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Early Outpost in South Nashville: Rains Station/ Woodycrest

Updated: Apr 18

In 1784, Capt. John Rains (1753-1834) and Christina Gowens Rains (1752-1826) settled a 640-acre Revolutionary War land grant south of Nashville. Capt. Rains was an early “long hunter” in the future Kentucky and Tennessee areas about 1769 along with Kasper Mansker and others. About 10 years later, the Rains were traveling to the (then) North Carolina area, met and joined the Robertson group, and came to Ft. Nashborough. They searched and settled the land claim just south of the future downtown Nashville. Their property stretched from these current landmarks: east of Nolensville Rd. to Woodycrest Ave. to Glenrose Ave to Murfreesboro Rd. (including the current area of the Nashville Fairgrounds). They were very early pioneers of the Watauga Settlement (1775-1779) which preceded the settlement of Ft. Nashborough. Their blockhouse was known as Rains Station. There is a historic marker at Rains Ave. and Merritt Ave. marking the general area of their home. They added another 10 acres at least by Capt. Rains’ death.

The plantation was divided among 8 living children. Their daughter, Sally Rains Merritt, received the first lot. Another daughter, Elizabeth Rains Dunn (1781-1837), was given land that was adjacent. Elizabeth was killed a year after the bequest in 1837. Her husband was Michael Carnes Dunn of Croft House at Grassmere. In 1910, it was owned by J. S. Robinson and listed in the Historical and Beautiful Country Homes book. The Robinson family are descendants of Rains.

By 1919, it was part of Ward-Belmont College and called the Ward-Belmont Farm and Country Club or Woody-Crest Farm & Country Club. The home and property was sold to unknown buyers when Ward-Belmont sold its assets to the Tennessee Baptist Convention (see Belmont College). The families are recognized by Rains Ave. (off of Nolensville Rd.), Rains (Metro Transit Authority-MTA) Station Outbound, Woodycrest Ave, and the Woodycrest area. The Nashville Fairgrounds is the last large portion remaining of the original tract. See Belmont College, Croft House/ Grassmere


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