Saturday, January 22, 2011

The National Register of Historic Places: An Introduction

For anyone interested in listing historic properties on the National Register of Historic Places, the first place to begin is the official website of the Register. This list is maintained by the National Park Service. At, readers will find all types of National Register information ranging from the very general to brochures and newsletters describing the specifics of the nomination process.

Also, there is a searchable database of listed properties. However, this research tool is incomplete, and I have found that very few properties have actually been added to the database in full. So, the listing of a property may come up, but there will be no available photos or a copy of the nomination documentation available for viewing. Do not despair though! If you would like information on a specific property, you may contact the state historical commission or SHPO's office (that the State Historic Preservation Officer). For properties in Tennessee, you may visit Word of caution; however, this website does not list individual properties. BUT, you may contact the staff at the Commission and they can provide you with the information you need. I have found them to be extremely friendly and helpful...not to mention very passionate about what they do. The Commission also provide preliminary nomination packets for those considering to attempt a nomination. By completing the paperwork within the packet and sending it back to the Commission, the staff will evaluate the property and determine the potential eligibility of a property and can provide and wealth of information and assistance throughout the process.

Here in middle Tennessee, we are very fortunate to also have the Center for Historic Preservation that is "attached" to the Public History department at Middle Tennessee State University, and is overseen by Dr. C. Van West. The center is located in Murfreesboro and provides much useful information about the field of preservation here in our area.

The nomination process for listing on the NRHP can be very difficult, and many people opt to hire a professional or at least someone familiar with the process. Nonetheless, the benefits of listing a property can often times make it worth the effort. In future posts, I will address some of the myths and misconceptions about NRHP listing.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Historic Mulberry, TN: John Whitaker

Pleasant Garden
 The unincorporated town of Mulberry is located within Lincoln County, Tennessee and was initially settled by some of the county's first settlers. Of these pioneers, John "Peg-leg" Whitaker came to the area from Kentucky in 1809. John and his brother Mark were militia soldiers within North Carolina's Salisbury district during the Revolutionary War. The two men left their home of Rowan County, North Carolina and moved to Kentucky in 1784, and are believed to have accompanied Daniel Boone's brother, Squire along the Wilderness Trail into the newly formed state. Upon their arrival in Lincoln County, John immediately set to work establishing Lincoln County and its seat of Fayetteville. Along with a committee of other pioneers, John was appointed by the Tennessee General Assembly to locate and purchase land upon which to establish the town of Fayetteville in 1809. The committee succeeded in their mission by purchasing 100 acres from Ezekiel Norris within the same year. As a result, Lincoln County was established late in 1809 and officially recognized by the state of Tennessee during the General Assembly's early 1810 meeting.
While tackling his civic accomplishments, John was also busy at home. In 1809, land deed records show that John Whitaker purchased some 1,155 acres in the area that was to later become Mulberry. His vast land holding was purchased from Thomas Eastland of Bedford County. When John purchased the land, the area was still officially part of Bedford County; however, shortly thereafter Lincoln County was created and enveloped the Mulberry community. According to the Whitaker family, John immediately built a dog-trot style cabin on his land in order to house his wife and children. Moreover, as a deeply religious man, John held church services in his home until a proper place of worship could be established. This church came into existence in 1813 and will be discussed in greater detail in later posts.
John Whitaker's dog-trot cabin was later encompassed within his Neo-Classical style home which he named Pleasant Garden (pictured here). The original Pleasant Garden was almost certainly constructed of brick; however, a fire in the late 1860s or early 1870s burned Pleasant Garden to the ground. John then rebuilt his beautiful Pleasant Garden as the wooden framed structure we see today. Interestingly, Pleasant Garden has remained within the Whitaker family for more than a century and remains so even today.
John Whitaker was a successful farmer, and spent many years serving the community as a spiritual leader. He greatly helped to plant the seeds of settlement in both Fayetteville and Mulberry. He died in 1837 and is buried in the Mulberry Cemetery. In later posts, I will discuss in greater detail John's church and its service as a community center, bringing various businesses and people into the area. Also, John's son Newton will be discussed as his beautiful brick home stands as a testament to the elegance and functionality of Tennessee plantation architecture.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


The first community to be featured on Dots on the Map will be the town of Mulberry, Tennessee. I have spent a great deal of my life in this historic site, not to mention many hours of intensive research. In the coming days readers will read about a general history of Mulberry, including its founding fathers and significant structures.

The way I foresee this going is that about once a week I will showcase particular sites, structures, and people of Mulberry until I have basically exhausted my limited knowledge of it. From there, we will move on to another community and follow suit. In between these more lengthy posts, I will be sharing tid bits of information with you...things like NRHP info, happenings in the world of archaeology and preservation, etc. And, again, please take the time to leave comments and initiate discussion. Or, if you'd like, post ideas for future presentations. Enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

It Has Only Just Begun

Dots on the Map is a way to share my interest and passion for history and photogrpahy. I live just outside the smallest county in the state of Tennessee, Moore County. Lynchburg is the home of Jack Daniel's's primary claim to fame. However, many people do not know the often untold or publicized histories of local people, buildings, and places. Starting with my immediate area, this blog will attempt to tell those stories, and will hopefully expand out into other small towns throughout the county. These small peices of the historical record are disappearing every day; laid to rest by the fast-paced and high tech world that is evolving around us. I vow to do my part to bring awareness to my followers of the rich histories that are present around us and to do my best to create a living legacy of those who came before.

I always welcome input from followers and would like to keep this blog as interactive for this community as possible. So, without any further ado, please join me in my cause and together we can bring history to life in our contemporary lives!