Prehistoric and Pioneer Settlement

The fertile land of Middle Tennessee brought first the Paleo-Indians, next the Archaic Indians, then the more settled Cherokee of the Woodland culture, and later the Mississippi Creeks and Chickasaws, who revered this land as a sacred hunting ground. 

Along with 200 men from the Watauga settlement, James Robertson began driving their livestock west in October 1779. They crossed the frozen Cumberland River to French Lick, now Nashville, Christmas Day, 1779. They were followed by the relatives, the elderly, and the sick of the Robertson group in a flotilla led by John Donelson, maneuvering down the Tennessee, up the Ohio, and then up the Cumberland River to the recently established Fort Nashboro settlement. 

This land rush to the rich land and fertile valleys had its inevitable conflicts with the Indians and eventually led to freeing the newly won land from the control of North Carolina. After several false starts, Tennessee became the 16th state in the Union on June 1, 1796. 

National Register prehistoric and pioneer settlement sites:

Benajah Gray Log House & Slave Cabin. One of the oldest houses in Davidson County, this site was acquired 25 years ago by the Metro Board of Parks & Recreation. 446 Battle Road. No tours, site open to the public, admission free.

Bowen-Campbell House. Built by Capt. William Bowen and Mary Russell. Bowen was an early pioneer and Indian fighter who eventually moved to the Cumberland settlements. A grandson, William Bowen Campbell, served as the 15th governor of Tennessee. See Museums for hours and location.

Buchanan Log House. James A. Buchanan, an early settler, built this two-story log house between 1800 and 1810. The house is available for event venues. 2910 Elm Hill Pike. Open by appointment only, rental fee (871-4524).

Demonbreun's Cave. This is the legendary cave where Timothe De MontBrun, one of the very first Westerners in the Cumberland area, is said to have escaped attacks by Native Americans. The site is inaccessible and can be viewed only from Cumberland River tours.

Fewkes Mound. This was a Native American settlement site and can be seen only from the road (the site is located on the grounds of the historic Boiling Springs Academy). Moore's Lane between I-65 and Wilson Pike in Brentwood. Privately owned, drive-by tourism only.

Fort Nashboro. This is a scale reproduction of the original 1779 settlement started by John Donelson and James Robertson. It was built in 1931. 170 1st Ave. North. Open 9-5, admission free.

Mansker's Station. Located in Moss-Wright Park, this is a reconstruction of a pre-Fort Nashboro station which served as an important trading post. Goodlettsville. Open Tu-Sa 9-4:15, admission fee.

Mound Bottom. This Native American burial mound and settlement is located on the banks of the Harpeth Narrows (Narrows of the Harpeth State Park). Cedar Hill Road off I-40 near Kingston Springs. Open to the public, day use only.

Newsom's Mill . The only existing mill in Davidson County is now in ruins. The stone foundations of this 19th-century mill have been stabilized. Newsom Station Road near Kingston Springs. Day use only, no admission fee.

Old Town/Natchez Trace Trail . An 1852 house is built on one of these Native American burial mounds and can be viewed from the road. This portion of the Natchez Trace Road is on the ancient Natchez Trace, a trail that terminated at the Native American settlement on the Cumberland. Natchez Trace Road, Franklin. Drive-by tourism only.

Historic Markers:

Buchanan's Station.One of the Cumberland Settlements established in 1780. Elm Hill Pike and Massman Drive

Chickasaw Treaty. In 1783, Chickasaw chiefs met with white settlers at a spring 100 yards north and agreed on land rights. Marrow Road and Terry Drive

Cockrill Spring. Location of the house of early settler John Cockrill near a spring bearing his name. Centennial Park, west side of West End Ave. entrance.

Davidson Academy. Established in 1786 in the Spring Hill Meetinghouse, it moved in 1801 to a building on  "College Hill.@ In 1806 it became Cumberland College, then the University of Nashville, and later Peabody College. Madison, Gallatin Road and Spring Hill Cemetery.

First Long Hunters. Henry Skaggs, his brothers, and a group of other long hunters were the first to explore this area. Goodlettsville, Moss-Wright Park.

Freeland's Station. On this site stood one of the principal stations of the Cumberland Settlements. 1400 8th Ave. North.

Granny White Grave. Grave of Lucinda "Granny" White who settled here in 1803. Granny White Tavern, famous for its food, brandy and comfortable beds stood 200' to the north. 5100 Granny White Pike.

Great French Lick. The key to both the vast Native American settlement in this area and the western settlements here was this spring. In 1710, a French trader from New Orleans had a trading post near the salt and sulphur spring. 4th Ave. North and Harrison St. Historic marker at 500 Jefferson St.

Heaton's Station Heaton's (Eaton) Station was built on this bluff in 1780 by pioneers who arrived with James Robertson. Lock and Baptist World Center Drives

Holy Rosary Cathedral. In 1820 the first Catholic church in Tennessee was built by Irish Catholic workers then building a bridge over the Cumberland River. It was replaced by a brick structure in 1830, known as the Holy Rosary Cathedral. The site was sold to the state in 1857, and the bricks from the cathedral were used for the construction of the Church of the Assumption. State Capitol grounds, northeast slope.

Hunter's Hill. This was Andrew Jackson's plantation, which he bought in 1796 and where he lived until 1804. Hermitage, Lebanon Road and Shute Lane

Mansker's Fort. On the west bank of the creek discovered by Kaspar Mansker in 1772 was constructed a log fort (1779). Goodlettsville, Long Hollow Pike before turning off to Moss-Wright Park

Nashville Inn. The first hostelry on this spot was established in 1796. 100 James Robertson Pkwy.

Site of First Store. Lardner Clark of Philadelphia arrived in the early 1780s. He established Nashville's first dry goods store in 1786. 214 Second Ave. North