Whittle: Meandering down life's paths

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Meandering can be good for a tired body and mind.

It's not supposed to take place of prayer, but then some of my best days start with soul-soothing meandering along life's road ...

It was a meandering day that led me to introduce ace editor/friend Hooper Penuel to a small meandering creek that snakes its way down from the foot of historic Short Mountain, an awesome present-day meandering destination.

But that was not always the case, for Short Mountain could be a dangerous place to meander, depending on the mood and which side your neighbor was sympathizing with back during the War Between the States. You can meander to Melton Cemetery near Short Mountain and seeing assassinated Civil War guerrilla fighter Pomp Kersey's grave will verify that claim.

Short Mountain, being the official highest elevation point of Middle Tennessee, overlooks most of the meandering trails leading down into Cannon and DeKalb counties.

Today, that small trickle of water bleeding out the side of Short Mountain meanders down to eventually become Stone's River, named after explorer Uriah Stone, ancestor to present-day Cannon County's Col. James Stone, a decorated Vietnam War-era hero.

The meandering Stone's River helped spawn today's villages of Woodbury, Readyville, Murfreesboro, and Smyrna, to ultimately flow quietly into today's modern J. Percy Priest Lake.

We'd be remiss if we left out Old Jefferson that sprang up alongside the meandering Stone's River and once served briefly as the seat of government for present-day Rutherford County.

After leaving the Mechanicsville community up on the mountain along the Cannon County segment of State Route 146, meandering takes you down to the Wood community, where history resides quietly at Wood Cemetery.

A recent meandering morning took this writer to appear on MTSU's WMOT Radio's popular "Justin Reed Show" that features a lot of history about country and gospel musicians.

You may ask what a radio program has to do with the rural isolated Wood community. Disc Jockey Justin Reed resides at Wood and is the present-day country preacher man at pristine historic Wood Church of Christ, the fellowship that overlooks and keeps Wood Cemetery respectfully neat and trim.

When stepping down from the church, you've meandered on to hallowed ground, where Cannon County historian Joe Davenport's ancestors' quietly reside.

"Great Grandfather William 'Billy' Wood donated land for Wood Cemetery, and the church there is still going strong today along Route 146," noted Davenport, who heads the Cannon County Historical Society. "The old part of Wood, where my ancestors are buried, is in the front part of the cemetery grounds ... today's active part of Wood Cemetery is located back off the road beside the Wood Church of Christ building."

Meander off in a different direction and you'll eventually arrive in Gassaway, a quiet community tucked away in the shadow of Short Mountain.

A significant part of Tennessee aviation history landed at Gassaway in the 1920s, when Nashville stunt pilot Louie Gasser meandered in his bi-plane to land at Gassaway School grounds. He not only met student Nora Davenport there, he took her flying. They soared out of Gassaway into heavenly matrimony and Nora became famous as a celebrated and brave wing walker.

But that's a meandering story for another day ...

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Dan Whittle column
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