Southeast corner of the Square, the present-day site of the Election Commission Office, is possibly the site of Murfreesboro’s first house and where the city’s first citizen was born.
On Aug. 10, 1803, several citizens from Davidson and Williamson counties petitioned the State Legislature, then meeting in Knoxville, to create a new political entity.
The petition was favorably approved establishing Rutherford County on Oct. 27, 1803.
It was named in honor of Gen. Griffith Rutherford, a prominent North Carolinian, who served with distinction in the Revolutionary War.
The county seat was first located in the north of the county at the east and west forks of the Stones River.
The town known as Jefferson, near Smyrna today, was named for Thomas Jefferson, who was President at the time.
Farm and forest products from throughout the county were carried by a flatboat down the Stones River to Nashville and marketed.
Consequently, the new seat of justice continued to prosper for the next several years until the population began to shift to a more central area of the county.
The mass exodus to the center of the county was prompted by the development of better roads.
Forests had been hacked through to create roads for wagon transportation to Nashville. The river port at Jefferson began to decline.
Thus, the citizens requested that the General Assembly grant them a more centrally located county seat.
Capt. William Lytle offered to donate 60 acres of land on the west fork of the Stones River.
Intense competition developed between Charles Ready for his property near Woodbury, Thomas Rucker on land near the present-day Alvin C. York VA Medical Center, and William Lytle’s land, the present site of the Downtown Square.
Although each sought interest in his respective property, the vote carried in favor of Lytle’s land.
He specified a piece of property on the southeast side of the public square be given to him.
On Oct. 17, 1811, the General Assembly designated the new county seat be known as Cannonsburgh honoring Newton Cannon of Williamson County, a rising young politician who would later become governor of Tennessee.
On Nov. 29, 1811, that action was rescinded and the county seat was renamed Murfreesboro.
It was believed Lytle named the county after his close friend, Col. Hardy Murfree who had recently died in Williamson County.
Supposedly, Maj. John Lytle built the first house in Murfreesboro on that southeast corner of the square property designated by Capt. Lytle.
Here is a description of the first house and documentation about the first child born in Murfreesboro found in “Annals of Rutherford County, Volume I” by John C. Spence written in 1873.
“The first house owned and occupied by Maj. John Lytle,” Spence wrote. “This house was built before the lots were laid off and sold.
“He had been cultivating a portion of the land the town occupies,” he continued. “The house standing on the lot southeast corner of the Public Square, after known as the Lytle lot, made of hewed logs, two rooms, one and a half stories, large open passage between the two, a tall wood and clay chimney to each room, a door and small window also to each room.
“In this house the late Gen. M.J. Lytle was born, well known to the citizens the present day, and he may be known to be the first child born in Murfreesboro,” Spence concluded.
In fact, the house became rental property after John Lytle moved from the center of town to what was considered in the country.
Presently, it is the site of Haynes Brothers Lumber Company on Broad Street.