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Peach Blossom (Whitworth): The Nucleus of a Bunch of West Nashville

Updated: Apr 4

Peach Blossom was built by Capt. Joseph Erwin (1761-1829) and Lavina Thompson McKemey Erwin (1763-1836) in 1803 at 215 Craighead Ave. Originally a brick Georgian-style mansion with a drive that fronted on what became the Richland Turnpike (West End Ave), Peach Blossom was surrounded by 650 acres. The mansion had a 50 foot entrance hall and a classic spiral stairway across from the front door.



Photo by Charles W. Warterfield


Erwin was a wealthy landowner/ planter with cotton interests in New Orleans. The Erwin family used Peach Blossom as a summer home to escape Louisiana heat. (Lavina’s first husband was James McKemey.) The estate included the future Craighead and Whitland Ave. neighborhoods including West End High School campus and Elmington. Erwin also had great racehorses and knew Andrew Jackson through that activity. One daughter Jane Erwin Dickinson Craighead (1787-1821) married Charles Henry Dickinson (1780-1806) in 1803. Another daughter Nancy Ann Erwin (1796-1837), wed Col. Andrew Hynes (1785-1849) in 1817. Col. Hynes was a Bardstown, KY native whose family had deep ties to the settlement of Kentucky. His father was a founder of Louisville, KY, and his uncle was a founder of Elizabethtownn, KY which was named after his aunt, Elizabeth. While using Peach Blossom as summer home, they primarily resided at the Erwin’s Home Place Plantation in Iberville Parish in Louisiana.


By 1806, the Peach Blossom plantation was successful and primarily grew cotton. Capt. Ervin also owned large cotton and sugar plantations near Plaquemine, LA. [Louisiana had just been purchased from France in 1803 - the Louisiana Purchase - and Erwin was one of the entrepreneurs establishing land in the new territory.] In 1806, a dispute arising from horseracing and eventually including an insult about Rachel Jackson led to a duel between Dickinson and Jackson. Jackson ended up killing Dickinson. Per several stories, Dickinson and Jackson did not like one another at all. According to lore, Jackson did not plan to fire at Dickinson but shoot into the air. But when Dickinson shot and hit Jackson, Jackson instinctively pulled his trigger and mortally wounded Dickinson. Because of the tragedy, the Erwins moved to Louisiana.


Jane later married John Brown Craighead (1782-1854), son of Rev. Thomas B. Craighead in 1809.

In 1829, after Capt. Erwin died in LA, the family sold 100 acres with Peach Blossom to his son-in-law, Col. Andrew Hynes, a successful merchant from Kentucky. Hynes enlarged the land holdings with several properties across Nashville and in several Tennessee counties. Col. Hynes ran a copper still and tin manufactory on the Public Square.


Between 1837-1842, he sold his holdings to neighbor Charles Bosley. Bosley (1777-1870) and Eliza Childress Bosley (1799-1873) were married in 1818. They held an enormous amount of land in what became West Nashville. Their home was very near the current “White House” Overbrook building at St. Cecilia (built by the Joe Warner family) and the plantation stretched from current White Bridge Rd. to past Charlotte Ave. east I-440 on both sides of Harding Rd./ West End Ave. from 31st Ave. North to Woodlawn Blvd. At Bosley’s death in 1870, the estate was left to his 7 year old granddaughter, Gertrude Bosley Bowling (1863-1962).


Her parents were Powhattan and Gertrude Bosley Bowling. She later married John Leonard (Len) Whitworth (1856-1905) in 1881. Gertrude and Len lived at Peach Blossom for about 23 years. The Whitworth holdings included numerous valuable commercial properties and storehouses around Nashville. In 1910, as more families moved westward, the Bosley/ Whitworth heirs including the Grizzard (Gertrude Whitworth Grizzard ((1886-1980)) and Dr. Robert William Grizzard, Jr. ((1880-1967)), wed 1908) and Fletcher (Gertrude Whiteworth Grizzard Fletcher ((1901-1970) and John Swepson Fletcher (Gertrude and Robert's daughter) clans organized Whitworth Realty. Dr. Grizzard was the son of Dr. Robert W. and ??? Grizzard of Goodlettsville. The father was also a very prominent doctor in Goodlettsville and Nashville and the family was an extensive landowner in Davidson Co. In 1908, Gertrude married Dr. Robert William Grizzard (1880-1967). They had moved across the street to 3630 West End Ave. by 1940 with Gertrude Bosley. The stone two and one-half story home has become known as the Neal-Grizzard home, then home of the Freewill Baptist Bible College library, and now owned by Jack May with plans to be restored. After Grizzard's death, Gertrude moved in with her daughter's family at 4412 Sheppard Place in the newly developing Belle Meade neighborhood. John Fletcher was president of Ft. Negley Mills. After the turn of the century, the Erwin farm became known as Whitworth Farms and was slowly developed.


About 1918, Peach Blossom was bought by Samuel and Myrtle Berger who operated the firm Loveman, Berger, and Teitelbaum (called Lovemans). In 1935, Mr & Mrs Clifton “Cliff” Timothy Johnson bought the property with 3.5 remaining acres. Later in 1954, their daughter Shirley Douglas and her husband Richard Douglas, Jr. moved in with her family until about 1966. Their son, Timothy Douglas, lived there until 1968 when he left because of the burden of maintenance costs. The home was boarded up by the late 1960s and finally destroyed in 1967 for townhome development. The family names are remembered with local streets: Bosley Springs Rd, Bowling Ave., Craighead Ave., Leonard Ave., Peach Blossom Square. See also Casa Loma, Evergreen, Whitworth


[Note: In the early 1900s, Nashville developed west and south with growth of electric streetcars and automobiles so plantations were sold as suburban subdivisions were established. In 1901 John Gray chartered the Nashville Golf and Country Club (NGCC). NGCC bought 10.8 acres and leased 36-46 acres of Whitworth Farms from the Whitworths. The clubhouse was built where West End Middle School stands. In 1905, Len died. That year, the board of NGCC tried to buy more land but couldn’t reach a deal with Len’s son, Charles Bosley (C.B.) Whitland. So in 1911, board split and a part of the membership voted to relocate to a new Belle Meade location promoted by Luke Lea and established as the Belle Meade Country Club. The former NGCC was renamed Richland Golf & Country Club (RCC) in 1921 with Edwin Warner and others in membership. They took over the land and increased the leased land to 92 acres. Richland Country Club and Golf Course were built.


Much of the Natchez Trace Parkway was built between 1956-1966. Mayor Beverly Briley considered purchasing Peach Blossom about 1966 as a significant historical landmark to show Nashville history. That did not happen, and the house was razed by the mid-1980s.


In 1986, developers bought the RCC site and RCC moved to a new location on Granny White Pike where it reopened in 1988. The new residential development was built and called Whitworth and included Whitworth Place.


About 1900, the Percy Warner family built a new mansion called Elmington on part of the former Whitworth estate near where the current Whitworth Club is located today.


Sources:

National Register of Historic Places - Whitland Area Neighborhood

Nashville Pikes Vol. 3 150 Years Along Harding Pike, p. 113


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