Monday, October 10, 2011

#16 William Trousdale

We are all literally surrounded by history, but most of us never think about it beyond a fleeting moment. Glancing out the window on my way to work, I see the sign for the Hermitage,  Clover Bottom Mansion (home of John Donelson)  and the studio where Elvis used to record (RCA Studio B). I drive past the site of one of the first Iron Works in Nashville, and one of the oldest, still active, Episcopal Churches in the area. I work in the shadow of the main site of the Union occupation during the Civil War and honestly spend very little time thinking about any of those things. They are just buildings and signs and noise that I tune out in my rush to get by from day to day. On a recent trip to see a Governor though, Major and I, took the time to show the potential of what surrounds you if you only take the time to look.
Major takes a moment out to rest at one of our many stops of the day
The first stop on our journey was Sumner County and to the Gallatin City Cemetery, which is the final resting place of the former Tennessee Governor, William Trousdale. Interestingly, it is also the site of one of only a few monuments in the entire country dedicated to the memory of those who served in the Mexican War. The monument lists the names of the 55 individuals from Sumner County who lost their lives during this conflict.
Mexican War Monument, Gallatin, TN
The next stop on our trip was to be Castalian Springs, which is located about 5 miles outside of Gallatin and to the family graveyard that contains the remains of former Governor William Hall. However, after leaving the cemetery I noticed a marker for Trousdale Place, which was the residence of William Trousdale. After stopping there to get a few pictures and attempting to visit the Sumner County Museum (which was unfortunately closed) we were back on the road to Castalian Springs. 
Trousdale Place, Gallatin, TN
The interesting thing about burial in the 1800s was that while some people were buried in 'proper' cemeteries a large percentage of people were buried in private or family cemeteries and over time these graves have become overgrown and forgotten. Unfortunately, William Hall's grave can be counted amongst the later group. The only information I had was that the graveyard sat about 2/10th of a mile off of the main road, but after driving aimlessly for twenty minutes I decided to give up my search and do a little more research before attempting this visit again. I was, however, able to locate the historical marker erected to Hall.
Feeling down at my lack of success and it being lunchtime, we decided it was time to call it a day, but on the way home we happened to pass a sign that said "Bledsoe's Fort Historical Park" and decided that it was the perfect day for lunch in a park. I have to admit that I was completely unaware that there was even such a thing as Bledsoe's Fort. Interestingly, the fort was one of the original exploratory outposts/settlements established in the West  (Middle Tennessee) and was founded around the same time that Fort Nashborough was founded in Nashville. The park today includes a few recreated buildings as well as an active excavation site.
Following a brief tour of the park and a bite to eat we got back on the road to head home, but no more than a mile down the road saw another historical sign this time pointing us toward Cragfont Historical Home. Having no-where to be and nothing planned for the rest of the day we decided to make another quick detour. Cragfont is a plantation house that was built in 1802 and still stands today. The house was the residence of War of 1812 hero and one of the founders of Memphis, TN, James Winchester. In addition to the house there is also a very nice rose garden, pond and a family cemetery that are all open for tours by the public. Unfortunately, the guided tours of the house were not being offered on the day that we visited but the beauty of the land where the house stands made the stop worthwhile.
Having completely exhausted ourselves and with the day winding down we decided to head home. As I drove, I began to think about the very nature of this blog and I realized what it is 'really' about. It isn't, as I had originally planned, just about the former Governors of the State, but, is in fact, about the State itself. The history that has been largely forgotten by all except a few, but that is staring us in the face every day. My challenge to you is the next time you're driving down the road and see one of those historical markers, pull over and read it, the next time you pass a sign inviting you to visit a historical site take the time out to do it...the experience will be well worth your time.


Name: William Trousdale
Birth: 23 September 1790
Death: 27 March 1872
Age at Death: 81 years, 6 months, 4 days old
Interment: Gallatin City Cemetery
Term in Office: October 16, 1849 – October 16, 1851
Political Party: Democrat
William Trousdale was born on September 23, 1790 in Sumner County, TN. At the outbreak of the Creek War in 1813, Trousdale volunteered for the army and fought under Andrew Jackson. He would again enlist  the following year in order to fight in the War of 1812. Returning to Sumner County, following the war, he would continue his studies and be admitted to the bar in the year 1820 and would enter into law practice until war broke out again, this time with Seminole Indians in Florida. Following an unsuccessful attempt at entering politics he would  find himself, yet again, in the midst of war, this time with Mexico, where after being appointed to Colonel in the infantry by  President Polk, he would serve with distinction, earning the nickname, "The Warhorse of Sumner County,." In 1849, he ran for Governor as a democrat and defeated the incumbent, Neil S. Brown. He would serve only one term, however, losing his reelection bid. In 1853, he would be appointed as Minister to Brazil by President Franklin Pierce . He would serve in this post until the end of Pierce's term in 1857. Returning again to Sumner county he would retire from public life and die at his home on March 27, 1872.

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