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Maury County, Tennessee
Founding of Columbia, the County Seat

In 1798, Col. Nicholas Long (Revolutionary War) of Halifax County, NC, willed to his sons Nicholas and Lunsford equal shares in 5,000 acres of land on the "Western Waters." (The 5,000- acre tract adjoined on the west 25,000 acres granted to General Nathaniel Greene for his distinguished service in the war).

Nicholas, who settled in Sumner County, TN, owed Anthony Bledsoe for surveying when Bledsoe was killed by an Indian in 1788. To settle the debt, on July 26, 1807, the heirs of Nicholas Long conveyed to the heirs of Anthony Bledsoe their interest in the land. On March 7, 1808, the heirs of Bledsoe, or their successors, conveyed 843 acres to John White. White, on May 30, 1808, deeded 150 acres of this land for $500 to the Commissioners of Columbia for the laying out of the town.

By the same Act of the General Assembly that had established Maury County, Joshua Williams, William Frierson, Isaac Roberts, John Lindsey, and Joseph Brown were designated to select a county seat near the center of the county. This seat was to be known as Columbia.

Two or three other locations were considered, especially a site on the lands of General Isaac Roberts on Bear Creek, a few miles northeast of the present location. The boundaries of Columbia were set out as follows: "From Burns' spring by Ninth St. to Frierson; thence north to White's spring; east to Duck River, up the river to a point north of Burns' spring; thence south to the place of beginning." The metes and bounds of the 150 acres upon which Columbia was built can be found in the deed, as recorded in Book A, Volume 1, pg. 42 in the office of the Register at Maury County Courthouse.

The location of Columbia was, in 1808, forested in woods and overgrown with thickets, which had to be cleared. Two large ponds in the areas of present West 7th and Garden Streets had to drained and much cane removed.

The one-room log law office of James K. Polk and the home of Congressman Houston Thomas were built on a lot near the corner of Garden and West 7th. Jeremiah Cherry operated a large inn in Columbia as early as 1810. Also by 1810, Mrs. McCain operated the first store owned by a woman in Maury County. Social gatherings and tea parties were held there. A little later, Peter Cheatham built an inn, and others followed. The first store, built of logs, was probably constructed by John Hedge on the south side of the square. Peter Cohea's store attracted the trade of Indians, who came to exchange furs and other items for chinaware, trinkets and whiskey.

By an Act of the Legislature on November 17, 1817, the expanding "village" of Columbia was incorporated. By 1837, Columbia had a population of 1,500 and was considered by historians of that time as one of the most flourishing towns in Tennessee.

Source: History of Maury County, Tennessee, William Bruce Turner

Old and New Names of Columbia Streets

  • First Street was extreme north.
  • Second Street was formerly known as North Street.
  • Third Street was called Roberts Street.
  • Fourth Street was known as Church Street.
  • Fifth Street was Division Street.
  • Sixth Street was formerly Free Street.
  • Seventh Street was known as Market Street.
  • Eighth Street was Mechanic Street.
  • Ninth Street was called Spring Street.
  • Tenth Street was formerly Keesee Street.
  • Eleventh Street was called Depot Street.
  • Twelfth Street was formerly Hamilton Street.
  • Thirteenth Street was known as College Street.

    Source: Turner's History of Maury County, Tennessee

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    Frank D. "Denny" Thomas, Volunteer for Maury County
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    This page was last updated July 12, 1998.