NW-41: NASHVILLE, DAVIDSON COUNTY, TN. Original site of this cemetery,
in 1891, “to the left of the North Nashville Bridge, over the Cumberland River.”
Names of persons buried in this cemetery were reported in a local Nashville newspaper, dated April 22, 1891. Paul Clements presented a copy of this newspaper article to the Davidson County Cemetery Survey project. The article reported that the property had “long since passed out of the possession of the (James) family and (the cemetery) is no longer used as a burying ground”
Nashville newspaper article. April 22, 1891.
A Nashville Pioneer. A Reminiscence of an Old Burying Ground Near The City
It was established on the Homestead of Thomas James Nearly a Century Ago
“An old, tumbled down brick wall, almost obscured by the brush and undergrowth, which has been allowed to run at will for the past quarter of a century, and a few moss covered and time-stained tombstones is all that marks one of the oldest family burying grounds of this county.
This old graveyard is located just to the left of the North Nashville Bridge on the banks of the Cumberland River and is known as the James burying ground. There are buried here the remains of Mr. Thomas James, and upon the plain, unpretentious stone over his grave is carved in old fashioned letters the information that he was born in Culpepper County, Va., November 12, 1744, and died August 18, 1825. His wife, Elizabeth James, rests by his side. She was born in Beaufort County, Va., March 28, 1779, and died June 29, 1849.
Then there are the graves of Mary Eliza James, Mrs. Elizabeth Davis, and Mary T. Jones, younger members of the James family. It has long since passed out of the possession of the family and is no longer used as a burying ground.
Mr. Thomas James, the head of this family, was one of the early settlers in this county and during this lifetime he owned and occupied about 500 acres of land lying on the banks of the Cumberland River, and this graveyard is on the old homestead.
The old people died, leaving a large family connection. There are, however, only three sons of the elder James left, and they are all over 80 years of age. These three brothers were named Thomas, John and David. The former lives in this county, John in California and David in Texas. John James built, after his father’s death, the present large brick house which is now owned by Dr. Randall, and was on part of his father’s old homestead. These three sons were successful negro traders and bankers in this city, and to the competency left them by their father they all accumulated handsome fortunes. The war and other causes brought reverses, however, and their fortunes were swept away until now the oldest, Thomas James is dependent and was given an allowance by the last term of the county court. The other two old men have only moderate resources left out of their once large fortunes.”
Information was sent from Kim Marvin Murphy about the original location of the Thomas James Cemetery as described in Northwest Davidson County by John P. Graves, published 1975. Pages 21 - 22.
Page 21. "...Before the Civil War, the James brothers (Thomas & John) constructed the large thirteen room house (on what-would-later-be Doak Avenue). It was a replica of the Hermitage. By this time they had become very wealthy. The invention of the cotton gin and the steam boat contributed greatly to their wealth. The house faced Old Hydes Ferry Pike. (Later the property was called the "Colonel Doak farm..."
Page 22 "...The (Thomas & John ) James families and the workers on their huge plantation were all buried in a cemetery near the steam boat landing located back of the present Bordeaux elementary school. It was located little more than one hundred yards down stream from the present bridge (1975).
Many tombstones were erected and they all seemed to tell a story. Such inscriptions as Aunt Eliza, favorite cook of Mrs. James; or John, beloved field superintendent of John James and similar inscriptions on the head stones. It seemed that many died during the terrible cholera epidemic as there were many references to this dreadful disease. There were many children's graves in the cemetery and some young adults.
The cemetery is hard to locate today since the stones have long since been destroyed and carted away by vandals. A gravel road extended from the steamboat landing to a point near where South Hamilton Avenue runs into Old Hydes Ferry Pike. This is about four blocks south of the traffic light in Bordeaux. This gravel road can be traced today (1975) across the Loula McPherson and Orbie Nelson properties toward the steamboat landing on the river. This road was probably the oldest road in the community, having been built before the Richard Hyde ferry began to operate in 1848..."
Addition to Thomas James Cemetery (Lost) website listing. 6-24-2013