Travellers Rest was built in 1799 by John Overton. Overton was a Tennessee Supreme Court justice and a close friend of Andrew Jackson. The home was originally a two-story Federal style home and was expanded three times before the beginning of the 20th century. Overton originally named his homestead Golgotha, which means "Place of the Skulls", a reference to Indian graves on the site. Judge Overton died in 1833 and his widow and children stayed in the house.
When the Civil War started John Overton's widow, his son John, Jr., John's wife and children were living at Travellers Rest. The plantation was over 1,000 acres and utilized 80 slaves. It was valued at the incredible amount of $68 million.
In 1862, the Confederates abandoned Nashville to the Union. John, Jr. fled town to avoid arrest. He went south, financed raising a new regiment and became a militia officer. On December 2, 1864, General John Bell Hood, commander of the Confederate army, made Travellers Rest his headquarters for two weeks leading up to the Battle of Nashville. Colonel John Overton returned with Hood. Here at Travellers Rest, Hood directed the building of the five-mile defensive line he set up against the Union occupiers to the north. He also had meetings with high-ranking officers and officials such as General Benjamin Franklin Cheatham and Nathan Bedford Forrest. The home was even the site of a major dinner the evening of December 12th following the wedding of one of the staff officers. Mrs. Harriett Overton said, "The proudest day in my life was when seven Confederate generals sat at my dining table."
During the Battle of Nashville, the family huddled in the cellar nervously awaiting the outcome. Hood, who had moved his headquarters for the battle, lost. His men passed the house as they retreated. The Union army came forward and Union General W. L. Elliott stayed in the house that night...in the same bed that General Hood had recently occupied. After the war, Colonel John Overton, Jr. took the Oath of Allegiance and worked hard in the service of disabled Confederate veterans.
In the early 20th century Travellers Rest became one of the largest farms in the US for the breeding of Arabian horses by Judge Overton's great-grandson Jacob Overton Dickinson. In 1954 the Tennessee Society of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America purchased the house, saving it from demolition, and restored it to represent how it looked during the 1830s. The property is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Open Tues. - Sat., 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sundays 1 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Last tour at 4 p.m. Closed Mondays and most major holidays.
Here are some items that may enhance your visit to this historic site: