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Mansfield-Cheatham House/ Simmons House

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Photo by nyttend

Richard Cheatham (1799-1845), a prominent businessman, married Susan Saunders (1802-1867) in 1817. In 1803, Cheatham and Conrad Bros. operated a successful mercantile business and owned much land in Montgomery County. Cheatham also owned one-half interest in the Sycamore Powder Mill. He served in the Tennessee House from 1825-1833, was a justice of the peace, and served in the U.S. House as well.

In 1833, the Cheathams constructed a 2-story brick house for their family - the Cheatham House is located on 7th Ave. West in Springfield. One son, Dr. William Archer Cheatham, married Adelecia Acklen of Belmont. After Gen. Cheatham died, Susan remained at Cheatham House until her death in 1867. Their son, Edward Saunders Cheatham (1818-1878) inherited the property. Edward married three times: Ellen Jane Foster (1819-1851), daughter of U.S. Senator Ephraim Foster; in 1854, Julia A. Cockrill (1823-1855), daughter of Mark Cockrill, planter and owner of Mt. Solitude at Cockrill Springs; and to Lottie Wall of Holly Springs, MS.. Edward was a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives and of the Tennessee Senate. He served as Speaker of the Tennessee Senate. He also owned a grocery in Nashville and a sawmill in Greenbriar as well as serving as president of the Edgefield and Kentucky Railroad and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.

Eleven years later, in 1878, when his brother Edward died and Richard Boone Cheatham inherited the home, he sold the property to Cornelia Caroline Swanson Benton (1839-1914). She had been married to Sylvanus H. Benton (1829-1869). Then in 1882, the Female Institute burned, and the school moved its facilities into Cheatham. Later in 1888, Professor J. W. Huey purchased the house, and the school continued in operation until 1897 when it shut down.

In 1902, the Cheatham House was bought by Frances “Fannie” Walton Simmons (1862-1943) and thereafter was called the Simmons House. Fannie was married to Col. Willliam Henry “W. H.” Simmons (1860-1941). Simmons purchased a grist mill called Hills’ Mill in 1937 and renamed it Walnut Grove. It operated until 1963 and burned in 1967. Simmons remodeled the home’s style to Neo-Classic. The Simmons became very wealthy with their dark-fired tobacco business. They invested widely in regional real estate. Simmons owned tobacco warehouses in Springfield, Clarksville, Adams, Gallatin, and Greenbriar, TN as well as Hopkinsville, KY. They had two daughters, Mary and Julia, and the oldest Mary got the nickname the Springfield Tobacco Heiress. On a transatlantic trip in the early 1920s, Mary struck up a conversation with a quiet fellow passenger. They married in 1924.

Her husband was the Canadian Sir William Samuel “Intrepid” Stephenson, a World War I flying ACE and World War II spy. They traveled between New York and London regularly and visited her Robertson Co. family often. She assisted him with his spying efforts. Sir Stephenson was senior representative of British Security Coordination and shuttled materials between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Later, Lady Stephenson was credited by Winston Churchill and Harry Truman for her wartime efforts - which remain secret today.

Their daughter Julia met and wed Charles Wilfred “Wilf” Russell, a Canadian businessman. They owned the Russell House. It has remained in the Simmons family since with Edward Saunders Cheatham, Richard Boone Cheatham. In 1977, the Martin French family owned the property and its remaining 9.1 acres. Then in 2001, Tom and Jessie Clinard bought it. NRHP 1977 See Belmont, Mt. Solitude at Cockrill Springs, Russell House


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