My moments of stupidity are well documented, but my strokes of genius may have been under reported…
I was going round and round about the best use of the long abandoned playing field at Brookmeade Park in West Nashville: open space, dog park, soccer field? Native American Living History Village!? After all, it was the site of one of the largest archeological digs in Middle Tennessee.1 Artifacts were dated back to the Paleo-Indian period after the last ice-age. The Woodlands and Mississippian graves revealed an amazing amount of information about the tribes health, diet and mortality.
First of all, I don’t think the general public cares (or is even aware of) the indigenous people we all but wiped off the face of this country. All the more reason to tell the story and pay homage to them here: in a wooded area, on the edge of the capitol city of the state of Tennessee (Cherokee for Tanasi).
Practically speaking, a Living History Village would be expensive to build, and even more challenging to maintain and protect, especially at this location. Vandalism would be expected from the get-go.
Enter A/R. Augmented Reality is in insanely inexpensive compared to brick and mortar construction. In this case, the imagery is readily at hand.2 All the user needs is a smart phone, tablet or special glasses. Scan a QR Code and Bingo! Augmented Reality 3D imagery appears right before your peepers. And best of all, its bullet proof from vandals.
Check out this model in 3D and virtual reality on Sketchfab:
Brookmeade Park Greenway at Kelley’s Point by belmontguy
In 1997 I started documenting the development of the new mega shopping center near Charlotte Pike and Davidson Drive in West Nashville. The limestone rocks photographed here, were just some of the components of 141 Native-American Stone Box graves containing 173 individuals discovered during the excavation. Artifacts recovered date back as far as the Paleoindian Period (12,000-10,000 BC).
The remains were warehoused for a period of time, and then reinterred at an undisclosed location in Brookmeade Park at Kelley’s Point Battlefield. They are more than likely being camped on, and fowled by, human waste and garbage today. This is a shameful despicable desecration of indigenous people.
“The greatest distinction within the data set explored here is the Kelley’s Battery site (40DV392) and the two excavated cemeteries (Figure 8). A total of 141 burials yielded the remains of 173 individuals at the Kelley’s Battery site.” 1
“The Kelley’s Battery site (40DV392) is a multi-component prehistoric site located on the Cumberland River in western Davidson County, Tennessee. Salvage excavations were conducted in 1998 prior to destruction of the site by development. Evidence of Paleoindian through Mississippian period occupations was recovered. Of particular interest is the excavation of two Mississippian stone-box cemeteries and associated village. An overview of the excavation is presented along with investigation results. A single radiocarbon date of 670+60 B.P. with a single-sigma calibrated range of AD 1282-1390 was obtained for the Mississippian occupation. The excavation and analysis results determined the Mississippian occupation of Kelley’s Battery comprised a nucleated village primarily occupied during the period of regional decentralization (AD 1325-1425).” 1
“Mississippian Indians in Middle Tennessee usually lined their burials with large limestone slabs. They placed slabs on each side, and at the head and foot of the grave, carefully cutting and joining them. The body was placed in the stone coffin face up and fully extended. A stone slab was used as a cover, and a layer of earth, from a few inches to a few feet deep, was spread over the top. This type of burial is called a stone-box grave. Mississippian people in other areas of the Southeast also used this method when easily worked stone was available.” 2
The siege of the park by homeless started around 2018 and exploded in 2020. The city of Nashville has yet to enforce a variety of laws being violated in the city park including camping, open fires, littering, loitering, defecating, drug use and more. The Metro Greenway has been deemed unusable and unsafe. Crime in the area has risen around the camp. At least 8 individuals have lost their lives to overdoses in the last 2 years. Neighbors surrounding the park are pushing hard for their removal and relocation to subsidized housing and/or treatment for a variety of addiction’s and mental illnesses. reclaimbrookmeadepark.com is a grass roots group spear-heading this effort.
Additionally, the park is the site of a historic naval action, preceding the Battle of Nashville. For two weeks in December 1864, the Confederate Cavalry clashed with a half-dozen US Navy gunboats here. This was the last major offensive champaign of the American Civil War by the South and one of the largest of its kind.
A New Park
One of the reasons Brookmeade Park was a magnet for a homeless camp was it’s under utilization. Most people in the area never knew it was there because it is hidden from view under the immense amount of invasive plant undergrowth.3
As soon as the residents of this park are relocated to suitable living conditions, a plan needs to be in place to ensure the parks activity with the local population. There are a variety of possible options for this 14 acre scenic parcel of river-front property. Suggestions include:
In 17971 brothers John (29) and Benjamin Phillips (31) migrated from western Pennsylvania to what was then called Round Lick in Wilson County, Tennessee. It was renamed Watertown in the mid-1800’s in honor of Wilson T. Waters, the grandson of one of it’s founders.
In 2021 one of the oldest Middle Tennessee frontier log cabins was removed from its 220 year old site. It may have been the oldest two-story log cabin in Wilson County. Parts of it were salvaged by a family descendant that hopes to one day restore a one-story version of the Phillips family homestead. A digital reconstruction of the original cabin can be viewed here. Images of the second floor in 2016 can be viewed here.
“Dr. J. M. Phillips, in an article on the Phillips family in the Watertown Sentinel, January 19, 1906, state: that the brothers and their families em-barked southward on a flat-boat on the Ohio River at Pittsburg, thence down the Ohio to the mouth of the Cumberland; that they disembarked there and struck out across the wilderness of Kentucky and Tennessee in wagons until they reached the headwaters of the Round Lick Creek at the present site of Watertown. The settlers followed the West fork of the creek until they came to a big spring in the canebrake, and it was there that they made their final halt. John Philips built his home only a short distance from the spring.” 2
On December 20, 1801, William Phillips sold 200 acres to John Phillips far $400 in cash. “Beginning at a hackberry on Lytle’s 2.5 west boundary, six poles 3 [33 yards] north of the creek running thence west one hundred and forty-nine poles [820 yards] and three-fourths to a stake; thence south two hundred and nineteen [1205 yards] and a half poles to a stake; thence east one hundred and forty-nine [820 yards] and three-fourths poles to three lynns; thence to the beginning; the whole containing two hundred acres be the same more or less with all its appurtenances.” 4
In the preceding years, John’s land increased to 365 acres. “The Wilson County Court Records of 1803 show that John Philips owned 200 acres of land on the Round Lick Creek and Benjamin 120 on Round Lick and 100 on the Hickman Creek. Both brothers acquired more land as they prospered. John bought fourteen acres from William Philips (of Davidson county) for $40 cash on December 14, 1808; ninety-five acres from William Campbell, for $750 cash on September 27, 1819; 21 acres from Richard Cartwright for $78 cash on December 10, 1829; and 35 acres from Joseph Philips for $350 cash. Both John and Benjamin received grants from the State of Tennessee, John’s on July 20, 1813, and Benjamin’s on May 24,1814. Both grants were signed by Willie Blount, governor.”5
John was a respected member of the community, but did not unite with any church, although his wife Mary was a member of the Baptist church. They had 11 children; six sons and five daughters. All eleven lived to raise families of their own.
“John Philips died July 30, 1846, at the age of 78; his wife, Mary pre-deceased him on November 20,1844, aged 71. Benjamin died only 28 days before his brother, on July 2,1846. Lydia Philips died August 19, 1851. The report of Sion Bass, administrator of Benjamin’s estate, was confirmed by the County Court December 14, 1848.
David Phillips, son of John, was appointed administrator of his father’s estate. However, David died September 30, 1846, only two months after John’s death, before he had completed his administrative duties. Rev. Henry Bass, who married John’s daughter, Francina, was appointed administrator de bonis non, and proceeded to wind up the estate.
John Philips accumulated more than a modest amount of wealth for a farmer of his day. When he died, he owned 350 acres of fertile land, and possessed $1,436.75 in gold and silver, $40 in bank notes and about three dozen promissory notes of various amounts. After the payment of all debts, his personal estate totaled $7,039.69. Each of his ten distributees received $703.96 and thirty-five acres of land.
Among the expenses itemized were: $1.00 to Doke Young for crying sale and $6.00 to W. L. Waters for coffin. The total funeral expenses, including clothing, were $15.75. A tomb stone was erected many years later.
The list of articles itemized among John Philips’ personal property gives the reader a conception of the self-sufficiency of the pioneer home. Among the articles listed were the following: One yoke of oxen , 38 hogs, 36 geese, 548 pounds of bacon, 163 barrels of corn, 4,480 bundles of oats, 3,000 pounds of fodder, 1,910 pounds of pork, 12 plows, 3 singletrees, 1 doubletree, 1 wagon, 1 cart, 36 bushels of wheat, 3 washing tubs, 1 brass kettle, 2 teakettles, 2 fat skillets, 5 pots, 2 fire shovels, 2 cotton wheels, 2 wooden buckets, 4 bedsteads,140 pounds of seed cotton, 1 cross-cut saw, 2 coffee mills, 1 deer skin, 1 wash pan, 1 frying pan, 3 bread trays, 1 candle stick, 2 shot guns, 2 rifles, 1 candle stand, 1 handsaw, 2 clocks, 1 pair of sheep shears, 3 pecks of dried apples, 4 bee hives, 3 pairs of weavers looms, 4 bee gums, 7 saddles, 2 sickles, 1 umbrella, 17 ducks, 100 chickens, 13 bushels of Irish potatoes, 2 pickling stands, 1 grindstone, 1 work bench, 814 pounds of picked cotton, 67 pounds of lard, 19 horses, 39 sheep, 18 cattle, and dozens of other items.
There is a two-year discrepancy in the records as to the date of John Philips’ birth. The family Bible of his son, Benjamin, gives it as April 16, 1768. His tombstone records that he was in his eighty-first year when he died in 1846, which would place his birth in the year 1766. Since the Bible gives Benjamin’s birth as April 18, 1766, and was a contemporaneous record, while the tombstone was erected many years after John’s death, the author is inclined to accept the date given in the Bible.
Benjamin Philips’ estate was wound up in 1848. His coffin, too, was bought from W. L. Waters for $6.00. Among the interesting items of his settlement was an allotment of $26.90 to his widow, Lydia Philips, for a year’s support.
The brothers and their wives are buried on a little knoll which was formerly a part of John Philips’ farm, only a short distance southwest of Watertown. A handsome tombrock marks John’s grave, bearing this inscription: “John Philips died July 30, 1846, in the 81st year of his age.Mr. Philips was one of the first settlers on Round Lick, being the father of six sons and five daughters.” 6
1. Phillips Family History – p. 10 Harry Phillips 1935↩︎
2. Phillips Family History – p. 10 Harry Phillips 1935↩︎
2.5 “The area around Watertown was first settled by Captain William Thompson of North Carolina in 1780. He built a fort in the area to protect settlers and provide a safe haven for travelers on the nearby Holstein Trail. After Thompson left, the land became a revolutionary war grant given to Colonel Archibald Lytle, who received 1,000 acres, and his brother, Captain William Lytle, who received 500 acres.” – – https://watertowntn.com/about/history/↩︎
Family members: I am researching 2nd Lt. George Malone of the 18th Tennessee. I will look for his grave in Atlanta this month when I’m down there. My guess is that he was killed in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. His regiment was at the Dead Angle, ironically right next to my GGF 2nd Lt. Walter Scott Bearden of the 41st Tennessee. Additionally, their General Joseph B. Palmer was wounded a few days later in the Battle of Jonesboro where my GGF was severely wounded too during the last fight of the Battles of Atlanta.
“We all feel our fathers could not have chosen better women for our mothers than they did, could they have had all the advantages of our modern household arrangements.”…
“I have seen much of the world since I left you seventeen years ago [1862*]. I have lived in five different states of the Union, and visited many more, and know the average standard of morals and of the public conscience in a great many large communities, but I have never yet found the community so nearly free from moral defilement, and with so high an average of moral worth and so high a standard of duty, where manhood and womanhood have fewer stains upon them, than right here in Wilson County, within a circle of five miles from this point as a center.”
Friday, November 24, 2017 • The day after Thanksgiving
• Billy Pittard: (310) 880-7276
• Bob Henderson: (615) 477-0737
9:00 AM – Meet at Walterhill Church of Christ 7277 Lebanon Rd, Murfreesboro, TN 37129 The church is about a mile north of the intersection of Lebanon Road (US 231) and Jefferson Pike. 9:15 – Caravan hits the road!
The Old Greer Stadium – Vote is May 16, 2017 at 6:30PM | Davidson County Courthouse, 1 Public Square, 2nd Floor, Nashville, TN
Besides the tourism/historic value of this American Civil War icon, why is the city wanting to decrease public green space downtown? There is too little of it now. This 16 acre parcel has been in the public park inventory since the 1920’s. Half of it is proposed for commercial development by the Metro Council. That could be 8 acres of public downtown Green Space! As downtown explodes in development, we need more, not less, open space!
Fort Negley is the largest Civil War stone fort (inland)
Few Civil War sites remain in Nashville
African American Contraband Camps were located here
A former cemetery of over 11,000 Union soldiers – some of which could still be there
Bass Road, Cherry Valley, Tennessee (private property)
David Phillips, son of John and Mary Phillips, was born in Washington, County Pennsylvania December 11, 1794. Migrated to Tennessee at the age of three with his parents. He is our 4th American generation (A4) and the second David Phillips of that line.
Married Mary “Polly” Waters December 14th, 1820. She was the daughter of Shelah Waters, whom the city of Watertown is named.
“David was a soldier in the War of 1812*, family lore says he fought with Gen. Andrew Jackson at New Orleans. The War of 1812’ files in the Tennessee State Library at Nashville show that there were 138 soldiers by the name of Phillips in the war and six of these were named David. One was a corporal under Colonel Benton, one was a corporal under Captain Gibbs, The three were privates under Colonel Lowry, Colonel Coffee and Captain McKee, and one was a drummer under Major Woodfolk.”
‘The Phillips Family History’ by Harry Phillips • Published by The Lebanon Democrat • 1935
The site of the War of 1812 soldier David Phillips Sr. is located on Bass Road in Watertown, Tennessee. His son Lt. David Phillips (CSA) is also buried there. There are also several U.S.C.T. headstones.
David’s N.S. U.S.D. marker is incorrectly located at his fathers cemetery on Hale Road a few miles away.
John Phillips: eldest son of David Phillips (1794-1846), he is the 5th generation of American ancestors (A5), and the second John of that line. He was my Great-Great Grandfather.
“John Phillips was born on his father’s farm near Cherry Valley, Tennessee, October 23, 1821, and married Miss Rebecca Williams December 5, 1845. He joined the Round Lick Baptist church in young manhood, and on the fourth Sunday in April, 1848, was ordained a Baptist minister. Going into the work actively from the very beginning, he held pastorates at Barton’s Creek, Cedar Creek and Providence, and in June, 1852, was called as pastor of the Fall Creek Baptist church at what is now Norene, Tennessee, which position he held until his death. He also did wide evangelistic work.* John was administrator of his father David’s estate. In addition to his activities as a minister, he owned and operated a 284-acre farm in the 18th district of Wilson County. He had eight children: Mary Ann Frances, William Anderson, Margaret America, Julius Wilson, Martha Jane Howard, John Houston, J. R. Graves and Sarah Rosetta. John Phillips died prematurely and unexpectedly.”
*Grime’s History of Middle Tennessee Baptists, pages 249-250
Letter from John’s brother who was fighting in Virginia with the 7th Tennessee (CSA):
“Thus have I seen one of my fondest earthly hopes decay.”
“December 4th . Got a letter from John [brother] from which I learned he was about to volunteer.”
“May 10th . The events that have transpired since the first have been too extensive and important to attempt to record them here . I will have to leave them to memory to keep. Much of toil, weary marching, sleepless nights and hard fighting has fallen to the lot of this army since it left Yorktown. By the Gracious Providence of God I am here sound and unhurt. While I am preserved from the dangers of camps and the battlefields , sad news comes to me from home. Intelligence has come to me that I have lost a dear, much-beloved brother [John].Oh, how distressingly sad it is to be so completely cut off from home that I cannot know only perchance whether loved ones there live and are well or laid low by disease and death . Fondly had I cherished hope that I would meet that beloved brother again, but death hath separated us. Thus have I seen one of my fondest earthly hopes decay. The next stroke may remove me from those who will be left behind . Yet how consoling it is to think of meeting him in Heaven. There we shall know no separation. It is the sacred hope of meeting my friends in Heaven if not on earth that animates my soul and nerves my arm to withstand the temptations of life around me, endure the afflictions of the soldier and willingly risk my life on the battlefield. This life is full of desperations and dangers, full of sorrow and grief, but in the next oh how happy all shall be who while here love God and keep His commandments!”
‘The Phillips Family History’ by Harry Phillips • Published by The Lebanon Democrat 1935
Most Phillips men lived way past the average mortality rate (about 44 years in 1860). A previous ancestor reached 101. The Phillips clan also had a very high percentage of their children reach adulthood, also very rare for the times. The odds of Rev. John Phillips dying of natural cause in April 1862 at age 40, is rather low.
Joesph Phillips (A1) – age 101
Reverend David Phillips (A2) – age 87
John Phillips (A3) – age 84
Rev. John died on Tuesday April 15th, 1862, seven days after the epic Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862). Corinth, Mississippi (retreating point of the Confederate Army) would have probably taken seven days by horseback to Watertown, Tennessee (205 miles via the Florence, Alabama Tennessee River crossing point @ 30 miles per day).
Killing Pro Confederate Preachers? Coincidence? We will probably never know.
One of the first settlers in Watertown, Tennessee (then known as Round Lick, also know as Three Forks) was John Phillips. John Phillips (1768-1846) is our GGGGGF. John is the son of Reverend/Captain David Phillips (A2). He is the third generation (A3) of America ancestors, and the first born “Phillips” in the United States.
Other family names at this site, include Oakley and Bass. Earliest burial I could find was 1840.
The John Phillips Log Cabin circa 1802?
This rare two-story hewn timber log cabin may be one of the oldest in Wilson County, Tennessee. It was to home of John Phillips and was occupied by several generations. The property was deeded in 1801.
Old log cabins can be dated to a very specific point in time:
Dendrochronology (or tree-ring dating) is the scientific method of dating tree rings (also called growth rings) to the exact year they were formed in order to analyze atmospheric conditions during different periods in history.
John’s father, Rev. David Phillips (one of several by that name), was a Revolutionary War veteran. Could this be his land grant?
Normally cut timbers would be cured for 12-24 months, which potentially dates the cabin to 1802 or 1803. The core cabin’s exterior measures 24′ wide, 19′ deep, 13′ to 16′ tall.
“The settlers followed the West fork of the creek until they came to a big spring in the canebrake, and it was there that they made their final halt. John Philips built his home only a short distance from the spring. The farm where John Philips settled is known among the old folks around Watertown as the Henry Bass place. It is now owned by Mrs. Annie Patton, widow of Cecil Patton. The log house which John erected still stands, but has been covered with weatherboarding, and other rooms have been added to the original dwelling”
‘The Phillips Family History’ by Harry Phillips • Published by The Lebanon Democrat • 1935
We found this by shear luck. It turns out, the property owner is a friend of my brother Blake Henderson.
Our cousin Bob Henderson and I have started a tradition of cleaning up one of our ancestral cemeteries on the day after Thanksgiving. This Friday, we are planning to go to the Henderson Family cemetery on Puckett Road in Norene, TN. This is where our ancestors Preston and Darotha Henderson established our Henderson family in Middle Tennessee. It’s a beautiful location not far from Lascassas. Click on the map link below to see the specific location.
We plan to be there from about 10am to about 4pm. It would be great to see you there.
Weather is supposed to be good. It’s a beautiful area.
Please share this with our other cousins. Come and see where our ancestors lived and just enjoy the day – or come with garden tools to help do some cleanup. Either way, this should be a special thing for us all – and especially the children.
Since the experts say there will be a million more people moving to Middle Tennessee over the next ten years, if we don’t take care of these sacred places, they will disappear. It’s already happening.
FYI – Bob and I have already cleaned up the Hoover family cemetery at Walterhill, the Henderson-Malone cemetery near Powell’s Chapel, and the Charlton Ford Cemetery near Mona.
If you think you can come, please let me know. Best wishes for a great Thanksgiving!