OUR FIRST CENTURY
A History of Nashville from Its Original Settlement
The Progress of a Hundred Years
Graphically Described by Anson Nelson, Esq.
Read at the opening of the Nashville Centennial Celebration, April 24, 1880.
A hundred years ago. How solemn the reverberation when the world's mighty time piece strikes again, and another century is numbered with the ages in the silent and irrevocable past. Century after century glides noiselessly away and the earth speeds onward to the development of her highest endeavors and to the unfolding of her many mysteries.
Great changes have taken place in this spot of earth which the bounty of the Creator gave to us for a home one hundred years age. Buffalo, elk, deer, bear, panthers, wolves, foxes and occasionally the wild red man were its inhabitants, and roamed through the dense thickets of cane that rose from ten to twenty feet high and in the forest of cedar trees that covered this country. The only roads were the trails of these wild animals and the only open space was around the sulphur spring where the numerous tracks had destroyed the trees and undergrowth. How different the scene from t is prominence which delights our eyes today. Instead a solitary cedar crowned hill top, vocal with the cries of wild beasts and the _______breathing of nature, here towers a noble state house, from whose lofty cupola floats the flag of one of the worlds mightiest powers. Here will soon stand the statue of one of the world's heroes whose life, and triumphs have raised the city in a worthy place among the cities of the world. The glorious landscape that surrounds us, bounded only by the dim, soft line of the horizon, north, south, east and west, is a region of beauty, long to be remembered. In the north stands the cotton factory looking in the twilight like some illuminated palace and pouring forth volumes of smoke as if it held an imprisoned spirit striving to break its shackles. In the east, lies the city square, with its courthouse, a miniature capitol, surrounded by elegant buildings. This was in early times a wild place with huge rocks where the market now stands. Beyond the belt of the gleaming river lies beautiful East Nashville embowered in forest trees and garlands of lovely flowers-- the rural retreat of many professional and business men. On the south and all around us rises spire after spire for ours is a city of Churches. Shining against the background of sky and trees the new _____ hotel looks like a Moorish palace. Away to the west Vanderbilt University in a frame work of green lawns and leafy trees seems to us to walk in wisdom's ways. The landscape was beautiful when the illimitable forest filled the prospect, and graceful forms of wild creatures were glancing in the scattered sunshine beneath its grand green arches, Much more beautiful is it now with all these evidences of presence of the glorious and the gentle heart of men.
At the time of the Centennial Exposition state of Tennessee printed placards devoting the following events are to be seen in the various portions of the city.
In front of Huntington's clothing store Church Street- "Isaac Leperre was killed on this spot by Indians 1780.
On Deaderick street- "Roger Topp was killed on this spot by Indians 1783."
On Lick Branch- "Joseph Hay, Bad--- Renfroe was killed by Indians near this spot in 1780, Penter Renfroe in 1781.
North Market street just below the public square-- "John Tucker, George Hendricks and David Hood were wounded by Indians near this spot in 1782. David Bean was shot scalped and left for dead but recovered and lived for many years." Note-- Hood was taken into the fort and lay all night in the dead house. Having shown evidence of life the following morning, and necessary attention being paid to him, he recovered as above stated.
In front of the Commerce Hotel- "Philip Catron, father of the late Judge Catron- Rep. was badly wounded by Indians at this place 1783.
At the foot of Church street and on the line with the southern boundary of the same "Site of the 'French Lick,' or Bluff Fort erected by the Robertson Colonists in January 1780."
In the Hume building lot, corner of Broad and Spruce (8th Ave.) streets-- "On this spot Samuel Murray and Robert Esdey were killed and Soloman Philips mortally wounded by the Cherokee Indians in the summer of 1780.
Intersection of Broad and College (3rd Ave.) streets-- "Battle of the Bluff, April 2, 1781. Capt. James Leiper, Peter Gil, John Kisineger, Alex Buchanan, George Kennedy, J. Kennedy and Zachariah White were killed and James Menefee, Gasper Mansker, Isaac Lucas, Joseph Moonshaw and Edward Swanson and others were wounded, being part of a force of 21 which in a sally from the fort attacked 200 Cherokee Inidans, Lying in wait in Wilson's Branch."
Intersection of Cherry (4th Ave.) street and Cumberland alley-" Ambuscade of a large body of Cherokee Indians in the attack on the fort, April 2 1781. From this point the Indians moved toward the river and intercepted the retreat of the whites who at that moment were defeated at Wilson's Branch."
Cedar log house next to the marble yard, south college (3rd Ave ) street six doors below Church, " The oldest house in Nashville." Erected by Gen. Robertson's father who was killed by Indians in the last century (l8th)."
On the northwestern corner of Church and printer's alley-- "The second Methodist Church, erected in Nashville, where Bishop Payne preached his first sermon in this city."
At Dr. David McGavock's residence near the cott____. "D. Larryman, killed in 1780, Major Lucas, Wm. Pond in 1781 and a negro boy belonging to Gen Robertson.
Buena Vista springs--"Old man Bernard was killed and his head cut off."
Note; There were numbers of persons killed find wounded in the immediate vicinity of Nashville.
Johnathan Venning,[Jennings] grand father of Hon. Balie Peyton, was killed at the Nashville island in 1780. His was the first will probated in Nashville. He was a fellow voyager with Col. John Donelson, down the Tennessee River in 1780.
NOTICE: This article was transcribed by Debie Cox.