History of Our Location
The first part’s pretty simple. We’re here in Murfreesboro at 2341 Memorial Blvd. If you look this building up on Rutherford County records, it will tell you that the building was built in the latter part of the 20th Century. Yes. Last century. Folks have been patronizing our fine neighbours like Kroger, Honey Baked Ham, Hallmark, well everyone for some years now. But there is a lot more history here. To do that, we have to go back a lot further than you might imagine.
As every school child knows, in 1811 the Tennessee legislature created a space for the county seat of Rutherford County and named it Cannonsburgh in honor of Newton Cannon, some guy from Williamson County. The name was soon changed to Murfreesborough and then, after people began to run out of envelope space to address letters, it was changed to Murfreesboro as it remains named today. (I still have to spell it for anyone I’m talking from out of town, but it’s not worth changing it. If they don’t get it, I tell them to look up the zip code 37129.)
But of course, there were people here long before that action by the legislature. The Native Americans happily used this area for many, many years before the Europeans arrived. When this building was being built and the usual archaeological assessments were being done, some very interesting discoveries were made. According to his book The Archaeological Oddities of That Patch of Land Off Memorial, MTSU professor of archaeology Naught Berry Likely, “The area appears to have been a peaceful gathering place for several Native American tribes for hundreds of years. Evidence of Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and even tribes as far away as the Clatsop were evident. While it was traditional for many tribes to seek out the geographical center of areas, how they knew Tennessee would be marked-off hundreds of years in the future is beyond me.”
The next major event seemed to have taken place in the early 1790’s. This, as we all know, is the period of time when George Washington taxed whiskey at a higher rate than corn and caused quite a stir. Many frontier area Americans decided to avoid the Whiskey Rebellion and move on further into the frontier. This set the groundwork for many fine distillers ranging from Kentucky to Tennessee.
You may wonder what this has to do with the history of this building. You’ll notice the beautiful brick walls that we uncovered upon removing the drywall from the previous tenant. According to Likely, “The property where the shopping center is to be located contains wall remnants of a very old structure dating back to the early 18th Century. It appears to have been living and cooking quarters at the very least, if not a meeting place for the entire community at the time which seemed to consist of both Native American and European origin. What was very interesting was the remnants of both beer making as well as distilling.”
Small fragments of some of the crockery found were painted with the words O’Possum’s Fine Whiskey. While these fragments are currently under review at the Smithsonian, most historians consider it absolute proof that members of Clan O’Possum were some of the earliest settlers in this, the geographic center of Tennessee. While nothing but their quality and distinctive brickwork still standing, we hope their fine spirited offerings and grand hospitality remain.
Due to a state regulations about building on historic sites called The Tennessee Preservation of Historical and Mythical Sites, the builders of the shopping center decided to leave the existing structure and build around it. Our predecessor didn’t understand what they had and built false walls over the beautiful brick structure. O’Possum’s was glad to be able to expose the remaining brick and bring this historic Murfreesboro landmark back to life.
More to come later…