November 30, 2020 Local Historian Susan Harber
My dad Paul Rogers always stated that heritage and culture within a community determines the essence of your soul, as deep, established roots bring you back home to live in peace.
Today, we will continue our journey of identifying placement namesake dwellings within our county and learn hidden symbolism within these banner appellations.
Allisona community was home to our 1835 Governor and Congressman Newton Cannon. He was buried at his estate in Allisona. This community was the location for the historical James Wilhoite Italianate House. Allisona Road lay in Eagleville in a present day.
Halls Hill was named for Dr. John Hall, who established an early clinic. The first Halls Hill School operated from 1906-1929; and the second school was established from 1937-1961. Both schools served grades 1-8. Wright’s Mill was a prime destination behind Kerr’s Grocery.
Huntersville was penned to an early postmaster Robert L. Hunt (1870-1872). Robert was a storekeeper, who gave his name to the village.
Kittrell, seven miles east of Murfreesboro, was settled in 1810 and named for Major Marion Kittrell, who was an officer of the quartermaster department in the Civil War under General Joe Johnston’s brigade. Kittrell community was the original stage coach road from Knoxville to Nashville. Some of the earliest settlers dating to 1803 were Jonathan Hall, Andrew Carnahan, Jonathan Beasley, Elihu Jones and Thomas Blair. The community of Kittrell chose the name in 1884 when a post office was established.
Lascassas (alias Bartolomé de las Casas) was a Dominican friar who was ordained a Catholic priest. Lascassas illuminates elegant topography covering 54 square miles. The origin of this community is quite special with its Old World history. Bartolome de las Casas (1474-1566) arrived to Mexico as a young Spanish missionary in Christopher Columbus’ third expedition. He was a compassionate and merciful man, who was abhorred by the mistreatment of conquered Indians, whom he befriended as an active crusader. Bartolome endeavored to mold his life as a missionary to champion human rights and free slaves. He was known in the New World as ‘Apostle of Indians’ who passed new laws under Charles I with strong intent to end abuse. Bartolome returned to the Spanish courts to voice his concerns for the natives of the newfound Americas. Over 200 years later, a local Indian chief in our territory named his son Lascassas in honor of the revered monk Bartolome. When his son became chief, he named the settlement Lascassas.
LaVergne means ‘the green’ and was named by Frenchman Francois De Roulhac de lavergne after his arrival in 1822. Roulhac, who lived on 100 acres of green pasture as a farmer of fine cattle in LaVergne, had a law degree and practiced early medicine. Francois Leonard Gregoire de Roulhac de la Vergne, namesake of LaVergne, was born March 17, 1767 in Limoges, France near Province of Auvergne to Joseph Gregoire de Roulhac and Marie-Jeanne de LaVialle. Francois’ ancestors were merchants of wealth and nobility in France. His great-grandfather was an outstanding lawyer and long-term mayor of Limoges, France. Roulhac departed France in 1787 just before the French Revolution. One beloved Smyrna resident, Sally Lavender, widely known in church and community, is the great-great-great granddaughter of Frenchmen Roulhac. The day Francois died, the pioneer’s namesake was designated by the postmaster and crowned official as the town name. In the early 1800s, this North Rutherford region was identified as Rutherford City, Limestone and Cedar Point.
Leanna, earlier known as Bethel, was named for Lenora Stockard in 1901. Bethel School (Rosenwald) was active and progressive from 1900-1967. Bethel United Methodist Church was established in 1818 and celebrated 200 years in 2018.
Link (14th District) was named for merchandise stores linked midway between Midland and Versailles. Bud Smotherman ran the first store in 1885. Some of the earliest landmarks include Oak Grove School, Old Leb Methodist and New Zion Church of Christ.
Manson’s namesake was derived from Dr. James Edward. Manson, a noted Civil War surgeon. Dr. James Manson and wife, Ann Crockett Manson owned the Bass-Manson-Batey Home until 1888. Dr. Manson practiced medicine in this house. The house had been used as a hospital during the Civil War. A company of Union soldiers pursued this home to burn to the ground, even though Mrs. Manson lay sick inside. Dr. Manson gave the Masonic distress signal and the Federal soldiers saluted, halted the advance and marched away. Manson Pike is named for Dr. Manson.
Loafer’s Rest was a name derived through Uncle Dave Macon and given to a blacksmith shop on Woodbury Road. Loafer’s Rest School, originally Walnut Grove School, was founded in 1881 on Mt. Herman Road. The school had one teacher and continued for 32 years until 1913. Taylor’s Grocery on Woodbury Pike opened in 1952.
Mankinville, near Manchester Pike, was a namesake of James, Jesse, and Celia Mankin in 1938. Bellah Cemetery is in Mankinville.
Mechanicsville (later identified as Big Springs) lay near Rocky Fork Road in Smyrna. DeWitt Jobe, a Confederate spy with Sam Davis, lost his life less than a mile from his home in Mechanicsville. During the Civil War, the Jobe family were quality cabinetmakers. Many of the older residents in this community were buried in hand-hewn coffins crafted by this family.
Milton, in the Northeast of Rutherford County between Auburntown and Murfreesboro, was one or our oldest communities and recorded as named for poet John Milton. Yet, the Pittard Papers indicate most likely Milton attained its namesake from settlers in 1800. Milton celebrated a 200th anniversary in 2010. In 1820, Gideon Thompson purchased 20 acres of land and applied to the Legislature to lay out lots. A post office opened in 1824. Milton Male and Female Academy was incorporated 1858. The Battle of Milton, also known as Battle of Vaught’s Hill, was a desperate loss of life on the ridge of Milton on March 20, 1863. Following the Stones River Battle, a Union 2nd Brigade reconnaissance force, 5th Division, commanded by Col. Albert S. Hall, encountered Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan’s Cavalry on March 18. Hall’s composite, all-arms brigade of 3,500 had provisions for four days and was unmoving. Morgan pursued the 1,300 Federals until they clashed on March 20 at Vaught’s Hill. In the end, history deems there were 435 casualties with the Union loss of 62, and Confederate loss of 373.
Old Jefferson was organized October 25, 1803 as the county seat in honor of President Thomas Jefferson. The community prospered in commerce near Stones River. The early Courthouse was constructed at Jefferson for $2,500 in 1806. An Old Jefferson Marker is visible today beside Gil’s Hardware. My mother Judy Johns grew up on Lamar Road, and she attended Jefferson School and Old Jefferson Church of Christ. Her dad and uncles’ farms were acquired in 1966 with the coming of Percy Priest Dam and lake. Judy relates her upbringing near this community was close-knit and very special.
Overall was established in 1800. The Overall brothers William, Nathaniel and Robert came to Tennessee with James Robertson’s second party in 1779. William and Nathaniel Overall signed the Cumberland Compact. William was killed in 1793 by Indians and Robert also lost his life in 1780 by Indians. Nathaniel was on a scouting trip in September 1804 and discovered the beauty of Bushnell’s Creek on the East Fork of Stones River. He purchased land in the area and built the first house.
Pilots Knob, also called Peak’s Hill, is located between Kittrell and Readyville. During the Civil War, its location was all-important to signal officers to report immediately to the Rutherford County Court House
Readyville, an 1802 settlement, bears a name for Attorney Charles Ready, who was famed for his historic mill. He had the first brick home in the county called ‘The Corners.’ Readyville opened the earliest post office in the county (1811). Charles Ready was Mayor of Murfreesboro and a member of the House of Representative in 1835. He served as a Whig in Congress in 1853.
Rockvale was identified as the “Valley of the Rocks.” The acclaimed biological gem Snell Shell Cave drains 100 miles of land and water. After the Civil War, the community was established, and a school was erected but later burned around 1896.
Rucker was an early settlement established by Thomas Rucker, who convened the first county court (1804) in his home. In 1801, Rucker purchased 5,000 acres on Wilson County line. From 1794-1705, there are deed transactions of Rucker actively buying and selling land with an exceptional aptitude for business. He was an original petitioner in creation of Rutherford County in 1803.
Salem (also “Concord”) was named for Biblical Salem after 1837. Salem was 5 miles west of Murfreesboro on the Salem and Eagleville Pike.
Science Hill was the earliest community to incorporate science into their school curriculum. Science Hill has the second oldest Church of Christ in the county that was established by famed evangelist Barton W. Stone.
Silver Hill was named for lost silver coins never found in this spring. Silver Hill School met from 1887-1924 in the community. Silver Hill was located near Wilson County on the Rutherford County line.
Smyrna was an agrarian community in the mid-1800s with many large farms and plantations. Smyrna was of strategic importance to the Civil War with its railroad station between Nashville and Chattanooga. Smyrna Presbyterian Church carries the original honored namesake of our town. The appellation was derived as one of the seven churches of Asia rendered from the writings of Apostle John in Revelation. Member Silas Tucker is known as the individual who personally extended a name to the congregation. In the 1850s, the Nashville-Chattanooga Railroad sold lots one mile from the church; and Tucker owned land where the way station was built. Fortunately, he had naming rights for the beautiful name our town exemplifies today.
Utopia(alias Crescent Community) was named for the writings in the year 1516 of Sir Thomas More. The definition of Utopia is an imagined place where everything is perfect. The post office was intact from 1890-1892.
Versailles is eleven miles southwest of Murfreesboro and one of our oldest settlements. The French established trading posts in Indian hunting grounds in our county and continued through eight decades. Versailles was named for the powerful capital of the Kingdom of France (1682-1789). French explorers and trappers began arriving as early as 1710 and established a trading post. The 1840 post office remained until 1906. The well-known Versailles Store was intact by 1950.
Walter Hill was known as ‘Blacks Crossroads’, ‘Pearce’s Mill’ and ‘Abbott’s Mill’. Original settlers were in the area 1790. The initial post office off Central Valley Road was intact from 1860-1895. Mr. Walter Hill was the postmaster in 1895. Walter Hill community had the first mill, first store, first school and first court session. Billy Pittard, an MTSU professor, is the active and excellent historian of Walter Hill in a present day.
Windrow community bears the namesake Travis Windrow (1809-1874). He was Justice of the Peace and started a store in 1866. He is buried in the Windrow Cemetery. The Windrow familial lineage was in this area in 1801. Windrow Church Cemetery and Windrow Branch are near Snell Shell Cave in our county.
A big note of gratitude is extended to my mother Judy Johns Rogers and my late grandmother Emily Johns for their tireless efforts, both present and past, in the preservation of history within the early foundation of Smyrna.
These two icons extended a huge contribution with their knowledge of historical data and offered me such a strong foundation to write these articles. Their avid interest and study of local history has been my absolute good influence in sharing a few hidden and well known stories with readers. I extend a big thank you to mom for assistance on these placement names.