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Ewell Farm - Home of "the widow Brown" and Gen. Ewell

Updated: Jan 27


Photo by Hal Jesperson


Sitting on an initial 5,000 acres in Spring Hill, Ewell Farm was built in 1810 and completely renovated in 1867 into an Italianate villa style. The mansion is located on Depot Lane.


George Washington Campbell (1769-1848) erected the original structure as a hunting lodge. George married Harriett Stoddert in 1812. Harriett’s family had a wealthy, Maryland shipping background and her father was Benjamin Stoddert, President Jefferson’s secretary of the Navy. The renovated home became one of the most famous Middle Tennessee farms in the 1870s and 1880s.


Campbell was a prominent businessman with one of the largest land holdings in the area and had begun accumulating land in Maury Co. since 1808. He was admitted to the North Carolina bar and was elected to Congress from TN in 1803, 1805 & 1807. He served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Madison in 1814. Harriett was a good friend of First Lady Dolley Madison and helped her save valuable artwork in the Executive House including Gilbert Stuart’s iconic George Washington painting before British forces torched the structure. Afterward, the building was painted white to cover the scorching and became known as the White House. Then was appointed by President Monroe as Minister to Russia from 1817-1820.


After being sent to Russia as ambassador in 1818, a typhus epidemic killed Campbell's small children. Russian Tsar Alexander and his wife Elizabeth helped them grieve. When another daughter was born, the Campbells named her after the tsarina, Elizabeth McKay Campbell and with the nickname Lazinka. Their daughter Lazinka Campbell Brown Ewell (1820-1872) received a large portion of the farm upon her marriage to (James) Percy Brown (1812-1844) in 1837. Brown was a diplomat at the time, but the couple returned to America and resided at the Melrose Plantation in Mississippi. Her time was split between the Melrose property and the Campbell family house on Cedar Hill which she inherited.


About 1835, Percy’s uncle started a plantation for Percy and his sister Susan Campbell Ingersoll in Bolivar, Mississippi. Melrose was large - 1,200 acres. Later, Percy purchased another 1,200 acres nearby, 1,000 acres beside Melrose and a large tract outside Nashville. By 1844, the Brown’s marriage had failed because of Percy’s numerous infidelities, and that year, Percy committed suicide. In 1848, Campbell died and Lazinka inherited his 3,000 acres of sizable lands in Maury and Williamson counties. Lazinka's lands were near her cousin Archibald Campbell. Her brother and cousins helped oversee her holdings. The land was already valuable because it was near the Franklin/ Columbia Turnpike. Then in the late 1850s, it gained more value when the rail line for the Nashville & Decatur Railroad ran along the eastern boundary. Most of the Campbell land in Giles County went to son George.


During the Civil War, Lazinka spent her time in Richmond, VA. About 20 years later, Lazinka Campbell Brown married C.S.A. Gen. Richard Stoddert Ewell in 1863. Richard (1817-1872) was Lazinka’s first cousin, and he had been interested in her for many years. He held his wife in great respect and affectionately referred to her as “the widow Brown.” Ewell had served well in the U.S. Army and then chose the Confederacy in the Civil War. After being injured, he was captured then released in 1865.


Afterward, he retired to Ewell Farm for the last years of his life. Lazinka’s son, George, ended up serving on Ewell’s staff in the Civil War. Richard and Lazinka imported the first Jersey cattle to the South, introduced other modern farming techniques, and became national leaders in breeding racing horses. Through the horses, they got involved with thoroughbred horses and harness racing. The entire family became ill from pneumonia in 1872, but Lazinka died from it and after her death, Richard passed away as well.


Their son, Major Campbell Brown (1840-1893), and Susan Rebecca Brown (1847-1922) prospered and increased the size of the farm. After his death, fortunes declined, and in 1941, most of the farm was sold out of the family.


In 1976, the home was owned by Mr. & Mrs. William B. Rainey. As of 2015, Campbell descendants continue to own some of the property. NRHP 1976 See Mount Alban/ Breeze Hill


Sources:


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