Daniel Smith, Frontier Surveyor (1748-1818)

by Kathy B. Lauder.

Daniel Smith was born October 29, 1748, in Stafford County, Virginia. Having made up his mind to become a doctor, he studied medicine with Dr. Thomas Walker at Castle Hill, in Albemarle County, Virginia. However, he soon made an abrupt career shift and, at the age of 22, was licensed as a surveyor by the College of William and Mary (founded in 1693).

Three years after he began working as a surveyor, he married Sarah Michie and took a position as Deputy Surveyor and later sheriff of Augusta County, Virginia, where their son George was born in 1776. Smith first came to Middle Tennessee during the winter of 1779-1780, after he was hired to survey the western region of the Virginia frontier, and particularly to chart the border between Virginia and North Carolina. During the American Revolutionary War, he was commissioned a colonel in the militia, took part in a number of battles, and was appointed Assistant Deputy Surveyor for the Southern Department of the Continental Army in 1781.  Strongly attracted to Middle Tennessee, in 1784 he claimed a land grant awarded for his military service and moved his family, which now included daughter Mary Ann “Polly,” to a 3,140-acre tract in Sumner County, where he served as the county surveyor.

Rock Castle State Historic Site, home of Daniel Smith, in Sumner County, Tennessee, was completed in 1796

After reaching adulthood, both of Daniel Smith’s children wed members of the Donelson family. George married Tabitha, the daughter of Capt. John Donelson III; Polly and Rachel Jackson’s brother Samuel Donelson eloped, with the assistance of Rachel and her husband, a circumstance that caused hard feelings between Daniel Smith and Andrew Jackson for many years*.

Mary “Polly” Smith Donelson (Tennessee Portrait Project)

In 1783 Daniel Smith was appointed both county surveyor and justice of the peace for Davidson County (still part of North Carolina at that time), and helped to survey the state military land-grant reservation in the Cumberland valley. One of the five trustees responsible for overseeing the establishment of the City of Nashville, he was also a charter trustee of Davidson Academy, the first institution of higher learning in Nashville. This school, founded in 1785, would over the years be transformed into Cumberland College (1806), the University of Nashville (1826), the Peabody Normal College at Nashville (1875), and finally the George Peabody College for Teachers, now part of Vanderbilt University.

When Sumner County was created in 1786, Daniel Smith, as justice of the peace, presided over the first session of the Sumner County Court. Two years later he was named Commanding General of the Mero District (Sumner, Davidson, and Tennessee counties), and in 1789 he was a member of the North Carolina convention that voted to ratify the United States Constitution. In 1790 Smith was appointed by President George Washington to become secretary of the Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio, with authority to act for the territorial governor in his absence. The first map of the region, created in large part from Smith’s own surveys, was published during his term as secretary.

1795 Tennessee map based largely on Daniel Smith’s surveys (courtesy Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Daniel Smith held the post of territorial secretary until 1796, when the territory became the State of Tennessee. Smith was a member of the 1796 Convention and chaired the committee that wrote the young state’s first Constitution and Bill of Rights.

During the first decade of the 19th century, Smith played a key role in negotiating a series of treaties with the Cherokee. He was appointed to serve several months of Andrew Jackson’s unexpired term in the U.S. Senate (after Jackson resigned to serve on the Tennessee Supreme Court), and in 1804 was elected to his own full term in the Senate. Unfortunately, he was forced to resign from the Senate in 1809 because of ill health. He and Sarah remained at home for several more years, overseeing various farm and business interests from their Sumner County plantation house, Rock Castle, which still stands on Drake’s Creek in Hendersonville. He died there on June 16, 1818, at age 69. Both Daniel and Sarah, who died thirteen years after her husband, are buried in the family cemetery at Rock Castle. Smith County, created while Daniel was still very much alive, was named to honor his service in the Revolutionary War and his many other contributions to the development of the state of Tennessee.

Smith family cemetery at Rock Castle (Daniel and Sarah’s grave markers are the table-like platforms at upper right behind the obelisk)

* Note: This was not the only time Andrew and Rachel Jackson helped a young couple elope! See also https://nashvillehistoricalnewsletter.com/2021/11/20/til-death-do-us-part-love-and-devotion-at-city-cemetery/

Meet Nashville’s Leaders

by Kathy B. Lauder.

One of Nashville’s most popular events is the annual Living History Tour each fall at City Cemetery. Visitors see the past come alive as costumed characters step forward from the gravestones to tell their stories. Although a few beloved personalities from Nashville’s history do reappear from time to time, the Nashville City Cemetery Association (NCCA) selects many new characters each year. The individuals named below were featured in the 2013 Tour. The photos of reenactors were taken during NCCA Living History Tours between 2008 and 2012.

Lipscomb Norvell, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, served under General George Washington at Brandywine, Trenton, and Monmouth. An early pioneer, he raised a large family in Kentucky before joining family members in Nashville, where he died at age 87.

Frank Parrish, a free man of color, was a Nashville entrepreneur, operating a Bathing House and Barber Shop on Deaderick Street. He died in 1867 and was buried in a family plot at City Cemetery.

Ann Robertson Cockrill, James Robertson’s sister, was a young widow with three little girls when she arrived in Nashville with the Donelson party in 1780. She later married John Cockrill, and they settled near today’s Centennial Park to raise their large family. She was the only woman among the early Cumberland settlers to receive a land grant in her own name, earned largely for her courage in defending Fort Caswell (later Fort Watauga) against Indian attack.

William Carroll Napier owned a Nashville livery stable. His son James carried Mayor Cheatham to surrender Nashville to Union forces in 1862. Later the two Napiers helped John Berrien Lindsley set up military hospitals around the city by transporting food equipment and supplies. During the Occupation, the Union Army employed Carroll as a spy, tasked with reporting Confederate troop movements in Murfreesboro and along the Harpeth River. Son James C. Napier would later become Nashville’s African American city councilor, as well as Register of the U.S. Treasury under President Taft.

George W. Campbell, one of Nashville’s most distinguished citizens, was an attorney, a U.S. Representative and Senator, one of the first two Tennessee Supreme Court Justices, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and U.S. Ambassador to Russia. His wife Harriet Stoddert was the daughter of the secretary of the Navy in Thomas Jefferson’s cabinet. In 1843 Campbell sold a property known as “Campbell’s Hill” to the city of Nashville, later transferred to the state as the site of the Tennessee state capitol.

Mabel Lewis Imes was raised in New England, where she received an excellent education, learned to speak French, and took voice lessons. When she auditioned for the Fisk Jubilee Singers during their Eastern tour, they immediately invited her to sing contralto with the group . . . at the age of 13!

A former Fisk Jubilee Singer portrayed Mabel Imes in the 2008 Living History event, regaling delighted visitors with beautiful music.

Thomas Crutcher served as the State Treasurer of Tennessee for 25 years. An activist in promoting education for women, he was a founder and active trustee of the Nashville Female Academy, where the students called him “Uncle Crutcher.”

Lizzie Porterfield Elliott was the daughter of Collins D. Elliott, president of the Nashville Female Academy, and she was perhaps the most compelling example of his belief in educating women. She taught in both public and private schools for more than 30 years and was active in educational and civic organizations. An authority on Tennessee history, she served as an officer in the Tennessee Historical Society. A bright and interesting woman, she authored the Early History of Nashville, still admired for its historical accuracy.

Before the section of the city north of the Cumberland River was known as Edgefield (and then East Nashville), it was referred to as Wetmore’s Addition. Moses Wetmore, the first person to subdivide the area into lots for homes and businesses, also donated the land for Holy Trinity Church and gave his name to two city streets.

State Representative Ben West portrayed his father, Ben West (Mayor of Nashville 1951-1963), during the 2010 Living History event.

Mayor John Patton Erwin served two terms as mayor of Nashville. He worked as a bank cashier (in those days, the equivalent of a bank manager), was editor of the Nashville Whig, and served as Postmaster, Justice of the Peace, and clerk of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Powhatan Maxey served as a justice of the peace, an alderman for seven terms, and mayor of Nashville from 1843-1845. He negotiated the purchase of Capitol Hill from William Nichol and George W. Campbell, and then donated the land to the Tennessee General Assembly, provided they would locate the State Capitol on that site.  (2013)

Ghosts in Nashville City Cemetery (photo by Lynn McDonald, 2011)

Previously published in Monuments & Milestones, the Nashville City Cemetery Newsletter.

Andrew Jackson Pageot

by Carol Kaplan.

Andrew Jackson Pageot was born a child of privilege: he was named for his godfather, the President; his mother was heir to a wealthy Nashville estate; his father was the son of a diplomat. This baby’s future was bright. How then did it come about that he lies in an unmarked grave, his burial place lost to history?

Earliest known photograph of the white House, taken c. 1846 by John Plumbe during the administration of James K. Polk.

The first (and only) Catholic wedding ceremony held in the White House took place November 29, 1832. The groom was Alphonse Pageot, secretary of the French Legation and brother-in-law of the French Minister. The bride was Nashvillian Mary Anne Lewis, daughter of Major William Berkeley Lewis, a friend and political appointee of Andrew Jackson. The Lewises’ Nashville home was called Fairfield, set on an estate not far from City Cemetery. Today’s Fairfield Avenue was originally one of the lanes leading to the residence.

Although Mary Anne and her half-siblings William Henry and Margaret Adelaide grew up in relative comfort, they all suffered early losses. William B. Lewis’s first wife (Mary Anne’s mother) was Margaret Lewis, the daughter of W. Tyrrell Lewis and owner of Fairfield. Margaret died at Fairfield in 1816, when Mary Anne was about 12. The mother of the other two children was William B. Lewis’s second wife, Mary Adelaide Stokes, daughter of U.S. Senator Montfort Stokes. Mary Adelaide died in May 1823, leaving behind “an infant son [little William Henry was not yet two] & daughter five days old.”

After their marriage, Mary Anne and Alphonse Pageot lived in Washington, D.C., in a house provided by her father, William B. Lewis, who wrote a friend, “I go to housekeeping with them.” Their son, Andrew Jackson Pageot, was born the following year and christened at the White House. The Rev. William Matthews of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church officiated, as he had for the wedding of the baby’s parents.

As a diplomatic family, the Pageots moved often between the United States and France. Major Lewis returned to Nashville, where he had to face yet another loss, that of his son, William Henry, who died August 30, 1842, “in the twentieth year of his age,” Major Lewis’s youngest child, Margaret Adelaide, who was said to be the most beautiful young woman in Tennessee, had married George Washington of Wessyngton Plantation in Robertson County that same year. She herself died at the age of 21 in November 1844, three weeks after the birth of her only son, William Lewis Washington.

Wessyngton Plantation [Historic American Buildings Survey, November, 1971 North (front) façade from northeast. – Wessyngton, Cedar Hill, Robertson County, TN HABS TENN,74-CEDHI.V,1-1…Jack Boucher – https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/tn0113.photos.153962p]

When the Civil War began, William B. Lewis remained loyal to his country and active in local politics. On December 14, 1864, the night before the Battle of Nashville, as Federal troops dug entrenchments in Fairfield’s front lawn, U.S. Major T. J. Morgan stayed in the house, occupying the room that Andrew Jackson had always been given. As a loyal citizen, Lewis would eventually receive compensation from the Federal government for the damage to his property.

Two weeks after the Battle of Nashville the family suffered another tragedy. On January 11, 1865, this notice was published in the Nashville Daily Union:

“Died, on Monday morning, the 9th inst., at the residence of his Grandfather, Major William B. Lewis, Andrew Jackson Pageot, Esq., son of Hon. A. Pageot of Paris France, and Mary Ann, his wife. He died from an acute attack of the heart, after only an hour’s illness, in the 32nd year of his age. His funeral will take place this morning, at 11 o’clock, at the residence of Major Lewis. Hacks will be waiting at W. R. Cornelius’ on Church Street, at 10 o’clock this morning, to take out friends and acquaintances who desire to attend the funeral.”

Where was Pageot buried? He has an interment entry in City Cemetery records, but no location is indicated. In 1843 Major Lewis had purchased a 40×40-foot lot in section 5 for $80.00. Who, if anyone, was buried on this lot? Not Major Lewis, who died in 1866. He and others of his family, along with their tombstones, were removed to Mt. Olivet in 1890 from “the old family burying ground.” Whether this burying ground was on the Fairfield estate is yet another mystery. The property was sold at auction in 1867, and by 1890 St. Margarethe’s Hospital occupied the location.

Fairfield, during the period when it was used as St. Margarethe’s Hospital (courtesy of Debie Cox, Nashville History)

None of the removal records lists the name of Andrew J. Pageot. Was he originally interred with other Lewis family members and then, having been buried without a marker, simply forgotten? Does the partial record at City Cemetery exist because undertaker Cornelius merely assumed he would be interred there?

The old PBS series History Detectives insisted that “no secret is safe.” Is the secret of Andrew Jackson Pageot waiting to be found someday?  (2010)

Dedication ceremony for new Sally Thomas grave marker, 2009

Sally Thomas died during Nashville’s 1850 cholera epidemic. In 1908 her tombstone could still be found, but by 2005 it was no longer standing. In 2009 a replacement tombstone for Sally Thomas was dedicated in a well-attended ceremony at City Cemetery.

Previously published in Monuments & Milestones, the Nashville City Cemetery newsletter.