In Search of Jack Macon

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.”

p 88-89
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.”

Sometimes You See Something and You Say “Oh!”

So, I’m farting around in the Tennessee State Library and Archives’s online photo database…

What?  You’re not all the time farting around in old photo databases?  Then what, pray tell, do you do when your day threatens to overwhelm you and beat you down and you’ve still got 5 1/2 hours until you can reasonably escape?

Anyway, I was trying to find pictures of Whites Creek, which apparently no one ever gave a shit enough about to take pictures because it sucks so much out here, where even the puppies would just as soon bite you as look at you, and all of the flowers smell like old used diapers, where you should not even come to visit because you will probably immediately be stricken with gangrene of the taint, just for driving through… In fact, someone from the State should look at just blocking the whole area off and only letting residents in and out.  Routing traffic from Joelton down Dickerson pike may be the only way to save the rest of the City from whatever it is that’s making my fingers elongate and rot off.  I’m going to have to talk to my people at TDOT about revamping the Briley Parkway exit so that people can only exit to the south.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, the photographs at the TSLA.  So, I’m looking through photos of churches and over and over are photos of the slave galleys in the churches.  I have never considered that.  I always assumed that a balcony in a church was just that–a place to stick the choir or late-comers or overflow seating.  How many churches have I been into with balconies?  And I never once knew that they were remnants of that.  Hmm.

And they have online exhibits!

Ooo.  And speaking of cool things, you can now search the internment records of the City Cemetery.

The record of my favorite 19th century Nashvillian reads:

Macon, Jack, f.m.c., known as Dr. Jack, May 16, 1860, age 80.

I want to find him in the cemetery, and I supposedly can.  I go to the City Library site, where you can do a grave search, and type in “Macon.”  There are two Macons buried in the City Cemetery.

One is the infant child of Macon Allison, and the other is Dr. Jack.

Volume 4-1860
Number 168
Date May 16, 1860
Name Macon, Jack, f.m.c.
Age 80
Sex M
Race B
Residence City
Disease Old Age
Ave Negro lot
Lot 200p
Remarks known as Dr. Jack

But looking at the maps on the city cemetery website, I’m stuck.  I don’t see the negro lot.  But I’m going to see if I can figure out who to email.

Send Help!

Cookies, Diet Dr Pepper, an alien to abduct me, something.  I am begging you, Universe, for something, anything, to brighten up my day and to give me the strength to make it to quitting time.

Does the Government Know Better than I Do What’s Best for My Family?

That’s the question you have to ask yourself.  And the truth is that the answer varies.  I wish it didn’t, of course, because coming up with a hard and fast rule–“Hell no, the government never knows better than I do what’s best for my family!”–would make things much simpler.

But, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, we live in a state where people want the government to keep their kids ignorant of how their bodies work, and there never will be any argument that persuades me that you, as a parent, have a right to keep your kids in the dark about their own bodies.  Never, ever, ever will I be persuaded that you should have that right.  Your discomfort with human sexuality and your religious beliefs do not trump another individual’s right to accurate information about herself.  As far as I’m concerned, you shouldn’t get the State’s help to indoctrinate your kids in your religious beliefs.  And you sure as hell shouldn’t get the State’s help indoctrinating anyone else’s kids with your religious beliefs.

But banning single people from adopting seems like a clear-cut case where you must ask yourself “Does the government know better than I do what’s best for my family?” and come down on the side of “Obviously not.”

I notice, though, that few people seem to be pointing out that problem with this legislation.  Everyone else is talking about “love” and how “all families are different” and blah blah blah.  But here’s the thing.  Say that you are married.  Your husband has no siblings.  You have a brother who is married, but you hate his wife–maybe you suspect that she’s abusing prescription drugs.  Maybe you don’t like how she is constantly putting down her own children.  Maybe even your own kids have noticed how off their aunt is and aren’t comfortable going over there to spend the night.  It’s nothing you could really put your finger on and say “She’s a bad person,” but, while you love your brother, you would never choose for your sister-in-law to raise your children.

Your other brother is gay.  He’s just broken up with his partner, and is kind of seeing a few people, but you have no doubt that he will, sooner, rather than later, find someone and settle down again.  He loves your kids.  Your kids love him.  He’s got a great job and is financially set and stable, even in this economy.  When you go away on trips, he’s the guy you leave your kids with.

Now, say all this drama is playing out in Nashville.  You and your immediate family go to Knoxville for the game.  There’s a car accident.  Sadly, you and your spouse die.  Happily, you think, you have a will and, in the will, your single brother is named the custodian of your children.

How much confidence do you have that, if this law passes, the State would let that happen?  Remember, you have died in Knoxville.  Your kids are going into the State’s custody while stuff gets sorted out.  How much confidence do you have that your wishes will be honored?  After all, the State believes that kids are better off with married couples, like your other brother and your vile sister-in-law.  Why would the State let someone they’ve denied the ability to ever adopt your children take your children home with him?

Do you trust the State to honor your wish to pick who should raise your children if they pass legislation like this?