TENNESSEE – THE VOLUNTEER STATE
Things said about
“Tennesseans believe in guns, the Bible and themselves – not necessarily in
“Tennessee guns were an implement of survival – livelihood – and justice.”
guns brought them justice – personal and swift.”
“Tennessee settlers were mostly Scotch-Irish.
They feared God, but nothing else.”
They kept the Sabbath, and anything else they got their hand on, land
Overheard at the Alamo - A Tennessean at the siege of the Alamo was asked, “You are a long
way from Tennessee. What are you doing down here in Texas? The Tennessean thought hard
for a moment, then replied, “Why, we ain’t go no war in Tennessee.” (Author Unknown)
The land that is Tennessee today was part of the Carolina Colony.
It was during this time that the basis of what would become the southern border of Tennessee first surfaced.
In 1655, King Charles II reset the border between Virginia and Carolina. The land out of which North
Carolina emerged was part of a grant given in 1629 by King Charles I that created the colony of Carolina. The
Carolina Colony consisted of the land between the 31st and 36th parallels, from the Atlantic Ocean to
the Pacific Ocean. As with England’s coast-to-coast claims for the colonies of Virginia and Massachusetts,
Carolina represented a colossal amount of real estate.
the Revolution, North Carolina joined other states with extensive claims in donating those lands to the United States government
to create more equal sized states to maintain each side’s voting power in the Senate. In ceding the
land that would become Tennessee, North Carolina needed to define the boundary between it and the state it was spawning.
The Appalachians provided the obvious border, but where, amid their many peaks and valleys, was the best location for
the line? North Carolina opted for the highest crests, which served to this day as the eastern border of
Local lore has
it that the surveyors had spent so many months in the remote mountains, they were desperate for the comforts of a tavern and
so headed straight for Georgia in search of refreshment. This explanation is clearly a myth.
Not only would no such surveyed line ever have been accepted, but the fact is that the surveyors were working in the
heart of moonshine country, as some of their journal entries verify.
In 1784, North Carolina agreed to cede its western region to enable the creation of a new state which became Tennessee.
Tennessee did not obtain statehood until 1796 and North Carolina continued to sell warrants and titles to its land.
Tennessee disputed these sales. As this and other conflicts approached the point of violence, the
federal government intervened. The first clue regarding the southwest boundary of North Carolina appears
in the 1806 agreement that the federal government negotiated. It voided the warrants North Carolina had
sold for Cherokee land.
along Tennessee’s northern border resulted from properties whose deeds were recorded in one state or another, based
on which side of which line the buyers and sellers believed themselves to be, or from personal reasons. Some
individuals preferred to be residents of one particular state or county. It was not unheard of for the residents to bribe
the surveyors, frequently with locally made moonshine. This may well explain why Tennessee’s northern
border staggers! FROM: How the States got their Shapes by Mark Stein
RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TENNESSEE
was granted statehood in 1796. Rutherford County was erected on October 25, 1803, from Davidson, Williamson and Wilson County
and named in the honor of General Griffith Rutherford of North Carolina. It was organized on January 3,
1803. Long hunter, Uriah Stone, discovered Stones River in 1766 and explored the river as far as Old Jefferson.
Cherokee Indian Chief Black Fox had a camp near Murfreesboro and the old Indian war trace from Nashville to Chattanooga
passed through the county.
On August 2, 1804,
the commissioners selected a county seat. They selected Jefferson, known now as Old Jefferson, on the land
at the fork of the west and east forks of Stones River. The first court was held at the home of Thomas
Rucker in 1804 and the first courthouse was erected in 1804-1805, This site was selected because of the
easy access to river travel. Stones River ran on to the Cumberland River, thru Kentucky to the Ohio River,
to the Tennessee River, the Mississippi, New Orleans and, other ports south, and finally emptied into the Gulf of Mexico.
Captain William Franklin Pitt Lytle I (1755-1829)
was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and died in Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Tennessee. He
married Nancy Ann Taylor (1770-1825) about 1787. She was the daughter of John Taylor and Sarah Day.
She was born in Person County, North Carolina, and died in Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Tennessee.
Nancy Ann Taylor Lytle (1795-1878) was born
in Orange County, North Carolina, and died in Rutherford County, Tennessee. She was the daughter of Captain
William Lytle and Nancy Ann Taylor. She married John McCowan Tilford I (1793-1860) on
Oct 24, 1811 in Rutherford County, Tennessee. He was the son of John M. Tilford and Margaret King. He was
born in Louisa County, Virginia, and died in Rutherford County, Tennessee.
Nancy told her children she remembered playing as a child in a beautiful garden with
a high fence around it when a soldier rode up and asked her if she wanted to take a ride. She went with
him and never returned. It was her father who took her from her mother's people. This fence was thought
to be in Baltimore.
Nancy "Anne" Taylor Lytle
Tilford was born on January 18, 1795, in Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Tennessee. It is said that every man of a Southern
family out marries himself and it is said that this is true when Nancy Taylor Lytle supposedly "stepped-down" to
marry John M. Tilford a native of Virginia. The couple settled in Tennessee and produced ten children. It is rumored that
although Nancy, very much a lady, dipped snuff. Apparently frontier women could smoke a pipe, but dipping snuff was another
matter entirely. Lytle, Andrew Nelson (1975). A Wake for the Living. Nashville:
J. S. Sanders Company, p. 7.
William Lytle moved from Hillsborough, North Carolina, after the Revolutionary War sometime between 1790 and 1796.
Having received a 3,840 acre land grant for his service in the Revolution. He chose his land in
the bend of the Cumberland River.
settled on the grant of land given to his brother Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Lytle (Davidson Co. DB:A,
P43). It is said his family were the only settlers in the area at the time and they were soon attack by
Indians. He retreated to Nashville for about two years and return to settle a second time, successfully.
Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Lytle never lived in Rutherford County.
Lieutenant Colonel Lytle never married and he left his 7,200 land grant to his siblings and step-mother.
Captain Lytle obtained most of the grant from the family (4/19/1799, DB:A-F, P. 119, 121, 123, 125, 130).
William and Archibald Lytle were Officers in the North Carolina Continental Line during the Revolution which means
they fought in the battles of Cowpens, King’s Mountain or Guilford Courthouse.
William served from April 1776 until the end of the war at which time he was a Captain.
Captain Lytle accumulated approximately 22,000 acres of land in Tennessee.
In 1811, the Tennessee State Legislature appointed a committee to
select a new site for the Rutherford County seat. The site finally chosen was sixty acres of land belonging
to Captain Lytle, which was a part of TN Grant #755, 210 acres to Captain Lytle, August 22, 1809.
The General Assembly named the new town "Cannonsburgh," honoring Newton Cannon, a young politician in Williamson
County, but upon Captain Lytle's request, one month later, the Tennessee State Legislature changed the name to "Murfreesborough."
The naming was in memory of Lytle's friend Colonel Hardy Murfree. In 1811, the town was named
the capital of Tennessee because of its central location. However, Nashville regained title as the state
capital in 1826. In 1917 “Murfreesboro” was recognized as an official city by the State Legislature.
One of the most shadowy family legends has it that Captain William
was an Indian scout. The following is written by Joseph Martin, an Indian agent, from
Long Island, September 1784, to his superior, concerning the Spaniards, the Chickasaws and a treaty:
"I shall set off to the nation immediately. William Lytle and Samuel
Rowley, who trade with the Chickamoggies, inform me, that a treaty held at Pennsacola by the Spaniards in June 1783, they
heard the Governor tell the Indians in open treaty, "not to be afraid" that they, the Indians,
were not without friends. The Americans had no king and were nothing of themselves and was like a man that
was lost and wandering about in the woods - and if it had not been for them and the French, the British would have subdued
them long ago."
It seems reasonable that while Captain
Lytle was trading with the Chickamauga’s, and choosing land for the grants. He
was back in Hillsborough in 1786 and married Anne Taylor that year. She a girl of seventeen and he a man
of thirty-one. William probably had a common law wife and he certainly had an illegitimate son who was
raised up in the house with his children. The boy could not inherit; so when he came of age, his father
give him a good horse, saddle and bridle and a square fifty-dollar gold piece and sent him into the world.
Captain Lytle retained title to one block
of the sixty acres given for the town site. The present day block is bound on the north by East Main Street,
west by Public Square, south by Vine Street and east by Academy Street. The gift deed is recorded in DB:H, P385, February
26, 1813, Rutherford County, Tennessee. Commissioners named on the deed are: Charles
Ready, Hugh Robertson, Hance Hamilton, Jesse Brashears and John Thompson.
Colonel Hardy Murfree (1752-1809) was born at Murfree’s Landing, Hertford County, North
Carolina, and died at Thompson’s Station, Williamson County, Tennessee. He married Sally Brickell
on February 17, 1780 in North Carolina. They had eight children.
Lieutenant Colonel Hardy Murfree fought in the Revolution at major battles including Brandywine
and Monmouth. He led a column of North Carolina troops in the capture of the British Fort at Stony Point,
New York, July 15, 1779. He laid out the town of Murfreesboro, North Carolina, on his father's land in 1787.
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was also named for him. Murfreesboro, Arkansas, was founded in 1830 by
descendants of Colonel Murfree.
He received a large land grant in Williamson
County and obtained other grants owning large interests in North Carolina and many tracts of land in middle and west Tennessee.
After the death of his wife in 1802, Colonel Hardy remained at his home in Murfreesboro, North Carolina, for five years. In
1807, he removed to his plantation at Murfree's Fork, Thompson's Station, on the Harpeth River in Williamson County,
Tennessee. Several of his children had removed to Tennessee before that time. Colonel
Murfree never lived in Rutherford County.
13, 1785, (DB:A-F, P133) Henry Welburn to Hardy Murfree ¾ mile E of Col. Lytle’s
7200 acres survey, 389 acres to include a spring, Grant #194. This is
the site of Bellwood former home of Frank and Lavania Murfree Burton.
March 7, 1786, (DB:A-F,
P289) Joseph Mitchell to Hardy Murfree, 274 acres, Grant #197 joining Henry Welburn’s 389 acre survey.
The Wilburn and Mitchell grants joined and shared the spring at present day Discovery House.
March 7, 1786, (DB: B, P107) Thomas
Powell to Hardy Murfree, 320 acres, Grant #201. Beginning at Welburn’s SW corner at honey locust &
mulberry, W 140p to dogwood at Col Lytle’s 7200 acre grant, E boundary line, N 365P, to a 2 walnuts. E
140p to Joseph Mitchell’s W boundary at hickory, S 365p to beginning. Joseph Mitchell on the east (Grant
#197) and Henry Welburn, (Grant #194) on the east.
March 7, 1786, (DB:B, P106) William Ponder to Hardy Murfree, 318 acres, Grant
#203, beginning on Anthony Gaines east line, then running south to Commissioner’s line.
March 7, 1786, (DB:B, P332) Bryan Smith to Hardy Murfree, 324
acres, Grant #223, beginning at Anthony Gaines’ NE corner.
P105) John Butler to Hardy Murfree 228 acres, Grant #162 joining Henry Welburn’s grant on the north.
March 10, 1790, (DB:B,
P100, 101) Anthony Gaines to Hardy Murfree, 640 acres, Grant #112. This
grant was on the W fork of Stones River where the Commissioners Line crosses the River and joining Colonel Lytle’s 7,200
acre grant on the east and west of the town. This property was inherited by David and Fanny Noailles Murfree
Dickinson and was the site of their home, Grantlands. It joined the Ponder grant on the
October 20, 1798,
(DB:B, P110) Ezekiel White to Hardy Murfree, 274 acres, Grant 200. In 1815, Doctor James
and Sally Hardy Murfree Maney built their two room brick home on this grant. This is the present day site
of Oakland’s Historic Mansion.
March 21, 1806, (DB:A-F, P109 & 497) John
Wills/Wells east side of Stones River, 640 acres, Grant #195. Joined
on the south by Ezekiel White.
August 22, 1809, (DB:M, P:157) TN Grant #755 to William Lytle & heirs, 210 acres,
beginning at Anthony Gaines’s SE corner & the NE corner of Cololonel Archibald Lytle’s large survey on white
oak & black oak – then N82E 150 poles along Commissioners old line to mulberry, formerly Ezekiel White’s now
Hardy Murfree’s corner – then S 190 poles to three hickories in Hardy Murfree’s line (formerly Mitchell’s)
– now Hardy Murfree’s corner – then S 190 pole in three hickories in Hardy Murfree’s line (formerly
Mitchell’s) – then W 10 poles to two hickory & post oak (said Mitchell’s) now Hardy Murfree’s
corner – then S 68 poles to stake in Hardy Murfree’s field – then W 126 poles to black oak, locust &
cedar in Lytle’s line – the N3W 236 poles with Lytle’s line to the beginning. Surveyed June 7, 1808 (John
Lytle was living on this tract.)
February 26, 1813 (DB:H, P:385) Williams Lytle, Sr. to Commissioners of Murfreesboro
for the purpose of laying off the Town of Murfreesborough … the seat of justice for the said county of Rutherford.
Containing 60 acres and 60p and part of the tract wherein John Lytle now lives. (Original layout of Town included Lots 1 –
70. John Lytle was Capt Lytle’s son.)
Murfree’s holdings of 3,617 acres all joined or were very near the 60 acres Captain Lytle gave for
the town site and Colonel Archibald Lytle’s 72,000 grant.
October 10, 1818, (DB:L, P100) Isaac H. and Mary
Moore Murfree Hillard to John Hardman, 69 acres, beginning at the south east corner of the Town of Murfreesborough
at Number 70 and thence south to the west corner of Number 59. Consideration - $1.00. This parcel joined
the original town layout on the south and was known as the Hillard Survey dated October 20, 1818, containing Lots 1 –
13, 1818, (DB:L, P101) Isaac H. and Mary Moore Murfree Hillard appeared in open court and for $1.00 quit claimed
lots 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 66, 67, 68, 69, and 70 to proprietors, owners
and occupies of certain lots or parcels in the Town of Murfreesborough. Apparently, people had already
settled on these (23) parcels. Colonel Murfree died intestate in 1809. This transaction was nine years
after his death.
June 2, 1820)
(DB:B, P445) Captain William Lytle gifted to Presbyterian Congregation of Murfreesboro, William D. Baird,
Trustee a lot located on the NE corner of Town Lot 70. This lot was likely on the survey that Mary Hillard
sold to the Town for a burying ground, December 5, 1837, as the location is the SE corner of Town Lot 70.
December 5, 1837, (DB:W, P494), Mary Murfree
Hillard to Mayor and Aldermen of Murfreesboro three acres – beginning at the SE corner of Lot 70 of the Town, running
S 35p to stake, then 11p to a stake, thence N 5 degrees, E 45p to Bennett Smith’s on the E corner, thence W 5p to the
NE corner of the Presbyterian Church Lot, thence S 10P, 6 links to the SE corner of said last mentioned
lot, thence W 10p to the beginning. Reserving a space of 25’ square the same being marked off immediately
around the grave of Lavinia M. Lainan, deceased which is not here intended to be conveyed. Conveyed for
the purpose of being used as a burying ground and for no other purpose. The appurtenances are conveyed.
$300 paid in hand. (NOTE: Isaac Hillard had died and Mary gave her power-of-attorney
for the remaining land on Grant #201, Thomas Powell, to be sold.)
transactions are recorded in the Rutherford County Register of Deeds office. Many of the Colonel Murfree’s descendants
lived and died in Rutherford County. However, the deed records will show few gifts to the growth of the
town and none in the original town layout. The Burton’s gave the land where present day Bradley’s Academy is located,
Matthias Murfree a small plot for Union University. The Burton’s gifted twenty-three lots to people
that already occupied them in 1818.
Colonels Murfree and Lytle were friends both living in North Carolina during the time Middle Tennessee grants were
registered. They probably collaborated on the choice of the grants which were likely located by Captain Lytle while he was
working as an Indian scout in Middle Tennessee.