Historic Structures

Traveller's Rest - John Overton House, Nashville Tennessee

Date added: July 26, 2021 Categories: Tennessee House Plantations & Farms

Born in Louisa County, Virginia, Judge John Overton arrived in the Nashville area, then known as the Mero District of North Carolina, in 1789 by way of Kentucky, Shortly thereafter he was appointed Territorial revenue collector by President Washington, an office he maintained from 1795 to 1808, Overton was successful in law and in land speculation. From 1804 to 1810 Overton sat on the Superior Court of Tennessee and in 1811 he bacame a member of the newly established Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals. He began the custom of writing out decisions in Tennessee courts and in 1813 one of his colleagues, Judge Thomas Emmerson, edited a collection of opinions which became known as "Overton's Reports." This work did much to establish precedent in the judicial system of the state.

He became a close friend and advisor to Andrew Jackson, serving as his campaign manager in the presidential election campaign of 1824; Jackson's biographers agree that his presidential campaign was directed from Travellers' Rest.

After Overtoil's death in 1833, Travellers' Rest passed to his wife. When Mrs. Overton died almost thirty years later, the estate passed to their son, John. John Overton II, who added considerable acreage to the estate, was a justice of the peace, a member of the state legislature, and was said to be the wealthiest man in Tennessee just prior to the Civil War. He contributed much of his fortune to the Confederacy. The Confederate commander, John B. Hood, made the Overton house his headquarters when he arrived in the Nashville area in 1866 after the battle of Franklin.

Colonel John Overton died in 1898. In the hands of his son, May Overton, Travellers' Rest became one of the leading stud farms for Arabian horses.

The initial four-room two-story wood-framed clapboard house with a stone cellar was completed by December 1799.

A two-story two-room addition, also wood-framed, was made in 1812, and the resulting two-story block with a five-bay front constituted the simple Federal house that was initially at Travellers' lest.

In 1821-1829, the long two-story Greek Revival brick ell was added to the Federal block. At the same time, Overton built a carriage house and more cabins for his slaves.