Monday, January 25, 2016

Dickerson Road

A question was posted on my Nashville History Facebook page asking about the history of the Hunter's Lane area.  I am slowly researching and writing about land owners along Dickerson Road but will confine this article to the area nearer to Hunter's Lane. Forgive typos and other mistakes and don't be shy to point them out.  Put this together in a hurry but will go back later to edit.

Be mindful, as you read, that Hunter's Lane and the surrounding area is not North Nashville, but instead lies in Northern Davidson County. North Nashville is an historic community name, reserved for the area just north of downtown, as East Nashville is an historic community name reserved for the area just east across the river from downtown.  With the consolidation of Nashville and Davidson County governments, the lines between city and county were blurred.  However, North Nashville did not move to Goodlettsville and East Nashville did not move to Hermitage.  

Hunter's Lane, as a community name, is recent.  It began with the opening of the high school in the late 1980's and so it is not an historical community. The name for the school was taken from an historical road that runs beside the school property. Many road names come from landowners who live nearby.  Research shows that this road was likely the lane to the small farm of David Hunter, who moved to the area in 1808 and lived there until his death about 1860.  The road has also been called Dale Road, for the Dale family, who owned land along the road at a later time. The earliest map, showing Hunter's Lane by name, is a 1919 Davidson County public works road map. The area on both sides Dickerson Road from Trinity Lane, out to Hunter's Lane, and beyond was rural until the early 1950's.  In the latter half of the 19th century and into the 20th century, this area was known as District 22 of Davidson County. There was a network of farms fanning out on each side of Dickerson Road, towards Gallatin Road to the east and towards White Creek Pike to the west. Many small country lanes cut through the farm land allowing access to landowners.

Among the land owners of the neighborhood were the Phillips family, whose farm is now covered by the Bellshire subdivision.  The Phillips home was called Sylvan Hall. The Phillips family cemetery is on a hill, in the subdivision, overlooking Dickerson Road. Dickerson Road was originally known as Dickinson Meeting House Road.  It was changed to Dickerson Road, most likely through a mistake in spelling.  Old Hickory Blvd was called Bell Lane on the west side of Dickerson Road and Hall's Lane on the east side, named for families living there.  In early times the land across Old Hickory Blvd from Bellshire was owned by Duke W. Sumner.  It was later owned by the firm of Morris & Stratton and by W. H. Binns.  A. C. Dale bought the section up near Hunter's Lane and lived there until he died in 1918.  Across the highway from the Dale place was the farm of Robert Cartwright.  Jacob Dickinson was an early landowner on the both the west and east sides of Dickerson Road.  Mr. Dickinson gave the land for the church for which the road was originally called.  A Watkins family also lived on the east side of Dickerson Road.  Ebenezer Titus, one of the first settlers in the area lived just beyond the In this area.  His home was at one time on the west side of the old road, originally called Dickinson Meeting House Road. The path of the road was changed over time and eventually, the Titus home ended up on the east side of the road. Titus died in 1807, and was buried on his land.  His family grave yard has been lost to time. 

These maps from 1871 and ca 1900, show the area around Hunter's Lane.

Foster's 1871 map of Davidson County

Davidson County map showing Hunter's Lane, date unknown


Included below is an excerpt from a history of Davidson County, giving details about District 22.

Taken from

History of Davidson County, Tennessee
with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers
by Prof. W. W. Clayton
J. W. Lewis & Co., Philadelphia

District Number Twenty-two is one of the original districts. The boundary-line established in 1859 begins at a point on Sycamore Creek a little above John C. Puckett's, and runs down that creek and with the Robertson county-line to a point between Asa Adcock and Wilkerson's old burnt steam-mill; thence southward with a ridge and passing between Loggin's Spring and the house of M. A. Newland; thence southward with the dividing ridge between Clay Lick and Earthman's Fork of White's Creek; thence passing west of Mrs. Adkinson's house to White's Creek, below Marshall's mill; thence eastward with a ridge between Hunter's, on Sugar Fork, and Coffman's Hollow, passing north of Jefferson Waggoner's mill and through the lane between W. D. Phillips and Mrs. C. Bell to the Louisville Branch turnpike-road; thence with that road northeast to Dry Creek, near E. Cunningham's house thence up Dry Creek to the old line between the Twentieth and Twenty-second Districts; and thence northward, passing east of' G. W. Campbell's, Thomas Haley's, Jonas Shivers', and John C. Puckett's, to the place of beginning. July 2, 1860, a portion of Robertson County was annexed to this district. This includes all the land east of a line beginning at a point on Sycamore Creek, near Wilkinson's burnt steam-mill, and following the road by Warren's Pond north to Samuel Smiley's and to the east of his land until it intersects with the Williamson county-line. In 1860 the elections were ordered to be held at Cool Spring.

There is a church at that place and another at Beach Grove, both Methodist Episcopal; a third, at Mount Hermon, is Cumberland Presbyterian. The lower room of the Cool Spring church is occupied as a school-room.

Napoleon B. Willis has for many years been a prominent citizen and a magistrate of the district. Gilbert Marshall, father of Dr. Marshall, now above eighty years of age, is the oldest resident of the district and an early settler. David Ralston and John Cloyd were prominent men and descendants of pioneer families. 

The post-offices are White's Creek and Ridge Post.

The following persons were assessed for land-taxes in 1816 : George Fly, Henry Bonner, Elihu S. Hall, Jacob Dickinson, Sr.

The greater part of this civil district is included in the Twenty-second School District. This contains four schoolhouses, and maintains three white schools and one colored one. The attendance for the year 1878-79 was one hundred and eighteen white and forty-seven colored pupils. The enrollment of the district for 1880 included two hundred and seventy-seven school children. The directors for 1880 were J. C. Helums, N. J. Cummins, and A. T. Shaw. A portion of this district is included with parts of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Civil Districts to form the Twenty-sixth School District, which contained a white school of forty-three and a colored school of fifty-seven members in 1878-79, and had one hundred and forty-six resident children in 1880.

Some of this information was taken from History of the Dickinson Road by L. C. Bell.
Creative Commons License
Dickerson Road by Debie Oeser Cox is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Traffic Lights in Davidson County in 1954

Traffic Lights in Davidson County in 1954.  All of the intersections listed, were outside the city limits of Nashville, until those limits were removed in 1963.  Today, both Nashville and Davidson County, are under the umbrella of Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

Street Cross Street No. 
Hillsboro Pike Woodmont Blvd 1
Franklin Pike Thompson Lane 2
Harding Pike White Bridge Road 3
Nolensville Pike Thompson Lane 4
Granny White Pike Woodmont Blvd 5
White's Creek Pike Old Hickory Blvd 6
Gallatin Pike Trinity Lane & McGavock Pike 7
Gallatin Pike in Madison 8
Murfreesboro Pike Smith Springs Road 9
Hydes Ferry Pike 26th Avenue North 10
Woodlawn Drive Bowling Avenue 11
Woodmont Blvd Lealand Lane 12
Dickerson Pike Two Mile Pike (Goodlettsville) 13
Old Hickory Blvd 22nd Street 14
Lebanon Pike Donelson Pike 15
Murfreesboro Pike Donelson Pike 16
Nolensville Pike McCall Street 17
Lebanon Pike McGavock Pike 18
Murfreesboro Pike Thompson Lane 19
Gallatin Pike Two Mile Pike  20
Dickerson Pike Old Hickory Blvd 21
Woodmont Blvd Belmont Blvd 22
Woodmont Blvd Franklin Pike 23
18th Ave. No & Clay St. Hwy. No. 112 24
Murfreesboro Pike Fraklin Limestone Rd 25
Gallatin Pike Ben Allen Road 26
Gallatin Pike Riverwood Drive 27
Gallatin Pike Haysboro Avenue 28
Gallatin Pike Due West Avenue 29
Gallatin Pike Old Hickory Blvd 30
Gallatin Pike Delmas Avenue 31
Murfreesboro Pike Highland Sanitorium Road 32
Dickerson Pike Francis Avenue 33
Dickerson Pike Lindberg Avenue 34
Hillsboro Pike Woodlawn Drive 35
Franklin Pike Old Hickory Blvd 36
Dickerson Pike Trinity Lane 37
Charlotte Pike White Bridge Road 38
Lebanon Pike Stewart's Ferry Pike 39
Murfreesboro Pike Elm Hill Pike 40
McGavock Pike Riverside Drive 41
Woodmont Blvd Estes Road 42
Fowler Street Main Factory in Old Hickory 43
Trinity Lane Jones Avenue 44
Hillsboro Pike Hobbs Road 45
Murfreesboro Pike Foster Avenue 46
Gallatin Pike Neely's Bend Road 47
Glendale Lane Granny White Pike 48
Gallatin Pike Ardee Street 49
Estes Avenue Hobbs Road 50
Estes Avenue Abott Martin 51
Riverside Drive Porter Road 52
White's Creek Pike Trinity Lane 53
Hillsboro Pike Crestmoor Road 54
White Bridge Road Corbitt Lane 55
Thompson Lane Bransford Avenue 56
Thompson Lane Powell Avenue 57
Murfreesboro Pike Polk Avenue 58
Woodmont Blvd Harding Pike 59
Clarksville Pike Buena Vista Pike 60
Hillsboro Pike Harding Place 61
Robertson Road Urbandale Street 62
Nolensville Pike Elysian Fields Road 63

Monday, December 28, 2015

Morgan - Reeves Building, Nashville Public Square

North Side of the Nashville Public Square ca 1959, Nashville Public Library.

A few years ago I wrote about the Nashville Public Square and the changes that had taken place in the 20th century.  The buildings that formed the four sides of the square were all demolished by the early 1980's, with the exception of one.  The Ben West Municipal Building, built in 1937 as the new Nashville Market House remains, along with the 1937 Davidson County Courthouse, in the center of the square.

The Morgan-Reeves building, which stood on the north side at 208-210 Public Square North, may have been the oldest building on the square, in the latter half of the 20th century. Many Nashvillians remember the structure, which stood until 1975. Originally called the Morgan building, it became known as the Morgan-Reeves building in the 20th century, because of the long term occupancy of the J. S. Reeves Co.

Morgan-Reeves Building 208-210 Public Square - LOC HABS

Although modern published accounts of the Morgan-Reeves building, state it was built after the fire of 1856, recent research has shown that it was actually constructed in 1854/55.  The address of the building was originally No. 49 Public Square.  The numbering system used on the public square was changed over time and by the 20th century the address was 208-210 Public Square.

Nashville Union and American.  July 06, 1856

The building was owned by Nashville merchant Samuel D. Morgan.  Construction had begun by June 16, 1854, when an article appeared in the Daily Union and American, detailing the plans for the building. 

"The building is 180 feet deep by 42 feet in width and five stories high, including a well lighted and fully furnished basement story… The style of architecture is Corinthian, as is the finish of the main story, or sales room… The entire height of the building is 67 feet above the pavement in front, and 76 feet in the rear. The principal rooms are to be finished in magnificent style, with elaborate cornices, &c. The whole extent of the floors is 43,200 feet, or just above an acre.  There are used in the construction of the building between 600,000 and 700,000 bricks, 2835 joists, and 2160 feet of large girders.  A large amount of cast and wrought iron is used with other building materials corresponding with the quantities given.  The architects are WARREN & MOORE…The house is an ornament to the public square…."

The building was completed by the late summer of 1855, when the advertisements began to appear in newspapers.

On September 3, 1855, an article appeared in the Daily Nashville True Whig, about the new building, describing the merchandise within and naming Samuel D. Morgan as the "projector and builder of this fine edifice."

On April 13, 1856. a fire started in the basement of the Nashville Inn, on the public square.  A strong wind blowing from the north soon spread the flames across the square, onto the roof of the courthouse and to the south side heading toward Broad Street.  A news article from the Nashville Union and American, on April 15, 1956, described the fire.

"The spectacle presented by the two burning buildings, and the flying sparks was fearfully sublime.  Since the memorable meteoric shower of 1832, we have seen nothing so grand, and yet so awe inspiring.  It seemed the city was doomed… Before the Courthouse was more than half burnt the large ware houses on the corner of Market street and the square, and on Market street, belonging to H. & B. Douglas, and occupied by Hugh Douglas also took fire, and in succession the stores of H. G. Scovil, druggist, Strickler & Ellis, and  Gardner, Shepherd & Co, on the square, shared the same fate, the lofty brick wall of Morgan & Co's store checking the further progress of the fire in that direction." 

Davidson County Courthouse burned April 13, 1856, Metro Nashville Archives

The stores mentioned above, Douglas warehouse, H. G. Scovil's drugs, Strickler & Ellis and Gardner, Shepherd & Co. were all on the north side of the square running west from Market Street to the Morgan building.  The fire stopped at the Morgan building.  An accounting was given in the paper of losses suffered, naming the businesses and the amount of the loss.  The Morgan building was not listed and it suffered little or no damage from the fire. Buildings along the south side of the square were saved by persons on the rooftops, with buckets of water, keeping the fire to a minimum, halting the spread of the fire to the south.

A summary of the losses from the fire;
Douglas & Co.                        $175,000
Court House                            $ 30,000
Gardner, Shepherd & Co.       $ 10,000
Strickler, Ellis & Co.              $  5,000
H Ewing                                  $  3,000
W. R. Elliston                         $  8,000
H. G. Scovel                           $ 25,000
Elliston & Evans (Inn)           $ 10,000
S. J. Carter                              $ 10,000
Guests at the Inn                     $  5,000
Hollins & Co.                         $  2,500
Evans & Co.                           $  1,500                                              

On August 14, 1856, four months after the fire, a notice appeared in the Nashville Daily Patriot, announcing that the business house of S. D. Morgan & Co. is under a regular transformation in color. We must say we admire the taste displayed, and that this fine building shows to much better advantage, than it did previous to the change.  An adjacent notice, told of the new buildings under construction on the north side of the square.

S. D. Morgan's building survived the great fire of 1856 and prevented the progress of the fire to the west. It was a Nashville landmark for more than 120 years.  It could not escape Nashville's version of progress and fell to the wrecking ball in 1975.  That block on the north side of the square is now home to Metro Nashville's Criminal Justice Center.

Metro Nashville Justice Center - Visual Photos