Kept behind the front desk at Nolensville Public Library, there is a comprehensive history of the town of Nolensville from 1797 to 1987.
Known simply as the Red Book because of the cover’s color, it contains facts and photos of Nolensville’s military history, old homes, churches, clubs and organizations, businesses, schools, and cemeteries.
It was assembled by longtime Nolensville resident Peggy Wilson as an initiative to promote local heritage and published in 1989.
Former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander oversaw a project launched in the mid '80s called Tennessee Homecoming, intended to inspire the Tennessee “state of mind” through communities undertaking local projects to preserve and promote their histories.
Nolensville’s Homecoming ’86 raised money to restore the old Nolensville Recreation Center building and grounds, and Wilson spent the next “three happy years” working on the Red Book.
She said when she was approached by the Nolensville Recreation Center to compile the book, she was surprised, but willing.
“I didn’t do well in history in school [laughs], but I wanted to try this,” Wilson said.
Wilson, 78, was born in Nolensville, attended Nolensville Elementary and went to Franklin High.
Husband Frank was the local postmaster for 30 years, and she worked for 27 at the First Tennessee Bank.
They have a son, Jackie, a daughter, Marianne, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
An involved community member her entire life, Wilson said growing up in the Nolensville community was a neighborly experience.
“Everybody knew everybody. Everybody took care of each other’s children. As kids, we were active in 4-H. Really, the old ball field was the center place where all the young people went,” she said.
The town of Nolensville allegedly began when Virginia native William Nolen was passing through with his family when the wheel of his buggy broke.
He received a 100-acre land grant on Mill Creek on August 20, 1804 and laid a plot for numbered town lots in 1818, according to the book.
A plan of incorporation passed Jan. 22, 1838.
Wilson, something of a genealogist herself, traced the Wilson family back to soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War, and her own lineage to early Nolensville farmers.
Though she had assistance, Wilson said it was difficult at first to get locals to come forward with the fragments of history, but once they started, the photos and stories came quickly.
“One lady from Triune gave me a picture of a teacher teaching her class under a tent while Nolensville Elementary was being built. It opened in 1937,” Wilson said.
Nearly 200 of years are compressed within the pages, reflecting the small-town life of an agricultural community now burgeoning into a destination for outsiders.
While the Red Book cannot be checked out, it can be perused at the library – and Wilson hopes that future generations will do so.
Jessica Pace covers Williamson County, Williamson County Schools and the Town of Nolensville for BrentWord Communications. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Jess_Marie_Pace.