from the files of the Nashville Historical Newsletter.
Buchanan’s Station was a fortified settlement established about 1784 during the pioneer era of Nashville, Tennessee. Located on a bluff overlooking Mill Creek in today’s Donelson suburb, the homestead was founded by Major John Buchanan who, along with his family and other settlers, lived there until the Major’s death in 1832. The station is best known as the site of the Battle of Buchanan’s Station, a famous Indian attack which occurred on September 30, 1792.
The fort is known to have been positioned precisely at the northwest corner of today’s Elm Hill Pike and Massman Drive, and a state historical plaque marks the spot. A large commercial building now covers the site of the original fort. Not seen from Elm Hill Pike but clearly visible from Massman Drive is the extant Buchanan’s Station Cemetery, the only remaining vestige of the original settlement and one of the oldest pioneer graveyards in Middle Tennessee. Buried here are Major John Buchanan (1759-1832) and his storied wife Sarah “Sally” Ridley Buchanan (ca.1774-1831), along with about 65 other family members, affiliated settlers, and possibly slaves. Many graves are marked only by unengraved fieldstones. Notably, historical circumstances indicate that at least five frontiersmen who were at various times killed by Indians may be buried in the cemetery: Samuel Buchanan, Cornelius Riddle, John Buchanan Sr., William Mulherrin, and John Blackburn.
On March 17, 2012, the Friends of Buchanan’s Station Cemetery met for the first time. Fostered primarily by the Buchanan Log House Chapter APTA, its president, Lu Whitworth, and historian Mike Slate, the grassroots group set its goals, which included effecting the transfer of the cemetery property from private ownership to Metro Nashville, fencing the unprotected graveyard, and acquiring signage for the education and inspiration of all visitors. From the beginning the Friends group worked closely with Tim Walker, executive director of the Metro Historical Commission.
On September 30, 2012, the Friends, assisted by Cumberland University and the French Lick Chapter of the DAR, held a major event at the cemetery commemorating the 220th anniversary of the Battle of Buchanan’s Station.
In 2015 businessman Scott Pope, working with group member Dick Davis, generously assigned the property to Metro Nashville. Later the same year the Friends, led by donations treasurer Joe Cathey, installed a quality fence around the historic graveyard and placed a comfortable bench inside. A grant from the Tennessee Wars Commission, facilitated by Tim Walker and David Currey, enabled some attractive interpretive signage to be added to the cemetery. (2017)
Born October 24, 1822, John Berrien Lindsley came to Nashville in 1824, when his father, Philip, became president of the University of Nashville. Young Lindsley was educated at home by his parents and a neighbor, Septima Sexta Rutledge.1 At 14 he entered the University of Nashville, earning a B.A. at 17 and an M.A. two years later.2 In 1842 he entered the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, receiving his M.D. in March 1843.3 Here Lindsley began a lifelong friendship with adventurer William Walker.4
Lindsley’s next pursuit was theology: in December 1843 the Nashville Presbytery accepted him as a candidate for the ministry.5 He was licensed to preach in April 1845,6 shortly before attending to Andrew Jackson at his deathbed.7 Lindsley ministered to churches at the Hermitage and in Smyrna and, beginning in 1847, preached to slaves and the poor.8 An 1849 cholera epidemic9 kindled his interest in public health.
When Philip Lindsley left the University of Nashville in 1850, his son John Berrien became Chancellor. He proposed to rescue the faltering university by merging with the Western Military Institute of Georgetown, Kentucky,10 and by establishing the long-awaited medical school. Though apprehensive, Board members permitted the merger. Lindsley spearheaded the development of the medical school in 1851, became its first dean, and taught there until 1873.11 [Note: the following year the University of Nashville Medical School was incorporated into Vanderbilt University, which had been founded in 1873 by virtue of a grant from Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. From that point on, it would be known as the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.]
In 1857 Lindsley married Felix Grundy’s granddaughter Sarah “Sallie” McGavock, with whom he had six children. He served on the Nashville Board of Education and was secretary of the State Board of Education, administering the Peabody Education Fund and overseeing the transition of the University of Nashville into Peabody College.12 Having received a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from Princeton (1858), he lectured in the Cumberland University Theological Department in Lebanon.13
Following the capture of Fort Donelson (February 1862), Lindsley became post surgeon of Nashville hospitals. His valiant efforts to protect university property during federal occupation saved the library, laboratory equipment, and the valuable Troost mineral collection.14
After the war, Lindsley served on the Nashville Board of Education and was superintendent of Nashville public schools. He helped establish Montgomery Bell Academy (1867) and the Tennessee College of Pharmacy (1870),15 and in 1875 presided over the State Teachers Association. Having promoted the passage of an 1877 law establishing the State Board of Health, he served as its first executive secretary.16 As Nashville Public Health Officer from 1876-1880, he supervised all health efforts in Tennessee during the 1878 yellow fever epidemic.17 He taught Sanitary Science and Preventative Medicine at the University of Tennessee from 1880-1897.18
Distressed by wartime divisions within the Presbyterian Church, Lindsley became a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1874.19 He authored History of the Law School of Cumberland University at Lebanon,Confederate Military Annals of Tennessee, and many works on medicine and public health. He was an early member of the Tennessee Historical Society and a fellow of the American Academy of Medicine.20 His many talents led Alfred Leland Crabb to call him the “Benjamin Franklin of Nashville.”21
John Berrien Lindsley died December 7, 1897, in Nashville. He is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. (2014)
1 Windrow, John Edwin. John Berrien Lindsley, Educator, Physician, Social Philosopher. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1938, 8.
2 Lindsley, John Berrien. Diary, Volume 4, 1849-1856. Lindsley Family Papers, ca. 1812 – [1840-1940] – 1953, Box 1, Folder 21. Tennessee State Library and Archives.
3 Windrow, 11.
4 Lindsley, John Berrien. Letter to Adrian Van Sinderen Lindsley, April 8, 1843. Lindsley Family Papers, ca. 1812 – [1840-1940] – 1953. Oversize folder (49). Tennessee State Library and Archives.
5 Lindsley, John Berrien. Diary, Volume 4, 1849-1856.
6 Windrow, 12.
7 Lindsley, Philip. Journal. Lindsley Family Papers, ca. 1812 – [1840-1940] – 1953, Box 2, Folder 33. Tennessee State Library and Archives.
8 Lindsley, John Berrien. Diary, Volume 4, 1849-1856.