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Everbright: Business and BGA ties

Updated: Jan 27

Everbright was built in modified Greek Revival style in 1840 on a hill overlooking Carter’s Creek Pike just south of the Franklin square by John Dabney Bennett (1799-1883) about 1838.


Bennett was married three times: 1820 to Elizabeth Terrill (1803-1841); 1842 to Elizabeth McGee; and to Nancy E. Peay Bennett (1802-1877). Congressman Richard Whitman Hyde Bostick (1816-1853) and Rebecca Letitia Cannon Bostick (1819-1900) wed in 1841 and purchased Everbright. They then acquired about 400 acres of surrounding land in the next 5 years. Her father was Newton Cannon, a political and military figure in Tennessee and its 8th governor. Her sister was Rachel Adaline Cannon Maney of Oaklands. Bostick was a Williamson County lawyer/ farmer and he served in the Tennessee House and Senate. After the Civil War, Bostick trained horses at Campbell Brown’s Ewell Farm.





Eventually, the Bosticks sold Everbright and moved to Fort Worth, TX where Bostick continued his horse training business. Rebecca moved to another home in Franklin and remained prominent in Franklin society.


From about 1832-1837, Samuel Lowry Graham (1812-1892) was the owner. He moved from North Carolina to Franklin, TN and engaged in a successful career as a tailor and in mercantile. In 1848, he changed his career path and purchased land in Hickman County. In 1866, Graham was the wealthiest person in Hickman Co. and one of the wealthiest in Tennessee. His first wife was Frances Elizabeth Helm Charter (1824-1863) from Columbia, and they wed 1846. Two years later, in 1868, Graham remarried to Thomas Ella Hardeman Harper (1837-1870) whose parents were Col. Hardeman and Betheia Perkins Hardeman. of Williamson Co. Thomas Ella named the newly built mansion in Pinewood called The Oaks - located on the Piney River west of Nashville. It was built to rival The Hermitage and Belle Meade Mansion and sat on 6,000 acres (which increased later to 8,000). He started in business with his brother then traveled to Franklin and opened a store and tailor shop. Once they prospered, Sam bought a huge amount of land in Hickman Co. Graham was married a third time to Martha Jane Clouston (1826-1892) in 1872.


By the 1870s, Graham had increased his holdings along the Piney River and had plantations along the Mississippi River in Louisiana - Stamboul, Tryone, Transylvania and East Transylvania - and Red Leaf, Thayride and Mississippi in Mississippi. He worked in Franklin and Columbia at earlier points of his life. He had a huge mill and lumber operation southwest of Nashville. In 1846, Graham married Frances E. Helm. After her death in 1863, he remarried Thomas Ella Harper Hardeman. After her death in 1870, he married Martha Jane Clouson (a great friend of Thomas Ella). From 1844 to the early 1870s, he returned to work in the Franklin area, first in mercantile, then with a factory and mill.


Everbright was sold to Graham’s son in law and Franklin leader, John Brown McEwen (1820-1903). McEwen married Cynthia Samuel Graham (1820-1894) in 1842 and began practicing law as Campbell and McEwen. McEwen was the attorney for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. He served Franklin as its mayor for four years. McEwen’s parents were Chris and Rebecca McEwen of Aspen Grove, and his uncle was Gov. Aaron V. Brown of Melrose. They moved to the Harris-McEwen House.


After McEwens moved, their daughter, Virginia Brown “Jennie” McEwen Cannon (1853-1935) inherited the home with her husband, Newton C. Cannon, Jr. (1847-1925). They wed in 1873. Cannon was the son of Newton Cannon, a prominent politician and the eighth governor of Tennessee. They resided at Everbright from 1904 to her death in 1935. Newton Cannon became a wealthy planter in Williamson County. Cannon’s parents owned plantations in Bolivar, MS and 2 plantations in Tennessee with 2,500 acres total. He served in the Tennessee Senate in the early 1810s. He served 2 terms as Tennessee’s first Whig in 1835.


After Jennie’s death, Battle Ground Academy (BGA) bought the property in the early 1900s, and the school boarded students at the mansion. When two different fires damaged the BGA campus in the early twentieth century, the school used Everbright for classes. By 1937, Everbright was owned by Commercial Trust Co. and then sold and razed for the development of a subdivision behind Battleground Academy.


Rebecca Bostick named house Everbright because the candles and lanterns in the windows shined brightly in the dark. Families and the home are remembered with Bostic St. and Everbright Ave. in the Franklin area as well as the Everbright Society for BGA donors. McEwen Drive and the McEwen community in Cool Springs honors that famly. See Aspen Grove, Harris-McEwen House, Melrose, Oaklands


Sources:

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