Monday, February 21, 2011

Jonathan Jennings

Some years back I submitted a transcription of the will of Jonathan Jennings to Mike Slate and Kathy Lauder, to be published in their Nashville Historical Newsletter. I wrote a brief bit, to explain who Jennings was and a little of the story of his family. I am going to borrow from that story on the Nashville Historical Newsletter and tell the story of finding the will.

I will never forget the day, in the winter of 2001, when I came across the last will and testament of Jonathan Jennings. Linda Center and I, employees of Metro Nashville Archives at the time, were placing loose records into boxes for transport, to a new facility in Green Hills. The archives had been located in the old Mt. Zeno school building, on Elm Hill Pike, since the mid 1980's. A need for more space resulted in moving the public operations to the former Green Hills Library. A new library had been built in that community and the old building was empty. Moving is always a challenge and moving hundreds of volumes of old record books, thousands of negatives and photographs, and hundreds of boxes of loose records was quite a job. The Archives for Nashville and Davidson County was a part of the public library. The archivist, Ken Fieth, was given a timeline, by the library administration, for moving. The archives was closed for several weeks, so that we could get the job done. Ken contracted with the sheriff's department to send crews out with dump trucks to move the bulk of the records and books. Linda, Ken and I couldn't bear to see some of the more precious records thrown into the back of a dump truck, so we moved the loose papers in our cars. We would load up at Elm Hill, head to Green Hills, unload, repeating the process, many times over a span of a few weeks. I remember particularly transporting the loose marriage records, from the oldest, issued December 13, 1788, to the 1940's marriage licenses, held by the archives at that time. Between the three of us, we moved every one, of the thousands of loose papers, marriage licenses, wills, court records, title search files, negatives, photographs and small collections that had been donated by individuals, all very fragile and each one important in telling the story of the history of Nashville.

In the middle of all this packing and moving, I found a stack of old papers on a table in the processing room at Elm Hill Pike. As I went through them, I realized they were original wills of old citizens who had died in Davidson County before 1800. The loose wills were filed alphabetically in archival boxes for dates ranging from 1784, through 1925. At some point these oldest wills had been pulled. We never figured out why, or by whom, but this led to the discovery of the oldest document owned by Metro Nashville Government. I began to make folders for the wills in order to file them back into the boxes. Near the top of the stack was a paper that was very old. I read the first sentence,

In the name of God Amen I Jonathan Jennings of North Carolina on Cumberland River having this day Received several wounds from the Indians and calling to mind the mortality of my Body do make and Ordain this to be my last will & Testament
The words made the hair on my neck rise. I knew the name, Jonathan Jennings, and remembered that he was one of the pioneers that came by boat from Watauga, with John Donelson, in 1780. The destination was the Cumberland country, in what is now Middle Tennessee. Another group, led by James Robertson, was coming overland. They planned to begin a new settlement, near the place called French Lick. There is no better place to be when you make an exciting historic discovery, than in an archives. I ran to the shelf where the local history books were kept and pulled out a thin volume, titled Three pioneer Tennessee documents: Donelson's Journal. Cumberland compact. Minutes of Cumberland Court. Inside this little book is a transcription of the Journal of John Donelson. I thumbed through until I found Jennings mentioned, on March 8, 1780,

Wednesday 8th …Indians, to our astonishment, appeared immediately over us on the opposite cliffs, and commenced firing down upon us, which occasioned a precipitate retreat to the boats. We immediately moved off, the Indians lining the bluffs along continued their fire from the heights on our boats below, without doing any other injury than wounding four slightly. Jenning’s boat is missing.

We have now passed through the Whirl. The river widens with a placid & gentle current. And all of the Company appears to be in safety except the family of Jonathan Jennings, whose boat ran on a large rock projecting out from the northern shore and partly immersed in water immediately at the Whirl, where we are compelled to leave them perhaps to be slaughtered by there merciless enemies.

Friday 10th This morning about four o'clock, we were surprised by the cries of “help poor Jennings” at some distance in the rear. He had discovered us by our fires, and came up in the most wretched condition.
And the hair on the back of my neck rose a little higher. I continued to pull books and search for mention of Jennings. Several of the books reported the perils of the Jennings family. As the flotilla was fired on by Indians who were along the shore, Jennings boat became stuck on a rock, protruding out into the swift current. All of the boats were carried away, leaving the Jennings boat behind. Jennings son, Jonathan Jennings, Jr., and a young male passenger, a male slave and a female slave, along with Jennings wife, began to throw items from the boat to lighten the load. Indians along the shore began to shoot at those on the boat. Jennings returned fire, and his son, the passenger, and the male slave, and Mrs. Jennings went into the water, in an attempt to loosen the boat from the rocks. It worked, but Mrs. Jennings was nearly lost when the boat started to move. The men in the water started swimming to shore as the boat was pulled away by the current. The slave went under, but Jennings Jr., and the passenger made it to shore, took a canoe the Indians had left there and went down the river. This account from Edward Albright's, Early History of Middle Tennessee, tells the story of what happened to the men,

The two young men who deserted the boat were met on their way down the river by five canoes full of Indians. By the latter they were taken prisoners and carried back to one of the Chickamauga towns. There young Jennings was knocked down by the savages who were about to take his life, when a friendly trader by the name of Rogers came up and ransomed him with goods and trinkets. He was afterwards restored to his relatives at the French Lick settlement. The other captive was killed and his body burned.
Jonathan Jennings daughter, Elizabeth, was aboard the boat. Her husband, Ephraim Peyton, had taken the overland route to the Cumberland Settlements, with James Robertson. Elizabeth had given birth the day before the attack. In the confusion during the attack her baby was killed. There are reports that say the baby was accidently thrown overboard with the family's belonging and was found to be missing after the boat had escaped down the river.

The Jennings boat arrived with the flotilla, at the Bluff Station, on April 24, 1780. On May 1st the Cumberland Compact was signed by the pioneers and Jennings was among the signers. Sometime between his arrival at the bluffs in late April and midsummer, Jonathan Jennings, Jr., was brought to the settlement by the trader Rogers who had saved him. He had been scalped, but was alive and recovered. Jennings Jr., later married and was the father of a number of children.
One of the last books consulted was that day, was The Annals of Tennessee, by J. G. M. Ramsey. Ramsey writes of Jennings death,

Soon afterwards, in July or August [1780], a party of Indians, believed to be Delawares, killed Jonathan Jennings, at the point of the first island above Nashville.
Jennings last will and testament was not dated. The will appears to be written by the hand of Zachariah White. The document was witnessed by James Robertson, William Fletcher and Zachariah White. In July of 1784, the will was presented to the court of Davidson County and proven on the oaths of James Robertson and William Fletcher. The signatures of Jennings, Robertson and White, can be found and compared, with their signatures on the Cumberland Compact, signed in May of 1780. It was not the first will probated in the county court. That honor falls to James Leeper, who was killed in the Battle of the Bluffs in April of 1781, eight months after the death of Jennings. The court was not established in Davidson County for several years after Jennings death. The folds in the paper, on which the will was written, are evidence of it having been carried for some time, perhaps in a leather wallet belonging to James Robertson. It has been speculated that the stains across the paper, may be blood from Jennings wound.

Time seemed to stop as I read the will and looked for information about the Jennings family. Holding the paper in my hand, written more than 220 years before, looking at the tattered edges and the stains, thinking about the tragedy of the family, for a moment transported me, to another place, to another time. I have often said that by the time I had finished reading, I felt as though I had an electric charge running through me and that my hair must have been standing on end. The will of Jennings was not unknown, and was easily accessed by anyone at the archives. Had it been the first will recorded, by the Davidson County Clerk, it might have been examined more closely, at an earlier time. The story of the Jennings family, and their troubles, has been told in numerous accounts by many historians and was already known by those who studied the history of the area. On that day, having the will of Jennings at hand, and realizing how early it had been written, brought new significance to the paper. Pulling together the accounts of the family as they journeyed to Nashville, the scalping and survival of Jennings, Jr., the loss of the grandchild during the attack on the boat, and Jennings death, all occurring within a few months, told an amazing story. What had been just another historical paper, filed with many others, at the archives, is now known to be, the oldest document owned by Metro Nashville Government. The Cumberland Compact, older by a few months, belongs to the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

            In the name of God Amen I Jonathan Jennings of
            North Carolina on Cumberland River having this day
            Received several wounds from the Indians and calling
            to mind the mortality of my Body do make and Or-
            dain this to be my last will & Testament        And first
            of all I give and recommend my soul to God that
            gave it and my body to be disposed of at the
            Discretion of my executors  And as touching my
            Worldly affairs I dispose of them in manner fol-
            lowing Viz

Item     I give and bequeath to my It is my Desire that
            my Estate be Equally divided between my Wife my
            sons William, Edmond, Elizabeth Haranor Mary
            Aggy Anne & Susannah all but such a part as shall be
            hereafter disposed of
Item     I give and bequeath to my son Jonathan who was Scalped
            by Indians and rendered incapable of getting his living
            a Negrow girl Milla & her increase who is to remain with my beloved
            wife till my son comes of age
            Also a Choice Rifle Gun & a Horse and Saddle    Item I
            give my beloved wife Four Choice Cows and Caves
            The Wards Milla and her increase and the Ward Jonathan
            being interlined      I devise that my Loveing Wife and my
            son Edmond be Executrix  & Exectutor of this my last Will & Testament
            Signed Sealed & Published in Presents
            of                                                                                 Jonathan Jenings
            Zach White
            Js. Robertson
            William Fletcher

The will of Jonathan Jennings, Metro Nashville Archives

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Roxy Theater, Northeast Nashville

by Debie Cox

Major Ernest Hutton, a Nashville pharmacist, opened Red Cross Drugs in 1914, at the corner of Wilburn and Meridian Streets.  The drug store was described in a pharmaceutical publication as "one of the most beautiful stores in the city" with a soda fountain, a tile floor and double show windows.  

Tennessean, September 13, 1914, courtesy Paul Clements

The drug store was at 301 Wilburn St. and housed in the building was a barber shop at 303 Wilburn St. and other shops at 305 and 307 Wilburn   By the 1930's 301 Wilburn was occupied by Caplan's Dry Goods Store.  In the 1940's the store became Morris Dry Goods and about 1950 the store became Dixie Five and Dime.  
In 1936 Crescent Amusement, owned by Nashville businessman Tony Sudekum, purchased the drug store property.  Crescent Amusement also bought the adjoining lot, to the north, fronting on Meridian Street.  The drug store had originally opened onto Wilburn Street.  Crescent Amusement proposed opening the building to Meridian Street and changing the address from 301 Wilburn to 827 Meridian St.  A request was made to add a small addition on the north side of the building front.  A barber shop located at 303 Wilburn would be moved to the addition on Meridian.   Plans called for altering the existing building along Wilburn to the alley to be used as a movie theater, by installing a balcony, and a heating and air conditioning system.   

Roxy Theater - Image credit John Utley

The plans were controversial and neighbors appeared at a zoning hearing to protest the theater on Wilburn and an additional store front on Meridian St.  A property owner on the street said at the hearing that a movie theater should not be located in a residential neighborhood and he feared a negative effect on his property value.  After several set backs and appeals the plans were finally approved and by the end of 1937 the Roxy Theater was in business.   The theater marquee was above the Wilburn Street entrance that opened into a small lobby.   

Roxy Theater - Image Credit "North Edgefield Remembered"

Orville Oeser, resident of the neighborhood, went to work as an usher at the Roxy about 1952.  In 1954 Dixie Five and Dime moved to a building on the opposite corner.  The theater building was once again altered.  The Wilburn Street entrance was closed and the old Roxy sign was taken down.  A new lobby was opened into the old store front at the corner of the building that fronted on Meridian St.  The entrance  was redesigned and a new Roxy marquee was placed at the Meridian St. entrance.  

Roxy Theater  - Image Credit, Glenn School Collection, Martha Petty

The new lobby was much larger and had a long case in the middle with candy all around the sides, a popcorn machine on each end and a soft drink dispenser.   The beautiful terrazzo tile floor that had served the drug store for many years now graced the theater lobby.  Northeast Nashville residents have many happy memories of the old Roxy Theater.  It was within walking distance of neighborhood children and a Saturday matinee was a must for those growing up in the 1950's.  Teens took over in the afternoon and couples filled the theater at night.

In May of 1959 Crescent Amusement sold the property to the Nashville Revival Center and the Nashville Revival Center is listed in the Nashville City Directory for the first time in that year. Church services were held in the theater auditorium.  The part of the building that housed the variety store became a self service coin laundry, the Roxy Speedwash, by 1960.  A barber shop continued to occupy the 1937 addition on the north front of the building.  For many years Mr. Roark was the barber.  By the late 1970’s the church was gone and the old theater was being used for storage. 

In 1979 Nashville record producer Aubrey Mayhew purchased the building and an adjoining vacant parcel of land.  Mayhew intended to open a recording studio in the old building.  In 1986 the Roxy Production Center was a reality, with several studios and 16 employees.  Mr. Mayhew had big dreams for the old Roxy.  He planned to construct a Hollywood style soundstage on the adjacent vacant land, with hopes of luring movie production to Nashville.  Although the recording studio did operate for some years, most of Mr. Mayhew’s dreams were never realized.  Mr. Mayhew died in the spring of 2009 and his will instructed that the property be sold.

Robert Solomon had been looking for a place to revive the Woodland Sound Studios for several years when he learned that the Roxy property was for sale in 2009.   Country and Rock stars such as Johnny Cash, The Oak Ridge Boys, Barbara Mandrell, Kansas, Neil Young and Jimmy Buffet recorded albums there.   Solomon owned this business, housed in the old Woodland Street Theater, and it was badly damaged in the 1998 tornado.  Solomon purchased the 8,400 square foot Roxy Theater building in December of 2009.  In addition to housing Solomon's recording studio, the old Roxy will be used as a movie theater, but will focus on live theatrical and musical performances. 
Creative Commons License
Roxy Theater, Northeast Nashville by Debie Oeser Cox is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Litton School Zone - Inglewood/East Nashville

by Betty Hadley
[Published with permission of the author]

This paper is dedicated to my mother, Lois Meguiar Hadley without whose help, autobiography
and scrapbooks this paper would have been impossible to write.

Hadley home on Gallatin Pike across from Isaac Litton High School

           Litton Junior High School is, more than any school in Davidson County, located where schools and education had their beginnings in the Nashville area. For only about one half mile north of the Litton campus was the site of the first school -- Davidson Academy. 

           Rev. Thomas Craighead, a noted Presbyterian preacher, came to this area in 1785. He had graduated from Princeton University ten years earlier. Craighead acquired over one thousand acres of land and named his farm "Spring Hill" for the everlasting spring on the farm. It was on this farm that he built a small brick building which was used both as a church and school. The church was the first of any denomination to be organized west of the Alleghenies. The academy, named Davidson Academy, was located near the present boundary of Spring Hill Cemetery, which was originally part of Craighead's farm. 

           Davidson Academy in time was moved to Nashville, where it became the University of Nashville. Still later the site of the campus and the name again changed. It then became known as George Peabody College for Teachers, which recently became part of Vanderbilt University. 

           Rev. Craighead's farmland was extensive -- going from the present Walton Lane to Maplewood Lane on the west side of Gallatin Road, known at that time as the Lexington - Nashville Trail and from some point in the present Spring Hill Cemetery to where Maplewood Lane intersects Gallatin Road on the east side.

Glen Echo built 1795 Home of Thomas Craighead

           Thomas Craighead's home, "Glen Echo," was built in 1795 and it stood between the present K-Mart parking lot and Briley Parkway. The house was built on an Indian mound of gray handmade bricks. The never failing spring was at the foot of the hill from the house. Madison Stratton, for whom some people say the community of Madison was named, bought the farm about 1841 and set out most of the trees in the yard. In 1871 the farm was sold to Captain William Walton and his wife Emily Donelson, a descendant of John Donelson, one of the founders of Nashville. The home remained in the Walton family until the 1960's when it was sold for business and the house was razed. 

           Rev. Thomas Craighead is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery. 

           Earlier Craighead gave his son, young Thomas, part of his farmland. The son built his home between the present Malquin Drive and Broadmoor Drive. Young Craighead's farm of one hundred acres was sold to Alexander Franklin Meguiar in 1903. This farm went from Maplewood Lane on the west side of Gallatin Road to the present Solley Drive and the same distance east of the pike. About 1915, Mr. Meguiar sold the 43 acres east of Gallatin Road, part to Mr. J. R. Kerr, a Texan, and part to Mr. A. E. Spotswood. In 1929 Mr. Spotswood sold 11.1 acres of his acreage to the Davidson County Board of Education for $10,000, the land to be used for the erection of a high school. 

           Isaac Litton Senior High was built in 1930, with the formal opening on October 15th of that year. The cost of the school was $75,000; with W. R. Smith and Son general contractor, Gowan Hailey the plumbing contractor and George Waller the architect. The school opened with 265 students and a faculty of eight. They were Mr. James Brandon, principal; Flora Glover, science; Elmer (Molly) Malone, science and English; Mary Catherine Clark, civics and history; Mary Virginia King (later Mrs. Harvey Gee) English; Otto Prater, mathematics; and Charlotte Caldwell, languages.

Isaac Litton Senior High School

           Litton was named for Isaac Litton, grandfather of Judge Litton Hickman, who was county judge at the time Litton was constructed. 

           Isaac Litton was born in Dublin, Ireland and came to this country with his family as a lad of six years. As an adult, he was fond of young people and kept open house for them at all times. He stood high in the confidence of the people and was named executor without bond for the large estate of Samuel Watkins, founder of Watkins Institute. In his will, Litton stated that he wished for all his descendants to have a liberal education. It was these two things, Isaac Litton1s love of young people and his desire for all students to have a good education that influenced Judge Hickman to so name the school. 

           Litton's home was on the Gallatin Road and will be described later in tills paper. Isaac Litton died in 1894 and is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery. 

           From an article that appeared in a Nashville newspaper soon after Litton Sr. High opened, it is apparent that the P. T. A. at Litton was a strong organization from the beginning. Mrs. Vernon Borum was the first president. Some of the accomplishments of that first P. T. A. were the installation of an electric bell system, providing supplies for the restrooms, laundering of all linens used by the various departments, and landscaping the campus. Stage equipment was furnished during the second year of the organization. 

           The gym at the Gallatin Road site was built in 1939 by W. P. A. workers. During construction, the entire frame of the gym fell early one morning and all construction had to begin over. 

           The classroom addition at the north end of the main building was completed, part in 1942 and part in 1948. These additions were the last additions to the senior high building. 

           In 1954, a new junior high building was erected on the easterly end of the senior high property. George Waller was the architect for the $554,000 fire proof building. It was built for an estimated 850 students. 

           The field house and band room combination was built at the southern end of the football field. It was named the Kenneth Duke Field House, for the much decorated and heroic alumnus who was killed in the Korean War. During his days at Litton, Kenneth Duke was an outstanding athlete. 

           Hume Marshall Field was the name given Litton's football field. Mr. Hume Marshall, a magistrate, was an avid Litton fan -- both of sports and academic achievements. He was a bachelor, whose home was located where the new educational building of Jackson Park Church of Christ is situated. Mr. Marshall had one niece who attended Litton, Catherine Dillard (Mrs. Joe) McHenry. 

           From the time Litton was begun until the time it was converted, by a court order in 1971 to a junior high, it had an enviable record it in all areas of school life - academics, the arts, sports, and band. 

           Some of the outstanding faculty members who helped make Litton a great school were Mrs. Catherine Clark, long time dean of girls; Mr. Otto Prater, whose students excelled in mathematics and debate meets; Miss Jennie Mai McQuiddy, although tiny in statue she was a giant in the accomplishments with her students in speech and forensics; Mrs. Harvey Gee, sponsor of the school paper, "The Litton Blast," which consistently won top ratings; Sammy Swor, director of the nationally famous Marching 100+ Band; Bob Cummings, winning coach of the football team during the heyday of Litton football; Mrs. Burt Francis, science teacher whose students won many national honors; and Miss Mary Walker, who was Litton1s long time Latin teacher and National Honor Society sponsor. The list could go on and on! 

           THE SCHOOL ZONE

           Now let's take a look at the present Litton Junior High zone and learn something of its history. The zone extends from Briley Parkway south to Eastland Avenue, east to the Cumberland River, on to Shelby Park. From the park it extends up Riverside Drive to Eastland Avenue. On the west side of Gallatin Road the zone goes to the railroad and follows the railroad from Briley Parkway to Eastland Avenue. 

           Starting on the west side of Gallatin Road at Briley Parkway, the first house we will take a look at is "Evergreen Farm," one of the few old houses remaining. "Evergreen" was built in 1797, possibly by Rev. Craighead. It was bought in 1855 by Mary Narcissa Brown, whose grandparents home was "Lockeland." It was said that the key to the success of "Evergreen" was the family altar which was started by Mrs. Bradford, the former Miss Brown. The eldest son of George and Mary Bradford also named George was a rather frail boy. The doctor ordered young George to raise Jersey cattle to prevent him from having tuberculosis. This he did and he became well known for his registered cattle. Mrs. Bradford planted jonquils on the front lawn to spell "Evergreen." To this day, they can be seen blooming in the spring. The Bradfords raised and sold turkeys and madonna lilies. "Evergreen Farm" has been subdivided, but the house remained in the Bradford family until 1980. It was sold and has been completely renovated and is now the Jim Reeves Museum.
           Adjoining "Evergreen" was the 100 acre farm known as the "Daisy Farm," of young Thomas Craighead. As was stated earlier, this farm came into the possession of the Meguiar family in 1903. The house which sat in a yard filled with maple and cedar trees, was a large white frame with a big side front porch. Several years after Mr. Meguiar's death, part of the farm was sold to Mr. James Solley for a subdivision named "Broadmoor." 

           Prom the present Maplewood Lane to Ben Allen Road or there about was the 1,000 acre farm, "Maplewood." It was first owned by Josiah Williams and his wife, a daughter of William Phillips. The Williams had fourteen children, three of whom married brothers -- Orville, Andrew, and Edwin Ewing. During the Williams' occupancy, which was several decades before the Civil War, the plantation had a saw mill, grist mill, blacksmith and carpenter shop and cloth weaving. The house stood at the end of the present Curdwood Blvd. The floors of the house were made of one inch thick walnut planks.

Advertisement - Maplewood Farm

           About 1885, part of "Maplewood" farm came into the possession of Jere Baxter, a lawyer and president of the Tennessee Central Railroad. He improved the farm and made it his home for several years. Later, he decided to turn his farm into a residential subdivision. A Mr. C. H. Gillock, from Vermont, was put in charge of the subdivision and lived on the land for many years. Thus the name of Gillock Street. 

           Another thing of note that Jere Baxter did was to give a parcel of land for a public school. In 1887, Jere Baxter and his wife, Mattie M. Baxter, deeded the land where Jere Baxter School now stands to the directors of School District Eighteen. The first school was a one room school and had an enrollment of twelve students and was known as Maplewood School. In 1915, a two room brick school was built and in 1920 it was expanded to a four room school. In 1923 a third building was erected. It was destroyed by fire in 1941. The present Jere Baxter School building was erected in 1942. 

           On the day of Jere Baxter's funeral, March 1, 1904, the Nashville Retail Merchants Association and the Chamber of Commerce decided to sponsor a fund for the erection of a statue in his memory. The 3,000 pound monument of Jere Baxter was placed at the triangle of West Bad, Broadway, and 16th Avenue on May 28, 1907. It was moved several years ago to the front lawn of Jere Baxter School.

Jere Baxter

           Between Maplewood Farm and the railroad underpass was the Martin farm called "Locust Grove." It was owned by Patsy and Thomas Martin who were prominent in the early social life of Tennessee. Their house was a large two story log one. It was in this house that Sam Houston and his bride spent the second night after their wedding in Sumner County. The house, which stood about where Krech Motor Company is today, was moved in 1941 to a site on Granny White Pike by Edwin Jones who purchased the house. 

           The next farm on the west side of Gallatin Road extended from the railroad to the present Elvira Avenue. There was a log house on the farm when the Indians inhabited the area. The house, still standing behind Shoney's, was enlarged to its present size in 1848. The farm, known earlier as "Shady Side," was named "Maynor Farm" for the family who enlarged the house. The daughter of the family, Miss Maynor, married Dr. I. C. Loftin. Dr. Loftin was a country doctor who was loved and respected by the entire community. Dr. and Mrs. Loftin's son, Frank, inherited the farm and lived in the home place until his death in 1960. The farm was subdivided about 1930, but until the death of Mr. Frank Loftin and his wife the house and all the furnishings remained just as they were when Dr. Loftin had lived there.

Loftin House

           Although there may have been another house or two between "Maynor Farm" and Trinity Lane, the only one I have found mentioned was a small red brick house owned by Mr. Casper Zophi. Mr. Zophi raised a market garden on his small farm. There is a street, Zophi Street, named for this industrious little farmer. 

           The farm of Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Walton stretched along Gallatin Road from Trinity Lane to Delmas Avenue. The red brick house still stands -- though turned around and drastically changed -- the first house on the north side of Burchwood Avenue. During the time of the Walton's occupancy the farm had an old southern atmosphere with a yard filled with magnolias and boxwood. 

           Adjoining the Walton farm was the home of the Stull family. Zachariah Stull was one of the first comers to this area and he built a log house on the land he had received as a grant. Later his son, George Stull, built a stately two story red brick house a few feet from the original log house. Both houses were quite a distance from the pike in the, vicinity of Fairwin and Carolyn Avenues. One of the Stull daughters married Capt. F. A. Irwin and the farm became known as the "Irwin Place." The Irwins had two children, Maggie and Frank. Maggie married W. B. Franklin of Sumner County and they lived at the "Irwin Place" until their death.
Part of the Irwin farm was sold to Mr. George Stratton about the year 1887.

           The Franklin's only child, Martha, grew up on this lovely farm. She was known for her beautiful ponies and her ability to ride them. She is now married and lives in another section of Nashville. 

           The farm to the south of the "Irwin Place" was one of the most noted farms along the pike --Renraw (Warner spelled backwards) -- the home of Mr. and Mrs. Percy Warner, The house today is part of the Nashville Auto Diesel College and has undergone many changes since the Warners lived there. During the Warner's occupancy the grounds were filled with many trees and the lawn was beautifully kept by their gardener, a Mr. Rotier. The large, rambling, brick house exemplified life in the old days of the South. Mr. Warner was the president of the Nashville Railway and Light Company.


           It might be mentioned here that the means of public transportation in early Nashville was by streetcars. The Inglewood Line came from the Transfer Station in Nashville via Woodland Street to North 11th Street then out Gallatin Road. The end of the line was at Howard Avenue. 

           The Warner home place was later sold to Trevecca Nazarene College and for several years was used for that school. Mr. Percy Warner gave a large tract of land in the Belle Meade area for a city park. Today, one of Nashville's loveliest parks bears his name -- Percy Warner Park. 

           Standing near where Fire Hall No. 18 is today was the Talbot house. It was a charming one story white frame house that sat near the road. This house too has been torn down to make way for business. 

           I feel sure there may have been at least one more house between the Talbot and the Sudekum Place but I do not know of it. The Sudekum house was very near the south side of Granada Avenue. It was a one story frame house painted a dull yellow. 

           On the corner of West Seymour and the pike stood a large two story house where a Miss Sallie Johnston lived. Her house is still standing but it too has been changed considerably. It was first converted into a pie factory and is now Eastland Chapel Funeral Home.

Eastland Funeral Home

           The last farm in the Litton zone on the west side of Gallatin Road was the Lewis Baxter farm. His land stretched from Seymour to Eastland and from Gallatin Road to McFerrin Avenue. The house sat fairly close to the pike and had many boxwoods near the house. 

           At the southern boundary of the Litton zone on the east side of Gallatin Road at Eastland Avenue, then known as Vaughn Pike, one of the loveliest and moat elegant homes was located, "Edgewood." The house was on the site of the Edgewood Apartments on North 12th Street. The farm extended from Eastland to East Seymour, which at that time was a narrow rocky lane. 

           "Edgewood" was a sixteen room gray brick house built in 1854 by Col. Anthony Wayne Johnson on a 300 acre plantation. Col. Johnson was born in New Hampshire and came to Tennessee as a lad with his parents, Oliver and Hannah Johnson. He was a colonel, state senator, president of the Broad Street Bridge Company, and president of the Nashville Insurance Company. He was a friend of Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, and James K. Polk. 

           Col. Johnson's daughter, Mary, married Major John S. Bransford in 1866 and they lived with the colonel at "Edgewood." The house was then referred to as the Major Bransford place. 

           In the large yard of the Bransford place were many trees of all kinds. The park-like acreage has long since gone. Major and Mrs. Bransford's son, Johnson, lived at "Edgewood" until it was sold in 1914.
           The Vaughn house, a very quaint red brick house, was located on the farm north of the Bransford's. It was razed sometimes in the late 1940's. 

           About one block beyond the Vaughn place was the Merry Maney house. It still stands today, although the yard has become much smaller because of businesses crowding in on it. Today the house is owned by members of the Fort and Edwards family. 

           The next house on the eastern side of the pike was the McKinney Place It was a large, two story impressive looking house. The colonial red brick sat on a slight rise above the pike, with a beautiful tree filled yard. Today the Eastland Baptist Church stands where this lovely mansion once stood. 

           Located very near where Smith Brothers Car Wash is today was a blacksmith shop. This was the only one between Nashville and the tiny village of Madison. The blacksmith could be seen busy at his forge most any day and at any time of the day. 

           Another fine old house stood where Big Star Grocery is today. This house, too, was a red brick, two story, southern one. The walkway leading from this Georgian mansion to the pike was bordered by stately yucca plants. The original owner was a Mr. Delmas. Later, the house was occupied by the Chester family. Mr. Chester, a preacher, and his wife had a rather large family. After the Chester's occupancy, the Brooks family owned the property and they were the ones who sold it for a grocery. 

           The next farm was the one owned by Isaac Litton. William Cage built the original three room house. Isaac Litton bought the place about 1848 and added to the house until it had eleven rooms. This house was situated where the East Y now stands. When his daughter Kate was married in 1873 to John Hickman, Isaac Litton gave the young couple an acre and a half of land adjacent to his home. All the family joined in building the first part of the house for the young couple. Later, Mrs. Litton gave the Hickman's more land and they added to their house. Litton Hickman, son of Kate and John Hickman and grandson of Isaac Litton, was born in that house in 1875. Litton Hickman, who became county judge, lived there until 1953 when he and his wife sold the attractive white frame house for a super market (Jerry's Bi-Rite.) The porch and tall windows were faced with old fashioned ornamental iron. The lawn was one of the most beautifully and tastefully kept in Nashville. 

           The George Stratton residence, located where Long John Silver's now stands, was the next house on the east side of the pike. It was a small one story white clapboard cottage. Mr. and Mrs. Stratton always kept the charming little house so neat and attractive. 

           Across Gallatin Road from the Loftin's was a large farm known as the Foster Place. The house was very impressive looking, sitting a long distance from the road. Its grandeur has long since been replaced by numerous businesses and small residences. 

           The Foster farm was joined on the north by a large farm which at one time was used for the County Poor House. Later, Mr. Phil Shelton owned the farm. Shelton Avenue was originally the drive to the house which sat about a block from the pike. The house was a most attractive two story white frame with massive columns across the front porch. 

           Mr. Mora Sharpe owned the farm adjoining Mr. Shelton's. Greenfield Avenue was the drive to the Sharpe farm. The house, although changed drastically, still stands at the corner of Stratford and Shelton Avenues, and is known as the Inglewood Apartments. For several years in the 1930's the house and a portion of the farm was the Inglewood Golf Club. Mr. Sharpe was the son-in-law of Capt. William Walton, who bought "Glen Echo," Rev. Thomas Craighead's house. The Sharpe's had a large family, many of whom still live in the Nashville area as prominent citizens. 

           The Shelton and Sharpe farms were sold and subdivided into what is now Inglewood. Inglewood was one of the first suburban communities in the east Nashville area. 

           Joining Mr. Sharpe's farm was a farm that consisted of hundreds of acres and was known as the William Williams' Place. This farm was across the pike from "Maplewood," the home of Josiah Williams, and a brother of William. Josiah and William married sisters, the daughters of William D. Phillips, and established their plantations on opposite sides of the pike. William Williams came to this area from North Carolina about 1804.


           The main house of the William Williams' plantation sat about a quarter of a mile from the road. The drive to the house was near the present Sunnymeade Drive. The farm had a pike frontage of about one mile, extending northward until it joined the Thomas Craighead place -- the part which became the Litton High campus. 

           After Mr. Meguiar sold the eastern portion of his farm to Mr. Alvin Spotswood and to Mr. Kerr, these two men built their residences there. These two houses were built much later than most of the other ones described in this paper, but since they were so closely associated with Litton they are mentioned here. 

           Mr. Spotswood's house was a most attractive, three story cream colored stone one. The third floor was a ball room and also had a billiard table and exercise equipment. The well kept tree filled lawn extended to the present school yard. In the center of the drive was a reflecting pool with an ornate fountain. Also located in the yard was a large green house. This house, which burned about 1931, was located just back of Compton's Bi-Rite grocery. 

           Mr. Kerr's residence was located at the corner of Gallatin Road and Haysboro. His was a two story, white frame house with a circular drive bordered by boxwood in front of the house. He sold the house to a Mrs. Timberlake, who in later years sold the property for commercial use. Mrs. Timberlake planted many ornamental trees on the property. She raised Afghan hounds and drove very expensive automobiles. 

           The last farm on the east side of Gallatin Pike in the Litton zone was "Haysboro," named for the early settlement of that name. This farm extended from the present Haysboro Road, originally the drive to the house, to Spring Hill Cemetery. It went from the Gallatin Pike to the Cumberland River running back of the younger Craighead's farm until it joined the William Williams' plantation, about where Winding Way is today. 

           "Haysboro" was owned originally by Mr. J. T. Love, who willed the farm to his brother, Robert Exum Love. Mr. Bob, as he was affectionately called, was a bachelor who endeared himself to everyone, but especially to children. He was truly a picturesque character. 

           The Love house still stands today, although altered in appearance, at 5000 Ruskin Avenue. It was one of the earliest houses in the entire area, and very quaint and charming. 

           Mr. Bob's nephew and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. A. J. McGaughey lived with him. These three people made "Haysboro" a happy haven for young people the year round. In summer there were picnics, boat rides and fishing; in fall possum hunts, nutting trips and hay rides; in winter sleigh rides and "candy pulling" by the fireplace; and in spring the making of maple sugar. 

           After Mr. Bob's death, Mr. and Mrs. McGaughey inherited the farm and soon began selling building sites, especially along the river bluff. Today the entire farm is virtually covered with homes and commercial establishments. 


           The oldest church in the Litton zone is Hobson United Methodist Church located at the corner of East Greenwood and Chapel Avenue. It was organized and the first small church erected around 1860. During the Civil War it was used as a storage house for meat by the Federal Troops. Housed today in a large edifice, Hobson is one of the most active Methodist churches of East Nashville.

Hobson Memorial

           Most of the early residents of the Litton area attended churches in the heart of Nashville -- First Presbyterian, Christ Episcopal, McKendree Methodist, First Baptist; at one of the many churches in Edgefield; or at one of the two churches in Madison -- City Road Methodist or Madison Presbyterian. 

           Two colleges were located in the Litton area at one time. Buford College, a college for young ladies, moved from its first location in the Glendale area of Nashville to the Bransford house on North 12th Street in 1917. It continued in that location until it closed, after the death of its founder and president, Mrs. Elizabeth Burgess Buford, in 1920. 

           As mentioned earlier in this paper, Trevecca Nazarene College bought part of the Percy Warner farm for its campus in 1914. , The school remained there until 1935 when it moved to the present campus on Murfreesboro Road. "Renraw," the Warner home place was the main building of the school and other buildings were added on the campus. 

           At the southern boundary of the Litton zone near Shelby Park stood "Fortland," a grand two story brick house which was painted white. It was built in 1852 by Hiram Vaughn, son of David and Sarah Vaughn. The brick for the house was made from clay on the farm and the stone used was from a neighboring quarry. The twenty-four room house, located atop a hill, had a commanding view of the countryside --Shelby Park to the front and the Cumberland River to the rear. The house and farm were bought by Dr. and Mrs. Rufus Fort in 1909, the year they were married. The house burned to the ground on December 27, 1942, just a short time after Dr. Fort's death. Today, Fortland subdivision covers this entire farm. 

           Dr. and Mrs. Fort had several children, one of whom was Cornelia. Cornelia Fort was Nashville's first female flight instructor and the first Tennessee woman to die while on duty in World War II. She was a member of the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Service and was ferrying a bomber across Texas when her plane went down in March 1943. The Cornelia Fort Airport, located not far from where Cornelia was born and lived her entire life, was named in her honor. 

           "Fairfax Hall" at 415 Rosebank Avenue was originally part of a 660 acre plantation that extended all the way to the Gallatin Road. This attractive, two story house was built in 1802 by Samuel Weakley, a brother of Robert Weakley, whose home was "Lockeland," Before the Civil War, the Weakleys sold the farm to a family by the name of Truett. The Truetts planted mulberry trees and envisioned raising silk worms and then the making of silk. The climate and the help of the slaves kept this from becoming a reality. Later, the farm was sold to families by the name of Stewart and Cleaves, before it came into the possession of its present owners, the Sheffield Clarks. The Clarks have lived at Fairfax Hall for about forty years. Even though the farm has been subdivided and contains only fourteen acres today, the house is still maintained in its original beauty.

Fairfax Hall

           One of Robert Weakley's daughters, Jane, married John Lucien Brown on January 20, 1824. The minister who performed the ceremony was Rev. Thomas Craighead, the first preacher of this area. Jane and John Lucien Brown had several children. One daughter, Mary Narcissa Brown became Mrs. George Bradford, mistress of "Evergreen." Another child, Robert Weakley Brown became a lawyer and a real estate businessman. Robert W. Brown and his father, John Lucien Brown, developed a subdivision called Brownsville, in the vicinity of Scott, Greenwood, and Chapel Avenues. 

           There are several things of interest in the area once known as Brownsville. 

           Judge Thomas Matthews lived between Hobson Methodist Church and the present Cora Howe School. His was a stately, three story red brick house, with magnolias, boxwood, and a profusion of flowers in the enclosed yard. Matthews, a great grandson of James Robertson, wrote Robertson's biography which includes the only organized genealogy of the Robertson family. 

           Almost directly across Greenwood was "Wildings," the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Howe. The house still stands but the grounds have been drastically changed. Mr. and Mrs. Howe moved there in 1929 from New England and in a few years had one of the most beautiful natural flower gardens in the entire state. The azaleas, dogwoods, and many varieties of wildflowers with the paths and manmade stream and pools covered one part of the lawn. The motto on the gate read as follows: 
           "Through this wide opening gate None come too early, none return too late." 

           Indeed the garden was always open free to the public and as many as 2,000 visitors have visited the garden on one day. 

           The Howes had no children and after their death the garden was given to Cheekwood Botanical Garden. So today, people can still enjoy this transplanted garden, complete with thatched roof tool house, that Mrs., Cora Howe planted many years ago. 

           This area of east Nashville was one of the hardest hit by the East Nashville Tornado in March 1933. In the Howes' yard alone 140 forest trees were felled by the wind. Bailey School was partially destroyed by the tornado, as were scores of houses and businesses. A large section of Nashville was completely devastated by this disaster.

Bailey School

           The charming colonial, white, clapboard house, at the northeast corner of Chapel and Greenwood, was built in 1866 a year after the Civil War ended. It was built as a wedding present to Miss McKinnie and Mr. Hughes by her parents on a portion of their plantation. Earlier in this paper the McKinnie farm was mentioned. Mr. Hughes, a graduate of William and Mary College, was sent out as a Civil War spy with Sam Davis. When Hughes was captured and brought to the Federal officer for punishment, the officer recognized Hughes as one of his former classmates at William and Mary. Neither Hughes nor the Federal officer let on that they recognized each other. The officer permitted Hughes to escape during the night without any punishment, while Sam Davis was fatally punished. Mr. Hughes had a boy's school in Nashville for several years after the war. In time the Hughes sold their home to a Major Pryor and his family. One of the Pryor daughters, Mary, married Preston Vaughn. The Vaughns built the red brick house next to her parents home. The present owners of the Hughes or Pryor house are Mr. and Mrs. Mitchum, who have lived there since 1927. The house retains its original charm and attractiveness. 

           From Brownsville, we move to another house of note. One of the oldest houses in the entire county is "Riverwood," built in 1799 by James Alexander Porter. Porter came to Nashville from Ireland in 1793 and entered the linen business. [editors note; The original part of the Riverwood house was built about 1795 by then owner Philip Philips. In 1820 the Philips family sold the house and property to Dr. Boyd McNairy. McNairy sold the house in 1829, to Alexander Porter. Porter died in 1833. After his death, Philips' wife constructed a new house and converted the original house into a kitchen and slave quarters. About 1850, Alexander Porter Jr. enlarged the house, made changes to front and added columns. The original structure was attached to the house at that time.] He soon had a very flourishing and money making enterprise. Porter bought a tract of 2,500 acres from the Vaughn and Thomas families and built the beautiful, columned house for his family. He named the house "Tammany Wood" for his family estate in Ireland. Alexander Porter, grandson of James Alexander Porter sold, "Tammany Wood" to Judge William Cooper, who later willed the estate to his brother Col. Duncan Cooper. Col. Cooper's daughter and her husband, Dr. and Mrs. Lucius Burch lived in the house - which they named "Riverwood" - for many years. They were the last owners of the farm arid were the ones who sold it for a subdivision. Many smaller houses and Stratford High School are now located on this once lovely plantation. The house, with its remaining four or five acres of yard, at 1833 Welcome Lane is now occupied by relatively new owners.


           Another old house was located on the south side of McGavock Pike and east of Stratford Avenue. The last owners of that farm were Mr. and Mrs. Perry Dale, Sr. Theirs was a two story, rambling house with a big porch across the front. It sat high atop a hill and to the back and side of the house could be seen dairy barns and dairy cows. This working farm was sold in the 1940's and Dalewood subdivision came into existence, with its numerous houses, churches, and Dalewood School. 

           There are several more recent residences and events of note. 

           The first mayor of Metropolitan Nashville - Davidson County, Beverly Briley lived at 1406 Winding Way. Mayor Briley was called the "father of Metro government." His two children graduated from Litton. Mayor and Mrs., Briley were lifelong Litton Supporters, even accompanying the band to the Rose Parade in California. 

           Roy Acuff, one of the most famous of the Grand Ole Opry stars, lives on Moss Rose Drive. His house, situated high on the river bluff, is almost directly across the river from Opryland. 

           At 2614 Gallatin Road lived Miss Mary Northern, who received both local and national publicity a few years ago when she was found sick and frost-bitten in her dilapidated, cold house. A college graduate, an artist, and a noted beauty in her young years, Miss Northern became a recluse and refused medical help. Quite a legal battle regarding medical assistance ensued before her death occurred. She was a next door neighbor to Judge Litton Hickman when he resided on Gallatin Road.

Mary Northern, a self portrait.

           The Litton School zone has several neighbors that are noteworthy. 

           "Glen Echo," our neighbor on the west side of Gallatin Road at our northern boundary was described earlier in this paper. 

           On the east side of Gallatin Road at our northern boundary is Spring Hill Cemetery. Spring Hill, one of Nashville's older and larger cemeteries, has a history going back to the 1780's. Some of Nashville's first settlers left Nashborough and moved on up the river and founded the settlement of Haysboro. Five years later, Rev. Thomas Craighead started his school and church. He dedicated the adjoining ground as a burial place and it has remained so since that time. [editors note; Haysborough was founded in 1799 by Thomas Hudson and George McWhirter and named in honor of Robert Hays who had previously owned the land.] 

           In 1881 the cemetery was incorporated and transferred to a Board of Commissioners for its operation. Mr. J. Taylor Stratton, a highly respected Madison resident and a member of the Davidson County Board of Education, acquired the cemetery in the early 1900's. After Mr. Stratton's death, his two daughters, Mrs. James T. (Harry) Hayes and Mrs. William L. (Anne) Franklin inherited the cemetery. Mrs. Hayes was elected president of Spring Hill in 1934 and held that position until her death in 1974. In 1975, Mrs. Hayes husband and son, Dr. James T. Hayes and James T. Hayes, Jr. acquired all the shares of stock and have operated the cemetery since. Dr. Hayes serves as president of the organization. Today Spring Hill Cemetery has more than two hundred acres and an annual interment of approximately seven hundred.

Springhill Cemetery

           Adjoining the Litton zone at the southern boundary on the east side of Gallatin Road, where the new H. G. Hill's Grocery is situated, stood the dignified "Lynnlawn." "Lynnlawn" was the home of Thomas E. Stratton, who built the house in 1845. It was occupied by him and later by his descendants until it was sold about 1960 for commercial usage. 

           The house, of gray brick, was Italian renaissance in design with iron grille balconies at the second story windows. 

           During the Civil Was the house was commandeered by a general of the Northern Army and occupied by him at the time of the Federal occupancy of this area. 

           "Lynnlawn" was the name chosen for the house and estate by the builder when he planted lynn trees on either side of the front door. 

           Across Gallatin Road, on the west, is Miller Medical Group and Edgefield Hospital. In comparison to most of the places mentioned in this paper, these two are much more recent but because of the ties with Litton they are included. 

           Miller Clinic was started in 1937 by Dr. Cleo M. Miller, one of Nashville's most outstanding physicians. The first clinic was a small white frame building and housed only three doctors. Over the years other doctors joined the clinic which was enlarged several times. In 1977 a new modern facility replaced the older clinic and the name was changed from Miller Clinic to Miller Medical Group. Over twenty doctors, representing all branches of medicine, have offices in this new facility. 

           In 1962, Dr. Miller added a small hospital, Miller Hospital, to his clinic. The hospital too, has been rebuilt and today is a ninety seven bed hospital with every hospital service available. Hospital Corporation of America bought Miller Hospital in 1968 and later changed the name to Edgefield Hospital. 

           Litton Senior High was always very close to Miller Clinic and Hospital since Dr. Miller was the only team physician the school ever had. Dr. Miller attended all the football games and was a staunch supporter of every aspect of Litton. He was one of the organizers and leaders of the band trip to the Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1, 1964. The last senior high annual was dedicated to Dr. Miller for his service to the school. Dr. Miller died in January 1973. 

           Litton School and its zone are rich in history. The school has always stood high in the eyes of the community and the entire area. Litton alumni can be found in Nashville and across the country in every profession and occupation making outstanding contributions. May it ever be!

My thanks to the following people for information and assistance:
Mrs. Sarah Bradford Saunders
Mrs. Mary Tom Warner Mallison
Mrs. Mary Weakley Lane
Mrs. C. H. Fort
Mrs. Robert Mitchum
Mr. Sheffield Clark
Dr. Jack Miller
And to my mother, Lois Meguiar Hadley
and my brother, Albert Hadley.

Gym at Litton High School
Content on this page was transcribed and published by Debie Cox with permission of the author Betty Hadley. Betty Hadley lived on Gallatin Pike across from and attended Litton High School. Miss Hadley later taught Home Economics at Litton. The Hadley family home was recently demolished to make way for US Bank. This article may not be republished in any format with out written permission from Miss Betty Hadley or Debie Cox.
All rights Reserved © November 11, 2010, Debie Cox.