JOHN LIVINGSTON HADLEY, son of John and Margaret (Livingston) Hadley, was born 10 August 1788, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, died 26 December 1870, and is buried in the Hadley family Cemetery, Hadley's Bend, Old Hickory, Davidson County, Tennessee.
On 6 December 1815, he married his first cousin, Amelia Hadley. Amelia was born 8 September 1799, in Tennessee, died 11 February 1875, and is also buried in the Hadley family Cemetery, Old Hickory, Davidson County, Tennessee. Amelia was the daughter of Joshua and Hannah (Holmes) Hadley.
John Livingston Hadley graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1807, and from the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 1812. He served as a surgeon in the War of 1812. Shortly after the close of the war, he appeared in Nashville, Tennessee, where, in 1815, he married his first cousin, Amelia Hadley, and purchased a lot on the public square of Nashville.
About ten years later, Dr. John Hadley purchased the area now known as Hadley's Bend, and presumably, immediately began the construction of his home, Vaucluse.
Vaucluse was situated about two miles west of The Hermitage. It has been claimed that Andrew Jackson purchased the Hermitage site from Dr. John Hadley, but this statement is not substantiated by any known records. In those days there had been no Government survey and all parcels of land were described by metes and bounds which are often difficult to reconcile with present day descriptions. Both homes were constructed at about the same time. The Jacksons and the Hadleys were neighbors, and a certain similarity in the pattern of their homes may be recognized, as evidenced by Rachel's chapel and Amelia's chapel.
Apparently Dr. John devoted more of his time and energy to the management of his plantation than to the practice of his profession of medicine. Nevertheless he saw fit to send the only two sons who reached maturity through medical school. He also found time to act as a trustee of the Nashville hospital and to serve in the State Assembly.
In February, 1917, the United States Government condemned John Livingston Hadley's plantation to make way for a powder plant. His heir's received $333,000 for 3,300 acres and all buildings thereon. Only the family burying ground was reserved. After the close of World War I, the Dupont interests purchased the powder plant and converted it to rayon mills. In the process, Vaucluse was destroyed. Much of the polished wood and hand carved stones were shipped to the homes of officials of the Dupont company in Delaware. A pair of iron gates and stone posts were given to the little Overton cemetery in the village of Old Hickory which has grown up on the Hadley acres near the mills. A pair of carved stones from Vaucluse became a part of a new church which was constructed in the village In 1967, these stones were at the entrance to the home of Robert Livingston Brown in Donelson, Tennessee.
Following is an account written by Evelyn Kerr Tretter and sent to the Hadley Society by Willie L. Robinson.
"Vaucluse" was the name of the manor house, which stood on the gently rolling slope in the spot where Plant I Desulphuring is now located. It was torn down in 1924 to make way for the erection of Plant 1D, after the rest of Plant 1 had already been constructed. Many old-timers on the plant will remember the Hadley house and others helped to dismantle it. It had been used as offices for the Construction crew prior to 1924. (The Dupont Company)
Dr. Hadley, master of Vaucluse, was born in North Carolina in 1788. His father, John Hadley, was descended from Irish Quakers who first came to America around 1712. John Hadley married Margaret Livingston, relative of Robert Livingston, who helped draft the Declaration of Independence. Dr. Hadley was their only child. He entered the University of North Carolina, completed the curriculum there and studied medicine under Dr. Benjamin Rush of Pennsylvania. He received his M.D. in the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania. During the War of 1812 he served as a surgeon in the Army and soon after the war ended he came to Tennessee, where he married his first cousin, red-haired, 16-year-old Amelia Hadley, on December 6, 1815. Amelia's father, Joshua Hadley, had been granted large tracts of land in Tennessee an been granted large tracts of land in Tennessee and lived at that time in Sumner County.
Davidson County records show that the first property purchased in the county by Dr. Hadley was a lot on the Public Square in Nashville, which he acquired in September 1816. He owned land in many localities in Middle Tennessee. In 1826 he purchased 1,171 3/4 acres of land in Hadley Bend (then known as Jones Bend).
This purchase from Beal Bosley for the sum of $8,202.00 included four tracts, three of which had been original grants to James Robertson and the other an original grant to John Brown. He later acquired other property here, including 398 acres purchased from Alexander and Harriette Overton Van Court.
Dr. Hadley and Amelia lived in Nashville for a time, near the present Public Square, possibly in a house located on the lot that Dr. Hadley purchased in 1816. Members of the family now living do not know of their having resided anywhere else prior to their moving to Hadley Bend, during the late 1820's. Family stories have it that after the births of some of their older children, Dr. Hadley decided to move to the country, away from the smoke and noise of the rapidly growing Nashville, to bring up his sons and daughters in a more wholesome atmosphere.
So the doctor built Vaucluse, one of the most imposing and beautiful plantation homes in this part of the country. It was constructed of large brick made by slaves, with walls two feet thick and with stone lintels over the doors and windows. It was surrounded by a red brick wall five feet high, with false turrets every 12 feet. A hospital for slaves was on one side of the house, balanced on the other side by a carriage house, with Dr. Hadley's office in a small building in one front corner of the yard. Every building on the plantation was of brick, including slave quarters and even the Chic Sale out back with accommodations for four.
The house consisted of two 2-story wings, front and back, joined by a crosswise two-story hallway. Dr. Hadley built the back wing first and faced it east, toward the river. He added the front wing later and changed the main entrance so that the house faced west thereafter. A hallway led between the two large rooms at the front of the lower floor and opened through an archway into the much larger crosswise hall. Beyond this hall were the two large rooms of the original portion, with a hallway between them. The circular staircase was in the north end of the wide crosswise hallway, leading to the upper floor, which was similar in plan to the lower.
Ornamental stonework flanked the stone steps leading to the front entrance, where a brass knocker set upon an oaken door bore the name "Vaucluse." Inside, the hallway ceiling was a dull gray and the original paper on the walls was made up of 18" squares, each bearing a steel gray engraving of a Greek mythological scene, no two alike. The story goes that this paper was originally ordered by Andrew Jackson for the Hermitage. It came from France and the ship on which it made its long journey lost its course. When it finally did make port and the paper was delivered to General Jackson, he had already secured his paper (presumably the very paper you now see on the walls of the main Hermitage hallway). So "Old Hickory" sold his steel gray paper to Dr. Hadley for the walls of Vaucluse.
The old-fashioned garden with white graveled paths was very much like that at the Hermitage. This was not just a coincidence, for Amelia and Rachel Jackson were friends, according to family history, and often exchanged cuttings and bulbs, some of them strange to Tennessee soil, brought by their friends from the south. The vegetable garden behind the house was bordered by flower beds too, and next to it was a fine orchard.
The Hadleys were staunch Presbyterians and attended church in a log church building located where the Power House now stands. A brick building was built later near the present Filter Plant and became the Edgefield Presbyterian Church. This is the same "Brick Church" that still stands beside the Filter Plant, inside the plant area. When the property was bought by the Government the purchase price of the church and grounds went into the general treasury of the Church and was used as the nucleus of the fund to build the present church on Jones Street in Old Hickory. The present church also has the original altar from the Edgefield Church and at its north entrance are the ornamental stones that guarded Vaucluse's hospitable door. The stone posts and grilled gate that once were set into the front of the brick fence surrounding the house are now to be found at the entrance to the little Overton cemetery at the side of the bank in the Village.
The old road which meandered through Hadley Bend overlapped the present highway on the section between the Village and the plant. Somewhere near where the main gate is now located, however, it made a right angle turn to the north, running in front of the Hadley house and back through the plant area to the church. Here it turned left and led to the river, where a ferry operated before the days of the old swinging bridge, remembered by many Village residents.
Dr. Hadley lived at Vaucluse until his death on the day after Christmas, 1870.
He practiced his profession and was quite prominent in public affairs, having been a member of the Board of Trustees of Nashville University.
He engaged extensively in agriculture, the Vaucluse lands comprising at the time of his death some 2,605 acres nestling in the big embrace of the Cumberland. He and Amelia had 13 children, all of whom died without heirs except two sons, John Livingston Hadley II and Robert Livingston Hadley, both of whom became doctors. Vaucluse went to Robert, the younger of the two, who was the grandfather of the present John Livingston Hadley IV. John II inherited large holdings in the north end of the Bend, where he lived in a brick mansion somewhat resembling the original house. This house is still standing.
On December 13, 1860, Robert was married to Virgiana Starkweather, a beautiful girl from Ohio whom he had met while at medical school in the East. He brought his lovely Yankee bride to live on his southern plantation at the very outbreak of the Civil War. They had three children: Evelyn, Amelia and John Livingston Hadley III. Evelyn, the future Mrs. Charles Goodwin Pearcy, lived in the beautiful old family home until it was sold in 1917.
John III lived in a house located where the present "Y" building stands and it was here that his son John IV was born and lived until the property was sold.
He and Mrs. Hadley now live in Madison with his sister, Mrs. Alarik Tissell. They have two children: Margaret Livingston and John Livingston Hadley V. Joyce, a second daughter, is dead.
After the death of Virginia Starkweather Hadley, Robert was married a second time to Leonora Brazier. To this union were born two daughters and a son. One of the daughters, Maude, is the wife of W. G. Robinson, well-known local undertaker.
Just a little exercise of the imagination will reconstruct the plantation of a century ago and one can picture carriages arriving at the entrance to the manor house and hoop-skirted belles escorted through the grilled gateway by their gallant Southern swains. On the very spot where spinning machines now hum night and day, the sound of ballroom music used to drift from the wide, deep windows. Quilting parties and fox hunts were part of the social life of the countryside and the big rooms of Vaucluse were often filled with overnight guests.
But it was not all gaiety on the plantation. No doubt Amelia went often to the little log church to seek solace as 11 of her 13 children were laidaway one after the other in the little cemetery. Nine of them died in childhood and two daughters in their young womanhood.
The family graveyard was located some distance down the slope toward the river, back of the house. To get to it today you take the intake road that turns off into the Village. A few feet off the highway between the plant yards beyond the overhead pipe line, you walk straight into the woods, off to your right, and about 100 yards from the road is the graveyard, in a roughly square clearing among the trees. There is no path and you would never dream it was there unless you stumbled upon it or were given directions for finding it. The Company keeps the spot cleared of bushes but in the damp, black earth the wildflowers, weeds and grass spring up so fast that the graves are overgrown to a certain extent. Honeysuckle climbs the trunks of trees and Virginia creeper clambers cover the gravestones. Dark green ivy, such as you see in all old cemeteries, grows in profusion around the edges of the clearing and has spread out into the woods on every side. It has almost completely hidden the piles of crumbling stones that once formed the fence. The stone pillars of the gateway lie on the ground at the side next to the river and a few rusted pieces of the grilled gate are still there.
Somehow the setting is appropriate. These men and women and their children lie at rest in their own soil in a spot completely shut off from the noisy life of an industrial town and out of sight of smokestacks and pipe lines and factory roofs. In that sun-filled nook in the woods is nothing but peace and beauty and the songs of birds that build their nests down low beside the graves. This corner of Hadley Bend is still as untouched as it was when little Rufus Hadley, infant son of Dr. Hadley and the red-haired Amelia, was laid to rest 113 years ago.
I, John L. Hadley, a citizen of Davidson County and State of Tennessee, do make and publish this my last will and testament:
lst Item; I give and bequeath to my wife Amelia Eight thousand dollars in bonds of the United States for her life time and at her death the same to go to my sons John and Robert. In other words I give to her during her life the interest on said bonds and at her death, I give said bonds to my sons John and Robert. I also give to my said wife the interest in my real estate which the law would give her as dower in case of my intestacy. I also give to my said wife all my household and kitchen furniture, including my clock, two silver butter balk and my silver handle knives.
2nd Item; I give to Mary Laurent, a young lady that I educated for a teacher and who is now a teacher in Nashville, two thousand dollars in money, to be paid her at my death.
3rd Item; I give to Jordon Hadley, a man of color and formerly my slave and carriage driver, my fine blooded riding mare.
4th Item; I give to my wife Amelia in trust to hold the same for the use of my son John L. Hadley during his life and at his death to convey it to his heirs a tract of land lying in Hadleys or Jones bend in the County of Davidson and State of Tennessee embraced with the following boundary:
Beginning at the northeast corner of the land owned by Paul Dismukes in his life time and running thence northeastwardly to the house now occupied by H. . W. Bumpass on the west or south bank of Cumberland River, thence down said river to the land of Mrs. Ann Turner; thence along the East and northern boundary of said Turner to the Beginning.
5th Item; I will and bequeath the remainder of the tract of land or rather the rest of the tract of land I own in said bend to my said wife in trust to hold the same for and during his actual life and in trust to convey said land at the death of my said son Robert to his heirs.
6th Item; I have heretofore given to my son John L. Hadley seven thousand dollars and in dividing my tract of land as above, it has been my wish to equalize them as near as possible. But the parts given to each has not been surveyed and therefore I may have given more to one than I intended. I trust to the sense of justice of my said sons, that if I have given more to one than to the other that they will do right and authorize my wife as trustee to assist them in arriving at justice. To Robert I have given nothing or made no advancement. To John I have advanced $7000 as before stated and I have attempted to give Robert land with improvements thereon which was worth $3500 more than the land I gave to John.
7th Item; I give all the rest, residence and remainder of my estate of every nature whatsoever, whether the same be real or personal property or choses in section and consisting of debts due me from individuals, from the corporation of Nashville from the County of Davidson, from the State or otherwise to my said wife Amelia in trust to hold the same for the use, enjoyment and benefit of my said two sons John and Robert during their lives and at their death in trust to convey it to their heirs at law. In case of the death of either of my said sons John and Robert, I wish their children to occupy their shares.
8th Item; I nominate and appoint my wife Amelia, Executor of this my last will and testament and having entire confidence in her honesty and in the love she has for our said children, I desire and request that she be not required to give security before acting as such executor or trustee.
Photo courtesy of John W. Hadley