Timothy Demonbreun, a French-Canadian fur trader, first traveled to the springs near the Cumberland River at what would be known as the French Lick around 1769. Demonbreun made frequent trips to the early Nashville settlement to engage in fur trade with Native Americans. He managed two careers and two families. Though he fulfilled his duties as lieutenant commandant of the Illinois County and maintained a family in Kaskaskia, Illinois, he also developed a thriving mercantile and fur trading business with seventeen employees in the Nashville area and spent time with his Native American wife and family there. Demonbreun joined the George Rogers Clark expedition and received an appointment as lieutenant governor in command of the Northwest Territory.
In 1786 he resigned from military service and four years later moved to Nashville. By 1800 his mercantile business on Nashville's Public Square advertised such items as window glass, paper, cured deer hides, and buffalo tongues. Demonbreun built his final home on Third Avenue and Broadway.
Demonbreun had five children by his first wife in Illinois and three by his second common law wife in Nashville. When he died in 1826, Demonbreun divided his substantial fortune among his children. No record of the burial site of Nashville's “First Citizen” survived. In 1996 a monument sculpted by Alan LeQuire to honor Demonbreun was erected near Fort Nashborough overlooking the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville.