Top 10: County’s oldest organizations offer hundreds of years worth of service

Michelle Willard, The Murfreesboro Post, September 8, 2008

Rutherford County and Murfreesboro are steeped in history.

That history can be found in the organizations and societies to which the city’s citizens choose to donate their time. And in turn those same organizations return the favor and enrich the fabric of the community by giving back.

This week the Top 10 (11, just because it’s what we do) cites the oldest organizations and societies in Murfreesboro.

The Rutherford County Bar Association isn’t included on the list, even though it is likely the oldest organization in town. In fact it’s so old, no one can remember exactly when it was formed.

References were found to the Davidson County Bar that placed its charter date before the formation of the state of Tennessee, which suggests the Rutherford County Bar could be as old as the county itself.

  1. 1817, Free and Accepted Masons, Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 18.

Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 18 officially opened its doors to Murfreesboro May 26, 1817, making it the oldest society in the town.

The Freemasons are the world’s oldest and largest fraternal society, which dates back to the late 16th century or early 17th century.

Capt. William Lytle, Joshua Haskell, James McDowell, Jonas Bell and John Fisher were founding members of Murfreesboro’s oldest lodge.

In 1856, the Masons’ Lodge burned and the Mt. Moriah Lodge merged with Murfreesboro Lodge No. 205.

  1. 1848, The Stones River and Rutherford County Academy of Medicine.

Originally formed as the Rutherford County Medical Association in 1848, the Stones River and Rutherford County Academy of Medicine was reformed by physicians from Cannon and Rutherford counties on June 21, 1926 to keep members abreast of recent medical developments and protect the public from “quackery,” according to the book A History of Rutherford County.

It was accepted into the Tennessee Medical Association in 1932. The academy has 161 retired and active members and meets on a quarterly basis.

  1. 1896, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Chapter 91.

The national organization organized in Nashville in September 1894. Two short years later, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Chapter 91, formed in 1896 from the Ladies Memorial Association.

The organization was formed to preserve the history of women’s roles during the Civil War and honor the memories of those last in the war, according to UDC’s Web site.

  1. 1910, Col. Hardy Murfree Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The DAR chartered in Murfreesboro on April 25, 1910 and named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Col. Hardy Murfree, who served in 1779’s Battle of Stoney Point in New York.

A surprise midnight attack led by Murfree and others captured the British fort, located 24 miles from New York City on the Hudson River. The American victory at Stony Point was the last major battle in the North, and also boosted American morale.

The DAR is a nonprofit, nonpolitical women’s volunteer service organization, which promotes patriotism, preserves American history, and secures America’s future through better education for children.

  1. 1910, The Charity Circle.

The organization was formed in 1910 as the Girls Charity Circle, when 26 unmarried women wished to help the poor with their needs and services. Until the city had a social worker and the county a health department, the Charity Circle was the only organized charitable organization in Murfreesboro.

The Charity Circle has grown from a small group of unmarried ladies to a membership of 150 married and unmarried women, but its purpose stays the same as it was in 1910 – to given assistance to individuals and organizations in need.

  1. 1914, MTSU Alumni Association.

Middle Tennessee State University was founded in 1911, as one of three state normal schools for the training of teachers.

The MTSU Alumni Association was formed three years later in 1914 to provide a way for former students and graduates to give back to their alma mater.

Today the association’s mission is to “develop and foster a sound relationship between the university and its alumni,” said Ginger Freeman from MTSU’s alumni relations office.

The association counts every living alumnus as a member, which totals more than 91,000.

  1. 1916, Woman’s Club of Murfreesboro.

The Woman’s Club of Murfreesboro formed in July 1916 to support the social, intellectual and moral character of the town by taking part in charity work and providing a meeting space for various local groups.

The Woman’s Club purchased the Baskett home in 1916 with the help of the Library Board, where concerts, lectures and discussions were held.

The club had 175 charter members and is still active in the community today with close to 300 dues-paying members, who meet weekly for enrichment and public interest programs, Woman’s Club Pres.

  1. 1917, Heart of Tennessee Red Cross.

The Heart of Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross was chartered Dec. 12, 1917 as the Rutherford County Chapter explained Beth Ferguson, Red Cross financial development director.

In 1995 the chapter was rechartered as the Heart of Tennessee Chapter to reflect the addition of Bedford and Cannon counties the chapter’s region. Today the Heart of Tennessee Chapter serves residents in Rutherford, Bedford, Cannon, Coffee, Franklin and Moore counties.

The American Red Cross is a nonprofit, nongovernmental agency that depends on donations from the public to continue to provide life-saving services to the community.

  1. 1919, Noon Rotary International.

The Noon Rotary International Club of Murfreesboro chartered Oct. 1, 1918 as a community service organization for local professionals, whose motto is “Service Above Self,” said Becci Bookner, assistant governor of the club.

The grass roots organization focuses on four area of service: international, community, vocational and club. The Noon Rotary Club focuses on community and international service.

The club donates time, labor and funds to various local charities including the P.E.T. Project, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rutherford County and the Murfreesboro City Schools Family Resource Center.

  1. 1921, Rutherford County Farm Bureau.

Tennessee Farm Bureau formed in July 1921 and Rutherford County’s chapter chartered shortly before the state’s in April 1921.

The Farm Bureau began as a lobbying organization and is responsible for most of the agricultural legislation if effect today. Its interests have grown and now it also provides a variety of services to members including auto, life and health insurance and tax help, plus other programs to keep members informed.

Rutherford County Farm Bureau currently boasts 19,270 members.

  1. 1921, Kiwanis International

Kiwanis International No. 416 formed Feb. 23, 1921, to benefit the community’s children in need, explained Yolanda Arguelles, club president.

Today the club raises funds for various children’s charities in Rutherford County, like the Good Shepard’s Children’s Home, Murfreesboro Youth Orchestra, Toys for Tots and a Soldier’s Child.

The club’s largest fundraiser is the Kiwanis Club Horse Show held in cooperation with the Tennessee Walking Horse Association.

Kiwanis International No. 416 has 18 active members and is always looking for more.

Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or [email protected].

Correction: The official charter date for Kiwanis International is Feb. 23, 1921, not in 1927 as previously reported.

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