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Elm Springs: Nice Fraternal Wedding Gift for Sally!


Photo by rossograph


Sarah Dick had two very loving and wealthy brothers - James and Nathaniel Dick - who had plantations around Louisiana and resided in New Orleans.


James and Nathaniel were very wealthy cotton merchants in New Orleans who owned the N & J Dick Company. Sarah met Christopher Todd. Todd had emigrated from Virginia to Maury Co. in Tennessee in 1827. When Sarah and Christopher wed in 1837, The brothers built Elm Springs in 1837 for their sister, Sarah “Sally” Dick Todd (1784-1853), and her husband Christopher Todd (1781-1868).


The Greek Revival mansion is located at 740 Mooresville Pike near Columbia - the old stage road between Pulaski and Franklin. Elm Springs was surrounded by about 208 acres originally.


Christopher supported Jackson College’s foundation in 1843 and helped create the Duck River Slackwater Navigation Comp. As James died a bachelor, Sarah and her children inherited most of James’ fortune at his death. After Sarah’s death, daughter Susan Kelso Todd Looney (1825-1886) and her husband Col. Abraham “Abram” McClellan Looney (1820-1904) moved their family into Elm Springs to reside with her widowed father. They wed in 1844.


When Christopher died, Sarah inherited the property. Looney was a prominent Maury Co. attorney and Tennessee state senator. Col. Looney, an outspoken Confederate, led the famous Company H of the Maury County Grays. When Federal forces held Maury County, Elm Springs was the western flank because of its locations and likely Looney’s Southern sympathies. As the Federal troops planned their retreat, Elm Springs was ordered to be burned. Locals and Confederate forces reached the mansion in time to save it from the set fires.


In 1910, Melville Cox (M.C.) Akin (1849-1908) and Martha Booker “Pattie” Ballanfant Akin (1863-1941) owned the property. Akin was the vice president of Akin Phosphate Co. Later, Ron and Barbara Bishop were the owners. He and his family moved to Columbia in 1974 to own Ron Bishop Ford, Lincoln and Mercury. The Jimmy Campbell family owned Elm Springs next.


Then in 1985, Fred H. and Kelli Gillham purchased Elm Springs and restored it to nearly original condition. [The Gillhams later owned Hamilton Place.] In 1992 Sons of Confederacy purchased the property and established its national headquarters.


The name comes from the trees on the property and the numerous springs in the area. NRHP 1986 See Hamilton Place/ Polk-Yeatman Home


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