Saturday, October 13, 2012

Haysborough and Spring Hill

by Debie Cox
Judge Jo. C. Guild of Sumner County mentioned Haysborough in his memoirs, published in 1878. Speaking of the pioneering days of the Nashville area, Guild wrote, "Haysboro was then the rival of Nashville, but while the latter has grown to a large city, the former is numbered with the renowned places of past ages."

Historian A. W. Putnam, mistakenly named Haysborough as the site of Fort Union. A recent discovery of local historian Paul Clements proves that Fort Union (mentioned in the Cumberland Compact) was located some distance from Haysborough in a nearby county. Putnam's confusion may have come from stories of another fort known as Irish Station. In Madison Station, author Guy Bockmon quoted from Lyman Draper Manuscripts,

About the year 1782, a party (perhaps some twenty families) of Washington County emigrants settled "the Irish Station" near the present Haysboro on the northern bank of the Cumberland, some 7 or 8 miles above Nashville. The people from Washington County, VA were mostly descended from Irish parentage & Presbyterians - they brought their parson with them, the Rev. Ths Craighead...
Perhaps Irish Station occupied buildings described in the sale of the property, from William Cocke to Colonel Robert Hays, as "Spencer's improvement." The 640 acre tract, a preemptors grant to William Cocke, was located about 6 miles to the north east of Nashville on a north bank of Cumberland River. Hays, a Revolutionary hero, came to Tennessee from North Carolina about 1784. Andrew Jackson was a frequent visitor of the Hays family and it is possible that the 1794 marriage of Andrew Jackson and Rachel Donelson Robards (sister of Hays' wife Jane) took place at the Hays home. Robert Hays, along with John Overton, accompanied Jackson to the courthouse in Nashville, where he obtained a license to marry Rachel.

In 1794 Hays sold a section of the land to Thomas Hudson and George McWhirter who divided the property into 72 one-half acre lots with the intent to establish a town, called Haysborough in honor of Robert Hays. In October of 1799 the Tennessee legislature granted a charter for Haysborough. Early lot owners were John Hope, George Perry, Samuel McSpaddin and physician Cornelius Baldwin. Gen. Thomas Overton and his brother Judge John Overton, law partner of Andrew Jackson, owned lots. John Coffee, Robert Hays and Thomas Harney opened a store in town. Kinchen Wilkinson operated a brick works in the vicinity.

The land granted to William Cocke, was bordered on the east by the Cumberland River and on the west by land granted to the heirs of Alexander Buchanan. The Buchanan grant, referred to as the Spring Hill tract because of a large spring on the land, was deeded in 1785 to Presbyterian minister Thomas B. Craighead, as an enticement to settle in Davidson County. The arrival of the group from Washington County to Irish Station may have been as early as 1782, but if so the preacher Craighead was late in following, probably arriving in 1785. Craighead is believed to be the first minister to come to the settlements and soon after arriving began preaching in a small stone church erected on his property near the road to Mansker's Station. This road, later called Gallatin Pike, followed along an old buffalo trace and was the first road established by the Davidson County Courts.

Soon after the arrival of Craighead, classes of the Davidson Academy began meeting at Craighead's church. The school was established in 1785 by an act of the North Carolina legislature. Thomas B. Craighead, Hugh Williamson, Daniel Smith, William Polk, Anthony Bledsoe, James Robertson, Lardner Clark, Ephraim McLean, and Robert Hayes, were named as trustees. Reverend Craighead served as president for many years. Davidson Academy was moved to another site in 1806, and eventually evolved into Peabody College for Teachers and Vanderbilt Medical School. Craighead continued to teach classes in his church building, calling the school Spring Hill Academy.

Craighead lived near the church building, across the road to the southwest, toward Nashville. His first house was constructed of logs about 1785. The house and property was later sold to Anthony Johnson, who enlarged the structure and covered it with clapboard. Johnson sold the house in 1854 and the property came to be known as Evergreen Place. The old home was demolished in September 2005 for commercial development.

Around 1795 Craighead constructed a brick home north of the first house. Craighead lived here until his death. The house became the property of the Walton family in 1870. It was Mrs. Walton, a great-niece of Rachel Donelson Jackson and Jane Donelson Hays, who named this property Glen Echo. Glen Echo was torn down to make way for Briley Parkway.

Reverend Craighead in 1813 gave, by recorded deed, the meeting house and some adjoining land to the people of the neighborhood for, "a meeting house for public worship and a school house and a burying ground..." Craighead reserved the right to remain as headmaster of the school. Craighead died in 1824 and is buried at Spring Hill Cemetery.

Cheek Lake, a small private lake on property between Spring Hill Cemetery and the river, today covers an area that was near the center of old Haysborough.

Haysboro Avenue runs east from Gallatin Pike several blocks back to Brush Hill Road. This residential street and a historical marker at Spring Hill cemetery are visible reminders of the old town and of Craighead and his church. It is hoped that an agreement between the Metro Historical Commission and present property owners of Evergreen Place will result in a small park near the old home. This could be a place where log structures on the property can be relocated near the historic spring house.

Published October 10, 2005
Note: The spellings Haysborough and Haysboro are both used in this article. The spelling of the original settlement as found in early records was Haysborough. The street that carries the name in Inglewood today is spelled Haysboro.

For sources and further information please consult the book, Madison Station written by historian Guy Alan Bockmon. Dr. Bockmon devoted several chapters to Haysborough and the surrounding neighborhood, and included maps and photographs. The writer of this article spent several years researching the history of the Haysborough neighborhood. The results, in raw, unedited form, including transcriptions and copies of original records and documents from many sources were turned over to Dr. Bockmon. He took the time to organize and study the research material, conducted further research and put the history of Haysborough and Spring Hill on paper. You will find Madison Station at local book stores and libraries. Check Dr. Bockmon's web site for additional information:
Madison Station
by Guy Alan Bockmon, 1997

Content on this page was transcribed and published by Debie Cox.
Copyright © 2006, Debie Cox.

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