Monday, September 19, 2011

Nashville's Infancy.

Original Organization of the Town Government. 

Glances at the Veritable Minute Book of the First Municipal Legislature.

When the town of Nashville was incorporated, instead of a Council or Board of Aldermen, it had a "Board of Commissioners." One of the oldest inhabitants of the city has in his possession a sear and yellow old manuscript, bound in coarse flax, which is the record of the proceedings of this Board from its organization several months.

On the first page of this curious old relic we read, that in pursuance of "An act of the regulation of the town of Nashville," which passed the General Assembly Dec. 10, 1801, an election was held April 3, 1802, and Robert Searcy, W. P. Anderson, Robert C. Foster, Benjamin J. Bradford, Roger H. Sappington, Wm. Luntz and Thomas Rutherford were elected "Commissioners for the Town." The next day the Board of Commissioners met at the house of Timothy Demonbreun, and after taking the oath proceeded to elect officers.

The result of the vote was that R. C. Foster was elected "Intendant," B. J. Bradford Clerk and R. B. Sappington Treasurer. Henry Guthrie was appointed "Town Surveyor," and authorized to employ chain carriers at $1 per day, in order to set about laying off the town. W. P. Anderson was charged with receiving lists of taxable property.

Messrs. Anderson, Searcy and Rutherford, having been appointed for the purpose, drew up and submitted on the 6th of April a series of rules for the government of the board. Among the simple but stern rules adopted was one requiring each member "to take a seat during sessions, uncover his head and continue so while in the room."

A series of rules and regulations for the police was adopted at one of the early meetings of the Board. Among these we find some that have and air of antiquity about them. For instance, "each inhabitant of the town, who had been liable to work on and keep in repair the streets under the laws of the State, was still liable to work on and keep in repair the streets under the laws of the State, was still liable to work, and contribute in opening and keeping in repair the streets under the direction and inspection of a supervisor to be appointed; and if at any time on three days previous, notice any of the said inhabitants should refuse or neglect to attend and work, as by this article directed, he or they so neglecting, should for every such offense, forfeit and pay the sum of fifty cents."

Another regulation was "That no inhabitant of said town should permit to suffer any swine to run at large (of his own property) in town under the penalty of twenty-five cents per head for the first twenty-four hours, and fifty cents for the second; and if the swine should be found on the third day, should be taken and sold by the town sergeant to the highest bidder for cash, one-half for the use of the officer and the other for the town."

Thus early was the grunting rooster declared a nuisance, and proceedings had for its abatement. Marshall Pittman can thus have some idea of the antiquity of the work in which he engaged last spring, and he may well feel complacent if he finally completes a job of such long standing.

Among the first steps taken by the Board of Commissioners was the adoption of a resolution April 24, 1802, to establish a market house. Work was immediately begun, and a markethouse erected within a few months.

The recorded proceedings of the Board, while they have strong primitive peculiarities, indicate remarkable intensity of purpose and vigor of action.

Nashville Union Dispatch

Saturday, September 3, 2011



A century-old log house, one of the landmarks of early East Nashville, was destroyed last night by fire starting at 9:30 o’clock from an unknown source.  The house at the end of Rosebank avenue was originally owned by the Vaughn family, and later by the Cornelius, Scheffer and Wilkes families and at the time of its destruction was owned by George L. Hicks, vice-president of the Dixie Life & Accident Insurance Company.

The house had passed into Mr. Hicks’ hands but a few weeks ago.  Its value was estimated at $14,000, with only about one-third of this amount covered by insurance.  Only a few rugs had been moved into it by Mr. Hicks and these, with a range were the only articles destroyed.

Built of Logs.

Built of huge logs and covered by hand-hewn weather boarding, the house was a combination of old handwork and modern construction.  It had recently been modernized by Mr. Wilks and had previously been improved by W. R. Cornelius.

Member of the Vaughn and Brown families lived in the house during its first 40 years.  It was among the first built in that section of East Nashville, then an open country, and remained throughout its 100 years of existence a center of the community.

The late W. R. Cornelius bought the house in 1862.  In it he lived until near the end of the century.  Throughout the days of the Civil War the family watched the coming and going of Federal and Confederate troops from the estate surrounding the house.  The elder Mr, Cornelius sold the house to the Rosebank Nursery Company and his son, W. R. Cornelius rebought it in 1903.  Five years later he sold it to Frank Wilk, who retained the lovely house until recently.

Two stories in height, the house had nine large rooms, typical of early Southern architecture.  Many expressions of regret have been made over its passing as it was regarded as one of the finest old mansions in East Nashville.

The house was located in the highlighted area of the plat.  By 1908 William R. Cornelius had divided his father's East Nashville farm into lots and sold the lots on which the old log house stood to Henry Shafer.  Shafer soon died and the house passed to his daughter Mrs. Frank [Katherine] Wilk.  Frank Wilk sold the house to Mr. Hicks in 1928 a few weeks before it burned.  The house was located near the present intersection of Rosebank and Eastland Avenues.