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Old Town/ Thomas Brown House

Updated: Jan 11

Thomas Brown (1800-1870) and Margaret Smith Bennett Hunter Brown (1807-1888) moved to Williamson County from Virginia in 1822.

Photo from Old Town Franklin web site

[His first wife was Nancy Allison (1810-1838), daughter of Hugh and Lydia Allison of Beechgrove.] The marriage was a typical early frontier one: Margaret and Nancy had been close friends, Margaret’s husband had been killed, and Brown needed help with his children and desired companionship. By 1840, they were prosperous enough to buy a large tract of land from William O’Neal Perkins and build a 2 story frame house in Greek Revival style in 1846. It is located near the Harpeth River. Thomas increased the acreage to 546 by his death.

Image from Goodpasture sketch book

Their daughter, Bethenia Anne “Thenia” Brown Miller (1841-1909), and her husband, John A. Miller (1838-1920) married in 1866 and lived in the area. They moved to Old Town eight years later in 1874. They wed in 1866. Miller was a Maury Co. native. They continued farming at Old Town. After Thenia's death, John left the property and moved to Ridgetop resort north of Nashville to live with his son's family.

From 1948-1978, Henry Goodpasture (1898-1999) and Ella Virginia Puryear Goodpasture 1903-2002) resided there. Virginia's brother was G. A. Puryear. They had resided closer to Nashville and owned Orchard Gate farm which was about a mile and a half from Old Town. Goodpasture was Nashville attorney and also served on the Williamson County Courts. After their son graduated from Montgomery Bell Academy, they moved out permanently to Old Town. The working farm sits atop a nearly 700 year old village site of Mississippi Native American civilization. Virginia planted numerous daffodils along Old Natchez Trace and is locally famous for her beautiful efforts. The couple lived at Old Town from 1948-1978.

Between 1978-1991, Patrick M. Cooper and Catherine Cooper owned Old Town with 2.8 acres. Next two musicians owned the property. Jimmy and Jane Buffett from 1991-1995, then Kim Carnes and Dave Ellington from 1995-1999.

Maureen and Bill Cromling owned the property from 1999-2015. The Cromling’s principal residence was in Ohio where they practiced land conservancy there as well. Maureen was CEO of Ross Environmental Services. In Tennessee, she helped preserve Old Natchez Trace from too much improvement by the State of Tennessee and kept much of its history intact. Part of the Natchez Trace was cleared and built by Andrew Jackson’s men in the early 1800s.

Since 2015, Senator Bill and wife Tracy Frist have owned the Old Town house and are helping to resurrect the area. The Frist family has started the Old Town Historic Daffodil Project. The current location is on the Old Natchez Trace south of Moran Rd. The name “Old Town” comes from European settlers arriving in the area and recognizing that it had been populated before and noted on a land warrant in 1803. NR 1988


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