Murfreesboro Mayors: 6-10

May 1, 2019, A Series by Barry Lamb

Rucker, Dr. William Reade was born on May 20, 1792 in Amherst County, Virginia to the Reverend James Rucker and his wife, Nancy Ann Reade Rucker, who came to the Walter Hill area of Rutherford County from Amherst County in 1795. He began his study of medicine with Dr. Wilson Yandell in Sumner County, Tennessee and served under General Andrew Jackson as assistant surgeon in 1814 during the Creek Indian War. He received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1817 and soon after began his practice in Murfreesboro. Dr. Rucker was married to Susan Childress, daughter of Joel and Elizabeth Whitsitt Childress of Murfreesboro, on November 10, 1819. He served as mayor of Murfreesboro from 1822-1823 and as alderman from 1825-1827 and again in 1831. He also served the town as its treasurer from 1826-1827. He and his wife were early members of Murfreesboro’s Methodist Episcopal Church. They were parents of a large family which included: Johanna Lucinda, Sarah P., Ann E., Susan C., Mary, William Reade, Josephine, Sophia B., and Joel Childress Rucker. Dr. Rucker practiced medicine until the 1850s and tried his hand at farming just before his death on August 8, 1861. His remains lie in Murfreesboro’s Old City Cemetery.

Jones, John, a native of Virginia, was born there on September 3, 1797. He had arrived in Murfreesboro by 1821 as he married Elizabeth Molloy, daughter of Gilliam and Frances Gannaway Molloy, on October 16, 1821. He was one of the organizers of the Murfreesboro Methodist Episcopal Church in 1821. He served as mayor of Murfreesboro in 1824 and as alderman in 1822, 1862, and 1869. During his early days in Murfreesboro he worked as a boot and shoemaker, but transitioned into a carpenter sometime during the 1830s and is credited as having performed the wood work on the 1841 Methodist church building on the southeast corner of College and Spring Streets and the 1859 courthouse, both of which are extant today. He and his wife were the parents of the following children: Theodoric G., Sterling B., Robert G., Wilson Y., Martha W., Mary E., William R., and John. Wilson Y. and William R. will be mentioned later in this volume. After living a long and productive life, Mayor Jones died in Murfreesboro on January 24, 1884 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Ledbetter, William Sr. was born to Isaac Ledbetter Jr. and Nancy King Ledbetter on February 12, 1800 in Brunswick County, Virginia. His paternal grandparents were Isaac Ledbetter Sr. and Jane Johnson Ledbetter of Brunswick County. The parents moved to Rutherford County when our subject was around fifteen years of age. William Ledbetter served as Murfreesboro’s mayor in 1825 and 1827. He also served as alderman from 1822-1824 and as Murfreesboro’s first recorder in 1818 and 1819. His service was not limited to city government as he also served as circuit court clerk from 1819-1834. He also represented Rutherford County in the Tennessee State Senate from 1835-1839 and from 1841-1843. Ledbetter was also busily engaged in the banking business, serving as president of the Bank of Tennessee from 1847-1853, and was cashier of the Planters Bank at the outbreak of the Civil War. An 1832 newspaper ad reveals that he was a merchant at that time. Concerning familial affairs, our subject was married to Elizabeth Adaline Welborn, daughter of James Starnes and Rebecca Montgomery Welborn, early settlers of Williamson County, on April 28, 1828 in Williamson County. The couple was blessed by the following children: William, Ann Ledbetter Settle, Richard, Catherine Ledbetter McCulloch, Newton C., Adaline Ledbetter Elliott, Emma Ledbetter Taylor, and Laura Ledbetter. Mr. Ledbetter died in 1864. His remains lie in an unmarked grave in Ledbetter Cemetery.

Rucker, Samuel Reade was born on January 27, 1794 in Amherst County, Virginia. He was a brother of Dr. William Reade Rucker and came to Rutherford County with his family from Amherst County, Virginia as an infant in 1795. He was a soldier of the War of 1812, having served in Newton Cannon’s regiment of Tennessee Mounted Rifleman. He was a practicing attorney in Murfreesboro by the 1820s and served as mayor of Murfreesboro in 1826. He also represented Rutherford County in the Tennessee State Senate from 1827-1829. Our subject married Martha Bedford Martin, daughter of Matt and Sarah Clay Martin of Bedford County, in 1828. Their union produced one son, Robert Martin Rucker, who later served in the Confederate army. Mayor Rucker was still practicing law in 1850, but was also engaged in farming at his plantation home just southwest of Lascassas. By 1860, he had left his law practice, devoting all his efforts to the affairs of the plantation. He died on December 3, 1862 at his home and is buried in the family graveyard near the home place.

Smith, John was born during the 1770s. His place of birth and ancestry is unknown, but he is believed to be related to Alderman Bennett M. Smith, Rutherford County’s first attorney to present his credentials in 1804. John Smith was captain of a local militia company in 1805. He was engaged in the dry goods business in Murfreesboro throughout the 1820s and 1830s and was one of the organizers of the Murfreesboro Presbyterian Church in 1812. Smith also served as one of the directors of the Murfreesboro Tennessee Bank at its organization in 1817. He was elected mayor in 1828 and also in 1830. His name last appears in records in 1841 and he possibly died soon after that time.

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