Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Devon Farm and Its Stone Walls
Antebellum Tennessee was Plantation country. Slave country. Its planters were wealthy, but their crops were hard to get to market. The wide Cumberland was of no use to men who needed to get their crops to New Orleans and its shipping, for the Cumberland flows north, seeking the Ohio River. The planters sent their wagons south, up over the Tennessee Valley Divide and down the Natchez Trace , aiming for the Father of Waters and the port of Natchez, Mississippi.
This is Devon Farm. When I came to Nashville in 1981 it was a stables. Horses grazed in the fields where the Little Harpeth meets the big Harpeth River. It was down on its luck, and eventually The Ensworth School rose in the fields. The old brick house is still there. So is the cemetery and a log cabin. And the stone walls as well. Built by slaves, flat rock upon flat rock, then angled like dominoes on top.
There are other slave-built stone walls in Nashville. There was a distinguished one that ran along Harding Road through Belle Meade. But it was damaged in Our Great Flood a year and a half ago and what replaced it was a reproduction.