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Camp Bell - Ft. Campbell Named in Owner's Honor

Updated: Mar 28

Photo by Brian Stansberry

Camp Bell was built in 1835 in Greek Revival style on Coles Ferry Pike in Lebanon by Col. William Seawell and Nancy Evans Mabry Seawell (1784-1855). The acreage was originally nearly 210. Col. Seawell built a brick courthouse in the public square in 1810. Soon after, he served as a state senator from 1815-1817. The Seawells built the home for their daughter Lucy Ann Seawell Douglass (1819-1896) and her husband Williami Douglass, and the parents kept an interest in the home.

Seven years later, in 1842, David Campbell (1781-1841) and Catharine Bowen Campbell (1785-1868) bought the property from Seawell and Douglass. Gov. William Bowen Campbell (1807-1867) married Frances “Fannie” Isabella Owen (1818-1854) in 1935. Campbell purchased a share of Camp Bell from his father’s holdings two years later in 1844. His maternal grandfather was Capt. William Bowen of Bowen-Campbell House, and his uncle, John Henry Bowen, built Trousdale Place whose owner Willam Trousdale became a political opponent of Campbell. He had an extensive life of public service: officer in the U.S. Army in the 1830s; attorney-general, 1831; Whig member of U.S. House of Representatives, 25th, 26th and 27th Congresses; a judge 1847-50; and Whig governor of Tennessee, 1851-53 (last Whig gov); brigadier general in the Union Army during Civil War. Governor Campbell had lived in Sumner Co. but changed residence to Lebanon in 1853 and became president of the Bank of Middle Tennessee. After his extensive public service, Camp Campbell which was established near the Tennessee/ Kentucky border in 1942 was also renamed Fort Campbell as a permanent military base.

In 1858, when he bought his mother’s share of the house, he got full ownership of Camp Bell with over 200 acres. Fort Campbell is named in his honor.

In 1936, Camp Bell and 8 acres was owned by Mary Campbell Williamson Thomas (1884-1977), William Campbell’s great-granddaughter and daughter of Charles and Martha Ready. She was married to first Charles Ready Williamlson and then to Reid Newton Thomas, Jr. in 1946. Mary's sister was Mary Emma Ready Cheatham who at one point was married to Dr. William A. Cheatham. After Mary Emma died, Dr. Cheatham married Adelicia Acklen Franklin of Belmont.

In 1982, Camp Bell remained in the Reid Thomas family and sitting on 8 acres. NRHP 1982 See Belmont, Bowen-Campbell House, Trousdale Place


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