Experiencing Nashville: Clover Bottom Mansion

March 4, 2008 at 1:06 pm (blog, Blogroll, civil war, experiencing nashville, historic nashville, history, nashville, photo, photoblog, photography, pictures, tennessee) (, , , , , )

 I found Clover Bottom Mansion by accident. As I was driving around with a friend, we happened upon it and decided to go grab some lunch and have a picnic on the grounds before exploring it. The day started with mild temperatures for January, but as the sun started to fade, it got pretty chilly. Still, we pressed on, armed with our handy cameras. As I was doing research about this “Experiencing Nashville” post, I was surprised to see that there is a connection to former president Andrew Jackson. Apparently he played a larger role in the development of Nashville than I realized.Here is a little bit of history:

The pioneer story begins in 1766 with the exploration of the long hunters. The river was named in honor of one of their group, Uriah Stone. These adventurers carried the story of this bountiful, uninhabited land with them when they returned to Virginia and North Carolina. It was fourteen years, however, before the first settlers arrived.In the spring of 1780, John Donelson, having led the flotilla of settlers to Nashborough, recognized the need to plant a corn crop immediately. He again boarded the good ship Adventure with his family, poled up the Cumberland around the great bend until he found the mouth of Stones River. He was looking for the alluvial fields that were as fertile as the Valley of the Nile and which needed no clearing in order to plant.  A short distance from the confluence of the two rivers he found what he was looking for on the west bank of Stone’s River, forever after known as The Clover Bottoms. Here he docked his boat and built half-faced shelters to house his family on the opposite bluff. This was fifteen-year-old Rachel Donelson’ s first home in Tennessee.


In July, heavy rains inundated the corn crop. This unhappy event, plus constant harassment from the native Indians, caused the family to move to Mansker’ s Fort for protection.In the fall, word reached the settlers at Mansker’s that the flood waters had subsided and that the corn had eared. John Donelson sent a request to the men at Fort Nashborough to meet him at the Clover Bottoms to help harvest the corn. Approximately ten men from each fort built wooden sleds to drag the corn from the field to the boats moored in Stone’ s River. Several days were required to load the boats.As they left the shore, the boat from Fort Nashborough was attacked by Indians; only three settlers escaped. The Donelson party was on the north bank, harvesting the cotton planted there. They abandoned their boat loaded with corn and managed to escape on foot through the woods. Donelson’s heroic slave, Somerset, swam the Cumberland River and brought help from Mansker’s Fort to the stranded group.  Meanwhile, the boat from Fort Nashborough floated downstream, eventually reaching the bluffs with its cargo of corn and slain men. The settlers there rescued the corn and buried their dead.Some years later Andrew Jackson operated several businesses along the Stones River corridor. He first opened a general store near the Clover Bottoms. To stock his store he went to Philadelphia and traded land preemptions for flour, sugar, piece goods, and pocket knives. In 1805 Jackson, with two partners, formed the Clover Bottom Jockey Club. A race track and tavern were built by the river. The story of Jackson’ s duel with Charles Dickinson is well known. The unfortunate quarrel started at this race track.A story that is not so well known is that of Jackson’s boat yard on Stone’s River, near its mouth. Here he constructed five flat boats and one keel boat for former Vice President Aaron Burr who was leading a group of colonists to lands he had acquired in Louisiana. In 1812 Andrew Jackson became a military officer and pursued a military and political career. Thereafter his business interests on Stone’ s River faded away.


The United States of America was a fine place to be in the early 1800’s. The young country promised its citizens the right to free speech, to worship as they wished, and to pursue happiness. And it was the pursuit of happiness which much occupied the minds of the young men and women of the Clover Bottom Community of Donelson, Davidson County, Tennessee. In 1804, thirty seven year old Anthony Clopton, left the ranks of bachelorhood behind and married into one of the wealthiest families in the area, the Hoggatts of “Clover Bottom” Farm. “Rhody” Hoggatt moved with ease through the glittering world of antebellum Nashville and brought to the marriage a level of sophistication not always in evidence at what was still a rough and tumble frontier.  

The large tract of land known as Clover Bottom Plantation came to be owned by Dr. James Hoggatt, who built the antebellum home in 1858 on land inherited from his father, Capt. John Hoggatt, a Revolutionary War soldier. Apparently, the custom was to give land to the soldiers to repay them for their role in the Revolutionary War.


This fine Italian villa style home is centered in an area of local historical significance.Social life at Clover Bottom revolved around church, parties, and the race track; not necessarily in that order. Now horse racing was serious business, and no where on earth did appreciation for the sport transcend those of the Clover Bottom folk. Anthony Clopton and his neighbors were members of the Clover Bottom Jockey Club, the hub of Tennessee horse racing for many years. Among its members was one Andrew Jackson. General Jackson was particularly devoted to the “sport of Kings,” and never missed an opportunity to match his renowned horses against all comers.


The events surrounding the races of March 3, 1806 proved not only to be a rich source of gossip for the inhabitants for months, but continues to engage the interest of historians and the imagination of writers.In the 1920s Lebanon Road ran through the Clover Bottom farm property and crossed Stone’s River just west of the present road and bridge.


The old stone bridge abutments are still standing. The Stanford brothers, A.F. and R.D., had purchased the farm in 1918. Since Lebanon Road split the property, A.F. took the section to the east of the road and R.D. took the section to the west. A.F.’s part included the antebellum Hoggatt residence and R.D. built a two-story brick colonial revival home on his side of the road.In the period following World War I the outlying areas of Davidson County were still rural farm lands. A.F. Stanford ran a dairy farm at Clover Bottom while R.D. Stanford raised white-faced beef cattle. The majority of the population of the county, however, lived within the confines of the Nashville city limits. With the proliferation of the family motor car in the “Roaring Twenties,” excursions to the countryside became a popular pastime. For those fortunate enough to own an automobile, exploring country roads, farms, and creek sides was a welcome relief from city life. There was usually a picnic basket on board filled with fried chicken, biscuits that had been buttered while hot, stuffed eggs, and a special Nashville favorite, chess pie.Finding a swimming hole in one of the area rivers or creeks was an extra bonus on these outings. Although Mill Creek and Richland Creek were good for wading, neither furnished very deep holes for swimming. Men and boys swam in the Cumberland River, but it was considered too dangerous for women and children. The best swimming spots were found in the Harpeth and Stone’ s rivers.One such spot on Stone’s River was on A.F. Stanford’s side of the old bridge near where the present-day bridge crosses. Mr. Stanford created a beach by having tons of sand hauled in. He constructed a frame beach house with dressing rooms, lockers, and showers. There were boats, springboards, and picnic tables. He even employed Mr. and Mrs. M.B. Hall to manage the beach operation. Mr. Stanford’s generosity in creating this community beach is documented in a 1927 advertisement which stated that everything was free.It also stated that Old Hickory busses passed every thirty minutes-fare twenty-five cents.When the new bridge was constructed in the early 1930s, the old road leading to the beach entrance was closed. The new bridge piers were sunk into the the swimming hole and floods washed away the sand. All that remains of the once-lively recreational spot are photographs taken by Wiles Studio in 1931, now in the collection of Merle Stanford Davis who married A.F. Stanford in 1927 and was mistress of Clover Bottom until 1948.After World War II, Clover Bottom Plantation was sold to the State of Tennessee and is now listed as a historic site.  Compiled from the following sources:http://pages.prodigy.net/nhn.slate/nh00020.html Essay:Pioneer History of Stone’s River Near The Clover Bottoms By Amelia Whitsitt Edwards Carlyn McCullar Bain Suellen Clopton Blanton http://www.nashville.org/mhc/historical_markers_nashville.htm


update: 9/9/12

the current link for info of historic sites in Nashville, TN can be found here:




  1. Going Like Sixty said,

    Thanks for posting all this information. Your last link seems to be broken and I couldn’t find the site by going to nashville.org.
    Looks like a cool place to visit in a couple months when trees and flowers are blooming.

  2. Going Like Sixty said,

    PS: saw your post on blog365

  3. Leslie Willing said,

    I found Cloverbottom Mansion while walking with my dogs along the “newly” discovered Greenway in Hermitage. When I moved to Nashville 4 years ago, I thought the Mansion was a private home. Thanks for posting this very interesting blog. It let me know some of the history of my new home and also let me know that I can explore Cloverbottom more closley. Thanks alot.

  4. mike said,

    thanks, i’m visiting for a few weeks and was looking for some kind of back story before i go.

  5. Evelyn Rucker McFarland said,

    Thanks for the post. Some of my ancestors lived at Clover Bottom before 1800. We wonder why they left the area and moved further upstream on the Stones R. Perhaps there was not enough land still available. We do know they were friends of the Jacksons and the Donelsons.

    • sallykent said,

      Wow! How fascinating to be part of that history. I think, partially, folks began to migrate to areas of better/more fertile farming land. You may be right that there just wasn’t enough land available. Are you in the Nashville area?

  6. cindy henry said,

    Thank you for the history, to add a little about historic swimming areas, Mill Creek has a spot called “Blue Hole” which is east of Blue Hole Road …south of Bell Road

    • sallykent said,

      thanks for that tidbit of info! Do you know if it’s still functional as a swimming hole and is accessible?

  7. Danny Mosley said,

    I use to work at CBDC. back in the 1970,s there were some stange goings on back then,and the storys I heard

  8. Bruce Clark said,

    My mother was born in a little house behind the mansion in 1938. Her mother (my grandmother) worked there.

  9. Nashville, Tennessee — Clover Bottom Mansion | The Wren's Nest said,

    […] Someone else got the full tour earlier this year, so I’d look to them if you want the history of the place. […]

  10. John Lannom said,

    My Dad’s family lived and worked on Clover Bottom. My Dad would have been there approx 1910 thru 1920. He told the story of a bad tornado that blew a barn away that he was hiding in. He worked as a young man for the owner of the mansion while his father and brothers worked in the fields.

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