Pulaski, Tennessee

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

After we left Florence, we went up to Pulaski, Tennessee. Their downtown is nice because it's still being used - people still shop there. Plus of course this great sign of the drugstore with the soda fountain:

Right in the center is the courthouse (their fifth courthouse since the first four burned down!):

...and right out front is this statue in honor of Sam Davis, who was known as the 'Boy Hero' of the war. In 1863 he was a scout in Company I of the First Tennessee Infantry Regiment and was captured by a couple of Union soldiers, charged with spying for the South when he was found with some Union papers. Given the opportunity to be set free if he would only name his informant, he said:
"If I had a thousand lives to live, I would give them all rather than betray a friend."
He was taken from the basement of the courthouse and rode on top of his own coffin to where he was hanged. Apparently he was given many opportunities to win his freedom if he would only give up and tell the Yankees where he got his information but he never did. There's much more about him here.

The front of the memorial reads: "Born October 6, 1842 near Smyrna, Rutherford County Tennessee. Though a Confederate soldier in the line of duty, he was executed as a spy by the Federals at Pulaski, Nov. 27, 1863. Let come what must, I keep my trust." Another side reads: "Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends."
There are actually four different memorials to Sam Davis here. His home in Smyrna is a museum.

And there are *all* kinds of gorgeous homes in town. This one is a bank!

This is the former law office of Judge T.M. Jones, who organized a certain organization back in the 1800s. My WPA book says that it was originally intended as a social club. Ah, well, you know where it went from there. Here's the funny part, though. See the metal plaque on the shutter to the left of the door?

That's a commemorative marker, letting people know what started here. Only...the owner of the building had it *turned around* so that the words are facing the brick! Apparently there isn't anything saying that you have to have the marker facing where people can actually read it. I imagine that the visitors' bureau of Pulaski doesn't promote that little piece of history very much. For good reason.

Well, one of the best things about Pulaski anyway is Sun Drop. It's a regional coke/soft drink like Cheerwine and Grapico and Orange Crush are. Now that makes everybody happy. And while I was searching, I found this really terrific site with information about Matt Gardner who was a former slave and established the first school for Black people in the area in 1943, the twice-yearly singing in a hayshed in the town of Diana that 3000 people attend, and a Trail of Tears Interpretive Center that the county is working to build. Nice!

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