top of page
  • Jay Brothers

Hawthorn Hill: Doctors and Grand Ole Opry

Hawthorn Hill was built in 1806 in the Castalian Springs community in Sumner Co. John Bearden and his family lived in the simple 2 story brick Federal style home at 495 Old Highway 25. They had about 210 acres.

Photo from Hawthorn Hill State Historic Site, State of TN

In 1817, Col. Humphrey Bate (1779-1856) and Elizabeth Pollack Brimage Bate (?-1820) purchased the property. He was a veteran of the War of 1812 and a farmer. In 1821, he remarried to Anne Franklin Weatherred Bate (1804-1875). His family remained owners for over a century until 1936. After Co. Bate's death, Anne got ownership. A relative was Gov. Bate of TN.

Their son Dr. Humphrey Howell Bate (1844-1911) was the next owner. He wed his wife Martha Ann Bate (1840-1871) in 1869. He remarried in 1873 to Nancy Drusilla Simpson Bate (1840-1925). Dr. Bate was an early and prominent physician in Sumner Co.

The son, Dr. Humphrey Howell Bate, Jr. (1875-1936) had ownership at one point. He married his first wife Gertrude Elliott Brown Bate (1874-1909) in 1898. He remarried to Ethel Hesson Matthews Bate (1891-1954). He was a doctor and an early country musician. He was practicing physician. About 1900, he formed "Dr. Bate's Band." performed around Nashville with a string band, and him playing harmonica. About 25 years later, in 1925, the band performed for the first time on local WDAD radio station and were very popular. Soon, the band was invited to play on WSM's very first radio show. George Hay introduced them as Dr. Humphrey Bate and His Possum Hunters, and they were the first old time string band on the Grand Ole Opry in 1927. His daughter Alcyone Bate Beasley played ukelele and the first female to sing on the Grand Ole Opry. The band became fixtures on the Grand Ole Opry, and Hay called Dr. Bate " The Dean" of the Opry.

Dr. Bate, Jr.gave up his half of the property to his sister Annie Bate Brown (1878-1959) and Russell Marcellus Brown (1872-1937). They wed in 1907. Annie sold to L. H. Ray in 1936. 1948, Ray sold to George P. Canter. The J. C. Schell in 1970. Then A. P. Apple in 1970. Two years later, in 1972, William P. McLaughlin. His family remained 20 years until 1992. Then Marion Johnson McLaughlin sold to Tracey Parks.

In 2007, Hawthorn was taken over by the Tennessee Historic Commissinon and is now managed by Historic Castalian Springs with almost 10.5 acres. In 2017, it was restored. NR 2013


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page