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Woodlawn/ Haynes Haven - Famous Stock Breeding farm in Maury Co.

Updated: Jun 11


Spivey and Susanna McKissack followed her parents in 1823 from North Carolina to the Spring Hill area. Shortly after arriving and establishing themselves, the McKissacks began to build the mansion that was called Woodlawn.


Dr. Spivey McKissack (1798-1864) married Susanna Peters Osborn Thomson (?-1840) in 1813 in North Carolina [Dr. McKissack’s second wife was Eliza B. Smizer McKissack, 1809-1872. Dr. McKissack was Susanna’s third husband. Col. Jeffries, her first husband, was one of the wealthiest men in North Carolina, and her second husband was prosperous as well.] By 1842, Woodlawn was completed for the McKissacks with at least 500 acres. Dr. McKissack was the first mayor of Spring Hill after it was incorporated in 1823 and was a builder of the Franklin and Columbia Turnpike. Dr. McKissack and his brother, William McKissack, became wealthy merchants. Dr. McKissack was the first person to purchase Confederate government bonds.


After Dr. McKissak’s death, his daughter Lucy Ann McKissack Gibson (1847-1923) married Capt Thomas E. Gibson (1837-1918) and moved onto the McKissack farm. About 1859, Gibson formed a wholesale dry goods firm, A.G. Adams & Co., in Nashville, with partners A. G. Adams and R. G. Throne. They closed the company in 1861, fought in the Civil War, and reopened the company in 1865. By 1871, he retired and focues on stock breeding. After Eliza McKissack passed away, the Gibson named their farm Woodlawn. Gibson helped Woodlawn become a very successful stock farm with trotters, pacers and saddle horses. Gibson served as the Librarian for the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railroad. The Gibson family were forced to sell the farm when the mule market collapsed. In 1894, Joe R. Smith and Charles R. Smith owned the property. Sadly, many of the trees on Woodlawn were destroyed by a tornado in 1875. From 1918-1936, the property was owned by William Mark Tolley (1866-1929) and Mary Elizabeth McClellan Tolley (1865-1929) (m. 1890). It continued to have a major influence in the horse industry in Tennessee, and Tolley focused the breeding farm for trotters and pacers. The Tolleys both died in Feb. 1929.


In 1936, John Lawrence. Haynes (1876-1945), a horsebreeder originally from Rutherford County, purchased the property and the farm was called Haynes Haven Stock Farm. He was a native of Murfreesboro and had made a small fortune in oil in Shreveport, LA and Texas oil fields. In 1940 and 1941, he owned the Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse of the World - Haynes Peacock.


Photo by James Hawkins


However, during restoration in 1938, Woodlawn burned down. Haynes rebuilt the mansion and named it Haynes Haven. It was passed onto their daughter Virginia Ann & husband Robert Lancaster. They continued the great influence on horse breeding. The family, Virginia L. and her mother and sister, sold the property to the Pressnell brothers. The Lancaster clan moved to another farm Splendored in the area. From 1957-1970, Harry Pressnell (1946-2013) and his brother Wayne Pressnell owned Haynes Haven with its 1,150 acres. Harry was married in 1996 to Pamela Whitley Pressnell of Columbia. Harry was CEO of Industrial Contractors Inc. and Columbia Rock Products Corp. He was a founding member of Community First Bank & Trust, and a past president of the Tennessee Quarter Horse Association. They installed the first inground pool in Maury County. They focused the farm on hay, beef cattle and Shetland ponies.


In 1970, the Lancasters sold to Jesse Ferguson Stallings (1909-1979) and Anne Louise Dale Stallings (1913-1983). He was president of Capitol Airways (1949-1984), bought the property and installed a runway. He also had a home in Nashville. After Jesse, his daughter, Martha Dale Stallings Lagerquist (1946-2016), and her husband John Rodger Lagarquist (1929-1990) took control of the property. Lagarquist worked with his father-in-law at Capital Airways. In 1985, Saturn Corp. arrived in Spring Hill to build the Saturn plant and purchased the place with 1,150 acres.


The mansion is now the GM Saturn Welcome Center. The name Woodlawn came from Dr. Spivey McKissack because of the large trees on the property. Haynes Haven was named by John Haynes. See William McKissack House


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