Murfreesboro celebrates 222 years

Published 12:38 pm Thursday, January 8, 2009

MURFREESBORO—Happy birthday Murfreesboro!

On Tuesday, the town known for its rich historical heritage celebrated its own past by turning the ripe, old age of 222.

Citizens along with local and state officials, representatives from Chowan University, the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce and the Murfreesboro Historical Association all gathered at the Town Hall to partake in celebratory event and reflect on Murfreesboro’s past and future.

An estimated 60 people attended the gathering in the foyer of the Town Hall.

The birthday party was the cumulating event in a month long founding celebration, which featured a historic talk and highlighted two of the town’s annual events: the Christmas Parade and the Historical Candlelight Tour.

“It’s something to be proud of,” said Mayor Lynn Johnson about the milestone.

According to Johnson, the founding month was an event that came out of the town’s past work with the Creative Communities Initiative, a two-year project through Foundation of Renewal for Eastern North Carolina, which helps officials learn about how to promote the town and how to cater to the demographic of their town.

Town Administrator Cathy Davison said the town, along with the Chamber of Commerce, began to work on a Murfreesboro Day type event, which soon became a month-long founding celebration after the two annual events fell into place along with the 222nd incorporation anniversary of Murfreesboro.

Another benefit from the Creative Communities Initiative project, a promotional logo featuring the Roberts-Vaughan House, was displayed on the birthday cake.

Johnson served up slices of the cake to guests, who were also welcomed to sign their names and record their favorite memory of the town in a guestbook.

Among the dignitaries in attendance were each of the five town council members (Billy Theodorakis, Gloria Odum, Molly Eubank, Sarah Wallace and Lloyd Hill), Hertford County Commission Vice Chair Johnnie Farmer and State Senator Ed Jones.

Jones said he was glad to take part in the historic town’s celebration and referenced how far the town has come since its establishment in 1787. He said the settlers who came here 222 years ago probably couldn’t imagine what their community would grow into.

“It’s just amazing how we’ve come about,” said Jones. “There’s a lot of heritage here.”

Farmer offered the town best wishes and noted the role it played in safeguarding the region’s history.

“The county is proud of historical Murfreesboro,” said Farmer. “It’s always set the standard for preserving the past.”

Mayor Pro-tem Molly Eubank looked at the birthday as a celebration of the town’s past and future.

“I think it’s a good way to recognize the town and what it has accomplished over the past 222 years and what it can accomplish over the next 222 years,” said Eubank.

Old deeds indicate that European settlers lived on the area that is now Murfreesboro as early as 1710 while American Indian tribes such as the Nottoways, Meherrins and the Chowanokes were the earlier principal inhabitants of the area.

The location on the Meherrin River positioned the town to become a player in inland trade. William Murfree, an Irish immigrant, established a King’s Landing known as Murfree’s Landing, where exports and imports were inspected by a representative of the English Crown.

An act ratified on January 6, 1787 established the town named Murfreesborough, which later changed to Murfreesboro.

The rich history is still an integral part of the town, as evident in the Historical District that features some of Murfreesboro’s earliest structures and private homes. The Historical Association offers tours of the district.

Also part of the town’s history is Chowan University, a four-year private school. The university got its start in the Hertford Academy building (located in the Historic District) in 1848 and was known first as the Chowan Female Institute and later Chowan College. Recently, the school became a university.

Small business owners thrive at the heart of Murfreesboro, where visitors and residents have a share of restaurants and shops to choose from.

“I think it’s a fabulous finale to founding month; to invite residents and friends to share their memories and thoughts of Murfreesboro,” said Davison about the celebration.

Danny Blowe, who serves on the Chamber of Commerce Board, gave his thoughts on the 222nd birthday of Murfreesboro.

“I think it’s a great celebration for a historical town,” said Blowe. “Everybody should be proud of it.”

Walter Elliott, a four-year resident of the town, said it was “a great honor” to live in the town where the council’s chambers are often filled with interested citizens.

“I think it will bring it to its potential,” he said about citizen involvement.

Johnson encouraged people outside of the area to explore Murfreesboro.

“Come see what we have to offer; come see us and say, ‘hello’,” said Johnson.