Heritage group seeks answers on historic marker on South Church

Erin Edgemon, The Murfreesboro Post, December 16, 2007

Col. Benjamin Liddon marker, South Church Street

Little is known about a marker erected in memory of a Revolutionary War soldier located just 20 feet from South Church north of Barfield Crescent Road.

No one living seems to know when this marker, erected by the Midland, Texas Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and memorializing Col. Benjamin Liddon (1754-1815), was placed and if it is located on Liddon’s actual gravesite.  Now a developer wants to construct commercial space on the site some historical preservationists want some answers before the city of Murfreesboro approves any plans.

The Texas DAR, represented by the Col. Hardy Murfree DAR Chapter in Murfreesboro, wants the marker preserved.  The Heritage Partnership of Rutherford County, a historic preservation organization, wants to find out if Liddon is actually buried there.  “We feel that the developer has a responsibility to make sure that this man and possibly his family are not on this property before they start construction,” said Kay Morrow, chair-elect of the Heritage Partnership of Rutherford County, a historic preservation organization.

A due diligence archeological survey by a professional archeologist should answer the question as to whether or not any remains are on their property, and we strongly encourage the developer to take the time to find out.  The developer Chamberlain-McCreey & Rice LLC has agreed to preserve the marker, putting a fence around the marker during construction and planting 20 feet of landscape around it following construction.  Lynn Ealey, civil designer for Ragan Smith Associates, who represents the developer, said there is no evidence to indicate that Liddon is buried on the property.  The marker is located on the northwestern corner of the property, some 20 feet from South Church Street and 10 feet from the property line.

The tablet states: “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.”

These tracts of land encompassed some 2,000 acres along Stones River that adjoined land owned by Archibald Lytle and William Mitchell.  Records provided by local genealogist Susan Daniel indicate Liddon, who was born in Wilimington, N.C., married Sarah Rutledge in 1792.  She inherited the land that included the Black Fox Spring as a Revolutionary War Land Grant from Lt. William Rutledge.  Other records show Liddon, a jeweler, created the Rutherford County seal in 1813 for $10.  Ealey said United States Geological Survey maps, show no evidence that a spring, which is referenced on the tablet, is located on or near the property.  DAR records show that Liddon was buried in Rutherford County, on Shelbyville Pike (South Church Street), just south of the country club, which used to be where the Indian Hills Golf Club is now located.

Nancy Carr, first vice regent for the Col. Hardy Murfree DAR Chapter, said the Midland DAR chapter that placed the marker officially disbanded April 25, 1927, after at least two years of inactivity.  Little is known about the chapter.  “We can’t say if that man was buried there,” Carr said.  “That marker had to be placed before 1925.”

The developers request to have the approximately 5.35 acres along South Church Street rezoned for commercial development is set for the Murfreesboro Planning Commissions Dec. 19 meeting at 1PM in the City Council Chambers on the first floor of Murfreesboro City Hall at 111 W. Vine St.  The commission deferred action on the request earlier this month.  The developer wants to prepare the site for a potential restaurant, retail and bank sites totaling nearly 40,000 square feet.

“I have never had something come up like that in the years (17) I have been on the planning commission,” said Bob Lamb, chair of the Murfreesboro Planning Commission.  As of right now, he sees no evidence that Liddon is buried on the property.  “If there was reasonable evidence there was a gravesite nearby, I think the due diligence should be done, Lamb said.”

Morrow said she believes if Liddon was buried in another cemetery that records would indicate that.  Ealey said Ragan Smith performed a physical and historical evaluation of the property and found no evidence that Liddon is buried on the property.  Previous property owners also don’t have any insight to the history of the marker.

Erin Edgemon can be reached at 869-0812 and at [email protected].

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