Lonely monuments provide history, mystery


Monuments and markers are found all across Rutherford County. Some placed by various government entities. Many privately placed in hundreds of Rutherford cemeteries. Some are of curious origin and uncertain history:

Julius C. Wade

A tall, artistic monument graces the northeast corner of the New Vision Church parking area below the Thompson Lane overpass in Murfreesboro.  The monument’s proximity to the Stones River battlefield might suggest a Civil War origin, but it appears to memorialize the death of a non-veteran.  In well-maintained and landscaped surroundings, the monument inscription reads simply: “Julius C. Wade, Born June 1820, Died April 11, 1871.”

This solitary monument is identified as the “Wade Cemetery” in the 2005 compilation of Rutherford County

The Julius C. Wade monument, located on the grounds of New Vision Baptist Church

The Julius C. Wade monument, located on the grounds of New Vision Baptist Church

cemeteries published by the Rutherford County Historical Society, although there is no physical evidence or documentation of gravesites.  The 2012 “Rutherford County Archives & GIS Cemetery Mapping Project” does not show a cemetery at this location.

Julius C. Wade was the son of John C. Wade and Sarah (Sperry) Wade. John, and two brothers came to Rutherford County from Maryland before 1820.  In mid-19th century, this family owned most of the land along the Stones River West Fork north of Murfreesboro.  There are no land grant records to the Wades. The brothers apparently purchased the land from grantees and their successors.

When John died in 1855, his holdings were divided among nine children.  At the time of his death in 1871, son Julius owned 500 acres presumably including what is now the New Vision Church property.  Julius married Margaret H. Cowan and had no children.  Upon his death, the 500 acres were divided among his wife and his numerous siblings.  Three years after her husband’s death, Margaret remarried.

Perhaps the earthly remains of the childless Julius C. Wade were in fact buried in a family cemetery for one.  Maybe the widow used part of her share of the decedent estate to mark the grave of her first husband. But perhaps there is no grave, no cemetery — just a monument.

Benjamin Liddon

During the 1920s, the Daughters of the American Revolution in Midland, Texas, placed a marker in Rutherford County. It remains today, 90 years later, at the corner of a construction site across from the Kroger shopping center on South Church Street in Murfreesboro.

This inconspicuous marker, a bronze plaque mounted on a short stone base, memorializes Benjamin Liddon, the namesake for the DAR Chapter in Midland, Texas. The inscription reads: “1754-1815…In memory of Benjamin Liddon, Buried near this spring, For Loyal Service in War of Revolution was awarded two tracts of land including Liddon Spring.”

If there was a spring in the proximity of the marker, it has long since disappeared. Kathleen Todd Lowe lived as a child on the farm that surrounded the monument in the 1920s. She remembers the gravesite marker and recalls that there was no spring or stream near the stone. The “locals” referred to the Liddon marker as “the cemetery.” (Both the county cemetery map and the RCHS compilation identify a “Liddon Cemetery” at the marker, notwithstanding the inscription “buried near this spring.”)

Born in 1754 in Wilmington, North Carolina, Benjamin Liddon arrived in Tennessee with his wife, the former Sarah Rutledge, in or about 1800. His date of death is variously reported as 1803, 1805 and 1815. His name does not appear in the 1810 census for Rutherford, and a lease dated 1804 bears only the signature of Sarah Liddon. It is unlikely that a married woman of that period would give a property lease independent of her husband, so 1803 is probably the correct date of death.

A DAR database lists “Camp Springs” in Rutherford County as the place of death for Benjamin Liddon. “Camp Springs” is the name used by the occupying army during the Civil War to identify Black Fox Camp Spring where many soldiers camped between the Manchester and Bradyville turnpikes. In the early 19th century, this spring was owned by Revolutionary War veteran William Kelton.

Another source reports that Benjamin died and was buried at Liddon Spring in Rutherford County. Included in the Rutledge grant was the substantial spring that flows westward to the Stones River Middle Fork east of today’s Indian Hills golf course. Since water sources were most often named for early landowners, this spring in the northern quarter of the Liddon property likely came to be known as the Liddon Spring. Perhaps the Liddon property was known as the Liddon Spring plantation. Benjamin was probably buried on his own plantation, rather than on the Kelton property.

Was Liddon a Revolutionary War veteran? According to Rutherford County Genealogist Susan Daniel, the only Revolutionary War record for Liddon is a record of a payment “for services” in the “North Carolina Revolutionary Army Accounts.” This record does not necessarily confirm military service, for army accounts were also paid to civilians for various goods and services.

Also, no record exists of a North Carolina military grant to Liddon. There was, however, a grant of 2560 acres to Sarah Rutledge, heir of Lt. William Rutledge, adjacent to the Archibald Lytle grant in what became Rutherford County. [See NC Military Grant #614 (1785)]. Liddon became a significant landowner in Rutherford County through marriage. Sarah Rutledge Liddon transferred her property to Benjamin Liddon in 1797. The Liddon marker is in the southern half of the original grant.

The Liddon connection with Texas is rather attenuated. DAR sources indicate that the Midland, Texas, chapter is no longer active. The DAR Hardy Murfree Chapter (Murfreesboro) has reportedly assumed responsibility for this marker that appears to memorialize the misdated death of an early resident who was not a Revolutionary War veteran, and whose wife inherited a spring.

A special thanks to Gwen Boyd, Wayne Reed, Susan Daniel, Andrea Calfee and Joyce Johnson for research assistance.

Rutherford County Historian Greg Tucker can be reached at gregorytucker@bellsouth.net.

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