Nashville History

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ghosts in the house

Mama was a great storyteller but she was also truthful. Her ghost story was not something she remembered so much as it was something told to her many times. In the late summer of 1926, when Mama was seven years old, two birds got into their house. The same week her mother saw two shooting stars. Old wives tales said these were both signs of upcoming death in the family. 

On Sept. 15, Mama's fourteen-month-old baby sister died. Three days later on Sept. 18, Mama's grandmother, who lived in the same house with them, died. Soon after the family hired a live-in housekeeper and cook to help Mama's very pregnant mother with her chores. One morning at breakfast the housekeeper said she could not sleep the night before because of a blue-eyed baby girl who kept looking in the door at her. But when she got up to check the baby was gone. The little baby that had died had bright blue eyes. The next youngest child had brown eyes so it could not have been her looking through the door. A few day later the housekeeper said that when she was sleeping the night before an old woman came to her bed. The old woman said, "This is my bed and my feet are cold and you need to move over." The old woman disappeared. 

The housekeeper announced she was quitting and would not be back. The bed had belonged to the grandmother who had recently died. And she always complained of cold feet and would warm bricks by the fire to put at the bottom of her bed. Wish Mama was here to tell me that story one more time.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Russell Family of Pond Creek

Betty Sellars and Jimmy Allen contributed to this report.

James Russell was born ca 1747. (I don't know where the year birth is from, may just be a guesstimate.  I think he may have been born as late as 1760.) Many genealogies say he was born in Wake County, NC, however Wake County was not created until 1771. He died in Davidson County, Tennessee on July 27, 1819 and is said to be buried at Gower's Chapel in the Gower family cemetery off River Road and Charlotte Pike in Davidson Co, TN.  He has a tomb stone in that cemetery that was placed in the 1930's by a DAR group. James Russell was a Revolutionary War soldier and enlisted in North Carolina, where he served as a private. It is from his final pension payment voucher that we get his date of death.

He was one of the pioneer settlers of Davidson County, Tennessee.  He was a dispatch carrier for General Robertson and Governor Blount and he also worked as a surveyor. In 1780, James Russell was a member of the party that went by land to the present site of Nashville, Tennessee. His signed the Cumberland Compact on May 1, 1780.   Also, on the expedition was James' father-in-law Abel Gower and brother-in-law Abel Gower Jr. Both Gower's were killed by Indians in the fall of 1780 at Clover Bottom.

We don't know why James Russell did not receive a preemptors grant. He was here to sign the Cumberland Compact and should have been eligible for a preemptors grant.  He may have sold his preemptors right to someone else, and it was recorded in another person's name.  He may have returned to North Carolina for a few years.  He must have returned by April of 1784 as his son William was born in Davidson County at that time.  He does not appear in the records again until October of 1785.
In December of 1789, James Russell purchased 100 acres of land on Pond Creek, in Davidson County,  as assignee of Martin Armstrong.  In January of 1793, Thomas Russell purchased 100 acres of land on Pond Creek, in Davidson County, as assignee of Martin Armstrong.  There were many other land transactions for James Russell. He was an early owner of what is called Gower's Island in the Cumberland River.

On the 4th of February 1794, James Russell, Robert Shannon and William Con, on their way from Nashville to Knoxville, were ambushed in the Cumberland Mountain, eighteen (18) miles from South West Point, by a party of Indians consisting of about 25, who fired on them and wounded Russell thru the body and arm.  He suffered with this would for the rest of his life. James was a chain bearer for Colonel Rutherford in laying out the veterans claims for land grants in Davidson Co, TN which was issued for service in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

James Russell married Elizabeth Gower the daughter of Abel Gower, Sr.  We do not know the marriage date. They could have married in North Carolina.  The marriage could have taken place in Davidson County, Tennessee, prior to 1789.  Marriage records for the county are lost before that time.

The following have been named as children of James and Elizabeth Gower Russell.  Others have been named in various sources but with no documentation.   It is highly possible that some of these are the children of Thomas Russell and Angley Gower Russell.  Thomas is believed to be the brother of James Russell.  There are may be other children of James and Thomas. 

        William RUSSELL b April 11, 1784; married Mary Ann Polly Kellum, September 13, 1805; died February 20, 1856, Madison Co., MO while visiting family.  Lived on Pond Creek; moved to Calloway Co., KY; He was a Justice of the Peace and performed many marriages in Davidson County. This is the William Russell who gave land for Bethel Church in 1825, on Pond Creek in Davidson County, now in Cheatham Co., TN.

       Pharaba Russell, born 10 October 1786; married George Sugg Allen, 21 November 1803; died  21 September 1866. Lived on Pond Creek, all of her life.

         Elizabeth Russell, born abt. 1790 ; married Martin Patterson 20 February 1810, Davidson Co, TN

James Russell Jr; born 20 December 1790, Davidson Co., TN; died 29 May 1843. Davidson Co., Tennessee.  Married Elizabeth Duren 25 December 1809 Davidson Co TN.   There are numerous copies of deeds of land purchased by James Russell. Jr. on or near Pond Creek. 

          Sally Russell, born abt. 1796; married Jeptha Hooper, 18 April 1810, Davidson Co, TN. this family moved to Calloway Co., KY  

      Arnold Russell, born 3 April 1796; died 25 Nov. 1872, Yazoo Co, Mississippi.

         Nancy Russell born abt. 1797; married Churchill Hooper 23 Aug. 1814 Davidson Co TN

        Peggy Russell, born abt. 1798; married Scott Larkin 10 November 1818

      John Russell, born abt. 1799 
      Martha Patsy Russell, born abt. 1804; married Wilson L Hooper 8 March 1824


Thomas Russell, is believed to be a brother of James Russell.  He was born before 1770; died 1824 in Davidson Co. TN; He married Angley Gower  13 November 1789. 

Children of Thomas Russell and Angley Gower Russell;

           Isaac Russell

          Polly Russell ; married James Daugherty 30 June 1816.

       Thomas Russell, Jr born 1798; married Ann Hooper 19 July 1829.

       Other children mentioned but not named in will of Thomas Russell.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Turkeys, and coyotes but no silly rabbits.

As the crow flies, our house is about three miles from the historic courthouse in downtown Nashville.  We have lived in Inglewood for 39 years, moving from East Nashville.  My family lived in Northeast Nashville when I was born and I grew up there.  My husband spent most of his childhood and teen years, a couple of blocks from East Nashville High School.  Wildlife in our childhood urban neighborhoods consisted of songbirds, pigeons, or an occasional toad. There must have been possums around but I don't remember seeing them. When we moved to Inglewood, rabbits were abundant, sometimes we spotted a possum crossing the road or a garter snake slithering through the grass.

The times they are a changin with the urban wildlife.  There are more birds and a bigger variety. Crows as big as ravens rule the treetops.  We have seen deer walking up our street.  Neighbors post photos of turkey, deer, and coyotes on Facebook.

Tom Turkey showing off for his lady friend, Inglewood, June 2015, Debie Oeser Cox

We have heard the eerie call of the neighborhood fox. One morning we looked out the window to see a coyote in front of the house. A family of raccoons lives in a neighbor's tree.

Mama Raccoon, Inglewood, June 2017 Debie Oeser Cox

Young Raccoons, Inglewood, June 2017 Debie Oeser Cox

We still see an occasional possum.  Rabbits and stray cats are a rare sight, but Hawks, of more than one type, are plentiful.  A neighbor has seen a heron fishing in her backyard pond.  We have seen a Great Horned Owl and often hear the call of the Barred Owl. Bobcats have been spotted in outlying areas of Davidson County.  Curious to see what changes might occur with wildlife in Inglewood in the coming 20 years.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Memory of Mama

This is a little note from facebook a couple of years ago.

I found a note that Mama wrote, listing her utility bills with the amounts in 1978, when she and Daddy were living at 1022 Pennock, in Papa Oeser's old house. In May, she wrote, telephone 11.50; gas 7.34; paperboy 7.28; lights 14.68 and water 7.19. Did anyone else say light bill, instead of electric bill? When mama was young, lights were about all that used electricity in a house. Not much more than that when I was a kid. We had a TV, a radio and a refrigerator, and in summer, window fans. Our cook stove and heat used gas.