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Travelers Rest to Richland-1st Brick House

Traveler’s Rest was built by General James Randolph Robertson (1742-1814) and Charlotte “Ciddy” Reeves Robertson (1751-1843) inside his fort at 5904 Robertson Rd. James was one of the prominent western explorers who established the Watauga Association in North Carolina. In 1777, speculator Richard Henderson of the Transylvania Land Company purchased a vast area of land from the Cherokees that comprised much of current Middle Tennessee. Henderson arranged for Robertson and others to explore the territory. Robertson and John Donelson helped found Nashboro in 1779.

The Robertsons lived in a log home built in 1796 between 2 bends of the Cumberland River and off Richland Creek (located at today’s 23rd St. and Park St.) until James promised Ciddy a brick home.

Built in 1787 just southeast of the first home, it was the first brick house built in Middle Tennessee, and it was housed within the Robertson fort. Gen. Robertson named the home Traveler’s Rest. It was also known by the public as the “Great House.” The Robertson family held vast tracts of land south of Nashville: ranging south from the state capital to present-day Centennial Park and from Charlotte Pike to Richland Pike (now Broadway/ West End/ Harding Pike). James founded the historic Davidson Academy east of Nashville.

Two years after Gen. Robertson’s death, Charlotte changed the plantation’s name in 1816 to prevent confusion with John Overton’s Traveller’s Rest. Richland was a name Robertson called previous properties. It also recognized the fertile soil (rich-land) in that area. After Charlotte died, their oldest son, Jonathan Friar Robertson (1769-1814) and his wife Ciddy “Kitty” Davis Robertson (1772-1859) inherited the property. Her brother, John L. Davis owned Devon Farm, and one niece, Nancy W. Davis Hicks, wed Edward D. Hicks who came to live and own Devon Farm while the other niece, Frances “Franny” Grieves Davis Harding, wed David Morris Harding of Belle Meade Plantation. They owned Westover Plantation nearby.

After her death, Ciddy bequeathed the property to Mark Robertson Cockrill. Mark was a horse breeder, cattleman and planter. Mark already owned and resided at his family plantation known as Cockrill Springs which was located at the site of Centennial Park. He also owned a cotton plantation in Mississippi. Richland burned in 1902 while the Benjamin Cockrill Srs were residing there.

Following a buffalo trail west from the Nashville area, the family established a trail which evolved to the first road west of town called Charlotte Pike for Charlotte Robertson. The family name is remembered through Charlotte Ave., Charlotte Park, Cockrilll Bend, Cockrill Bend Blvd, Cockrill Springs, James Ave., Richland Creek, Robertson Ave. See Westover, Tulip Grove, Devon Farm, Belle Meade


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