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Bellwood/ Uxor Hill - His Wife's Hill

Updated: Jan 22

Photo from Daily News Journal/ S Harbers

Col. Hardy Murfree died without a will, and because his holdings were so extensive (over 22,000 acres), the State of Tennessee Legislature probated his estate. His daughter, Lavinia Bremberry Murfree Burton (1779-1881), received her portion of the estate which included about 300 acres near Murfree Spring.

Currently, the Murfree Spring Wetlands area is located at 460 SE Broad St. Lavinia and her husband Col. Francis “Frank” Nash Williams Burton (1779-1843) built their home, Uxor Hill, near Murfree Spring in 1813 as a 2 story white brick home in Early Classical Revival style. The location was on the rise of a hill. When a friend asked what name the home was called, Burton had to think. His beautiful wife appeared at that moment, and then Burton referred to his home as Uxor Hill, Latin for “Wife’s Hill” since the land belonged to his wife. (Burton and his friend were Latin scholars.) The children sold the property to the Avants.

In 1857, Judge James Monroe Avant (1816-1895), a Murfreesboro Attorney and judge, purchased Uxor Hill. Avant bought the property after his marriage to Mary “Polly” W. Childress (1834-1894) in 1837. Mary was the daughter of Major John W. Childress, prominent Rutherford Co. resident and owner of the Childress-Ray House. James was a lawyer with Charles Ready, Jr., a founder of Stones River Creamery Co. and its president until 1886. James was a partner for years with Chancellor B.L. Ridley. Then, James was a senior member of his law firm, Avent, Smith & Avent.

The next owners were Munford Jordan, L.D. Harrell, and Charles R. Hawkins.

About 1840, Robert Trigg “Bob” Bell, Jr. (1884-1955) bought Uxor Hill and renamed it Bellwood. He was married to Mary Rather Bell (1882-1962) in 1823. (Bell’s first wife was Katherine Currin “Katie” Rather Bell - 1887-1922.) Bob was president of Murfreesboro Bank and Trust from the 1930s to 1940s. It was the largest bank in Rutherford County for years. Their daughter, Mary Kathryn Bell Murfree (1922-2007), married Dr. Mattias "Matt" Brickell Murfree (1918-1984), a physician who practiced in Murfreesboro. Dr. Murfree was part of the illustrious Murfree clan of Murfreesboro. The also resided at Bellwood.

The Bell name is recognized by the land around the home being slowly developed since the late 1950s into a residential community called Bellwood, a main street named Bellwood Dr., Bellwood Trace Apartments, and the construction about 1963 of Bellwood Elementary School. A Susan Harber Daily News Journal article has a picture of the home in 1976. See Grantlands, Childress-Ray House

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