Billy Ledbetter—Last Survivor of RCHS Charter Members

June 10, 2021 Rutherford County Historian Greg Tucker

Billy Ledbetter

The Rutherford County Historical Society was first organized in 1971 with thirty-three charter members. Among these first members was William C. (“Billy”) Ledbetter, Jr. Believed to be the last surviving Charter Member, Billy died on December 28, 2020.

Billy was born on June 30, 1929, one of the first deliveries at the new Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro. He attended Baylor School in Chattanooga and graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1951. Sally Langford Scott married Billy in 1955 and further extended one of the longest and most notable genealogical lines in Rutherford County history. The first Ledbetter (Isaac) was living in Rutherford in 1815 near today’s River Rock Boulevard. The local family tree eventually encompassed prominent local surnames including Lytle, Doughty, Sublett, Cannon, Maney, Byrn, Richardson and many others.

During the Civil War, Billy’s great, great grandfather developed and operated the local firearms manufactory; and Billy’s great grandfather was captain of Company I, 1st Regiment, Tennessee Infantry, CSA (the “Rutherford Rifles”). The family home was on the site now occupied by the Jennings & Ayers funeral home. See Tucker, “Rutherford…for Real” (RCHS 2011), pages 13-16.

Doc Lytle Ledbetter, Billy’s grandfather, served as a local bank employee and director, and worked as a surveyor laying out boundaries in the Arizona and New Mexico territories.

Billy’s connection with local history includes his home at 115 North University Street which was previously owned and occupied by the Christy family and served as the worship site for Murfreesboro’s earliest Catholic congregation. See Tucker, “Rutherford…for Real” (RCHS 2011), page 71.

Billy was always believed that the historic record should be accurate and complete. Recently he edited and corrected page 179 of “Cemeteries and Graveyards of Rutherford County, Tennessee” (RCHS 2005). This page documents the original Lytle family cemetery.

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