A Brief Look at the Historical Legacy of Lebanon, Tennessee

19 Aug

I just started a new book by Andrew Carroll called Here is Where, about a journey to find historic places that have been lost to, well, history. Although I am only a few pages in, it promises to be a good read about his journey to find these places and the people he met along the way.

It has also made me think about the history of my town. In class, we talk about the big events and people who took part in them, but history is local. There are a lot of amazing stories about people and events that we have never heard of. They are important to the towns in which they lived, but their notoriety doesn’t go past the city limits. My town is full of history.

Of course, some people don’t believe that. Several years ago, I was in a meeting, and a lady said that we had no history. That’s when I rattled off a list that included some of the following.

My workplace, Cumberland University was founded in 1842. Thousands of students have passed through its doors, but none are more important that Cordell Hull.Cordell Hull

Never heard of him? Well, he was Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt and known as the “Father of the United Nations”. He was also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Of course, his time as Secretary of State was in and around World War II. During that time, Cumberland University also played an important role as the headquarters of the Tennessee Maneuvers, a series of war games to prepare for the invasion of Europe. Soldiers fought battles and captures town all of Middle Tennessee. General George Patton was in charge of the Maneuvers and spent some time in town. I have heard that his private plane was still at the local airport when he was killed.George Patton

Another military leader started his career in town. Sam Houston opened his first law office on the square.Sam Houston

He went on to become governor of Tennessee, an office from which he would resign under mysterious circumstances. It was then that he went to Texas and became one of the leaders of the fight for independence from Mexico. After victory, Houston became the president of the nation of Texas and the governor of the state of Texas.

I always thought it was fitting that the Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans. They were just coming back home.

Following the military theme, Castle Heights Military Academy opened in 1902 and was a top private school for decades. Kids were sent from all over the world for a regimental education. The local girls loved them. The local guys didn’t care for them all that much. Thousands of students marched the grounds of Castle Heights, and some of them became famous. Can you imagine Gregg and Duane Allman in a military school?Allman Brothers

Me neither. However, they spent time at Castle Heights.

Another famous rock star spent time here while he was doing some recording in Nashville. Paul McCartney showed up with Wings and stayed at a local farm.Paul McCartney

He even wrote a song about it.

The farm was owned, and is still owned by Curly Putman, who wrote “He Stopped Loving Her Today“, considered by most to be the best country song ever recorded.

Oh, there’s one more thing that is of some historic note. Cracker Barrel was founded here by Danny Evins, who started serving food to attract people to his gas station.Cracker Barrel

The next time you get Uncle Herschel’s breakfast you should remember that Uncle Herschel was from here, too.

15 Responses to “A Brief Look at the Historical Legacy of Lebanon, Tennessee”

  1. Manu Kurup August 19, 2013 at 02:55 #

    Isn’t it also about Memory? How the ‘locale’ kept the memory alive and constructed it in such a way that coming generations would be able to understand the History of the town and its importance in the nation’s history? Enlightening read.. 🙂

    • Rick August 19, 2013 at 03:08 #

      Absolutely. I also believe that some people think if it happens in their town, then it’s not important. Familiarity may not breed contempt, but it could breed a nonchalance.

      • Manu Kurup August 19, 2013 at 03:17 #

        Right. In my town in India, we’ve been organizing a function every year in which we urge people to bring old photographs (in fact anything that they think to have a historical importance) and other stuff to the townhall for a day to create awareness about the cultural history of the region. We even invite people from the nearest townships. Restaurants, Bakeries and other shops are requested to display stuff from the past. Initially it required some archival work but then people learned to do this by themselves as they understood the format that we were working on. Last year three other town joined the wagon. We call it ‘Charithra Mela’ (A Carnival of History).

      • Rick August 19, 2013 at 03:21 #

        That’s cool. Keep up the work. More people should be working to preserve their local history.

      • Howard Ambruster October 20, 2013 at 01:32 #

        Danny Evins wss also a graduate of Castle Heights Military Academy and my wrestling coach the year before he opened the first crackle barrel store.Sorry to hear he has passed away.

      • Rick October 20, 2013 at 02:05 #

        Like a lot of people in town, I knew Mr. Evins. He is missed by the entire community. Thank you for commenting.

  2. leslinalicia August 19, 2013 at 04:10 #

    Local history is incredibly important! Speaking of Sam Houston, I educated my Dad about him and also the maneuvers at good ole Cumberland. He then replied, wow, you still remember all that from two years ago. Thoughtful.

    • Rick August 19, 2013 at 12:09 #

      That’s great. Tell him that history is your thing.

  3. Katherine October 9, 2017 at 23:44 #

    What about Joseph motley anderson?

    • Rick October 10, 2017 at 00:18 #

      He is an excellent choice. I need to write a post about him.

  4. Katherine October 11, 2017 at 22:57 #

    As a 5th generation “Lebanon”-nese, I can honestly say there is more history there well beyond the obvious. Dig a little deeper and you will be amazed!

    • Rick October 12, 2017 at 00:52 #

      No doubt about that. I thought I knew quite a bit until I started digging. There are some great stories out there. You may already know, but I have a Twitter account @LebanonHistory.


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