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Spring Haven/ Hard Times/ Brook Haven

Updated: Mar 8

Spring Haven Mansion was built in 1818 by Dr. John Peter Wagnon (1789-1842) and Mary “Polly” Mosley Sanders Wagnon (1801-1877).

Photo from Hendersonville TN

A small cabin had been built on the property by Dr. Edward B. Sanders about 1800. Saunders was Dr. Wagnon's brother-in-law. Dr. Wagnon was a Kentucky native and married Polly in 1818. His first wife was Virginia D. "Jane" Martin Wagnon from Kentucky; they wed in 1812. The Wagnons called the newly built hame Hard Times.

The home is located at the current address as both 545 East Main St. or 1 Spring Haven Ct in Hendersonville. The property is situated between Highway 31 East and a bend of the Cumberland River. [Dr. Wagnon’s first wife was Virginia D. “Jane” Martin, married 1812.] Dr. Wagnon was caring for Mary’s father, Edward Sanders. After Dr. Wagnon bought some land owned by Edward Sanders, the couple built the home which they named Hard Times. It was thus named because of the economic depression in the country at the time. Dr. Wagnon was Andrew Jackson’s doctor and friend. About 1835, the Wagnon family moved to Memphis where Dr. Wagnon became associated with the new Memphis City Hospital and medical school. Evidently, the Wagnons and Saunders both movee to Memphis to staff the new hospital, care for travelers and river boatmen, and treat the regular yellow fever and malaria outbreaks in the area.

John Armfield (1787-1871) and Martha R. Franklin Armfield (1815-1904) married in 1834. and they had lived in Alexandria, VA. He had become tremendously wealthy in a slave trading firm partnership (Armfield and Franklin) with his uncle by marriage Isaac Franklin - Fairview’s owner. Armfield had married Franklin’s niece, Martha Franklin. The partners sold the slave trading company in 1836 and retired to other places. The Armfields moved to Sumner Co and lived at the plantation they called Spring Haven estate from 1849 to 1855. At the time, it consisted of 340 acres and the brick home. They renovated and enlarged the home and added additional buildings to the property. Over its lifetime, the home has als been called Brook Haven because of the numerous brooks on the property, and Grasslands. While living there, he helped settle Franklin’s estate. Armfield was also a cotton broker with offices in New Orleans.

Armfield then discovered the Beersheba Springs area, and enjoying it so much, he bought the community in 1854 and moved there. He developed it as a resort. Potentially to gain more influence in the Episcopal Church community, he built homes for two Episcopal bishops: Leonidas Polk and James Harvey Otey. Armfield was also an important figure in starting the University of the South including financial funding.

Around 1855, Armfield sold Brook Haven to Joseph Edwards while on a trip in Louisiana. The Edwards family moved to and resided at the plantation from 1855-1904. They renamed it Spring Haven.

After the Edwards family, John W. Russwurm (1859-?) )purchased it. He called the farm Brookhaven Berkshire Farm. For twenty years, from 1875-95, he started as a writer with The Gallatin Examner and then purchased it. At some point, he went to Nashville and started The Breeder and became secretary of the Tennessee Breeders Association. He also, with a partner, began handling printing needs for the State of Tennessee. When the Tennessee State Fair moved to the Nashville in 1906, Russwurm became Secretary/ General Manager of the event.

In 1940, Russwurm lived on Wedgwood Ave. In 2009, the owners had renovated Spring Haven into a special-events venue for weddings, events, and short-term rentals. In 2016, new owners Michael and Cara Hogan made great efforts to renovate and restore the property. Since 2018, Tammie and Danny Sutherland have owned Spring Haven with its 3 acres.

In 2016, there was a new publication called Spring Haven: Civil War Trails to help with historic interpretation of the property. See Fairview


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