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Our History - 1700s and earlier

Timeline of Nashville / Davidson County

Prepared with information from the website of the Nashville Public Library and from research conducted at the Metropolitan Archives of Nashville and Davidson County.

Special thanks to members of the staff and management of the Metro Archives for their professionalism in helping to gather this information.

Year Events and Milestones
8000 BC First known inhabitants of the area that is now middle Tennessee build villages.
1200 AD Large native villages cover the area that is now Davidson County.
1450 Native villages are disappearing and the area that is now middle Tennessee is becoming a hunting area.
1600s Charleville, a French-Canadian fur trader, establishes a trading post at the French Lick.
1714 Charleville’s post is now abandoned. Middle Tennessee is a hunting ground for the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek tribes.
1769 Timothy Demonbreun, a French-Canadian fur trader, arrives at the French Lick and begins hunting in the area.
1775 The American Revolution begins.
1775 North Carolinian Richard Henderson bargains with Cherokee leaders for claim to the land between the Ohio and Cumberland rivers.
1776 The Declaration of Independence is signed.
1779 At Henderson’s urging, James Robertson leads a small group of men to explore the Cumberland Bluff in the spring.
1779 Col. John Donelson prepares flotilla of flatboats to bring women and children to the area by water.
1779 Robertson leads the first group of settlers, mostly men and boys, to the Cumberland Bluff, arriving on Christmas Day.
1780 Donelson arrives with second group of settlers on April 24 after a 1000-mile river trip.
1780 The Cumberland Compact, detailing settlers’ rights, is signed by 250 men on May 13.
1783 Daniel Williams moves to the area from South Carolina with his family, becomes Davidson County’s first Sheriff. Elections for Sheriff are scheduled for every two years.
1783 The North Carolina legislature creates Davidson County in the area that is now middle Tennessee.
1783 The Revolutionary War ends.
1784 The North Carolina legislature passes an act establishing the town of Nashville, naming it for General Francis Nash.
1785 Col. John Donelson, one of Nashville’s founders, is mysteriously killed.
1785 Dr. John Sappington is the first physician to arrive in Nashville.
1785 The first school, Davidson Academy, is chartered.
1785 Thomas Marston in Sheriff of Davidson County.
1787 David Wray is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1787 Real estate is assessed in Nashville and taxed for the first time, at the rate of one dollar per acre.
1788 Andrew Jackson arrives in Nashville to serve as public prosecutor.
1788 Bob Renfroe, a free African-American opens a popular tavern in Nashville.
1788 Thomas Hickman is Sheriff of Davidson County. He would become a Justice in 1799.
1789 Sampson Williams is Sheriff of Davidson County. He may have been a brother of Davidson County’s first Sheriff, Daniel Williams.
1790 William Porter is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1791 Sampson Williams is Sheriff of Davidson County. 
1794 James Robertson leads the Nickajack Expedition against the Creek Indians.
1794 Nicholas P. Hardiman is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1796 Nashville’s first church (a Methodist church) is built on the public square near the Davidson County jail, courthouse, and stocks.
1799 Nashville’s first newspaper, Henkle’s Tennessee Gazette & Metro Advertiser, is printed.
1799 Wright Williams is Sheriff of Davidson County.