Caldwell-Abbay Hall History

Background on Caldwell-Abbay Hall

 Caldwell-Abbay Hall
  by Sheryl Jackson

   The land between Elysian Fields Rd. and Harding Pl. and between Trousdale Rd and Nolensville Rd. was farmland in early Nashville history. Our neighbors were the families who lived at Grassmere (Sheriff Michael C. Dunn built it in 1810, his descendents the Croft sisters gave it to the State of TN for the zoo and education) to the north, the John Overtons to the south at Travelers' Rest, and included the Hogans, Dr. Blackman, H. Blackman and J. Edmondson (with streets named after them).
    This neighborhood may have originally been part of the large John Thompson farm (according to a very helpful historian at Travelers' Rest). The Thompson family lived at Glen Leven on Franklin Pike (built in 1857 by John on land granted to his father Thomas Thompson for his service as a revolutionary soldier) and had a large farm east of there (at least as far as Sidco/Armory). There is a "Thompson's Church" on Nolensville Pike in an 1871 map of Davidson Co. Oral history includes accounts of large apple orchards with cotton and corn the primary cash crops. Another possibility is the Dickinson family who owned Brightwood where 100 Oaks is now located. The farmland around Peach Orchard Hill (historic marker at Harding Pl west of I65) was the "killing field' where 1000's of soldiers on both sides lost their lives in the Battle of Nashville; Travelers' Rest, Glen Leven and Grassmere were all known to be used as field hospitals or occupied by soldiers during the Civil War.
   North of Harding, apparently, the land was later owned by the wealthy banker, Rogers Caldwell. He was forced to give up Brentwood Hall (now Ellington Agricultural Center) to the State of TN after his Bank of TN and Caldwell and Co. closed in 1930 during the depression. But his family continued to live there for many years and he had farmland in our neighborhood, perhaps the entire area. In 1928 James E. Caldwell (Rogers' father) had farms listed as Elysian Fields Farm and Longview Farm.

   The Abbay (also spelled Abbey and Abby in early handwritten Davidson Co census records) family were present here from the 1800's. Twin brothers Anthony and Richard Rout Abbay were born in 1797 in Virginia. They both moved to Davidson County and were successful farmers here. Both married Compton sisters from a wealthy Nashville family. Richard Rout moved to Commerce, MS, in 1838 where he continued to be a very successful "planter". His son, Richard Feliz Abbay, took over his farm and his daughter Mary married into the Leatherman family. Abbay and Leatherman is one of the oldest and largest cotton plantations in the Delta and is also known as the boyhood home of blues icon Robert Johnson (see www.msbluestrail.org). He and Anthony must have continued to remain close and his son John Henry Blackman's children are both listed as boarding students in Nashville in the 1880 census. Anthony and Susan Abbay had 5 children listed in Davidson Co. census records from 1870 until at least 1920, all farmers. Various descendants are listed as living on Blackman Rd (Felix and Ethel and Septimus and Martha), Abbay Lane (Felix W Jr.) and Nolensville Pike (Seph and Bettie as boarders in their 70s). There must have been a large residence called Abbay Hall.
   Original residents of our neighborhood report that it was farmland. The Bedingfield family (Danby/Elaine) remember that their family home backed up to tobacco fields on Harding when first built.
  The metro government record of deeds lists part of our neighborhood as Abbay Hall (part of Abbay Dr., Inwood, Vicar, part of Danby, part of Elaine, part of Elysian Fields, Coventry, and Bellingrath) and part as Caldwell Hall (Blackman, Wauford, Milner, Arden, E. Longdale, Garrett, Binkley, part of Danby, W. Longdale, Edgeview, Harding Place, Overcrest, Gaywood, Blackman Ct., Lynn Dr., part of Abbay Dr., Hall Ct., Shadescrest, Briarwood, Merrill Ln., part of Elysian Fields, Langston, part of Elaine, Dunston, Edmondson Pk, Richmar, Trousdale, Timberhill, Desmond).