By NICHOLE MANNA
The Wilson Post
Ever wonder where historical markers that dot the roadways in various spots in Wilson County and elsewhere statewide come from?
Who puts them up? Who determines what they say? And who determines who is honored with such a marker?
Look no further than the Tennessee Historical Commission which has approved 22 historical markers for Wilson County through the years.
“There are over 1,900 markers placed throughout the state of Tennessee,” said Linda Wynn, assistant director for State Programs for the THC.
The most recent such marker was placed in 2006 by the THC at Williamson Chapel AME Church in the Needmore Community in Northwest Wilson County, said Bobbie McGill, administrative secretary for THC.
In the 1800s, a slave owner named Dick Mastaman had a slave daughter named Cheney who married Richard Williamson, a black preacher, on the Mastaman plantation.
Mastaman donated an acre of his land to his daughter’s new husband. Williams and the slave community built a Methodist Church on the land. The church also served as a school.
The original building burned in 1896 and was rebuilt. In 1936, a two-room school for blacks was built, according to the historical marker located outside of the building.
The chapel can be found on 1576 Needmore Road, Old Hickory.
One of the first markers erected in Wilson County was in honor of James Chamberlain Jones and is located on US Highway 231, north of Lebanon.
According to the inscription on the marker, “Lean Jimmy” was the first native Tennessean to become Governor after defeating James K. Polk in 1841 and 1843. He also served as a U.S. Senator from 1851 to 1853. He died in 1859. Polk, of Columbia in Maury County, went on to serve as the seventh President of the United States.
There are three markers within just miles of each other. The Battle of Lebanon marker is located on North Cumberland Street just before you hit the roundabout in the Lebanon Public Square. According to the marker, on May 5, 1862, Colonel John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate Calvary camped around the Public Square and was attacked by Gen. Ebenezer Dumont’s Federal Cavalry.
After an hour-and-a-half, Morgan and most of his men withdrew eastward. They were barricaded in Odd Fellows Hall on West Main Street until they surrendered when Dumont threatened to burn down the town. A total of 60 Confederates were killed and unknown numbers injured when the battle ended.
Take a small drive down West Main and you’ll find the Caruthers Hall marker located at the North Greenwood Street intersection. Cumberland University School of Law was housed at this site from 1877 to 1962. At the time, it was the largest law school in the U.S. Some graduates include: U.S. Supreme Court Justices Horace Lurton and Howell E. Jackson, 10 governors and 10 U.S. Senators.
You can walk from the Caruthers Hall marker to the one in honor of Robert Looney Caruthers. He was born in Smith County in 1800 and was elected to the Confederate Governor in 1863. He was never inaugurated because of the Federal occupation of Tennessee. He served in the Tennessee House of Representatives, the U.S. House of Representatives, State Supreme Court and the Confederate Congress.
Some other markers in Lebanon include: Wilson County Training School, Wilson County Waters, Deford Bailey and James E. Ward.
The James E. Ward marker is located in the Agricultural Center by the flag post. The center was dedicated to James E. Ward on July 29, 1976. Ward served as Wilson County’s agricultural agent from 1936 to 1973. He was an organizer of the Hereford Breeders Association and helped develop a market for sheep producers. His knowledge helped lead Wilson County to the forefront of agricultural and livestock production in Tennessee.
The THC has certain criteria for a site to receive a marker. The subject of any marker should be a person, place, object or an event that has local importance and significance in Tennessee or national history. The subject of the marker must get a “yes” for both questions: Is it significant? And is it accurate?
The maximum amount of text allowed on a historical marker is 13 lines with no more than 41 characters and spaces per line. Normally the same text will be on the front and back of the marker. The Commission staff must approve the text submitted.
Markers are funded in three different ways.
“The THC pays full cost, the sponsor pays full cost, or the marker’s cost is a 50 percent share between the THC and the sponsor,” Wynn said.
According to the THC price list, a marker with the same text on each side totals to $1,475, if a sponsor pays half the cost, they will pay $737.50. A marker with different text on each side is $1,565 total and the sponsor will be $787.50.
Next time you’re driving and see one of these markers, pull over and take a moment to dive into a piece of Wilson County and Tennessee history.
Staff Writer Nichole Manna may be contacted at
Article source: http://www.wilsonpost.com/news/8689-wilson-historical-markers