Nashville History Lesson On The Famous Granny White

Dated: 01/22/2018

Views: 414

by TJ Anderson


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As with any region, Middle Tennessee is full of interesting names that become a part of our daily rituals, but that most of us don’t really think too much about. Davidson. Demonbreun. Cornelia Fort. Good old Murfree and his Boro.


Nashville has a healthy share of history buffs too, and if you’re among them, you probably already know the stories behind Nashville’s county and street and neighborhood names, or at least a lot of them.


For our other neighbors, though — especially new Nashvillians who haven’t yet dug into our history, but might be curious — I thought I’d start a Nashville History Lesson blog post series, offering a little bit of fun info on the people behind those streets and signs you pass every day.


I may get weirder/more esoteric as we go, but for this first one, I want to answer a question a few clients looking to buy a home in Brentwood asked me recently:


Who is Granny White?


Good to know: Granny White was indeed a real person, not just a random name chosen to make people feel attached, like, oh, Captain Morgan or Mr. Clean.


Her given name was Lucinda White, and she lived a long, fruitful life — the latter part of it here in Middle Tennessee — though by all accounts, it was far from an easy life.


A story that ran in The Tennessean back in the late ‘30s gave a little insight into how White, a “little old white-headed woman,” traveled here from North Carolina with her two orphaned grandchildren, “to face unknown dangers in the ‘wilds’ of Tennessee.” (Those wilds, of course, now being a much-desired place to live between Oak Hill and Forest Hills.)


She came here out of necessity as much as anything: Widowed and struggling with extreme poverty, authorities back in North Carolina were said to oppose her keeping and raising her grandchildren, thinking she’d be unable to provide.


So she packed up the boys, her old spinning wheel, a single ox and cart and traversed 800 to 900 miles, covering a few miles each day, to eventually build a new life in Middle Tennessee.


She was said to be a shrewd businesswoman, and her early successes as she covered those miles included multiple beloved gingerbread stands and a stint barreling and selling pine tar for the wagon axles of other travelers.


Eventually, she got the lucky break of meeting generous landowner Thomas McCrory, who sold her about 40 acres of land at a “nominal price,” situated on a ridge right between Nashville and Franklin, an area that was then called Hollow Tree Gap, along what's now called Granny White Pike.


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There, she started an inn that thrived in part because of its location — local travelers between the two cities, and stagecoach travelers moving between Louisville and New Orleans, steadily stopped, ate and rested at Granny White Tavern. (Judges and lawyers coming to and fro from Franklin Court were said to be particularly frequent visitors. Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk were likely among the prominent names who visited Granny’s place.)


History says it wasn’t just the place but the talents and attention of Granny White herself that made the tavern a Middle Tennessee treasure. A historical marker planted near her grave, right near where the tavern once stood, said it was “famous for its food, brandy and comfortable beds.”


Granny White died around 1816 at the age of 73, but she lived to eat the apples from the orchard she planted, and to see her grandchildren carried from poverty to stability.


And although the tavern isn’t standing anymore, her name’s certainly carried forward, both in the Pike’s name and a large Nashville subdivision that was developed almost 250 years after she was born: The Inns of Granny White.


You can read more about Granny Lucinda White in this thoroughly researched blog post — she led a seriously fascinating life.


For good measure: below, two gorgeous Inns of Granny White homes on the market now.


{mls: 1874733}

906 Travelers Ct

Nashville, TN 37220

$1,099,000


{mls: 1856804}

1154 Travelers Ridge Dr

Nashville, TN 37220

$2,250,000


Have any nagging questions about other Nashville-area names? Feel encouraged to drop me a note. (I’m also always here to help if you’re looking to buy or sell a home in Middle Tennessee.)


Top photo: americashauntedroadtrip.com 
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TJ Anderson

TJ Anderson is a Nashville Realtor with Benchmark Realty who's helped countless clients both buy a home and sell a home in Nashville, Tennessee. He blogs about Nashville regularly, from Nashville-area....

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