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Hazel Path/ Belleview

Photo by Sydney Smith

Hazel Path was built at 175 Main St. in Hendersonville in 1857 by Gen. Daniel Smith Donelson (1801-1863) and Margaret Branch Donelson (1811-1871). They wed in 1830.

After his father, Samuel Donelson, died in 1806, his paternal aunt and her husband took responsibility for him - Aunt Rachel Donelson Jackson and Uncle Andrew Jackson who lived at the Hermitage. Daniel’s grandfather was Col. John Donelson - a founder of Nashville. Margaret’s parents were John and Elizabeth Branch of North Carolina. He held several legal offices and was Governor of North Carolina for a time. Donelson grew up in his early years at the Hermitage while visiting often at his family’s home, Rock Castle. After military service, Donelson returned to Tennessee and inherited Rock Castle and property from his maternal grandfather, Daniel Smith. Donelson was very successful and held vast land holdings. It was the last of the Donelson homes built and was owned by Donelson descendents through most of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Donelson served the Confederacy in the Civil War and Fort Donelson in West Tennessee was named in his honor. Hazel Path was occupied during Union Forces when the Union took Tennessee so Margaret and her family moved elsewhere during the Civil War. In 1865, the Donelson family tried to return to Hazel Path but found it had been confiscated by Union troops because Donelson was a West Pointer and U.S. officer who joined the Confederate cause. Margaret Branch appealed the situation to President Johnson. The president remembered the kindness of Gov. Branch of North Carolina (Margaret’s father) when Johnson was a boy. President Johnson ordered the return of Hazel Path to the Donelson family.

During the settlement of Gen. Smith’s estate in 1870, Hazel Path and 254 acres of property was sold to Judge John Kincade (1791-1873). He was a Kentucky politician and circuit court judge. He was married to Mary Gannett Waggener Kincade (1797-1862). Judge Kincade named his property Belleview. Judge Kincade died two years later, and his daughter, Mary Ann Kincade Weisiger 1826-1885) and her husband Joseph Weisiger, Jr. (1825-1901), inherited it in 1873. The Weisiger were both natives of Danville, KY and moved to Belleview after the judge’s death. They wed in 1847. [ The Weisiger clan was based in Boyle Co., KY (specifically Danville) and a cousin Emma Weisiger made a bequest at her 1952 death to fund an art building at my alma mater, Centre College. That bequest resulted in Weisiger Theatre which was incorporated later into the Norton Center for the Arts.]

A year after Mary Ann’s death, in 1886, Harry Smith, grandson of Daniel Smith and who owned Rock Castle, purchased Hazel Path and 121 acres for his daughter, Nannie Smith Berry (1861-1961) and husband Horatio Berry (1851-1908). The Berrys substantially increased land holdings to 3,800 acres. At Horatio’s death in 1908, the family owned Hazel Path, Rock Castle, Tulip Grove, and Bradford-Berry House. After Nannie died, her youngest child, Sarah Crosby Berry (1886-1978), lived at Hazel Path until her death. Sarah had earned her education at Peabody College and then abroad in Brussels. She earned a chemistry degree and was an accomplished agriculturalist - which was invaluable when she returned to manage the family lands for many years. Sarah was also very involved in education, and in honor of her work on the Sumner Co. Board of Education, the Nannie Smith Berry Elementary School was named in her mother’s honor. Then much of the property was sold for commercial development. In the early 1980s, Hazel Path was renovated by Harvey and Linda Gardner. In 1984, John W. Riadon III owned Hazel Path.

In 1992, Louis Oliver and James Fuqua, local attorneys, purchased the house. Hazel Path now has executive office space available and is available for special event/ wedding bookings. In 2017, Wayne Holloway, a local businessman, purchased the property. Holloway Investments operates a roofing company and has opened Chubbs Sports Bar and Barbeque. The house was named by Nannie Smith Berry in the 1930s for the hazel trees which lined the driveway. NRHP 1984 See the Hermitage, Rock Castle

[Side note: Bradford-Berry Home: About 1795, Revolutionary War veteran Patrick Henry Bradford built one of the first brick homes in what was then Cumberland County thence the Metro District and later Middle Tennessee. It was located on a 1,000 acre grant near Drakes Creek adjacent to Hwy 31-E (Gallatin Rd.). The home was based on the beautiful Virginia homes of his youth - a 2 story Federal. He called the home Hazel Patch and later it became the Bradford-Berry Home. In 1887, Horatio Berry purchased it for his newborn daughter, Sarah Crosby Berry. According to Sumner Co. historian Kenneth Thomson, Sarah did reside there at some point. Finally in 1969, it was sold to General Electric. Then developer Jack May owned it but never did anything with the property. In 2017, the City of Gallatin indicated an interest in saving the structure.] See also Rock Castle, Tulip Grove, and Bradford-Berry House


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