As published in the Murfreesboro Post, Ashley Guck, Special to the Post, May 29, 2011
Murfreesboro is having a big – really big – birthday party beginning in October.
Consider this your personal invitation.
In celebration of the city’s bicentennial, the city council is planning a 13-month long string of events – cultural, musical, histori- cal – that will focus on the town’s past, pres- ent and future.
Founded on Oct. 17, 1811, Murfreesboro became the winner of a heated fight for the county seat of Rutherford County. The win did not come easily. The county seat was originally located in the town of Jefferson, which was found, as the physical descrip- tion is noted in history books, “at the forks of Stones River.”
Alas, for poor Jefferson, an economic downturn caused a regression in activity, which prompted citizens to request a more centrally located county seat. In 1811, a plot of 60 acres, which was mostly flat with water resources nearby, won a consensus. The acreage offered by Revolutionary War veteran Capt. William Lytle became the new county seat of Cannonsburgh, named for Newton Cannon, a political figure from neighboring Williamson County.
But that name never stuck, although it lives on in the historical village that attracts visitors today. A month later, at Lytle’s re- quest, the new county seat was renamed Murfreesborough. The city was named after Lytle’s close friend and fellow Revolution- ary War veteran, Col. Hardy Murfree, who had recently died in Williamson County.
In part because a courthouse had been built in the city in 1813, the legislature named Murfreesboro the state capital in
1818, a designation that remained until 1826 when Nashville regained the honor. According to the Tennessee Encyclopedia, the Rutherford county seat could have been named the permanent capital in the 1840s, but Murfreesboro leaders wouldn’t fund the $100 needed to relocate state records from Nashville to Murfreesboro.
The start of Murfreesboro’s 13-month long birthday bash is planned for Oct. 17, 2011. The festivities will end in October 2012. Each month is given a different theme and each theme has a historical sig- nificance to Murfreesboro.
“We have a lot of active people in the club with good ideas and from all different states throughout, so I think they will be very much interested in putting together events” said Loretta Tolliver, who became a mem- ber of the Murfreesboro Newcomers Club after she recently moved back to town.
“I think this is going to be fun and excit- ing and a great way to get reintroduced.”
The first October kicks off the celebration with the theme of heritage. November will be focused on the county’s beginnings and will celebrate events such as the name change from Cannonsburgh to Murfrees- borough to Murfreesboro.
The cold winter months continue with a busy line up of activities. December’s events will be a celebration of education. This will commemorate the donation of the land for Bradley Academy.
The town’s annual Christmas Parade, which will be held Sunday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. will feature a bicentennial theme. To ring in the New Year, the theme for January will be the city’s multicultural influences of the residents from many lands who call Murfreesboro home.
In February, the town’s medical community will be featured, while March’s theme will be the contribution of Murfreesboro’s citizens to the military.
The spring and warmer months are also going to be quite busy. April kicks off spring with a celebration of faith and a look at the history of the city’s churches. April will also feature a Pioneer Days event.
Next May will be based around the arts and architecture of Murfreesboro. The 16th Annual JazzFest is among the events planned.
The Juneteenth Festival will be June’s event, followed by a month of musical events in July that will consist of a Fourth of July cele- bration as well as Uncle Dave Macon Days. August will be ad- dressed to newcomers and focus on Murfreesboro’s history.
September’s theme is work and will commemorate commerce and businesses. Finally, the bicentennial of Murfreesboro ends in October 2012 with the theme being our future and focusing on the next 100 years that will surely be as monumental as the last.
Many of the events are still in planning stages. For more informa- tion as a particular month nears visit www.murfreesborotn.gov.
Additional ideas that Mayor Tommy Bragg has discussed but not yet confirmed are: hosting the State Legislature in a meeting in Murfreesboro, creating a bicentennial themed quilt, holding a talent show, planting a time capsule and a photo and writing contest.
The city is working hard on making this bicentennial something the whole county can enjoy.
They have partnered with several different vendors around town to help make these events memorable.
“Our community has an opportunity to join together and cele- brate a major milestone of economy and contribution. All of our residents, business owners and visitors should be aware of the as- pirations and accomplishments of those events and visionaries who have, by their actions, insured the survival and prosperity of this place we call Murfreesboro. It is a gift to be treasured and nurtured for our future,” Bragg said.