Burrell Gannaway was a slaveholder and Rutherford County pioneer who served as one of Murfreesboro’s first alderman. King Daniel Ganaway was a descendant of a slave who became a celebrated African American photographer in the early 1900s. Their contrasting stories are told in a CityTV documentary highlighting the work of genealogists who revealed the silenced story of their ancestor while uncovering a local history.
The special is available for viewing on YouTube at https://youtu.be/fbAgw9pakuE.
“In many ways, their stories are the stories of early nineteenth-century America and the twentieth-century migration North,” explained Mike Browning, who wrote and narrated the documentary entitled “The House Still Standing” for a Special Edition of CityTVs “Storytellers.” “We wanted to present the history in a visual way so more people, including descendants and history enthusiasts, could gain a deeper appreciation for the story, the genealogical historians work and the Murfreesboro property.”
Browning joined Tim and Brenda Fredericks, who live in Indianapolis, and Murfreesboro native Daryl Webb on the day in June 2016 when they first visited the Gannaway home and slave cabins. The structures are standing on property in the Barfield area of Murfreesboro. Tedious research led them to the property after discovering that Tim’s great-grandfather, King Daniel Ganaway, had descended from slaves. Tim’s family history had been kept secret until the truth was finally uncovered piece by piece.
The story has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Daily News Journal and other publications. The Fredericks and Webb have given presentations around the country on their research, including one at First Baptist Church on Main Street featured in the new documentary.
Documentary writer and narrator, Browning collaborated with CityTV Video Producer Michael Nevills on the documentary. Both have lengthy television experience and have produced award-winning documentaries—Browning for public television, Nevills for CityTV. In 2013, Nevills produced, “Stones River National Battlefield,” which earned 2014 Telly Awards, honoring excellence in video across all screens. In 2001, Browning, a graduate of MTSU’s Public History program, was honored by the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists for an hour-long documentary on Hispanic migration, “Una Vida Mejor.”
The ‘Special’ history episode of “Murfreesboro Storytellers” features:
- The early 1800s home and property once owned by Rutherford County pioneer, slaveowner and Murfreesboro City father Burrell Gannaway.
- The history of westward expansion from Virginia to Tennessee to take advantage of land grants awarded to Revolutionary war soldiers. The history also tells the story of slave migration.
- Murfreesboro’s history includes the names of luminaries such as James K. Polk, Davy Crockett and Andrew Jackson.
- Burrell Gannaway, deacon of First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, was a proponent of relocating slaves to Africa as part of the American Colonization Society. He was also a member of the Whig Party.
- Daniel Ganaway was a slave who is freed after Emancipation to become a U.S. citizen and starts a grocery business on the Murfreesboro town square in a building that still stands on Maple and Vine Street. Daniel’s son, King Ganaway lived at 211 West Vine St., currently the location of City Hall. King’s son, King Daniel Ganaway, migrated to Chicago to join a religious movement to become a butler, photographer and Bible teacher.
- Ganaway descendant Tim Fredericks, who grew up white, and wife Brenda tell the story of how Tim’s family history was silenced until they uncovered that his African American grandfather was from Murfreesboro. Through their ancestral journey, they have helped other relatives, black and white, discover their newfound interracial family history. Daryl Webb, also a Ganaway descendant, is among them.
“The historical home and property is like taking a trip back to antebellum Rutherford County,” added Browning, who serves as the City’s Public Information Officer. “I appreciate that the property owner has saved the land from development and it would be great if somehow the property and the home could be preserved for future generations.”
In addition to YouTube, the special edition of “Storytellers” can also be seen on CityTV. You can watch CityTV (located on Comcast Xfinity Channel 3 and AT&T Uverse channel 99), on Roku.
For more information on the Gannaway/Ganaway research, visit the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/GanawayAncestors1/.
For City News online, visit www.Murfreesborotn.gov.