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John Frost House (Cottonport): The Original Brentwood settlement

Updated: Apr 5

The John Frost House / Cottonport was built by Captain John Frost (1775-1836) and Rhoda Miles Frost (1778-1865) about 1810 at (modern-day) 9304 Old Smyrna Rd in Brentwood.


Photo by Skye Marthaler


Frost was a pioneer settler moving from South Carolina and, in addition to building a 2 story brick home, established a grist mill, general store and post office on the property. [ Background: The Frost family was part of a larger emigration from South Carolina because their Quaker beliefs were not welcome by slave-owning South Carolinians. Another large group went further north to Ohio. Capt. Frost’s family lands were lost when their Loyalist sympathies were defeated in the Revolutionary War.] Their home was built on the site of an earlier pioneer fort, Mayfield Station and they renamed property Cottonport although the area continued to be known as Mayfield Station.


After Frost died, his son Dr. Sterling Brown (S.B.) Frost (1822-1899) took possession of the property. His first wife was Martha Elizabeth "Mattie" Pollard Frost (1829-1883); they wed in 1847). He second wife was Rebecca Goodlett Rains Frost (1846-1929); they married in 1884. Rebecca was the daughter of Capt John Rains of Rains Station. The Frost family had tried to settle in what became the original Brentwood community, but were driven north to safety after attacks by Native Americans killed 2 family members. They stayed at Rains Station. Dr. Frost was a physician for the community and helped organize the Smyrna Church (now Brentwood United Methodist Church).


Then their son, Miles Goodlett Frost, Sr.(1889-1973) and Bessie "Bess"Mae Cotton Frost (1900-1976) inherited the homestead and named it Cottonport. They wed in 1923. The Frost family has maintained ownership through the years. The community of Cottonport grew up around Frost’s businesses. Cottonport Plantation was the early center of the emerging Brentwood community. It was located just north of the other early founders of Williamson County who lived along the Old Smyrna Road area. When the Louisville and Nashville Railroad laid tracks through the Atkinson Gap just east of Franklin Road in the 1850s, Brentwood development shifted west and the Cottonport community decreased over time. The Louisville and Nashville Railroad, Franklin Road and the Nashville-Franklin Interurban Railway service all used the Atkinson Gap area, and Brentwood growth focused from there and south.


The area later became part of Brentwood. [According to Brentwood historian John Oden in “The Brentwood I Remember,” the name Brentwood is derived from Brentwood, Maryland where a large group of early settlers had lived which itself came from Brentwood, England.]


[ Frost relatives, Samuel Miles Frost and Thomas C. Frost, continued to Alabama and then to Texas. S.M. became a founder of Houston and started the Frost National Bank of San Antonio.]


In 1988, Miles Cotton Frost (1926-2008) owned Cottonport and 3.5 acres. Recently in 2022, Woodard Haynes Frost (1949-?), great grandson of Capt. Frost, resided there with his wife, Elaine Poe Frost.NRHP 1988


Sources:


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