Following the Paper Trail

— posted by Susan London-Sherer


 Susan London-Sherer holding copy of 1878  D.G. Beers & Co. map of Rutherford County.

Greetings from the Rutherford County Archives! Today is Wednesday, May 14, and we are experiencing our first rain day at the Rutherford County Archaeology Research Project. However, torrential rains, thunder, and lightning can not dampen our desire for knowledge. The field school students are spending the day working in the lab processing artifacts, while I am blogging from the archives.



MTSU Field School Students washing artifacts.


My name is Susan London-Sherer, and I am the on-site historical archaeology/historic preservation graduate intern. While the weather may be bad outside, the archives are climate-controlled and bursting with valuable information that is pertinent to our research. A significant part of my internship involves researching the historical documentation related to the chain of ownership of the Magnolia Valley site. Over the next seven weeks, when I am not working on the survey portion of the project (digging 50-centimeter shovel test holes and screening for artifacts), I will be visiting the archives in Rutherford and Williamson Counties, as well as the county clerks’ offices, in order to trace property deeds.

Although the property is currently located in Rutherford County, the original 1833 home, built by William and Jennett McDowall, was within the bounds of Williamson County. The property became part of Rutherford County during the 1870s when that section of town was annexed into the county. Since the McDowall family, the property has been owned by the McMeekin family, the Bank of Eagleville, the Jackson family, the Bell family, the Massey family, the Crockett family, and eventually, the Tune family. I am excited to get this opportunity to follow the paper trail and see where it leads me in the coming weeks. I am even more excited to share the discovery process concerning Magnolia Valley’s past with my colleagues and the public. Please continue to follow our progress as we attempt to put the puzzle pieces of the past back together, and relay the stories of the rich history of Magnolia Valley.



Original photo by Modified with jigsaw app from



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