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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome and will be moderated.