1793. In 1794 Orr’s expedition, sent out by Gen. Robertson, followed the trace by way of Murfreesboro, and September 7, 1794, camped near Black Fox’s Spring. This expedition extended as far as Nickajack, where the Indians were defeated. Few Indian troubles occurred after that time. The first settlers in the county were mainly from Virginia and North Carolina. Those coming from Virginia came mainly by water by way of the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers; those coming from North Carolina over the mountains on pack-horses. The parent State, North Carolina, as an inducement to have the lands on the “Cumberland” settled up, offered 640 acres to each head of a family who would live upon the land; hence the large number of 640-acre grants.

       Samuel Wilson, grandfather of Col. Jetton, is said to have visited the vicinity of Jefferson as early as 1788-89, and marked out lands. He soon after returned with his family and settled at Wilson Shoals on Stones River. He has the honor of having planted the first corn within the forks of Stones River; also of having killed the last elk in the county, near Murfree Spring. He left a large and respectable family and died in 1827, and was buried with the honors of war near where the United States Cemetery now is. Thomas Nelson, Thomas Howell and William Adkinson settled near Stewart Creek. Col. Robert Weakley and Robert Bedford each owned grants at the confluence of the east and west forks of Stones River. These lands were taken up previous to 1800. It was largely through the influence of these two men that the first seat of justice was located at Jefferson. William Nash, who, with Col. Weakley, surveyed the line separating Rutherford from Davidson, is said to have owned the first store in the county. It was he who administered the oath of office to the justices of the first county court. Nimrod Menifee settled the land now marked by the United States Cemetery. The place is marked by two historic events, one the opening of the second year of the county courts, and the other, fifty-seven years later, within a few days, the opening of the second year of the war and with it one of the bloodiest battles of modern times. Robert Overall settled near Overall Creek, to which his name was given. His family has been prominent in the history of the county since its inception.

       Another early settler in that vicinity was Capt. Richard Ransom, who came from North Carolina in 1810 and settled near the head of Overall Creek. Rev. James Bowman was another settler in that vicinity, and was one of the early ministers of the Presbyterian Church. Each of the last was the head of a large family. Charles Ready settled near Readyville, to which his name was given. He settled in the county about 1800, and was one of the seven justices that constituted the first court in Rutherford County; also he was one of the seven commissioners to select a new county seat, appointed by the General Assembly in October, 1811. Of all these he was last to die. Thomas Rucker, another one of the seven justices, lived between Murfreesboro and Jefferson; his place came in one vote of being made the county seat, instead of Murfreesboro. Richard Sanders and family came from North Carolina about 1806, and settled on Stones River, in the neighborhood called “Raleigh.” In the same vicinity were the Floyds, Brashears, Wights and Goodloes. Murfreesboro marks the settlement of Capt. William Lytle.

       The great natural feature of this county caused more good mills to be erected at an early day than was the case in other places. A few tread-mills were established in the county, but the vast majority of the mills were propelled by water-power. Thomas Rucker built a mill on his place called the “Cave” Mill in 1799. Louis Anthony’s mill was built on Stones River, adjoining Henry Gilham’s place, in 1804. Cummings’ and smith mills each existed at the beginning of 1804. John M. Tilford built a grist and saw-mill on the west fork of Stones River, near the Salem Pike, in 1814-15; a distillery was added to this later. Samuel Tilford built a mill on the east fork in 1815. David Dickman built a mill on the west fork in 1809, and in the same year James Rucker built a cotton-gin, the first in the county. Rates then were fixed by law as follows: Dinner, 25 cents; supper and breakfast, 20 cents each; lodging, 8-1/8 cents; horse, with corn or oats and fodder, 33-1/8 cents; oats, per gallon, 8-1/8 cents; whisky, one-half pint, 12½ cents; peach brandy, one-half pint, 12-1/8 cents; French brandy, rum or wine, one-half pint, 50 cents. The following kept ordinaries previous to 1820: William Mitchell, William Nash, Harvey Pope, Charles O’Flynn, Hugh Good, James Hill, William Hansbrough, W. R. Hearn, Thomas Mayfield, Peter Williams, William Rather and T. Goodrich.

       It is claimed that William Nash started the first trade-store in the county. This was near Jefferson about 1803. The usual stock in trade consisted of few articles of dry goods, some groceries, a little powder and lead and the inevitable barrel of whisky. Money being scarce a system of exchange was instituted. Large ox hides were rated at about $4; inferior ones proportionately less; wolf scalps, at $2.50 each, receivable for taxes; deer skins, 50 cents; deer “saddles,” 50 cents per pair; ’coon skins, 25 cents each. These, with other produce, were sent to New Orleans by flat-boat, a journey requiring a month or more to complete. Dollars were frequently cut into halves or quarters and given for change, hence two “bits,” four “bits,” etc. Food consisted solely of the product of the farm and forest. A little corn was raised, and either eaten as hominy or made into an indifferent meal, and then into bread. Turkey, deer and elk abounded; hogs were allowed to run at large, and when wanted were hunted sown and shot; clothing was made of the coarsest homespun. A maid dressed after the fashion of the day looked as lovely to her rustic lover, though dressed in a homely garb, with cheeks aglow with health, as does now the belle of fashion, in her silks and jewels, to her gay suitor.

       Articles of household furniture were simple and plain. Gourds and cows’ horns were dressed, and, with a handle adjusted, were used for drinking vessels. Stills were as numerous as the mills, and the whisky barrel as common as the meal tub. Instead of the social “glass” of the more refined society, they were simply asked to take a “horn,” i.e., a drink; hence the origin of the expression “take a horn.” Dr. Thomas Norman was born on the night following the completion of the survey of the county, which had been assigned to William Nash and Col. Robert Weakley, consequently he as the first child born in Rutherford County.

       Black Fox Camp Spring was a marked place during the Indian troubles. There is a beautiful tradition of the celebrated Black Fox, who, when he was overpowered by his enemies, rather than fall into their hands, leaped into the spring with his arms and sank from sight. The story would have been incomplete had he not come to light again, and the tradition that buried him brought him out alive at Murfree Spring. About three miles from Murfreesboro is the old Bradley race track, which was a famous resort for sportsmen since 1820. Col. Robert Smith was a prominent figure in those races. Betting, card playing, and the usual accompaniment were common at those races. Near this old race track is the old Indian dance ground, which is a circular track dug out of the earth and rock. Neither history nor tradition tells of its origin.

       As the law now is, counties having a population of between 7,000 and 10,000 must be divided into 7 civil district; those between 10,000 and 15,000 into 12 districts; those between 15,000 and 20,000 into 15 districts; those having from 20,000 to 25,000 into 17 districts; those having from 25,000 to 30,000 into 20 districts, and those above 30,000 have 25 districts. These are numbered by the ordinal numbers. Previous to the constitutional convention in 1834 the districts were named from prominent families, as Sanders, Ready, May and Murphy Districts. The first divisions were made in 1804. The county was then divided into three divisions. Thomas Rucker, John Howell and Thomas Mitchell were ordered to make the divisions. The first was made by a line along the west fork of Stones River to the most westerly branch to the Indian “trace;” thence along the “trace” to the Wilson County line; thence along the county line to Smith’s mill; thence on a line to Cummings’ mill; thence to the place of beginning. The second contained all west of the river to the western boundary. The third all north of the road leading from Smith’s and Cummings’ mill and east of Stones River. James Rucker, James Howell and William Lytle were appointed cotton inspectors, each for his own warehouse or district. Tobacco inspectors were appointed after the manner of cotton inspectors. Polls were listed and taxes assessed in the various parts of the county by the justices of the respective districts. The heads of families, when not over age, were enrolled into militia companies, and they were listed by companies. The first of this kind was in 1805, when Justice John Hill listed Capt. John Smith’s company; William Nash listed Capt. Samuel McBride’s company; W. W. Searsey, W. W. Searsey’s company; William Lytle, Capt. John John’s company; William Smith, Capt. O. M. Benge’s company, and Charles Ready, Capt. Alexander McKnignt’s company. These companies varied with the population. In 1806 the captains of companies were as follows: Capts. Alex McKnignt, Peter Noe, R. Ready, Henry Mccoy, Nimrod Junkins, William Robinson, Thomas Yardley, W. M. Searsey, W. A. Sublett, Samuel McBride and John Smith. The districts mentioned above have been subject to many changes since 1834, as well as before that time, this depending upon the whims and conveniences of the people. The county court every few years makes a slight change in these, so many having been made that it would be too tedious to follow all. The usual price paid for listing up to 1834 was $20 to each lister. In 1818 the captains of companies were Webb, Miller, Doaks, Ganaway, Sublett, Morris, Cook, Fox, Thomas, Robertson, Gilfins, Todd, Welton, Moore, Haley, Hubbel, Carson, Patton McKnignt, Thomas Harris, Elliott and A. Harris. In 1821 the number had increased to twenty-three companies, and in 1824 to twenty-six. The number increased yearly till 1833, when the number had reached thirty-six companies. They were as follows: Capts. McGregor, Stevens, Saunders, Clement, Finney, Ridley, Ferguson, Blair, Traylor, Murphy, Harris, Barlow, Mclean, Norman, Parrish, Blanton, Hicks, Lillard, Edwards, Osborn, Thomas, Mather, Smith, Bird, Ivy, Hale, Newman, Rowland, Hoover, Robertson, Fowler, Knox, Prewitt, Yourie, Barnett and Brown. From this time on the respect and enforcement of the militia laws gradually grew into neglect.

       This county was organized by an act of the General Assembly then in session at Knoxville, October 25, 1803, but the courts for the county were not organized till January 3, 1804. The county was named in honor of Gen. Rutherford, of North Carolina, who was known in the Revolutionary war, and also in contests with the Indians within the confines of this county. It will not seem strange that the county should have been named in honor of a North Carolinian, when it is remembered that previous to 1796, Tennessee was a part of that territory. Rutherford County was formerly included in Davidson and Williamson Counties. The dividing line was “on the extreme height of the ridge between Mill Creek and Stones River; thence southwardly to the eastern boundary of Williamson; thence with the line of Williamson to the southern boundary of the State; thence with the State line east to the corner of Wilson County; thence with the Wilson County line north to the corner of Wilson; thence with the line of Wilson 6½ degrees west to the southwest corner of Wilson; thence a direct course to the mouth of Sugg Creek; thence a direct line to the place of beginning; that the county so laid off on the east and southeast of the waters of Stones River, etc., be known and distinguished by the name of Rutherford.”

       The same act that created the county also ordered the county board (justices) to meet in March, June, September and December annually. Rutherford County was declared a part of Metro District. By an act, November 7, 1803, Samuel Weakley and William Nash were appointed to fix the boundary line between Davidson and Rutherford Counties. By an act, August 3, 1804, John Hill, Frederick Barfield, Mark Mitchell, Alexander McBright and Peter Legrand were appointed to select a central site for a seat of justice for the new county. They were to receive by purchase or donation forty acres of land upon which they were to erect or cause to be erected a “court house, prison and stocks;” to lay out a town to be named by the commissioners; lots were to be sold at auction to the highest bidder; lots were to be advertised in the Tennessee Gazette, and the proceeds of the sale to be used in the building of the court house, jail and stocks. On December 3, 1807, Bedford County was cut off from Rutherford, thus reducing the latter to the constitutional limits. Minor changes were made in 1815, 1837, 1843, 1844, 1848, 1851, 1852, 1854, 1856, 1860, 1867, 1868, 1870, 1871, 1877, 1879 and 1883.

       The above named board selected a site within the forks of Stones River for a county seat. The town was regularly laid out having about 150 town lots and a Public Square on which was erected a good brick court house which stood till 1835. The town was named Jefferson. The following prison bounds were established: “Beginning at the junction of the east and west fork of Stones River running up the west fork of said river at low water mark to the first cross street; thence south to the south boundary of Main Street; thence east with said boundary so as to include the Public Square to a post ten poles below Mitchell’s ordinary on the south boundary of said street; thence north to the low water mark of the east fork of Stone River; thence down the same to the place of beginning.” Norton Green was appointed overseer of the streets and Public Square. The following were among the first purchasers of lots in Jefferson: Peter Cook, Theophilus Cannon, Joseph Bennett, William Carlisle, Harrison Gilliam, John Bell, Samuel Bell, Daniel Ferguson, J. A. Lewis, George Douglas, Robert Weakley, William Howell, Tomas Stone, H. H. Harris, Norton Green and Mark Mitchell, who kept the first ordinary in the place. The rich farming lands surrounding Jefferson and river transportation gave it a prospect of becoming an important commercial emporium at no distant day. Some very distinguished men attended court at Jefferson, among whom were Felix Grundy and Thomas H. Benton. Dissatisfaction arose as to the location of Jefferson as a seat of justice; a most central location was desired.

       October 17, 1811, the Legislature appointed Charles Ready, Hugh Robinson, Hans Hamilton, James Armstrong, Owen Edwards, Jesse Brashears and John Thompson commissioners to select a permanent seat of justice for the county. They were directed to have due regard to good water and a central location. Sixty acres of land were to be procured by purchase or donation. A struggle was made to secure the seat. Readyville Rucker’s place, Black Fox Spring and Capt. William Lytle’s place were offered. The commissioners visited the various places mentioned. Charles Ready prepared a sumptuous dinner, the Rev. Henderson delivered an address, toasts were drank and strong efforts were made to have Rucker’s place chosen. The commissioners were also entertained by Lytle, where the vote was taken on his proposition to donate sixty acres of land south of “Murfree Spring Branch” to the commissioners. The vote stood Robinson, Hamilton, Edwards and Thompson - four in favor of Lytle’s offer. The opposition led by Ready had Armstrong, Brashears and Ready - three votes in favor of Rucker’s place. Such was their chagrin at their defeat that they refused to sign the deeds to the lots sold.

       All of the original deeds simply bear the names of Hugh Robinson, Hans Hamilton, John Thompson and Owen Edwards. The only reserve made in the deed was a mutual understanding that Lytle should have one lot redeeded to him. This was accordingly done and the commissioners gave the lot on the southeast corner of the Square. The land now in the hands of the commissioners was a part of the lands originally entered by William Lytle and Archibald Lytle. The sale of lots was advertised in the Knoxville and Nashville Gazette to begin on June 12, 1812. The lots sold at auction and were disposed of rapidly. George Smith received Lots 12 and 15 for $116.25. Other purchasers were Daniel Dickinson, William Lytle, Samuel Wilson, Henry Tratt, Robert Jetton, John M. Tilford, Wilson Kerr, Bennett Smith, James Henderson, Blackman Coleman, Fred Barfield, Hezekiah Cartwright, William Bowen, Hugh Montgomery and Abe Thompson. The commissioners as soon as a site was fixed were to effect the removal of records to the to the new site. Two acres of ground near the center of the seat were to be reserved, on which were to be built a court house and stocks, and another lot near was for a jail. The proceeds of the sale of lots were for the erection of the buildings above mentioned. The act of January, 1812, ordered the commissioners to report to the county court; also allowed the commissioners pay for services rendered, and ordered the records removed. By an act of November 15, amending an act of October 17, 1811, the name of the new county seat was changed from Cannonsburg to “Murfreesborough.” An act of October 15, 1813, made Joel Childress, Joel Dyer, J. M. Telford, Abram Thompson, Alex Carmichael, B. Ganaway and Blackman Coleman commissioners of Murfreesboro. This act was repealed in September, 1813, and seven others were elected by the people. An act of November 5, 1813, ordered elections to be held at Murfreesboro instead of Black Fox Camp; they were also to be held at Readyville and at James Johnson’s house.

       The first court house built in the county was at Jefferson. This house was built in 1804-05. It was of brick and was built at a cost of between $2,000 and $3,000, and stood till 1835 or 1836, when it was sold. It was erected by the commissioners of Jefferson - Peter Legrand, Mark Mitchell, John Hill, Alex M. Wright, Fred Barfield and James Sharp. In 1812 a new court house was erected on the present site of the court house on the Public Square in Murfreesboro. This seems to have been a very indifferent house, as in March, 1818, the court appointed Bennett Small, John Hoover and John Edwards commissioners to repair the same. For this purpose a tax of 12½ cents on each 100 acres of land, 25 cents on each house and lot, 25 cents on each stud horse, 25 cents on each black poll, 12½ cents on each White poll, and $10 on each billiard table was levied. This house was burned in 1822, and a call session in August of 1822 granted premiums for a new levy of taxes for the purpose of building a new house.

       On September 11, 1822, the trustees, Robert McCombs, J. S. Jetton, Henry Goodloe, Jacob Wright, David Abbott, Sol Beasley, John Smith, John Dickson, Alex McEwen, O. N. Crocket, Benjamin Johnston, John Edwards, Jacob Wright, John Alexander and J. Williams levied a tax of 37½ cents on each 100 acres of land, 75 cents on each town lot, 25 cents on each free poll, 50 cents on each black poll, twice the season for each stallion, $10 on each four-wheel pleasure carriage, $5 for each two-wheel carriage and $10 for each ordinary where liquors were sold. They were ordered to pledge the taxes thus levied for the years 1823, 1824 and 1825, after deducting costs of collection to the Nashville Branch Bank of Murfreesboro for the purpose of raising $6,000 for the erection of a new court house. In case the money was not furnished by the bank the commissioners had power to procure it on the most advantageous terms elsewhere. The money was accordingly raised and a brick building erected in due course of time. This house stood until the present substantial structure was erected, in 1859. The present building was erected at a cost of about $50,000. The committee which was appointed to inquire into the propriety of building a new court house was appointed January 3, 1859, and was composed of V. D. Cowan, F. Henry, W. R. Lytle, George Smith and E. A. Keeble. The committee reported that a new court house was necessary, and the court made the old committee a building committee with enlarged powers. The present fence around the court house as erected in 1867, at a cost of nearly $4,000, and the court house was furnished with gas in 1874.

       The first prison bonds have already been described. There were four persons imprisoned for debt. Stocks were also built at Jefferson, where persons were bound hand and foot for lighter offenses.

       A whipping post was also erected on the corner of the Square for the punishment of graver offenses. Samuel McBride, the sheriff, demanded of the court a suitable jail for prisoners in his possession. A temporary jail was erected at the organization of the court, but he was now accommodated with a better one. On moving the county seat to Murfreesboro a new jail was built by the commissioners of Murfreesboro on College Street, a little north of the present jail. This building was of brick, two stories high and was erected by Mr. Dickson. This building was used as a jail till 1852, when it was sold to William Spence for $700. On October 4, 1850, Mr. J. Lidsey, W. H. Helms, B. Clayton, J. E. Dromgoole, N. W. Carter and John Burke were appointed to a committee to investigate the needs of the county in regard to the jail. The committee reported the old jail unfitted for repairs and that a new one was necessary. The contract for the new jail, on the present site, was let to Thomas J. Bulgett September 11, 1852. The total cost of the building was $7,984, with some unfinished work on the outside.


       Previous to the passage of the acts of 1826-27 by the General Assembly, the poor, whom we always have with us, were kept at private houses and allowances were made by the court for their care under the head of a “poor woman” or a “pauper.” On November 17, 1828, the board of justices appointed John Fetcher, Rob Miller, James C. Mitchell, Thomas Powell and H. D. Jameson, as commissioners “to select and locate an institution for the poor. The sheriff, U. S. Cummins, was ordered to give notice of such action. February, 1829, they reported that they had decided to purchase 100 acres of land within eight miles of Murfreesboro. It had been decided to purchase a farm of 100 acres of land and to build a brick house, and the commissioners accordingly levied a tax on land and on White and black polls for that purpose. On August 17, 1829, the commissioners purchased 100 acres of land where “John Alexander (deceased) lived” for $400, and in their report stated that it would not be necessary to rebuild as $100 worth of repairs would give ample accommodations. The report of the commissioners was received and met the approval of a majority of the justices. The farm lay on Cripple Creek, within seven miles of Murfreesboro.

       The Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway was completed from Nashville to Murfreesboro in 1851. A large subsidy in the form of stock was voted by the State, and large sums were given by private citizens. Among those most influential in building the road, outside of the county, were Gov. James C. Jones, Col. V. K. Stevenson and the distinguished Robert Y. Hayne, of South Carolina. So eager were the people for the road that they seemed to vie with each other as to who should donate most liberally toward the road. The first passenger coach over the road from Nashville arrived on the 4th of July, 1851. Flowers and festoons decorated the little city, and a dinner and speeches commemorated the great event. A new world of business was opened up - a communication between the manufacturing cities of the North and the rich fields and seaboard cities of the South. The road extends through the county a distance of nearly thirty miles, entering near the northwest corner of the county at Lavergne and passing out near the southeast part of the county at Fosterville. This road is one of the best and most profitable thoroughfares of the country.

       The first turnpike in the county was the Nashville, Murfreesboro & Shelbyville Pike. The charter was granted in 1831, and the work was immediately begun. The State gave aid to the amount of one-half, and the remainder was soon furnished by individuals. Commissioners were appointed and the road was surveyed and ready for work in a short time. John and James Holmes, two energetic and somewhat eccentric Irishmen, obtained the contract for ten miles of the road toward Nashville. Ground was broken July 4, 1832. Feasting, toasting and speech making were indulged in on account of the great event. They were “wined and dined” and lauded over their enterprise. Subsequently these contractors completed five miles more of the road toward Shelbyville. The road was completed and gates erected and ready for business in 1842. The report of the pike superintendent for 1885 shows an old balance, gate receipts, etc., to the amount of $10,315.50, disbursed on repairs and dividend $8,208.60, leaving a balance on hand of $2,106.90 and the road in good condition. The Cumberland & Stone’s River Pike was chartered by the Legislature in 1836, and work soon after begun. Thomas Buckley contracted for the first three and one-half miles from Murfreesboro for $1,800, one-half payable in bonds. After many difficulties this road was completed and is now one of the best in the county. The Murfreesboro & Manchester Pike was chartered about the same time as the latter, the State giving aid in each case; the receipts for this road for the last year were $2,408.50, no report of expenditures of the road are at hand. The Woodbury Pike was chartered in 1851. The receipts for this road for the year ending January, 1886, were $3,087.70; expenditure, $3,511.21, being an excess of $423.51.

       The Wilkerson Cross Roads Pike show receipts of $936.90; disbursements of $1,054.63, being an excess of $117.73. This road was chartered in 1858 and built by the Wilkerson Turnpike Company. The road is reported in good condition. The Murfreesboro & Salem Road is reported in good condition with receipts at $1,767, and expenditures the same. The superintendent’s report shows the Eaglesville & Salem Road to be in good condition, the receipts for the year being $1,233.34; disbursements $1,019.50, leaving a balance of $213.84. The receipts for the Eagleville, Unionville & Shelbyville Pike were $1,086.75; expenditures for repairs, $649.82 with a balance of $436.93. The Murfreesboro, Liberty via Lascassas Road receipts were $1,633.10; the expenditures $1,809.74, being an excess of $165.64. The Murfreesboro & Bradyville gave receipts of $1,793.18, and called for $1,560.78 expenditures, with a surplus of $232.50. The receipts of the Jefferson & Lascassas Road were $1,208.71; expenditure not given. The Murfreesboro & Liberty Road via Hall’s Hill, received at its gates $1,088.40 and disbursed $900, the remaining surplus still to be used in repairs. From the above it will be seen that the county is well supplied with pikes. It is doubtful if any county in the State can boast of as many and as good pikes or more efficient and accommodating officials.

       The Rutherford County Medical Society was organized in Murfreesboro, June 1, 1852, with the following membership: Drs. B. W. Avent, S. B. Robison, J. W. Richardson, M. Ransom, B. H. Bilbro, B.S. Wendel, J. J. Abernathy, W. T. Baskette, L. W. Knignt, T. C. Black, W. C. Martin, R. J. Powell, G. W. Burk, and H. H. Clayton. The following were chosen for officers for the first year: J. W. Richardson, president; J. E. Wendel, vice-president; E. D. Wheeler, recording secretary; S. B. Robison, corresponding secretary, and B. W. Avent, treasurer. The object of the society was the discussion of the theory and practice of medicine and the collateral sciences. The code of ethics of the American Medical Association was adopted for the government of the society. The regular meetings are on the first Thursdays of May and November of each year. The following essays and reports have been read before the Society and nearly all published in the Nashville Journal of Medicine and Surgery: In 1852, Cholera Infantum, by W. T. Baskette; Statistics of Fifty Cases of Typhoid Fever, by S. H. Wood; A Case of Amaurosis, by H. H. Clayton. In 1853, Paratitis followed by Meningitis, by L. W. Knignt; Sanitation by S. B. Robison; Reports of Cases of Dysentery, by B. H. Bilbro; Congestion of the Brain, by R. W. Wendel. In 1857, Croup, by L. M. Mason. In 1858, “Intersusception” of the Bowels, by R. S. Wendel; Veratrum Viride by T. S. Smith; Acute Mania Treated by Chloroform, by B. W. Avent, Case of Puerperal Fever, by M. L. Ransom. In 1859, A Case of Spinal Abcess, by J. B. Murfree. In 1859, Syphilis, by L. M. Wasson; Abortion among Negroes, by J. H. MORGAN; Blood-letting, by J. B. Murfree. In 1867, Indications for Stimulants, by J. W. Richardson. In 1868, Cholera Infantum, by S. B. Robison. In 1872, Syphilis, by J. B. Murfree. In 1874, Quinia Sulphatis, by H. H. Clayton. In 1877, Dysentery, by W. E. Yourie; Cholera Infantum, by P. C. Coleman; Embolism, and Thrombosis, by G. D Crosthwait; Diphtheria, by T. D Miller; Cholera Infantum, by John H. White; Diphtheria, by R. N. Knox; Stricture of the Urethra, by H. J. Warmuth; Erysipelas, by William Freeman; Ostititis, by M. B. Murfree; Malaria, by J. H. Dickson; Bright’s Disease, by G. W. Overall, and Tuberculosis, by R. N. Knox; the two latter in 1878. Dysentery, by M. H. Bonner; Cholera Infantum, by A. W. Manire in 1884. Puerperal Fever, by W. E. Yourie. The following are the officers for 1886: William Whitsen, president: J. J. Rucker, vice-president; M. H. Bonner, corresponding secretary; J. B. Murfree, secretary and treasurer. Other members: M. Ransom, H. H. Clayton, R. S. Wendel, J. F. Rucker, R. B. Haines, J. E. Manson, T. J. Elam, B. M. White, T. J. Bennet, J. H. White, J. F. Byrn, M. E. Neeley, J. M. Dill, W. E. Yourie, R. N. Knox, L. D. Miller, R. W. Reed, A. W. Manire, A. P. Mccullough, William Freeman, W. C. Martin, J. W. Davis, H. J. Warmuth, J. N. Bridges, ___ Dyke, S. N. Crosthwait, H. Yeargan, S. D. Crosthwait, W. Hoover, W. H. Lytle, W. D. Robison, J. H. Dickson.

       The Tennessee Central Agricultural and Mechanical Association purchased excellent grounds in 1868, and erected suitable buildings for the association and held several semi-annual fairs, at which there were fine displays of live-stock, products of the field, orchard and garden; also exhibits of the mechanical and fine arts. From some unknown cause the enterprise was not a financial success, and for a number of years the county was without a fair. In 1884 the Rutherford Fair Association purchased the grounds and buildings of the Tennessee Central Fair Association for $5,000. The grounds lie on the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railroad and the Shelbyville Turnpike Road, one mile south of Murfreesboro, and embrace thirty acres of land. The track is one-half mile in length and sixty feet wide, and within is the show ring which is encircled by the amphitheater. The first fair under the present management began September 24, 1884, and continued in session four days. The officers at that time were Col. N. C. Collier, president; James A. Moore, first vice-president, and Frank Avent, recording secretary. So successful was the management that a dividend of 10 per cent was declared the first year. Still greater was the success of 1885, as a dividend of 15 per cent was declared, leaving a reserve dividend of 6 per cent still on hand. The association pointed with pride to its almost marvelous success since its organization. All the departments usually represented at fairs were well represented at the last, besides one in equestrianism for ladies. The officers for 1885 were Col. N. C. Collier, president, Col. John S. Gooch, Col. W. D. Robison and A. W. Blackman, vice-presidents; Frank Avent, permanent secretary; John E. Richardson, recording secretary, and A. M. Overall, treasurer. The Tennessee State Trotting Horse Breeders’ Association held its first meeting on the grounds of the Rutherford County Fair Association. Several of the leading members of the County Association are also members of the State Association.

       The market house building, though distinctly a part of the town, is mentioned here as it was used for public purposes. The building stood on the north side of the Square, near the public well. It was built by the first town commissioners in 1815. It was simply a shed 20 x 40 feet, standing on brick pillars and divided into stalls. January 1, 1830, Jonathan Huggins secured the contract for enlarging and improving the building. This was the common place of auction sales by constables, sheriff, etc., of negroes and other property. The building was destroyed during the war.

       The following are the county officers: Sheriffs - Samuel McBride, 1804-06; O. H. Benze, 1806-13; U. S. Cummins, 1813-34; G. S. Crockett, 1834-36; William P. Watkins, 1836-42; William B. Lillard, 1842-48; J. M. Tompkins, 1848-52; A. M. McKnignt, 1852-56; W. N. Mason, 1856-60 * * ; A. Jones, 1865-67; G. S. Webb, 1867-70; Ed Arnold, 1870-76; Richard Ransom, 1876-82; Benjamin Baley, 1882-86. County court clerks - Joseph Herndon, 1804-13; Blackman Coleman, 1813-24; John R. Mclaughlin, 1824-34; R. S. Morris, 1834-44; John Woods, 1844-56; John Jones, 1856-60; J. D. Wilson, 1865-70; J. O. Oslin, 1870-78; W. D. Robison, 1878-86. Registers - William Mitchell, 1804; * * ; John Spence, 1819-23; M. G. Reeves, 1824-36; John Woods, 1836-44; A. T. Reeves, 1844-54; G. W. Holden, 1854-58; B. F. Wharton, 1858-70; Hardy Murphy, 1870-78; J. B. Jetton, 1878-86. Circuit court clerks - Wilham Ledbetter, 1819-34; Richard Ledbetter, 1834-36; Samuel H. Hodge, 1836-46; D. D. Wendel, 1846-61 (on the organization in 1846 D. D. Wendel was made both circuit and criminal court clerk, which he held till the war); M. L. Fletcher, 1864-70; J. B Fowler, 1870-78; Peyton Randolph, 1878-86. Chancellors - L. M. Bramblett, 1836-42; B. L. Ridley, 1842-62; J. P. Steele, 1864-72; A. S. Marks, 1872-78; J. W. Burton, 1878-83, Ed Hancock, 1883-86. Chancery clerks - White Jetton, 1836-40; G. S. Crocket, 1841-42; G. D. Crosthwait, 1842-48; D. D. Wendel, 1848-62; Peyton Randolph, 1864-86. Chairmen - William Vincent; Silas Reed; John Fletcher, 1848; Joseph Lindsey, 1848-68; John Woods, 1868-86. Postmasters at Murfreesboro - Joel Childress, 1812-17; David Wendel, 1817-39; D B. Mallory, 1839-52; E. B. Mclean, 1852-56; J. M. Leatherman, 1856-60; W. R. Butler, 1860-62; William Burt, 1864; George Booker, ---; J. W. Wilson, 1871-85; Frank White, 1886.

       First District - A. H. Smith, T. H. Carter; Second - N. W. Mason, J. S. Gooch; Third - H. H. T. Carter, H. Gregory; Fourth - H. W. Hall, L. A. Rogers; Fifth - W. A. Rushing, A. M. Jones; Sixth - J. L. Barber, H. H. Macon; Seventh - G. W. Smith, J. L. Anderson; Eighth - R. S. Brown, J. T. Wilson; Ninth - Z. T. Dismukes, J. E. Stockard; Tenth - G. W. Burns, W.W. Lamb; Eleventh - J. S. Webb, W. M. Rucker; Twelfth - C.A. Hill, W. L. Leathers; Thirteenth - J. T. McKinley, M. M. Henry, A. G. Tompkins; Fourteenth - W. C. Westbrook, A. W. Leathers; Fifteenth - J. S. Allen, William Hunt; Sixteenth - W. S. Rhodes, Samuel Vaught; Seventeenth - D. M. McKnignt, W. G. Malthis; Eighteenth - John Woods, W. J. Knox; Nineteenth - P. M. Puryear, B. R. Bivens; Twentieth - M. S. Lynch, J. D. Gilmore; Twenty-first - E. B. Fathera, B. T. Johnson; Twenty-second - W. A. Jones, J. T. BROWN; Twenty-third - F. A.McKnignt, C. A. McKnob; Twenty-fourth - John Gum, A. F. Summers; Twenty-fifth - G. C. Dromgoole, J. H. White.

       From official information it is learned that the railroad business alone at Murfreesboro amounts to $30,000 in passenger traffic and $50,000 annually in freight, with about $5,000 additional at Lavergne, Florence, Christiana and Fosterville. Of 10,000 or 12,000 bales of cotton raised in the county 6,000 or 7,000 are shipped by rail, and in addition there are shipped 1,000 car loads of cedar lumber, 200 of hogs, 100 of horses and mules, 50 of cattle, 100 of wheat, 200 car loads of other grains and 500 car loads of miscellaneous freight.

       The first court in Rutherford County met at the house of Thomas Rucker January 3, 1804, this being the first Monday. The “commissioners of the peace” were Col. John Thompson, Peter Legrand, Thomas Rucker, John Howell, Charles Ready and John Hill, to whom the oath of office was administered by William Nash, till this time a resident of Davidson County. The first act of the court as the appointment of Samuel McBride, sheriff, who gave bond in the sum of $12,000, and Joseph Herndon was made clerk. William Mitchell was appointed register; John Howell, ranger, and Joseph Boyer, John Anthony, W. Ramsey and William Martin, constables. Thomas Overton and John H. Bowen were admitted as attorneys. The sheriff returned the first grand jury as follows: Alex McCulloch, foreman; Henry David, George Ransom, J. M. Wright, Sr., Joe Nichols, Samuel Campbell, Daniel Williams, William Felton, Samuel Wilson, Thomas Nelson, James Whitsett, J. Clark, James Lindsey, William Gammel, John Smith, John Kimbro, Simon Miller, Mark Mitchell, John Sullivan, Robert Smith, C. Harmon, Tomas Mitchell, James McGabah, James Hill and James Oliphant. At the close of the first quarter session the court adjourned to meet in April at the “forks of Stones River.” At this court Bennett H. Henderson was admitted as an attorney, and Parry W. Humphreys was made solicitor for the county. The court continued to meet at the forks of Stones River (Jefferson) till January, 1805, when the first session of that year was held at the house of Simon Miller, situated about five miles north of Murfreesboro. At this court there were present the “Worshipful” Tomas Rucker, John Howell, John Hill and Thomas Thompson. This court appointed Robert T. N. Smith, revenue collector, who reported forty-six bodies of land subject to double taxation from failure to report the same for taxation; these bodies of land varied in size from 100 to 3,000 acres. The July term of court again met at the forks of Stone River in 1805. The court fined C. Dement $1 for “contemptuous behavior of court,” also the first ad quad damnum suit was tried. This suit was brought by Henry Gilliam against Lewis Anthony, who had erected a mill-dam on Stones River, but twelve “good and lawful men” said that Gilliam was entitled to no damage. Pending the erection of the courthouse at Jefferson, which had been selected as a county seat, the court met from this time till April, 1806, at Nimrod Menifee’s, near the National Cemetery; while at Menifee’s Rucker, Thompson and Ready held court. This court allowed Samuel McBride $40 for services as sheriff, Herndon $50 as clerk, and Bowen $30 as solicitor for 1804. In April, 1806, court again met at Jefferson in the court house. John M. Taylor and Eli Talbot were admitted as counsellors at law at this term, and Parry W. Humphreys was made solicitor for the county at a salary of $30 per annum.

       On his resignation, in 1805, Peter Brooker was appointed to fill the same office. The court allowed Joseph Henson the privilege of building a grist-mill on the east fork of Stones River. James Hamilton was fined by this court for beating E. Grady. John H. Bowen was made a solicitor for the year 1808. Abel Russel was fined $50 for slandering William Hamilton, and Peter Legrand got $10 for an assault upon Peter Anderson. Thomas Rucker received a $600-judgment against Co. Edward Bradford for false imprisonment. The case grew out of some supposed misdemeanor on the part of Rucker at a militia drill, in which he incurred the displeasure of Bradford, who ordered Rucker’s neck placed between two rails of a fence and he was kept there to await the pleasure of the Colonel. On his release he brought suit against Bradford for false imprisonment with the above judgment. Soon after both became members of the Baptist Church, and as brothers the debt was forgiven. William Bowen was fined $5 for an assault upon Bird Hurst, and Samuel Rogers $92 for a like offense against William Collier, and in a counter suit Collier received a judgment of $275 against Rogers for slander. David Ferguson was assessed 25 cents for slandering J. P. H. Lemon, and the court, that it might not be too severe on Ferguson, divided costs between plaintiff and defendant. Henry Davis was fined 6¼ cents for beating John Thompson “contrary to the form and statutes made and provided.” William Edwards was assessed $7 for a like assault upon John Barker. In the court at Jefferson, William B. Robinson, Henry Minor and Thomas H. Benton were admitted to the bar. The latter is said to have pleaded his first case at Jefferson. He was at this time a resident of Franklin, Williamson County. He represented Rutherford and Williamson in the State Senate in 1809. His record as a statesman and senator from Missouri for thirty years is well known.

       In 1807 Felix Grundy was admitted as an attorney. He was a noted criminal lawyer, and was well known in political circles. He was a member of the Legislature while at this place, and was for many years a United States senator from this State. Bennet Smith was made cotton inspector in 1807, and in 1808 he became solicitor for the county, which position he held for a number of years. He is said to have been a man somewhat eccentric in his ways, a man of strong likes and bitter dislikes. He was a lawyer, farmer and financier.

       The development of the county demanded a higher court. By an act of the Legislature Rutherford was made a part of the Fourth Judicial District, and the Hon. Thomas Stuart, nicknames “old sorrel,” was qualified for the position as judge January 2, 1810; John Coffee was made clerk, and Alfred Balch, solicitor-general. Each held his commission from Gov. Willie Blount. Each of the above became well known in the county. The first grand jury impaneled by the circuit court consisted of J. L. Armstrong, foreman; John Hill, John Smith, Joe Morton, James McKnignt, L. Davis, John Wallace, A. McCulloch, John N. Reed, E. B. Mccoy, Joseph Barton, Charles Ready and Peter Legrand. The first regular jury was composed of Hans Hamilton, John Sharp, Allen Hill, Joseph Dickson, Thomas Hubbard, J. L. Jetton, James Whitsett, J. Rucker, Rob McComb, George Brandon, William Nash and Daniel Marshall. It was in this court that case wherein -- was plaintiff and -- defendant, the point in dispute being a hide taken to the tan-yard, the amount involved at the time being about $2.50. It was continued in court till cost amounted in all to about $3,000. At the first quarter sessions in 1813, Ezekiel McCoy, Daniel Bowman, J. S. Jetton, Fred Barfield and S. Jetton, “Worshipful Justices Esquires” were present.

       A negro named “Jess” was found guilty of “house breaking” on the property of E. Ward, and was sentenced to execution September 3, 1813. He was sent to Nashville to await the day of execution. This was duly carried out at the appointed time. According to the superstition of the time, bits of the hangman’s rope were in great demand as a talisman against many ills that human flesh was heir to. The October term of court allowed Mathew McClanahan $29 for his services on the above occasion, and William Neugent, James Miller and William Knignt were each allowed $2 as guards for the prisoner; and Samuel Williams, A. Miller and James Lowell were each allowed 50 cents as witness fees.

       As a reminder of old times Samuel Richardson was allowed $8 for wolf scalps, and Joseph Welton $3 for one scalp. At the October term of 1813 to facilitate business the justices were divided into four divisions as follows: The first year was composed of William Nash, Moses Bellah, Solomon Beesley, George Weton, J. S. Jetton, Thomas Berry, David Allen, John Tutton, James Whiteside, John Edwards, J. D. Irwin, James Gillespie and William Lock; the second, Fred Barfield, Robert Bedford, Hugh Robinson, William Mankin, A. M. Erwin, J. Millford, Thomas Hoover, J. Smith, J. L. Ambrose, W. H. Davis, Owen Edwards, T. A. Cannon; the third, John Hill, John Henderson, Thomas Nash, John Miller, Sam Campbell, Henry Goodloe, John Dickson, Rob Wannick, E. B. Mccoy, George Simpson, Rob McCombs and James McKnignt; the fourth, W. W. Searsey, Abe Johns, H. M. Henderson, Jacob Knignt, John Barter, L. Davis, Dan Bowman, G. W. Banton, H. Hamilton, W. Edwards, J. S. Jetton and James Sharp. In a suit of the State against Samuel Wilson for an offense against its dignity, Wilson was fined the sum of 1 cent. Thomas Wilson was arraigned for petit larceny, “whereupon Thomas threw himself upon the country and the attorney prosecuting did the like;” then came a jury of “good and lawful men” as follows: Mathew Hirst, William Stokes, John Johns, Larken Johnston, Samuel Kilbro, James Devore, James Cantheron, John Williams, John Hill, Thomas Harris and Samuel Mallery, who, being tried on their oaths, said the defendant was guilty, and affixed his punishment at ten days in the common jail, and that he should be taken to the Public Square and there receive one lash upon the bare back. The “gaol” not being considered safe he was taken to Nashville for imprisonment. Blackman Coleman was allowed $40 for taking the tax list and Bennet Smith $50 as solicitor for 1813. In 1814 Daniel Sullivan was fined $5 for failing to obey a scire facias, also $5 for gaming, and Joseph Young received $5 for contempt of court. John Lowery and J. W. Peak received $1 each for forfeiture of recognizance. James Caruthers was allowed $29.75 for taking Thomas Wilson to the Nashville “gaol.” A. Sharp was fined $245 for seduction, and William Blair $250 for a like offense. October 15, 1815, Alexander Patterson was fined $10 for petit larceny, and in addition received ten lashes upon the bare back at the shipping post on the Public Square, and was sent to jail till the fine was paid. John Foss, V. Robertson, Thomas Noelard, Elizabeth Balle and M. Martin, by throwing themselves upon the “grace and mercy” of the court were each fined 1 cent. In 1818 M. Battin was placed in the scales of justice and was found wanting to the extent of 6¼ cents for neglect of duty as overseer of the road. P. Wilson and N. T. Perkins were each given nominal fines for tilts at vi et armis. James Maxwell was indicted to the murder of Caleb Hewett, and was fined, but was released on taking the “insolvent debtor’s oath.”

       At the June term of court in 1818 it was ordered, first, that witnesses shall be questioned by one lawyer on a side only; second, that questions for continuance shall be argued by one attorney alone on a side; third, sheriffs shall have jurymen ready for those accused; fourth, no motion on appeals should be heard unless made. In 1813 the court ordered B. Coleman to have a county seal made, which was executed by Benjamin Liddon, for which the court allowed $10.

       In 1819 a man named Thurman was tried for horse stealing and found guilty, and according to the law and custom of the time was condemned to be executed. The day was set and the time arrived. The prisoner was seated on his own coffin and driven in a cart to the place of execution, near where Soule’s College now stands. People thronged the place, the Rev. Dr. Henderson delivered the funeral sermon, and pointed out the evils of a sinful life; the hands were pinioned, and the sheriff, U. S. Cummins, was about adjusting the noose when Daniel Graham, secretary of state, appeared and stayed the proceedings by reading to the Sheriff a reprieve for the prisoner who was remanded to jail.

       In 1821 began a series of suits between the Nashville Branch Bank and Benjamin Tratt, et al, which continued in court several years. In 1824 John BISHOP was arraigned for petit larceny, and the jury, Simpson Harris, Hugh Porter, James Covington, George Moore, William North, D. M. Jarnett, William Bynum, W. Anderson, W. Maury, A. Blackman and E. Wood, found him guilty and fixed his punishment at ten days in jail and five lashes upon the bare back. This observation may not be out of place here: At this time there was no penitentiary in the State. Punishment was inflicted by standing in stocks, by the whipping-post, the branding-iron, imprisonment in jail and sometimes by clipping the ear. Persons were made infamous by branding the mark indicating the crime of the guilty one, as “T” for thief, “M” for murder. These punishments were not inflicted as marks of brutality by the court, but were looked upon as marks of justice inflicted, and while the lash was being applied to the quivering muscles and the scathing branding-iron to the quivering flesh, the court could cooly proceed with business.

       In 1823 R. E Green was fined $5 for assault and battery; David Thompson, 1 cent, official negligence as road overseer; Henry Bedford and William Leech each got 1 cent for riot. In 1831 Spencer Hazlett was fined $5 for assault and battery; W. Featherston, $5, and P. Featherston 1 cent, for similar offenses. R. Ramsey was fined $2 and three months in jail for “malicious mischief.” S. R. McLaughlin turned into the treasury $800 as back taxes for 1823-24. In 1833 H.D. Thompson, William McKey, Samuel Patterson and Joseph Cheatham were each fined $5 for “presentments for gaming.” Besides those already mentioned, the following attorneys had been admitted to the bar: Thomas Overton, F. H. Johns, Jesse Wheaton, B. H. Henderson, R. S. Caruthers, Rob Hawkins, R. M. Bute, H. C. Whiteside, D. W. Dickman, E. A. Keeble and Alfred Johns. The most of these men became well-known attorneys. “Malicious mischief,” affrays, extortion were common offenses at this time. Twelve “good and lawful men” ordered the sheriff to inflict a punishment of twenty lashes upon the bare back of Isaiah Lester for petit larceny. On January 15, 1827, the death of Judge John Haywood was ordered spread upon record, and each member of the bar as requested to wear crape upon the left arm for a period of thirty days.

       John W. Childress was appointed attorney-general, pro tem., for the year 1827. Indictments for riot were found against Samuel Green, Samuel Wilson, Moses Baum and Thomas Baum, and a fine of $10 was assessed against each, while William Hicks and Thomas Alexander were each fined nominal sums for keeping “tippling houses.” Again in 1827-28, punishments by whipping were inflicted - one of thirty lashes upon Henry Adams, and one of five lashes and three days’ imprisonment upon Willis Cooper. In 1829 a case as tried in the Rutherford Circuit Court, known as the “Harding Case,” brought from Maury County on a change of venue. This was something of a family quarrel, in which two parties were killed, and a father and son were tried as accessories to the crime alleged to have been committed by two sons who had fled the country. The prominence of the families made the case an exciting one. After an exciting trial of some time the defendants were acquitted.

       A further division of the labors of the county court was made in 1836 by the establishment of the chancery court. Judge L. M. Bramblet was elected first chancellor. He served with credit to himself and the county from 1836 to 1842. Bramblet was succeeded on the bench as chancellor, in 1842, by Judge B. L. Ridley, who served with credit and marked ability till the court was suspended by the war. Judge Ridley was a man of moral as well as personal courage, and when the war came up he entered the service. After the close of the war he resumed the practice of law, which he continued till his death. In 1838 a negro names “Charles” was arrested for rape. The evidence was wholly circumstantial but seemed pretty clear, and on the strength he was tried, convicted and executed. There was a strong suspicion at the time that he as not the guilty party. Later a negro was executed in Mississippi for a similar crime, and while under sentence of death owned upto the crime in Rutherford for which Charles was hanged.

       Another subdivision in matters of litigation was made by the establishment of a criminal court. This was done in 1846. The district of this court included Davidson and Rutherford Counties - being the same as now. The Hon. William K. Turner, of Nashville, was made judge of this court. He held the office from the formation of the court until the court was discontinued on account of the war. Judge Turner is described as a man firm, earnest, clear, prompt and sound in his decisions, but plain and easy in manner.

       In 1848 Sarah, a slave, was executed by order of the court. This was done by the sheriff, J. M. Thompson, for which the court allowed him the sum of $12.50; other allowances, for grave, coffin and gallows, amounted to a total of $26.25. A destruction of all the circuit and criminal court records during the war renders a detailed account of the transactions of these courts impossible.

       The county court was partially reorganized in June, 1864, while under control of the military authorities. But little work was done by this court. The criminal court was reorganized at the July term, 1864; the Hon. T. N. Frazier was made judge and M. L. Fletcher, clerk. Owing to the occupation of the court house for other purposes, the court first met in the Odd Fellows’ hall, but afterward moved to the Masonic hall. The results of the war brought a new feature into the courts, i.e.: “State vs. ___ ___ col., Hog Stealing, etc.” The chancery court was reorganized at this time; Judge, J. P. Steele, presiding, with J. M. Tompkins, clerk and master. On the death of the Hon. Charles Ready, who had been prominent before the public for fifty-three years, the entire bar attended his funeral in a body. J. M. Avent and W. H. Washington were appointed a committee to report the memorial of his death to the criminal court; Gen. J. B. Palmer, E. H. Ewing and ___ Burton, to the supreme court; H. P. Keeble and B. L. Rielley, to the county court; J. L. Cannon and G. S. Ridley, to the circuit court; J. D. Richardson and J. M. Childress, to the chancery court.

       A personal mention of each member of the bar or judge on the bench will not be made; but be this said, the Rutherford County Courts, in all their branches, have been characterized, from the beginning to the present, by men of culture, ability and refinement. The highest judicial seat nor the presidential chair have not been too high to be reached either by her native or adopted sons. Neither the halls of Congress or the judicial ermine have ever been disgraced by one of her children.

       Many of the old Revolutionary soldiers settled in Rutherford County after the admission of Tennessee into the Union, on grants from the State of North Carolina. Among them may be mentioned the Gilbraiths, Grants, Halls, Hills, Murfrees, Hubbards, Joneses, Rutledges and others. Many of them became pensioners after the passage of the act of Congress, of 1832, for their relief. In the Creek war of 1812-14, related elsewhere, a large number of troops went from Rutherford County, although it is believed no regularly organized company was sent. Col. Henderson, who is accredited to this county, was killed in a skirmish near the city of New Orleans. In the second Seminole war, which broke out in 1836, Rutherford County furnished two companies, Capt. Yoakum’s and Robert Jetton’s. These men enlisted under the call for 2,500 men to serve for six months. These men were attached to the Second Regiment, which was organized at Fayetteville, about June 16, 1836, by electing William Trousdale, colonel; J. C. Guild, lieutenant-colonel; Joseph Meadows, first major; William Washington, second major. These two regiments were formed into a brigade, of which Robert Armstrong was elected brigadier-general. The troops left Fayetteville, the place of rendezvous, on July 4, and proceeded direct to Columbus, Ga. The history of this expedition is given under the second Seminole war. In 1846, on the outbreak of the Mexican war, great numbers offered their services to the State and Government. Two political companies from Rutherford tendered their services at once, the one commanded by Capt. Mitchell, called the Spring Blues, and the other by Capt. Childress. The latter only was accepted. These men were not accepted till the second call, and consequently did not see very active service.

       The sentiment of Rutherford was strongly opposed to secession or separation till the climax of the political issues was reached, when the people slowly yielded, and in time became earnest supporters of the Confederate Government. The first regiment raised in this county for the Confederate service was the Second Tennessee Infantry. The regiment was composed of ten companies, averaging 120 men each; two of these companies, A and F, were from Rutherford County. The captains of Company A were S. N. White, John A. Butler, Thomas G. Butler and James T. C. McKnignt. The captains of company F were Thomas D. White, W D. Robinson and William H. Newman. At its first organization William B. Bate was chosen colonel; David L. Goodall, lieutenant-colonel; William R. Doak, major. The regiment was organized at Nashville, May 5, and was ordered to Virginia. It was mustered into the Confederate service May 12, at Lynchburg, by Gen. E. Kirby Smith. The field and staff officers were W. B. Bate and W. D. Robinson, colonels; D. L. Goodall and John A. Butler, lieutenant-colonels; William R. Doak, major; T. J. Kennedy and Alexander Erskine, surgeons; J. H. Erskine and T. L. B. Brown, assistant surgeons; Joseph Cross and G. T. Henderson, chaplains; M. W. Cluskey and W. H. Rhea, quartermasters; W. T. Driver and W. J. Hale, adjutants. The complete account of this regiment is given in the State history.

       The credit of raising the Eighteenth Regiment is due largely to Gen. J. B. Palmer, of Murfreesboro. At the outbreak of hostilities Maj. Palmer, as he as then called, was engaged in the practice of law at Murfreesboro, and was a man very much opposed to secession, a doctrine which he opposed with all his force and logic. He said, however, if the worst came to the worst he was with his native State. The determination of Maj. Palmer to volunteer led a vast number of his neighbors and companions to enlist with him. The following companies were raised, principally in Rutherford County: Maj. Palmer’s own company, B G. Woods’ company and B. F. Webb’s company. The history of this regiment is best told in the language of Gen. Palmer himself. The regiment was organized on the 11th of June, 1861, at Camp Trousdale, Tennessee, by the election of J. B. Palmer colonel, A G. Carden, lieutenant-colonel, S W. Davis, major. It contained ten companies, commanded respectively by Capt. M. R. Rushing, J. W. Roscoe, William R. Butler, H. J. St. John, G. H. Lowe, B. F. Webb, J. B. Matthews, B. G. Woods, A. G. Carden and W. J. Grayson. Col. Palmer’s staff consisted of R. P. Crockett, quartermaster, with rank of captain; Thomas Wood, commissary, with same rank; Dr. John Patterson, surgeon; J. W. Gowan, assistant surgeon; James W. Roscoe, adjutant, with the rank of first lieutenant; James S. Baxter, sergeant-major. The first battle in which the regiment participated was at Fort Donelson, where after much suffering, hard and gallant fighting, it, with the garrison and army under command of Gen. Floyd, was captured on February 16, 1862. Col. Palmer and other field officers were imprisoned at Fort Warren, Boston, Harbor. The staff and company officers were confined at Johnson’s Island, Lake Erie, and the privates at Camp Douglas, Illinois. All the men and officers were exchanged in September, 1862, when the regiment was reorganized by an act of the Confederate Congress. J. B. Palmer was again elected colonel; W B. Butler, lieutenant-colonel; W. H. Joyner, major; John W. Douglas, adjutant. This reorganization took place September 26, 1862, at Jackson, Miss. This regiment from the beginning to the close of the war belonged to the famous command known at part of the time as Brown’s, and subsequently as Palmer’s brigade; by its latter name it was surrendered at Goldsboro, N. C., May 2, 1865, on the terms agreed upon by Gens. Joe E. Johnston and William T. Sherman. As a regiment, it was commanded by its first colonel, Palmer, till his promotion to the rank of brigadier-general in 1864. The Eighteenth participated in the great battles of Fort Donelson, Murfreesboro (Stones River), Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. It participated in all the engagements in the Atlanta campaign. It made the campaign into Tennessee after the fall of Atlanta, doing active service at all points. After the defeat of Gen. John B. Hood before Nashville, this was one of the regiments of Palmer’s brigade which, with other choice troops, covered Hood’s retreat from Middle Tennessee across the Tennessee River. This rear guard was under Maj.-Gen. Walthall, the ranking officer, and consisted of his own division and brigades of Gens. Palmer and Featherston and some cavalry forces. After this Palmer’s brigade was ordered to North Carolina under Gen. Johnston, under whose direction the battle of Bentonville, in that State, was fought. In this fight Palmer’s brigade was made the directing column, and it distinguished itself so highly as to be handsomely complimented by Gen. Stevenson, the division commander, in a “general order.” This was the last fight of the Eighteenth. The regiment was discharged in May, 1865, which closed its arduous and brilliant career of patriotic duty and service for a period of a little more than four memorable years. At the battle of Murfreesboro Gen. Palmer, then colonel, was wounded three times; in the celebrated Breckinridge fight on January 2, 1863. He received a Mini-ball through the calf of the leg, one through the shoulder, and a shell wound on the right knee, thought he did not leave the field till the close of the engagement, and then brought off his regiment in good order. He was next severely wounded at Chickamauga, from which he has never recovered. He was also slightly wounded at Jonesboro and at Bentonville.


Rutherford County History, Part II

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This page last updated on Wednesday, August 12, 2015