So, my search for Dr. Jack Macon continues. I did a Google books search and discovered this:
Perhaps the most celebrated slave in Tennessee was Jack Macon, known simply as “Doctor Jack.” Owned by William H. Macon of Maury County, Jack was permitted to move about the countryside as an itinerant physician during the 1830s and 1840s. His patients of many years were so enthusiastic about his talents that they petitioned the state legislature for an exemption after lawmakers, in the wake of the Nat Turner Revolt of 1831, passed a law prohibiting slaves from practicing medicine. Doctor Jack was an extraordinary physician, his patients testified, who possessed “great medical skills” particularly when treating “obstinate disease of long standing.” Several of his patients contended that Jack was far ruperior to white physicians. His followers agreed with the words of “An old observer,” who may well have been Doctor Jack himself:
“I believe that nature has wisely (& graciously) formed roots , & herbs, to meet every complaint incident to the human species, & that [if] men would study to grow acquainted with them & their uses, & would drench less with drugs, the world would be people’d a great deal sooner, & mankind would enjoy a great deal more health & strength.”
After practicing for many years, Macon moved to Nashville and opened an office a few blocks from Thomas’s barbershop. Now in his seventies, he placed his business card in the city’s first business directory: “JACK, Root Doctor, Office–20 North Front St.”
In Search of the Promised Land
By John Hope Franklin, Loren Schweninger
One is immediately tempted to try to guess where 20 North Front Street was. Was Broad still the boundary between north and south addresses back then? If so, then 20 North Front should be about where the Hard Rock is, right? Facing the river. Macon died in 1860 and this photo was taken in 1862 (and discovered on the TSLA site, please don’t come after me!), so it’s probably a hair different than it was when he had his office there, but it should, I’d think, give you a good sense of where he was working.
This photo was taken ten years later, roughly, and you can see that the skyline looks more like it does today.
I also emailed a guy at the historical commission to see if he could help give me a ballpark guess on where Macon is resting in the city cemetery. And I’m happy to say that he seems game to try to see if it can be figured out.
I don’t know what it is exactly. Sometimes things just stick in your craw and you wonder about them. I have always wondered about Jack Macon, as long as I’ve known of his existence.
And I still think it would be cool to open up a truly scary occult shop called “Jack Macon’s” and have the slogan be “Serving Nashville on and off since 1843.”