Thanks to The News-Examiner for permission to reprint this article!
Note: All spelling, punctuation, and omissions are as they appeared in the article in the newspaper.
The little village of Cairo has undergone three distinct stages
in the history of Sumner County.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the river traffic gave the bustling little community, a distinct advantage over Gallatin as the center of county activities.
Legend has it that Gallatin became the county seat by a lead of one vote. The story goes that the deciding vote was never cast because the gentleman in question went across the river on election day; and as fate would have it, the polls had closed when he returned. Thus we now have Gallatin as the seat of county government.
In 1799 General James Winchester, William Cage, and his son, William Cage, Jr. Joined in a partnership with the dream of a thriving real estate venture. They purchased 150 acres of riverfront land, which they subdivided and offered for sale as building lots in the village of Cairo.
General Winchester foresaw the village and its riverbank as a potential counterpart to the famous Cairo, Egypt on the banks of the Nile. He called the littale community "Cairo" (pronounced Kau-ro in the local vernacular.)
Due to the Cumberland River traffic: the town flourished and business in general enjoyed great prosperity. Steamboats from the port of New Orleans regularly docked at Cairo.
Soon nearby pioneer families began to recapture some of the luxuries of life which many of them had left behind when they ventured into the wilderness. Silks and sating began to appear at special local functions. During this transition: fine imported china and furniture continued to grace the early homes.
Gradually a series of misfortunes began to overtake the community of Cairo. Overland travel became more feasible as the threat of marauding Indians and highwaymen lessened and roads became more passable. Much of the freight traffic gradually reverted to inland routs and the little river town began is demise.
By the late 1800s the village of Cairo had become deserted except for the general stores, the churches and the school houses.
By the 20th century, the once thriving business community had long since relinquished its status as an important river town, Cairo, with its rich riverbottom farm land, had settled into its second phase as a prosperous agricultural community.
The area had two schools (during the period of segregation one for the white children and one for the black children). Two churches also served to enhance the spirit of community living (both black and white).
A few empty buildings of ancient vintage now bear mute witness to the march of time. The schools have long since been closed but the two churches still offer places of worship in the community.
The advent of Old Hickory Lake has converted the Cairo community into its third stage of development. Like the Phoenix the little village is rising from the ashes of the once prosperous river town to become a most desirable residential area, with its many lakefront lots and attractive homes.
Return to Sumner County Main Page