MM Mauney’s Ill-fated “Boomtown”

    While others focused narrowly on diamond hunting, one of the major characters of this early era displayed unusual ingenuity.  Millard M. (MM) Mauney had held onto land originally owned by forebears who settled Pike County.  His holdings ran from the south edge of Murfreesboro out to the big diamond pipe, and included six acres of the pipe, itself.  Also a skillful businessman and community leader, he served as Pike County Recorder and Circuit Clerk–hardly the sort of person who would be content merely scratching diamonds from a small piece of property.  Among his ideas was the Kimberlite Township and Land Company, a venture featuring a new settlement between Murfreesboro and the Mauney Mine.[1]

    On the weekend of January 22-23, 1909, MM Mauney and associates staged the opening ceremony for the new Kimberly Township.  Bands from nearby Nashville and Delight provided music as potential buyers of business and residential lots munched on free barbecue.  Helping publicize the venture, “Diamond John” Huddleston purchased Lot Number l for a token $70, and then without publicity paid $500 for another lot.  Sales for the two days reportedly totaled $2,000.[2] 

    In 1909-1910, Kimberly gained a few wood-frame businesses, including a small Diamond State Bank, a compact three-story hotel, and a little general store.[3]  In January, 1909, the Mauneys sold the entire Block 4 to John C. Peay, who acted as trustee for himself, C. F. Bemis, and Austin and Howard Millar.  For a bargain price of $1,000, the contract stipulated the group had to spend $10,000 on buildings within a year—especially a club “for the entertainment and accommodation of those interested in the diamond lands, and prospectors who may visit that section.”[4]  Then the project stagnated when the diamond rush collapsed.  As buildings decayed or were salvaged, the land reverted to cow pasture.  The Diamond State Bank continued in Murfreesboro.[5]

    Eventually, MM Mauney’s descendants recovered most of the lots that had been sold.[6]  Today the township is largely open pasture at the south edge of Murfreesboro, by Prairie Creek.  The “Kimberley” Cemetery has been preserved and the original Mauney house, standing beside Prairie Creek, has been restored.   During the heyday of diamond exploration, the little house served as both the home of Mauney’s son Walter and the gathering place for visitors going to the Mauney Mine.  It was built around a log cabin dating back at least to the early 1830s, when Mauney’s forebears settled the area.[7]



[1] Mauney Records and extended conversations with both Alton Terrell and his son, “Al,” after the summer of 1985 (notes in author’s files). 

    For the platt of Kimberly Township, see Box 2.IV, File 23-24, William Champ Rodgers Collection, AHC (manuscripts Guide, Book 27).

    Mauney and others filed for incorporation on January 3, 1910 (Pike, County Court Record, C, 597-598).  Incorporation required that at least twenty qualified voters lived within the proposed township; twenty-five signed the petition filed January 3, 1910, including Mauney and sons.  The Town of Kimberly was incorporated February 5, 1910.

    Intentionally or erroneously, the incorporators spelled the name Kimberly.  Many documents, including deeds and news reports, used the South African Kimberley.


Bibliographic Comment.  The Mauney Records were preserved by MM Mauney’s granddaughter, Alice Pauline, daughter of Henry Mauney.  Her husband, Alton R. Terrell of Murfreesboro, has safeguarded the collection since her death.  Terrell’s son, “Al,” also looks after the family’s interests.


[2] “Kimberley Opening,” Nashville News, January 27, 1909, p. 4; Pike County Deeds, R, 44, Warranty Deed, MM and Bettie Mauney to John W. Huddleston, January 22, 1909 (Lot 1, Block 13); R, 45, WD (Lot 21, Block 28). 


[3] The Mauney Records contains several photographs of the venture, as well as other documents.  Several photos are also in the “Old Photo Contest” box, Crater archives (the first three in the file include the “Old Kimberley Store” and “Kimberley Cheap Cash Store”; no. 8, Diamond State Bank).  Also, Pike, Articles of Incorporation 1, 181, Diamond State Bank, filed October 30, 1909.

    For the pace of sales after the grand opening, see Deeds, R, 46-48, 71, 187, 238, 303.  R, 303, was the Mauneys’ deed to Diamond State Bank, Inc., November 15, 1909 (Lot 13, Block 27, for $250).  There were several more sales in 1909, and then the pace slackened into 1913-1914 (including re-sales).


[4] Deeds, R, 56, Warranty Deed, Mauneys to John C. Peay, as Trustee for himself, C. F. Bemis, H. A. Millar, and A. Q. Millar, January 28, 1909; “$10,000 Club House–Is to be Erected at Kimberley Town,” Nashville News, February 3, 1909, p. 4. 


[5] The collapse of Mauney’s project became evident by early 1910.  In February, John Peay’s group abandoned its plans and returned Block 4 (R, 465, WD, Peay, Trustee, to M. M. Mauney, February 5, 1910).  For the most interesting case study in the rise and fall of Kimberley Township, see the deeds relating to the Kimberley Hotel:  S, 433, WD (Mauneys to O. G. Gardner, Trustee, November 20, 1909; for Lots 7-9, Block 27, for $100 and “other considerations,”  with the stipulation that a frame hotel with at least fifteen rooms had to be completed within ninety days [a three-story unit was built, although apparently past the initial deadline]);   R, 471 (Gardner, transfer of the property to Diamond Lumber Co., February 23, 1910);   Mortgages, 3, 477, Deed of Trust, (Gardner, signing both as an individual and as President of Diamond Lumber Co., to M. M. Mauney, Trustee for Diamond State Bank of Kimberly [sic], March 5, 1910; as collateral for a $1,288 loan [deed was replaced April 25, 1910, with a new Deed of Trust mortgage]);   Deeds, S, 623, WD (Diamond Lumber Co. to E. S. Warfield, Trustee, May 21, 1910; full title to property for an indicated $1);   deed, Trustee to Edward P. Weilms (sometimes, “Wielms”) and Mary A. Weilms—deed never filed;   Mortgages 4, 15, Mortgage Deed (Edward and Mary Weilms to Diamond Lumber Co., August 1, 1910; as collateral for a promissory note for $2,000, due in one year at 6% interest);   T, 136, Quit Claim Deed (Trustee to Edward P. Weilms, August 15, 1910; property for $1);  Deeds, Q, 77 (replacement of lost deed of Wielms and wife, August 23, 1911);   U, 306, WD (Fred Linderman and wife of St. Louis to Louis T. Washington of St. Louis, August 29, 1911; for $5,000);   U, 401, WD (Washington to R. L. Cale, “a widow of the county of St. Louis, Mo., September 1, 1911; $5,000 for the hotel lots and all improvements, including the Kimberley Hotel, “subject to a balance of $1,400 of a $2,000 Deed of Trust or Mortgage now of record against the above described property bearing interest at 6% annum”).

    Debts and law suits eventually decided the disposition of the hotel property:  Liens, Book 1, 7 (On March 15, 1910, the Nashville Lumber Co. sued Gardner to enforce a lien on the property [$256.93 for material used in building the three-story frame hotel]; a circuit-court jury awarded NLC that amount September 30, 1911; at sheriff’s auction on January 27, 1912, J. C. McNeill bought the property for $300);   Chancery, B, 213 (Chancery Court decree against Diamond Lumber Co., in favor of Diamond State Bank, November 14, 1910 [$845 balance of mortgage loan on hotel lots]; commissioner appointed to sell lots for judgment; apparently a settlement then occurred).  Also, Prescott Hardware Co., March 19, 1909 (lien suit against Gardner for material used in hotel; lien satisfied in full, June 21, 1911])


[6] By 1920, some original cash buyers began losing their lots in State tax sales.  Out-of-town owners tended to forgot to pay taxes.  A few local men specialized in collecting, and reselling, such properties.


[7] Mauney Records; conversations with Terrells.  Photos in the Mauney Records and the Crater archive (unnumbered folders) clarify the use of the house in managing visitor traffic to the northeast slope.  Generally, the house served as an office for the Mauney Mine.


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