Local Names Tell Much About County's History
The News-Examiner

Special Edition: Celebrating Sumner County's Bicentennial and Tennessee Homecoming '86, "History" section, p. 8-F, Saturday, March 29, 1986.

Thanks to The News-Examiner for permission to reprint this article!

Note: All spelling, punctuation, and omissions are as they appeared in the article in the newspaper.

     There are some rather odd and unusual place and street names in the area. Where do the names come from? Mrs. Willie McGee Ellis cites the following origins in her book, "Historic Rock Castle, A History of Hendersonville and the Surrounding Area".
      Shackle Island
      The traditional story goes that illegal whiskey was available in a small shack on an island in an area creek. People would say, "Let's go to the shack on the island for a drink". Eventually, the name became simply Shackle Island and in 1900 the post office recognized it as the name of the community.
      Free Hill Road
      After the war between the states, many free slaves came to the area and settled on a high hill northwest of Hendersonville. Thus, the hill and road became known as "Free Hill".
      Pilot Knob
      Pilot Knob is the highest hill in the area that can be seen from the Cumberland River. Pilots on river craft would identify their location from the hill which stood out above the trees. Thus, it was known as Pilot Knob.
      Miller was a reveue officer who often stopped at the general store for cheese and crackers on his way to hunt illegal stills int he mountains. Miller did not return from one of his trips: his body was eventually found in an old well. After some time, his friends at the country store honored his memory by naming the village "Millersville".
      Station Camp Creek
      The creek was named for a camp that the long hunters established in 1771. The camp was located where Gallatin Road crosses the creek.
      Frog Town
      A former settlement located out Sanders Ferry Road on Drake's Creek was named for the chorus of frogs that could be heard in the evening from early spring until late summer.
      Goshen Town Road
      The Goshen Town neighborhood was named by a Mr. Frazier who came to the area as a veteran of the Revolutionary War. The land was rich and well-watered so he named it "goshen", meaning land of plenty.
      The name was not officially recorded until electricity was being installed along the road. The foreman on the job asked W. L. Kirkpatrick the name of the road. "Call if Goshen Town Road", he said. And so it was.
      Gallatin Road
      The main road from Gallatin to Nashville, which goes through the hear of Hendersonville, is a road of many names. If you're heading east towards Gallatin, it's Gallatin Road or Pike. If you're heading west towards Nashville, it's called Nashville Pike.
      Acutally, it probably started as a buffalo trail. Around 1790, it officially became a cleared road. By the 1830's, it was a well-traveled road thoroughfare with the stage coach passing through Hendersonville three times a week.
In 1939, it was designated a turnpike or toll road when it was officially opened, with toll booths located about every five miles. Many still refer to it as Nashville or Gallatin Pike.
It was widened in 1923 and renamed Jackson Highway. This named was dropped, however, when it was four-laned in 1950 and dubbed Hwy. 31 East. On maps the road will be identified as 31E or sometimes as State Route 6.
However, Hendersonville businesses located on the main road list their address as East or West Main street. A portion was recently renamed Johnny Cash Parkway in honor of one of our illustrious cittizens. Gallatin has renamed a portion of the road in their city limits in honor of one of its citizens, Barbara Mandrell.
Whatever you call it, it's still the best way for Hendersonvillians to get from here to whever they are going.
      Sanders or Saunders Ferry Road
      There is still some confusion about the origin...an proper spelling...of this road. According to Mrs. Ellis, it was named for James Sanders, who (among other things) donated the land for the first Methodist meeting house in 1799, James Sanders was not related to Hubbard Saunders, for whom Saundersville is named.
      The confusion about spelling arose when the road was widened in 1952 and a marker to Sanders erected by the DAR was misplaced. From that time, Southern Bell Telephone began spelling the road "Saunders Ferry" rather than "Sanders Ferry".
      Everyone, however, agrees that it was so named because of the ferry at the end of the road which was used to cross the Cumberland River to the Donelson area of Nashville. The ferry and road were used frequently by early settlers including Daniel Smith and John Donelson. Andrew Jackson used the ferry and road when attending court in Gallatin and on his way to Cottontown to see his horses being trained.
      Cairo, located east of Gallatin along the bnks of the Cumberland River was named around 1800 by Gen. James Winchester who acquired, along with two other men, some 150 acres in the midst of a frontier controlled by the Creek Indians.
     Winchester, foreseeing a great future for the community which thrived through the early 1800s as a river port, named the community after the fabled Egyptian capital of Cairo.
      The town of Westlmoreland, llocated on the northern edge of Sumner County, was once named Old Coat's Town but sometime in the mid 1890s, the name was changed to West More Land or Westmoreland. Some say the name was changed after a storekeeper named Westmoreland opened a business in the community.
      The city's heyday came in the early 1900s when the railroad and nearby hot springs flourished. The railroad, which has long since been torn up, once carried many affluent tourists through the area and provided transportation for students to school in Gallatin.
      This small community along Dobbins Pike bears one of the county's more interesting names. According to local legend, a local group was heavily involved in card game or a chicken fight or some other activity when the sheriff pulled up. One of them yelled "Grab all you can get and run", and the area has been tabbed "Graball" ever since.

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