For many students, this is their first time living in the city of Murfreesboro. Compared to Memphis, Nashville or even Knoxville, the “Boro” can seem like a town with little to its name, but Murfreesboro’s small-town feel hides a rich history going back more than two centuries. To prove it, here are six facts about Murfreesboro’s past.
- Murfreesboro is named after a Revolutionary War hero: Founded in 1811, the town now known as Murfreesboro was first named Cannonsburgh. One of the city’s founders decided to change the name in honor of his friend, Hardy Murfree. (Source: City of Murfreesboro’s history page on their website)
- Murfreesboro was the capital of Tennessee for eight years: According to City Hall’s historical record, Murfreesboro was the designated capital of Tennessee from 1818 to 1826 because of its location in the center of the state. This means that future presidents like Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk spent plenty of time working on state politics here in the 1820’s! (Source: Dr. Brenden Martin)
- Murfreesboro was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War: In the winter of 1862, Union and Confederate forces fought a vicious battle to win control of the city’s vital railroad lines. MTSU’s Public History professor, Brenden Martin, said the Battle of Stones River resulted in 25,000 casualties before ending with Confederate soldiers abandoning the town. This conflict would be overshadowed a few months later by the even bloodier Battle of Gettysburg. (Sources: Dr. Brenden Martin and the city of Murfreesboro’s website)
- Murfreesboro used to be famous for building cedar buckets: Before the city of Murfreesboro industrialized, it had a vast forest of cedar trees used by locals to make cedar buckets. The cedar factories closed down decades ago, but people can still go and see the world’s largest cedar bucket at the Cannonsburgh Village near downtown. (Sources: Dr. Brenden Martin and Cannonsburgh Village)
- Murfreesboro is one of the first towns to be aided by the Commonwealth Fund: The Commonwealth Fund, established by wealthy Standard Oil vice president Stephen Harkness and his wife Anna, was designed to provide public healthcare for struggling rural communities. Dr. Brenden Martin said the Commonwealth Fund helped build Murfreesboro’s first hospital and practically eliminated most diseases common in the pre-industrial South, encouraging the fund to expand into towns all over the country. (Source: Dr. Brenden Martin)
- Murfreesboro’s best days might be ahead of it: Murfreesboro and Rutherford County have experienced an explosive amount of growth in the past fifty years as more factories and families move here to be close to Nashville. Dr. Martin estimates that Murfreesboro’s population will reach 200,000 people in the next seven years. (Source: Dr. Brenden Martin and City of Murfreesboro’s website)