earth shaking

Liberty, Tennessee

Liberty is a town in DeKalb County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 367 at the 2000 census.


Liberty is located at (36.004959, -85.972816).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 1.0 square miles (2.7 km²), all of it land.


As of the census of 2000, there were 367 people, 160 households, and 112 families residing in the town. The population density was 354.5 people per square mile (136.2/km²). There were 181 housing units at an average density of 174.8/sq mi (67.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.28% White, 1.36% African American, 0.54% Asian, 0.54% from other races, and 0.27% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.82% of the population.

There were 160 households out of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.1% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.4% were non-families. 27.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.70.

In the town the population was spread out with 22.1% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from 25 to 44, 31.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 102.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.6 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $36,806, and the median income for a family was $42,031. Males had a median income of $27,750 versus $19,125 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,856. About 17.8% of families and 25.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 52.1% of those under age 18 and 20.0% of those age 65 or over.

Allen Bluff Mule

The "Allen Bluff Mule," is a painting of a mule on a limestone bluff on U.S. Highway 70 in Liberty. The mule has been around so long, many residents are unsure of the origin of the mule. Some say a local man named Lavader Woodard painted the mule. Other residents contend that it was painted as an advertisement of a local stock farm.

In 2003 Liberty residents became upset that an expansion of U.S. Highway 70 to a four lane road could threaten the mule painting. The residents started a letter writing campaign to the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Supporters of the mule also placed signs along the roadway stating "Save the Mule." Ultimately the road expansion was far enough away from the mule, that it was never in any danger.

The article "Historian Unravels Liberty Mule Mystery", written by Thomas G. Webb in the November 11, 2006 issue of The Smithville Review, seems to point to Dr. Wayne T. Robinson as the original painter. The Smithville Review's November '06 article points back to an article written by Dr. Robinson in the March 7, 1957 issue of the same paper. Link to November 11, 2006 article transcript:

In this March 1957 article, Dr. Robinson comments,

"In early October 1906, I climbed up the face of the Allen Bluff to a ledge and with some coal tar made a flat picture of a character from a famous comic strip of that day. Everybody remembers Maud, the mule. That was 51 years ago, and even though it has been exposed to the elements and to nearby earth-shaking explosions, erosion has dimmed it very little. On the same bluff is the name of Will T. Hale, which was inscribed about 85 years ago.”

This article seems to verify that Dr. Robinson painted the original mule in 1906 as a 21-year old college student inspired by Maud the Mule, from Frederick Burr Opper's comic strip "And Her Name Was Maud!"

External links


Smith, Scheri, "Future of mule painting is set in Liberty Stone," The Tennessean, July 27, 2002, pg 10B.

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