Filling stations locally date back to the 1900s when a personal transportation revolution began in Wilson County.
The county was slowly changing from a horse-and-buggy society to that of motor-driven vehicles. Henry Ford and his moving assembly line made the Model T Ford more affordable to the average middle-class society members.
The first automobile dealership opened in Lebanon. Graham and Seale, agents for Model T Fords, was the dealer. With the dawn of the motor car, came the consumer demand for gasoline, oil and vehicle maintenance.
In 1918, Bill Clay started delivering gasoline and kerosene with Clyde Palmer as his helper in a Jimbo truck. In 1920, he opened the first filling station for Diamond Oil Co. at the intersection of Market and Cumberland Street.
In 1927, when the Diamond Oil Co. went bankrupt, the station began to sell Sinclair gasoline. In 1937, he sold the business to Pure Oil Co. but bought it back in 1939. He operated both wholesale and retail business before relinquishing the retail business to Joe Thackston, one of his truck drivers.
Clay also built the first local car wash, Modern Car Laundry. Eddie Clay’s nieces and the Middle Tennessee Region Antique Automobile Club of America donated the station. The replicated station was built in 2002 in the Fiddlers Grove Historical Village.
Fiddlers Grove Historical Village is on the grounds of the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon. It is the mission of Fiddlers Grove to preserve the history of the citizens of Wilson County by preserving buildings, artifacts and oral and written histories. The village reaches out to the public through preservation, interpretation, exhibitions, education, publications and hands-on experiences to increase a better understanding of the history of Wilson County and its way of life.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for the village were held on April 17, 1991.
Dr. G. Frank Burns, a local popular historian, educator and publisher, named Fiddlers Grove. The name was chosen for one of the first settlers, Edward (Neddy) Jacobs, a legendary fiddler who often played his fiddle at his cabin at the Town Spring.
To become a part of this historical journey and help keep the history alive in Fiddlers Grove, have a story relating to one of the buildings or for more information, contact Vickie Eads at the Fiddlers Grove office at 615-443-2626. The office is at the Agricultural Center in Lebanon. Self-guided tours are available Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.