There weren’t too many big ante-bellum plantations in Hamilton County, only two, in fact, which could really be called plantations at all in acreage, value, and number of slaves. Of these, neither left their name on the landscape. However, there were a number of large farms (and two homes) which were also named and did leave their names to posterity. Some of these have been written about previously on The Chattanoogan in separate articles, nearly all of these have been covered in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press and its predecessors, but to my knowledge never as a group under this theme.
These may not be all the homes and plantations with names in Hamilton County, and if any reader knows of more, please comment and/or email me.
Amnicola – Near the south bank of the Tennessee River, Chattanooga pioneer Thomas Crutchfield built the home he called Amnicola upon which to live and run his rather large farm. From the South Chickamauga Creek in the east, the Crutchfield farm (later owned by the Montagues) ran west to Citico Creek, to face the farm of George Gardenhire across it. The house itself stood roughly where the Amnicola Marsh North facilities are now.
Altamede – In Hickory Valley along Dupree Road and surrounded by Mary Dupree Circle once stood the stately manor called Altamede, constructed by Col. Lewis Shepherd soon after his arrival on the heels of the displaced Cherokee. It was, in fact, modeled on the Diamond Hill home of noted Cherokee leader James Vann near Springplace, Georgia, who at the time he lived was the wealthiest man east of the Mississippi River. Though he gave the name Hickory Valley to the narrow valley his home faced, Shepherd’s home and plantation were always called Altamede. At one time, it occupied nearly all of Hickory Valley, including what is now Shepherd, Tyner, Silverdale, Bonny Oaks, Old Hawkinsville (along North Hickory Valley Road), even Turkeyfoot along the Tennessee River (now Booker T. Washington Park), around ten thousand acres. At the time of the Civil War, the Shepherd family had about 24 slaves. Col. Shepherd’s oldest son was Judge Lewis Shepherd. Altamede eventually passed to the Dupree family, who held it until 1977, at which time it was demolished.
Belvoir – This area of Brainerd east of Belvoir and west of the former Conner and Stockburger farms took its name from the 1870 home and large farm of Eli Crabtree, which still stands well to the north of Brainerd Rd. near the Hemphill neighborhood, or did until a few years ago.
Bonny Oaks – Not originally the name of a residential industrial school, the land once belonged to the Shepherds of Altamede. Col. Shepherd sold the land and home (modeled after Altamede) to his in-law, Col. Jarrett G. Dent, who built upon it a home modeled after Altamede. After the Civil War, Dent sold the home and its lands to Capt. C.S. Peak. Capt. C.S. Peak bought the home after the war and willed it to the county for a residential industrial school in 1898.
Canachee – This was the home and estate of Dr. Joseph Gillespie northwest of Chickamauga Station and east of South Chickamauga Creek. Dr. Gillespie was mayor of Chattanooga 1844-1845. The land was later acquired by the Shepherds of Altamede.
Citico – This was the farm and estate of Chattanooga pioneer William Gardenhire, immediately east of the Reese Brabson farm and west of the Crutchfield farm Amnicola border at Citico Creek. During the Middle (or High) Mississippian period, the most prominent town in the entire region was here, the signature 28’ high platform mound (120’ x 30’) of which stood until most of it was destroyed by the building of the Dixie Highway. What little remains of the mound and townsite are protected by the Tennessee-American Water Co. The land where the Citizens, Confederate, and Jewish cemeteries lie between UTC and CSAS was once part of Citico.
Cummings Cove – This wasn’t really the name of the home built by John Walter Cummings in Lookout Valley in 1862 for wife Rebecca Fryar, but it was the moniker by which the land upon which it and the farm over which it reigned sat were and still are known. The Cummings farm was one of the largest in Wauhatchie. One of John and Rebecca’s six children was later County Judge Will Cummings. The home was abandoned by the third quarter of the 20th century and was rumored to be haunted, drawing curious high school students from all over the county. It caught fire and burned to the ground in 1979. The home later built by Judge Will Cummings, however, fared better and still stands.
Eastside - The home and estate of Abraham M. Johnson at the foot of Lookout Mountain, before he changed its name to St. Elmo.
Kalmia Cottage – This is the 19th century residence of J.H. Warner atop Lookout Mountain at the end of St. Elmo Turnpike, originally called St. Elmo, after the novel of the same name. He sold the home in 1885 and the new owners rechristened it by this name.
Lyndhurst – Not the charitable foundation, but the early 20th century (around 1912) 30-room, 30,000 square-foot Riverview mansion built by Coca-Cola magnate John T. Lupton which was torn down in the early 1960’s. It was named for the palacial home built in Tarrytown, New York, in 1838 for NYC mayor William Paulding and at one time occupied by railroad tycoon and robber baron Jay Gould.
Minnekahda – Another early 20th century Riverview mansion, built by John A. Patten in 1913, this home has been converted to condominiums and still stands. Patten originally intended for the house to be the center of operations for a large working farm but died in 1916 before these ambitions could be realized. Patten named his home after the Minikahda Country Club in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ( Information from John Shearer’s article for The Chattanoogan, “Minnekahda Condominium Was the John A. Patten Mansion”)
Narrowbridge – This was the large brick home built by George Henshall Sr. in the 1920’s on the site of the former home of pioneer Dr. Joseph Mackie, which stood until being torn down to make way for the new structure. Before Dr. Mackie, the large farm north of East Brainerd Road (formerly Bird’s Mill-Parker’s Gap Road) and east of Jenkins Road belonged to a Cherokee whose name was rendered as Braname. The stickball court for the local Cherokee community of Opelika was also located on the site. Henshall subdivided the land into plots for his children to build houses upon, his son George Jr. in 1963 building the structure he and his wife dubbed Long Ago, which now serves as the city’s Heritage Park as an art and civic center.
Oakland – Unquestionably and by far the largest plantation in ante-bellum Hamilton County, this plantation was owned by Daniel F. Cocke, who built his home which he called by the same name atop Clifton Hill, the knob the crest of which is circled by Clifton Terrace. Covering a huge swatch of Chattanooga Valley north of the state line, this plantation had 44 slaves living on it at the outbreak of the Civil War. His more famous son-in-law was Col. Henry M. Ashby, C.O. of the 2nd Tennessee Cavalry, one of the most feared Confederate regular cavalry units of the War Between the States. Almost directly across Chattanooga Creek lay the home and plantation of the George Gillespie family at what had been the home of Daniel Ross and is now Calvin Donelson School.
St. Elmo – The home and estate of Abraham M. Johnson at the foot of Lookout Mountain, named after the novel which took place in the vicinity. It was first the name of the Warner home atop the mountain until sold in 1885, upon which Johnson immediately bestowed the name upon his own home and the surrounding district, so naturally it became the name of the town that grew up and was incorporated there.
Sunnyside – This area of Brainerd east of Tunnel Blvd. and west of Belvoir took its name from the 19th century home and farm of Judge Robert B. Cooke, which occupied nearly all of the area upon which the neighborhood later stood.
Thankful Place – Mansion built by Abraham Johnson in St. Elmo suburb in 1887 to replace their summer cottage there and their home in Chattanooga. It was named for his wife, Thankful Whiteside Johnson.
Toqua – In 1860, Col. John King, brother-in-law of Thomas Crutchfield, named his home and large farm for the small Cherokee village first built near the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek during the Chickamauga Wars and later rebuilt after those ended. His lands extended east of the creek along the river and south to at what is now Bonny Oaks Dr. This included the land upon which Allen Bros. Real Estate Co. built what was planned to be the town of Kings Point, which still exists physically.
Vinegar Hill – Two brothers surnamed Steel moved into what is now the Brainerd Hills-Brainerd Heights-Wrinkletown area, the former Cherokee town of Chickamauga, on the heels of Cherokee Removal and established a farm there named after a famous battle site in their native Ireland during the Rising of the United Irishmen in 1798. The name for the neighborhood lasted until John D. Gray built the Western & Atlantic Railroad through it and the name Ellis’ Crossing, originally referring to the crossing of the railway by Bird’s Mill (East Brainerd) Road, supplanted it.
West View – One of Hamilton County’s foremost pioneers, Samuel T. Igou, gave his name to many features around the county, including Igou’s Ferry, of which roads on both sides of the Tennessee River retain the name. After the Cherokee Removal, Igou moved into the new lands of the Ocoee District, building a large home at the western mouth of the gap through Whiteoak Mountain called Igou Gap after him (just north of Parker’s Gap), overlooking his vast acreage in Rabbit Valley. A group of Cumberland Presbyterians purchased land for a cemetery and church from him in 1854 and gave the name Westview to both in his honor. After the Morris Hill School made its way east to a spot across the road from the church in the early 20th century, it became (and still is) Westview School.
Wildwood – This may have been the name of the home and lands of Tavner Martin (my own great-great-great-grandfather), whose manor stood in Lookout Valley less than a stone’s throw from the Georgia state line until about a decade ago, which were valued at $12,000 in 1860, a considerable sum for the time, and which included the presence of fourteen slaves. He and his family also owned much of the adjoining land in Georgia, upon which later grew the community by the same name. The nearest family was the Tittles in Dade Co., and the two families were so intermarried (as much as the Stewarts and Murphys of Dade Co.) that their descendants now have a Tittle-Martin reunion every year.