Saturday, Nov.27 at Oaklands Mansion Event Room
900 N. Maney Ave., Murfreesboro, TN 37130
12:30pm Meet and Greet, 1:00pm Presentation
We are happy to announce our “Thankshistory” November Meeting featuring archaeologist Dr. Andrew Wyatt, Associate Professor of Anthropology at MTSU. Dr. Wyatt will present “Recovering Nashville’s African American History: Archaeology at Ft. Negley’s Bass Street Community. Doors open for a meet and greet (with snacks and treats!) at 12:30pm. The presentation will begin at 1:00 pm. We look forward to seeing you. Free!
Summary by Dr. Wyatt
Recovering Nashville’s African American History: Archaeology in Fort Negley’s Bass Street Community
During the Union occupation of Nashville during the Civil War, the army utilized the labor of formerly enslaved persons to construct Fort Negley on St. Cloud Hill. These laborers and their families set up camps on the sides of the hill, sleeping in tents or makeshift shelters. After the war, the now free African Americans remained, built houses, and formed the first post-Emancipation Black neighborhood in Nashville on the north side of St. Cloud Hill along Bass Street. This neighborhood grew as more African Americans moved to the area, businesses were established, and the Bass Street Baptist church was founded in 1879. Despite threats to their safety by the Ku Klux Klan who regularly held cross burnings on Fort Negley, the neighborhood flourished. In the 1930’s, the WPA reconstruction project at Fort Negley removed some of the residents of the neighborhood, and the construction of Interstate 40 and 65 eliminated the last of residents in the 1960’s. All that remain are some house foundations, the footprint of the Bass Street church, and a plethora of artifacts from the nearly 100 year occupation. However, some of the former residents of the neighborhood are still alive today and have been telling their stories.
The Bass Street Community Archaeology Project has been working in this neighborhood since 2017, and in that time we have begun to piece together the daily lives of the residents who lived here. In this presentation I will discuss the origins of one of the few Reconstruction-era African American archaeology projects in the country, what we have found so far, and what the future holds for the study of this unique and invaluable part of Nashville’s history.