Maury County Tennessee
Part of the American History and Genealogy Project

 

Spring Hill Settlement

The first settlements in and about Spring Hill began about 1808. Abram Hammond, one of the first settlers in this part of the county, moved from Maryland to Kentucky, where he married a Miss Wells; thence he moved and settled within one mile of where Spring Hill now stands. He was the father-in-law of Nimrod Porter, who was sheriff of the county from 1818 to 1842. Col. Russell in an early day cleared the land where Spring Hill now stands, and built a residence on the eminence just above the big spring, from which the town took its name.

The Russell estate was sold to Maj. Winters, who sold it to James Peters, from whom it passed to his son, James P. Peters. Peters' Camp Ground was a gift from the elder Peters, and lay within the present limits of Spring Hill. This was at one time the most popular Methodist camp ground in Middle Tennessee, and was the resort of thousands at their annual gatherings.

Another very prominent one of the early settlers in this vicinity was Nathaniel Cheairs, who settled on the old Cheairs homestead in 1810. Mr. Cheairs came with his good wife whom he had married in North Carolina some years before coming to Tennessee. Mr. Cheairs was the father of eleven children, nine of whom lived to manhood and womanhood. Of these Col. Martin T. Cheairs, who still lives, is a venerable and honorable representative of the family. He is now in his eighty-second year, and was born in North Carolina, and came with his parents to the infant State. John W. Cheairs is the father of John W. Cheairs, merchant of Spring Hill and the present sheriff; was for many years a prominent merchant of Spring Hill. Maj. Nat F. Cheairs, the younger brother of the three still living, has been all his life an extensive farmer of the neighborhood.

Near the same place settled the families of the Wades, Bonds, Capertons and Pointers. James Black, who lived near Spring Hill, was the grandfather of Henry Waterson, of the Courier-Journal, and father-in-law of Judge Stanley Mathews, of the supreme bench, who resided in Columbia in 1843-44.

Near Black was the magnificent estate of Gen. Lucius J. Polk. On Carter's Creek lived the Carters, for whom the creek was named. Among them was Daniel F. Carter, a Revolutionary soldier and owner of a 5,000 acre grant.

Near these were the Rollands. The Sandfords, Yanceys, Browns, Wellses, Blairs, Chapmans, Crawfords, Stephensons and Dunlaps lived either south or southeast of Spring Hill. A number of very distinguished persons are natives of this place. A. O. P. Nicholson, the distinguished judge and United States senator in 1841-42, was born at Old Sand Spring, where his parents resided. William Parkham, step-father of H. R. W. Hill, who became a merchant prince of New Orleans, lived near here so.

William Fields, the compiler of the Scrap Book, was raised near here. The first store the neighborhood was owned by a man named Brewster, who was afterward the pioneer merchant where Mount Pleasant now stands. His store was on the farm and on the south side of the old Davis Ford road, near the residence of Abram Hammonds.

Col. William McKissack was one of the earliest merchants in Spring Hill; in fact he began selling goods there about the time the place came into being, about 1825. Dr. S. McKissack, a brother of the above, was an early settler and a son-in-law of the elder James Peters, and was a man of wealth and influence.

William Peters was one of the earliest merchants, and for him Col. Israel McCarroll was clerk. Old Daniel Brown kept a hotel or stand for the traveling public about one mile south of Spring Hill, near the grave-yard in M. T Cheairs' field. An effort was made to call Spring Hill Petersburg, in honor of James Peters, but his puritan ideas forbade it, and the name of Spring Hill was given it.

Mary Doherty, the widow of George Doherty, together with her son-in-law, George Bond, moved from North Carolina about 1808, and settled on a 5,000-acre grant, made by the State of North Carolina to her husband, George Doherty, for his services as a major in the Revolutionary war. The land lay between Spring Hill and Thompson Station, a little north of Spring Hill. On a creek near where Dr. Sharber now lives was a little mill at a very early time, the only one in the vicinity.

About it this tradition prevails: "Maj. Samuel Polk, father of the President, in company with several gentlemen visited this mill and examined it, and when through Maj. Polk remarked to the others; 'A man may fall down and worship that mill and not commit sacrilege, because there is no likeness of it neither in the heavens above, nor in the earth beneath, nor in the waters under the earth.' " The first water-mill of any character was built by Isham Bunch on Rutherford Creek, and it is still in good running order. He also built a distillery at the same place. Maj. Robert Campbell had a distillery in the same neighborhood, as did also Esq. Black.

Churches of Spring Hill

The first church in this vicinity was built by the Presbyterians about 1814. This was a hewed log house, and stood on the land of Col. Sanford, near where Jackson College stood at a later date. Among the leading ones engaged in the erection of this house were Col. Sanford, Col. Hugh Brown, George Blair, Samuel Dunlap, and others. This house has long since been replaced by a substantial brick structure. The leading Presbyterian minister in that early day was the Rev. Duncan Brown, whom many now living have heard with delight, also the Rev. Gideon Blackburn.

The leader and founder of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the vicinity of Spring Hill, was the Rev. James B. Porter. The labors of the Rev. Porter were not confined to the one church, but to the establishment of this infant denomination throughout Middle Tennessee. He was active in founding churches and in founding camp grounds so popular in the early history of the church. At a very early period the Methodists established Peter's Ground, before mentioned. Among those who labored for the Methodist cause may be mentioned the Rev. Donaldson Potter, whose labors were untiring and brought their reward.

Spring Hill Schools

The first important school taught in this vicinity was kept by William L. Williford before 1820. The school was near Col. M. T. Cheair's place. Here attended the Russells, Cheairs, Winters, Nicholsons, Bonds, Hammonds, and others.

Near the same ground, a short time afterward, was built Jackson College, which afterward became Union Seminary. Spring Hall now contains Beachcroft Academy, a female school conducted by Mrs. Estes, and the male college of Prof. Morton. The place now contains a Presbyterian, a Methodist, a Cumberland Presbyterian and an Episcopal Church; and near there is a Christian Church; also two colored churches, one Methodist, the other Baptist.

Mini Business Gazetteer

Business General Stores Physicians
J. W. Alexander
Campbell & Harman
W. A. Odill
Dr. J. O. Hardin
Dr. J. W. Sharber
Dr. E. W. Martin
Drygoods and Clothing Drug Stores
J. W. Cheairs Alonzo McKissack
John Martin

Maury County AHGP | Towns and Settlements

 AHGP Tennessee

Source: History of Tennessee, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1886

 

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