Hey everyone. Today’s history lesson, we’re going to talk about local artist, Jessee C. Beasley. Jessee Beasley is the namesake of the Beasley animal foundation which many of you may be familiar with here in Rutherford County. Jessee was born in Murfreesboro, grew up on main street, had a very influential family here in the community, but Jessee’s passions lay elsewhere. He went off to college in Virginia and later graduated from Princeton. He served in the US Army in World War II, and became a historian for the Army Corps, relating the stories and things that he witnessed there in France and other parts of Europe. Beasley became well-known for his artwork. If you’ve ever visited the main library branch downtown at Civic Plaza, you will notice the bronze statues right outside the front door. Those are part of Beasley’s artwork.
Beasley is most well-known for his sculpture Children at Play. It’s also displayed at the Smithsonian. There were nine of those bronze sculptures created, and you can find them in private collections in museums around the world. He has several other bronze sculptures that you can find in various collections, but that Children at Play is what gave him his notoriety. You can also thank Mr. Beasley for the creation of the Daily News Journal. His father bought the Old Home Journal and made his son, Jr., the editor in chief. He later merged with another local paper and became the Daily News Journal. Not only can we thank him for the beautiful sculptures outside of the library, but we can also thank him for the daily news that we receive in our driveways or on our phones almost every day.
You can also thank Mr. Beasley for several funny incidents throughout time. He is well-known for having paid a sorority to paint his house at 512 East College. This caught the attention of several people around town and was even featured in the Daily News Journal at the time. You can go to newspapers.com and find that clip if you would like to see it. He was also well-known for having a diamond necklace for his Welsh Corgi, Tinkerbell. He carried Tinkerbell with him everywhere and upon the dog’s death in the seventies, it is storied that Mr. Beasley buried his dog in the backyard of the property at 512 East College with a, at the time, valued $10,000 diamond necklace. I can tell you, I’ve known two of the residents of that property. Nobody’s ever found a diamond necklace in the backyard, so please don’t go dig it up. He also had a Rolls Royce, very uncommon for Murfreesboro at that time, but that’s what he delivered his artwork in to his patrons that ordered it. Very interesting story there to have a Rolls Royce that you delivered your artwork in and drive your Corgi around town.
Jessee C. Beasley’s our topic today. You can learn more about him in several places. You can look at the Beasley Animal Foundation website, where they have biography there. There’s some also at the archives at MTSU, but there’s a famous Rutherford countian for you. A great story, little bit of legend, eccentric artists, but somebody notable around town and worth knowing his background and history to give you a little bit of perspective on things we see today that are touched by him. I hope you have a great day. Thanks, bye.