Barton W. Stone preaches at Spring Hill Presbyterian Church, Nashville, September 1796

Part fifth (and final installment), a continuation from Barton Stone preaches at Mansker’s Station, August-September 1796, part 2:

My colleague, J. [John] Anderson, having preached through the settlements of West Tennessee, determined to visit Kentucky.  We had our last appointment in father Thomas Caraighead’s congregation, in which neighborhood we had often preached.  As we expected a large and intelligent audience, we endeavored to prepare discourses suitable to the occasion.  My companion, Anderson, first rose to preach from these words: “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”  I shall never forget his exordium, which, in fact, was also his peroration.  Holiness, said he, is a moral quality–he paused, having forgotten all his studied discourse.  Confused, he turned with staring eyes to address the other side of his audience, and repeated with emphasis–Holiness is a moral quality–and after a few incoherent words, he paused again, and sat down.  Astonished at the failure of my bnrother, I arose and prached.  He declared to me afterwards, that every idea had forsaken him; that he veiwed it as from God, to humble his pride; as he had expected to make a brilliant display of talent to that assembly.  I never remembered a sermon better, and to e it has been very profitable; for from the hint given, I was led to more correct views of the doctrines of original sin, and of regeneration.

Thomas Craighead was the first Presbyterian minister in the Cumberland settlements, having arrvied in 1785 from Kentucky.  He settled on the northern bluff overlooking the Cumberland River at the Madison/Opryland/Briley Parkway part of town.  Haysboro, as it was known then, was for a time a rival settlement to Nashborough down the river a bend or two.  Nashville eventually eclipsed the other hamlets, but the little stone church/school built there left an indelible impression on the larger community.  Opened on 25 September 1786, Davidson Academy was not only the first school in the Cumberland settlements but ancestor to the University of Nashville and Peabody College.  The stone building served as meetinghouse for Spring Hill Presbyterian Church, of which Craighead was pastor.  It was here that Stone held forth in the early autumn 1796.

En route to and from work each day I pass by the old Craighead homesite.  For locals, it was located under the Home Depot complex at the intersection of Briley and Gallatin Road opposite the cemeteries as you come into (or leave) Madison.  For a brief article about the home and its demise, click here.  There stood the Craighead place and there stood the little school which helped initiate a reputation Nashville enjoys to this hour: Athens of the South.

Spring Hill Presbyterian Church site, Nashville

Spring Hill Presbyterian Church site marker, Nashville

Spring Hill Presbyterian Church site looking across Gallatin Road/Briley Parkway intersection toward Craighead home site, Nashville

Spring Hill Presbyterian Church graveyard, Thomas Craighead grave looking toward church site. The grave is to the right of the church site.

Spring Hill Presbyterian Church, Thomas Craighead marker

Spring Hill Presbyterian Church, Thomas Craighead marker closeup 1

Spring Hill Presbyterian Church, Thomas Craighead marker close up 2

I wonder if Margaret Brown, then about age 96, was in attendance when Barton Stone preached at Spring Hill Presbyterian Church?

Spring Hill Presbyterian Church, Margaret Brown marker, age 100

Perhaps also in attendance was Dr. William McWhirter. The James Robertson party was among the first groups to move into Nashville. They constructed Fort Nashboro in the winter/spring of 1780. The Cumberland Compact was the first governmental document drafted and signed in Middle Tennessee.

Spring Hill Presbyterian Church, William McWhirter marker, signer of Cumberland Compact

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