1792, 21 December. Deed transferring 640 Acres
on Whites Creek to Joseph Philips signed. Proven in Davidson county court, July 30, 1793.
Notice Philips is spelled with two "L"s in this deed.
Click on the deed to either download a pdf file of this deed to your computer
where you can view it in a larger size or save it to your computer.
The above deed contains the following information:
Joseph Phillips. Territory of the United States
This indenture made this twenty first day of Dec in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety two
Between John Crow and Thomas Shannon of the first and Joseph Phillips of the other part.
Witnessed that the said John Crow and Thomas Shannon have this day forward in consideration of the sum of one hundred
and sixty pounds Virginia currency have granted bargained sold liened and in so offered to the sd Joseph Phillips and his
heirs forever one certain tract or parcel of land lying and estuate in Davidson County in the territory of the United States
south of the river Ohio, containing six hundred and forty acres more or less on the waters of Whites creek and
on the northside of Cumburland river, it being a preemption granted to the said John Crow by the State of North Carolina by
patent bearing date April 17, 1786. Beginning at an ironwood and hickory running
thence first three hundred and twenty poles to two boxelders. Thence south three
hundred and twenty poles to an elm and sugar tree. Thence east three hundred
and twenty poles crossing two branches to a sugar tree. Thence north three hundred
and twenty poles crossing a branch to the beginning. To have and to hold the
said tract of land with the appurtenances then unto belonging. To the only use
and behoof of the said Joseph Phillips and his heirs forever and the said John Crow and Thomas Shannon do by these presents
oblige themselves their lives executors and administrators jointly and severally to warrant and forever defend the said tract
of land containing six hundred and forty acres more or less as aforesaid and every part and parcel thereof to the said Joseph
Phillips and his heirs forever. In testimony whereof we have here unto subscribed
our names and offered our seals the day and year first above written.
Signed John Crow L.S. Thomas
Test John Overton
Received of Joseph Phillips on hundred and sixty
pounds Virginia currency being the consideration money of the within land witness our hands and seals the day and date above
John Crow L.S.
Thomas Shannon L.S.
Test John Overton
Below is the original land grant given to John
Crow which Joseph Philips purchase from hm in 1792. The grant is one mile square, reaching from Dickerson Road to White's
The interactive Google map below shows the location
of Joseph Philips' land, where his house was located, and where the family cemetery, Sylvan Hall, are located.
A painting of the home place is
entitled "Sugar Tree Grove", and there are other references that say the same. The family cemetery
which was on the property was called Sylvan Hall Cemetery.
Sylvan Hall around 1815
Sylvan Hall 1815
history of Tennessee and Tennesseans, the leaders and representative men in commerce, industry and modern activities –
Captain Joseph Philips. An able and much
respected representative of the agricultural and horticultural interests of Davidson county, Captain Joseph Philips is the
owner of a good farm lying on Brick Church pike, not many miles from Nashville. He was born November 11, 1838, on this same
farm, and here also occurred the birth of his father, William Duncan Philips, on June 10, 1804, thirteen years after the land
had been secured from the Government by Joseph Philips, the Captain's grandfather. He is of Welsh ancestry, his paternal great-
great-grandfather, Joseph Philips, having emigrated from Wales to this country in colonial days, settling in North Carolina,
where he pur chased a tract of land that had been granted by the Crown to Earl Grey, his name having been spelled "Phillips."
Joseph Philips, grandfather of Captain Joseph Philips,
was born in 1763, in Edgecombe county, North Carolina, where his parents were life-long residents. He was a rebel, and during
the Revolutionary War fought for independence. Another family named Phillips fought in the same war for the Crown, being tories,
and this so incensed Joseph Philips that he dropped one of the "L"s from his name, changing it to its present form, not wishing
anyone to suspect that he might possibly be a kinsman of the tory Phillips..
Shortly after his marriage, in 1791, Joseph Philips started with his wife for the wilds of Tennessee.
They made an overland journey with teams, following a blazed trail a large part of the way, bringing with them their household
goods, and all of their stock and slaves. He located in Davidson county, which he had previously visited, and which was then
very thinly populated. He bought a tract of land lying six miles north of Nashville, and began the establishment of a home,
his first step in that direction being the erection of a log cabin which he and his family occupied until 1804, when it was
burned, the fire occur ring in March of that year. He then burned a kiln of brick, and erected a substantial house, in commodious
colonial style, using whip-sawed timbers in its construction. This was the first brick house built in David son county, and
is still standing in good condition, and a part of the original log barn, built in 1791, is also standing. When he located
there Nashville was but a hamlet, and for more than half a century afterward there were no railroads in the state. He improved
a fine homestead, and with the help of his slaves was there engaged in general farming until his death in 1818. A part of
this farm is now owned by his grand son, Captain Joseph Philips, of whom we write.
Joseph Philips married in about 1784, in North Carolina, Milberry Horn, who was born in Edgecombe county,
that state, where her parents were pioneer settlers. She died on the home farm, in Davidson county, Tennessee, in 1849. They
reared seven children, as follows: William Duncan, Henry, Sarah, Margaret, Charlotte, Martha, and Mary. Henry died at the
age of seventeen years. Sarah married William Williams, and Margaret married his brother, Joseph Williams. Charlotte was drowned
when a girl in the Cumberland river. Martha married Thomas Martin, and Mary became the wife of Jesse Wharton.
William Duncan Philips spent his entire life of seventy-five years
on the old homestead, which became his by inheritance, and during his active career carried on farming with the assistance
of slaves. He was a stanch adherent of the Democratic party, sustaining its principles by voice and vote. He married Eliza
Dwyer, who was born in Roscrea, County Tipperary, Ireland, and came with her parents to America when a child. Her father,
Daniel Dwyer, a native of the Emerald Isle, immigrated to this country, bringing with him his wife and twelve children, and
his mother-in-law, Mrs. Cantwell. After living for a time in Nashville, Tennessee, Mr. Dwyer moved to Franklin, where for
a few years he was engaged in mercantile business. From there he went to Louis ville, Kentucky, and was there a resident until
his death. Mrs. Eliza (Dwyer) Philips died at the age of seventy-five years. To her and her husband seven children . were
born, namely : Milberry, who married William P. Harding; Mary became the wife of John Felix De Moville, of whom a sketch appears
elsewhere in this volume; Joseph married Annie Cozart; Margaret married Rufus K. Polk; Daniel married Mary E. Finn ; and William
and Sarah died when young. Daniel Philips, the fifth child, who settled in Nashville, enlisted at the age of sixteen years
for service in the Civil war, being commissioned lieutenant in a company of heavy artillery. He was twice captured, first
at Island 10, the last time at Fort Hudson, and each time imprisoned on Johnson's Island, where he was confined as a prisoner
until the close of the conflict.
Obtaining his elementary education in the rural schools,
Joseph Philips completed his early studies at the University of Nashville. At the breaking out of the war between the states
he enlisted in the Tenth Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, known as the "Irish Regiment," and was commissioned lieutenant of his
company. At the end of four months he joined Bankhead 's First Battery as its lieutenant, and being assigned to the staff
of General Leonidas Polk, was one of its lieutenants when the general met his death at Pine Mountain in North Georgia. Subsequently
a member of the staff of General Stephen D. Lee, Captain Philips was in active service in the C. S. army from the beginning
until the close of the war, taking part in many battles of note, among which were the engagements at Perryville, Kentucky;
at Shiloh; in the battles with Sherman's Army through North Georgia to Atlanta; and in the siege of that city. He was captured
by General Wilson's forces at Selma, Alabama, and while a prisoner-of-war was a guest at General Wilson's headquarters. On
May 15, 1865, Captain Philips was paroled at Columbus, Mississippi, and immediately returned home. He inherited, on the death
of his parents, a part of the old homestead. In addition to carrying on general farming, the Captain has made a specialty
Captain Philips married July 13, 1864, Miss Annie Cozart,
who was born in Columbus, Mississippi, a daughter of William Mangum and Sarah (Murray) Cozart, natives, respectively, of North
Carolina and Georgia. Captain and Mrs. Philips reared two sons, William Cozart and Joseph, both of whom died unmarried. Politically
Captain Philips is a straightforward Democrat. He is a member of one of the American college fraternities, the Delta Kappa
Epsilon, and belongs to the John C. Brown Bivouac, Confederate Veterans.
Joseph Philips made a surveying trip to Davidson County, North Carolina, from his home
in Edgecombe County, North Carolina.
In 1791 he moved his family (his wife and three little daughters), belongings, including his livestock
and twenty-five slaves, to Davidson County. The trip was overland along a blazed trail.
His first house was built of logs. This home burned in 1804. This same year the lovely old home
(now no more), "Sylvan Hall," was built.
This house was said to have been one of the first brick houses in Davidson County, Tennessee. All
the labor and material, including the brick, were the work of his slaves. It is said his better trained slaves, who were fine
artisans, made the exquisite Hepplewhite furniture, which was designed by an itinerant cabinetmaker who supervised the execution
of his designs.
This furniture descended to a great granddaughter, Mary Philips Polk Moore, who now lived with
her two married children in the West.
The house remained in the Philips Family for several generations, until it was sold by Mary Polk
Moore about 1915. It changed owners several times, and lost much of its charm.
Finally, in 1960, it was sold to the Bellshire Methodist Church, and in time razed for the church
building which stands on the site.
The acreage, once 1,000 acres, is now a subdivision; and nice looking, well-kept homes, mostly of
brick, and lawns are located on this once beautiful farm.
The location of Bellshire Methodist Church is six miles from Nashville on the left hand
side of Dickerson Road. (Originally, Dickerson was spelled Dickinson - for a family which
came to this part of the country about the same time the Philipses did.) They were a Baptist Community, and a church was nearby.
There's above an interesting story on the
origin of the Philips spelling with one "l". Seems at the time of the Revolutionary War, in Edgecombe County NC, there
were two unrelated families with the surname Phillips. One was for the Colonials, the other was Tory. The former
dropped one "l" from the spelling of their name to distinquish themselves from the Tories.
The records and stories about this Philips family
in TN and NC all show clearly that this family was named Philips, with one "L". There are some records and stories that
spell the name with two "L"s, but they are by far in the minority and it is clear that this family was know as the Philips,
with one "L", family.
Back in VA, it's less clear. There are
a number of early land patents in Isle of Wight, Surry, and Southampton Counties showing the hand written name Philips,
with one "L". Early books about this family show the spelling with one "L" for those Philips living in VA.
If this story is true, it applies to a time
about 1700 in VA, very early in the history of this Country.
Old Slave House
Sheep in the Field
The Front Gate
Sylvan Hall Around 1815
The above drawing was found in the Nashville TN State Archives with no
The name "Sugar Tree Grove" on the drawing may or may not be the name
of the place. One of the corners of the original deed for the 640 acres was a sugar tree, otherwise known as maple.
That could be the source of this name for the property.
It's interesting that Joseph Jr's daughter Margaret married Joseph Jr's
good friend Elisha Williams' son Josiah Frederick William and they lived on a plantation named Maplewood about 3 or 4 miles
away on Gallatin Road. Could Joseph Jr. have chosen a name for his plantation that is so similar to the name of Josiah's?
Mrs. Margaret Polk was the owner of the property in 1904 when she held
a family reunion there (see the newspaper articles below). That must be about the time this painting was made.
The below inscription appears on
the bottom of the drawing.
The residence of my great grandfather, Joseph Philips, six miles form Nashville, Tenn., which
he settled and built in 1791. He and his wife having traveled from Edgecombe County, North Carolina, the seat of their respective
families by wagon and located this spot which is still owned by one of their granddaughters, Mrs. Margaret Polk. Their progeny
to-day by close computation numbering between four and five hundred.
The water color painting at the right was done by Mari Omberg, wife of Chalmers
Omberg who is a descendant of Joseph Philps and Milbry Horn. They featured the painting on the front of their Christmas
card one year and were kind enough to make a copy availalble for this web site.
The page above says the house was built on Sylvan
Hall in 1791 but as related further above on this page, the original log house that was built in 1791 burned down in 1804
and that same year the house above was built.
The newspaper clippings below are courtesy of
By Jeannette Tillotson Acklen
First published Nashville 1933
Joseph Philips, great-great-great-grandfather of Margaret Chambers-Bouton (Mrs.
George Ralph Bouton), Lebanon, Tenn.
Joseph Philips was an early settler,
emigrated in 1791 with his wife, Milbrey Horn, from Edgecomb County, N. C., to Davidson County, and settled six miles north
of Nashville. His ancestry for several generations, both paternal and maternal,
were natives of Edgecomb Province under the Colonial Government.
"Joseph Philips served as guide for the Continental forces and participated in
the Battle of Kings Mountain. Mathew Philips, brother of Joseph Philips, commanded a regiment of troops and
died preceding the Battle of Kings Mountain, from an overdraught of water."
Joseph Philips served as Justice for Davidson County in 1796.
Joseph Philips was born in Edgecomb County, N. C., Oct. 31, 1763; died in Davidson County, Tenn., May 22, 1832; married, 1785,
Milbrey Horn, born in Edgecomb County, N. C., Dec. 4, 1764, daughter of Henry Horn, Jr., second husband of Sarah Battle, Hiliard,
widow, died in Davidson County, Tenn., Dec. 19, 1851.
I have been unable to substantiate
this claim that Joseph and Mathew were involved in the Battle of King's Mountain which took place 7 October 1780.
There do not seem to be good records regarding the participants of this famous
battle. It is unlikely that Joseph Philips Jr served in the Revolutionary War based on his young age (17 at the time
of the battle) and the fact that there is no record he received a land grant or pension for his service.
There also is no
record of his brother Mathew being at this battle. In fact I believe Matthew died before his father's death in December
of 1779 as explained below.
Matthew Philips is a son of the Joseph Philips, Sr who
was born 6 Nov 1726 and died about 1779. Born about 1752 in Surry County VA.
Mathew's father wrote his will
in December of 1779. Matthew died before his father based on the
below deed of gift his brother Benjamin received from his brothers. Therefore it's not likely
he was a Col and commanded a Regiment of troops and died preceding the battle of King's Mt. as related
below. This battle took place on 7 Oct 1780.
that Joseph wrote his will
in December of 1779 and
until after the battle
7 Oct 1780, but
generally wills were written
death in that
era. I have
The will wasn't
1783, so anything
"Dec 3, 1784, Edge CO NC Db 4, Pg 346,
Etheldred Philips, Exum Philips and Joseph Philips, Junr. of Edge deed of gift to their brother, Benjamin
Philips, for love and affection two plantations containing 1000 ac.
Their father, Joseph Phillips, decd., did in his last will and testament give these lands
to his son, Matthew Philips, who predeceased him, and the aforesaid Joseph Philips never gave or devised
the above lands but died posssessed of them.
One tract containing 300 ac on the S side of Swift Creek
whereon John Sikes formerly lived, was purchased by Joseph Philips from Wm. Kinchen.
The other tract containing 700 ac adj the aforesaid plantation. Wit: Robt. Degges, Jesse
Johnson, Jacob Dickenson"
In the book "History of Davidson, County, Tennessee, with Illustrations and
Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men and Pioneers (Clayton, 1971)" on page 413 appears the following:
served as guide for the Continental forces, and participated in the battle of King's Mountain. Matthew
Philips, brother of Joseph Philips, was colonel commanding a regiment of troops, and died preceding
the battle of King's Mountain, from an over draught of water."
This reference was cited by Irene
Ewing Hoss Bachner who descended from Joseph Philips via Orville Ewing II and his wife Irene Cockrill Watkins in her 13 September
1978 application for membership in the DAR. She spelled Phillips with two "L"s and said that his death place was
Williamson County TN. In spite of that, the DAR accepted her membership, crossing out the Capt. title for Joseph Philips
which was based on a Revolutionary War list of soldiers.
It's likely that this Joseph
Philips was confused with another Joseph Philips who served as a Captain and recruiting officer in Richmond, Surry County,
NC during the Revolutionary War. While there is no official record that I can find of any Joseph Philips being at the
King's Mt. battle, there are at least two pension applicants (Frederick Binkley and Christopher Kerby) who claim to have been there
with the Capt. Joseph Philips from Richmond NC.
I found a Revolutionary War Record for a
Joseph Philips who was commissioned 16 April 1776 in the Fourth Regiment of the NC Troops in the Continental Line. Our Joseph
Philips would have only been 13 years old at the time and his father would have been about 50 years old, making it unlikely
either would be this Joseph Philips.
an account of the Battle of Ramseur"s Mill on 20 June 1780,
four months before the Battle of King's Mt. King's Mountain
and Ramsaur's Mill at that time were both in Lincoln County, and not twenty miles apart.
importance of the battle is explained as follows:
battle is but little known in history, yet is one of the most important in results and best-fought of the American Revolution.
King's Mountain and Ramsaur's Mill at that time were both in Lincoln County, and not twenty miles apart. If Moore had
obeyed Lord Cornwallis, and delayed organization until Ferguson advanced, he could have reinforced him with two thousand men.
If the Whigs had been defeated matters would have been in even worse condition. Ramsaur's Mill was the first and most important
"act" in King's Mountain. It destroyed Toryism in that section and caused Bryan, with his followers, to leave the "forks of
the Yadkin" and not return until Cornwallis came."
Among the known participants in this battle was listed:
"Surry County Regiment of Militia detachment led by Lt. Col. William Shepherd (Wilkes) and Maj. Richard Goode, with two (2) known companies led by:
- Capt. Harrison Murray
- Capt. Joseph Philips
This seems to be an important bit of information that strongly suggests that the
Captain Joseph Philips at the Battle of King's Mountain was not our Joseph Philips, but the Joseph Philips from Surry County
Never the less, our Joseph Philips was a strong supporter of the American Revolution and it is possible that he, as
a young lad who had not reached his 17th birthday when the battle of Kings Mt. was fought, served as a guide under General
William Campbell as a guide, even though he probably was not familiar with the area around Kings Mt. on the NC/SC border
a long way from where he lived on Swift Creek above Tarboro NC.
Click on this link to read a more about Revolutionary War records pertaining to this issue.
Joseph Philips served as a Justice of the Peace. Following is a record resulting
from that service which I found at the TN State Archives:
Old Document • State of Tennessee, Davidson County.
To any lawful officer.
You are hereby commanded to summons Daniel Frazier, John Hope, Jea,s Bowers, Joseph Show, William Boen, David
Shannon, Jeams Shannon. Samuel Shannon, Abner Johnson, Absolam Hooper, Benjamon Nickols, John Worker, Jock Mac Farling to
appear before me or some other Juistice of said county to answer the complaint of Robert Cartwright, overseer of the road,
for default in working on said road.
Given under my hand & seal this 30th June 1797.
The paragraph below was excerpted from the following:
History of Davidson County, Tennessee, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Its Prominent
Men and Pioneers, by Prof. W. W. Clayton, J. W. Lewis & Co., Philadelphia, 1880, p. 72
RECOLLECTIONS OF NASHVILLE
By Col. Willoughby Williams.
Born in the year 1798; now in my
eighty-second year; mind and
unimpaired by age.
On the Wharton road the first prominent
man was Jesse Wharton, who married the daughter of Joseph Phillaps (sic). He
(Jesse Wharton) was a retired lawyer, once member of Congress from the Nashville district, and candidate
for Governor in opposition to Governor McMinn; also a magistrate of Davidson County.
On the Gallatin road lived Col. Robert
Weakley, a very prominent citizen of the county. Near him lived David Vaughn, a very wealthy man and the father of Michael
ind Hiram Vaughn.
Then Mr. William
Williams, a retired lawyer and a man of fine intelligence, Josiah Williams, and Thomas Martin, all sons-in-law of Mr. Joseph
Philips, a leading wealthy citizen.
Mrs. Martin is still living, in her eighty-seventh year,
at her old home.
Just beyond Mr. Williams lived Samuel Love, near Haysboro',
which place was settled about the time Nashville was, and for some time there was great competition between tbe two places.
This place was settled by Col. Robert Hays, who married the sister of Mrs. Jackson, and was the father of Col. Stockley P.
Hays and the father-in-law of Dr. William E. Butler and Robert I. Chester, both of whom are now living at Jackson, Tenn.
Below is the 1790 census record for Joseph's family
in Edgecombe County NC. Notice his last name is spelled with one "L".
The columns beside Joseph's name above are,
left to right:
Free white males 16 years and up, including heads of families
Free white males under 16 years
Free white females including heads of families
Joseph is the free white male over 16.
Milbrey, Sarah, Mary, and Rebecca are the four free white females.
Joseph Philips, Jr. Will
From this will we can see that Joseph Philips was not only literate, but one who had a large library
which he used for both pleasure and reference. Also, he was a large slave owner and farmer.
In addition to the written will, the microfilm copy of his will below contains an inventory
of his personal effects.
Philips Dec. Will
Recorded September 5 1822
I, Joseph Philips of the county fo Davidson and State of Tennessee do make and ordain this my Last
will and Testament, and do give and dispose of my estate in the following manner, To wit,
In the first place my will and desire is that all my just debts be as speedily and punctually paid
as the nature of the case will admit of -
Item 1. I give and bequeath unto my daughter Sally Williams the following negroes. Tourt,
Prince, Sen, Jerry, JIm, Parker, Luke, and Isaac - I also give and bequeath to my daughter Peggy Williams my negroes
named Jack, Will, Anthony, Sam, Lettis and her child, and Sagar and Sal and their increase from this date. I further
give and devise to my said daughters Sally Williams and Peggy Williams jointly all my land and mill situate lying and
being in what is called McLeans bend of Cumberland own to them and their heirs forever --
Item 2. I give and bequeath to Jesse Wharton to hold of dispose of in trust for the three children
of my daughter Polly Wharton deceased, John Overton Wharton, Joseph Philips Wharton and Sally Angelina Wharton the following
negroes, to wit, Sarah, Nathan, Prince, Washington, Daniel Abraham and their increases from this date. And the sum of
three thousand dollars being sixty shares of my stock in the Nashville Bank, And also to said trustee to hold in trust for
Sally Angelina Wharton I give and bequeath my negro mama and girl Martha -
Item 3. I give and bequeath to Francis McGavock to hold in trust for the children of my daughter
Patsy Martin on in case of his death or refusal to act before the said trust is completed, to Jacob McGavock in trust for
the same purpose four thousand dollars of my stock in the Nashville Bank, being either shares which is to remain in Bank
for the benefit of the children of the said Patsy Martin and under the control of my said trustee as therein directed and
the dividends or interest arising from the whole sum (after deducting therefrom an adequate compensation for his trouble)
to be paid out in Bank stock by my said trustee as above directed and given in equal shares to each as they may marry or come
of lawful age -
Item 4. I give and devise to my son William Duncan Philips the land on which I now live, together
with all that which I purchased of James Rolp (not sure if this is correct last name)
and James Mores (not sure if this is correct last name) except what I sold to Duke Wm
Sumner with everthing thereto belonging, and all the improvements thereon - All my household and kitchen furniture of
every kind, farming utensils and tools of every description - my wearing cloths - Stalls and tubs, one wagon and gear, and
team of as good horses as I may have, Two brood mares and his colt, two hundred barrels of corn, a hundred bushels of Rye,
thirty bushels of wheat, four thousand weight of pork, thirty five head of hogs, fifteen ewe sheep, five cows and calves,
And the following negroes, to wit, Jacob Sen, Jacob Jun., Mose, George bought of Cartwright, Sterling, Davy, John, Jimmy,
Cherry, Linda, Mary and George and their increase from this date. What old spirits may be on hand, such as I keep for
family use. As much fodder as will serve for one year, and all the fowls Provided however that out
of the devises above named to my son William D. Philips, my executor hereafter named shall set apart for the support and comfortable
maintainance of my wife during her material life such part and so much thereof as they in their discretion may think necessary
and proper all of which at her death shall go to my son Williams as above divided to him and his heirs forever - I will
and order such sum as may be necessary in the opinion of my executors, to be expended in enclosing the family graveyard -
Item 5. As to all the rest, residence and remainder of my personal estate & goods and
chattels of what kind and nature soever, I will and order shall be shold by my executors at shuch time and on such credit
as they may judgement necessary and proper and the proceeds of such sales, together with the debts due to my estate, be applied
as far as occasion may require to the payment of my debts. And if after payment of my debts any part should remain,
I desire that it shall be equally divided between my daughters Sally Williams & Peggy Williams, but if the fund thus
created for the payment of any debts should prove insufficient, it is my desire that Josiah F. Williams whom I hereby appoint
guardian to my son William D. Philips shall set apart some of the personal property given to my son William as will be sufficient
to pay the ballance of my debts. It is also my will that the property left to my son William be kept together on the
farm under the direction of his said Guardian, and that the Distilery (sic) on said farm be carried on or rented yearly,
and a person employed to attend to the business from year to year as his guardian may think proper: And that his property
may be given to him when he shall arrive at twenty one years of age or sooner if his guardian may
Joseph Philips made a surveying trip to
Davidson County, North Carolina, from his home in Edgecombe County, North Carolina.
In 1791 he moved
his family (his wife and three little daughters), belongings, including his livestock and twenty-five
slaves, to Davidson County. The trip was overland along a blazed trail.
first house was built of logs. This home burned in 1804. This same year the lovely old home (now no more),
"Sylvan Hall," was built.
This house was said to
have been one of the first brick houses in Davidson County, Tennessee. All the labor and material,
including the brick, were the work of his slaves. It is said his better trained slaves, who were fine artisans,
made the exquisite Hepplewhite furniture, which was designed by an itinerant cabinetmaker who supervised the
execution of his designs.
furniture descended to a great granddaughter, Mary Philips Polk Moore, who now lived with her two married
children in the West.
The house remained
in the Philips Family for several generations, until it was sold by Mary Polk Moore about 1915.
It changed owners several times, and lost much of its charm.
in 1960, it was sold to the Bellshire Methodist Church, and in time razed for the church building which
stands on the site.
The acreage, once 1,000 acres, is
now a subdivision; and nice looking, well-kept homes, mostly of brick, and lawns are located on
this once beautiful farm.
The location of Bellshire Methodist
Church is six miles from Nashville on the left hand side of Dickerson Road. (
Dickerson was spelled Dickinson - for a family which came to this part of the country about the same
time the Philipses did.) They were a Baptist Community, and a church was nearby.
The story above says the house was built in 1791, but in reality the original house burned down
in 1804 and this house was built on the same location in that same year.
Watercolor Print Christmas Card of Sylvan Hall by Mari Omberg
Sylvan Hall around 1815
Above from the book Recollections
and Reflections written by Wharton Jackson Green in 1906.
Joseph Philips Will
Milberry Horn's Dower
The below Dower for Milberry Philips was written on 21 Dec
1822 by Joseph Philips who wanted to be sure that she was taken care of after his death.
Click on the picture to open a larger picture in a new browser to
better see the details of the Dower. I had to photograph the microfilm copy of this document at the TN State Archives
and piece together the best shots of various portions of the document for it to be readable. It contains the following
Milberry Philips her Dower
Recorded 21st Dec 1822
This Indenture made this 22nd day of October AD Eighteen Hundred and Twenty Two. Witnesseth
that the undersigned Acting Executors of the Last Will and Testament of Joseph Philips late of Davidson County deceased and
pursuant of the Power in said Will confirmed, and to effectuate the Testators intent in that Particuar do allot and set apart
for Milberry Phlips Widow and Relic of the deceased, and to her own proper use and behalf for her Support and Comfortable
maintainance during the Term of her natural life. The following Described Property Real and Personal To Wit Negroes,
Moses and Davey and Sterling. Jenny. Sherry with her Children Mary Cinders daughter. Also the Western End
of the dwelling house The Piazzer and free use of the passage. The room on the south end of the kitchen.
The meat house. Spring house and dairy and the Double Cabbin next The garden for her negroes The East End
of the Granary & Stables attached thereto and the Crib and free use of the thrashing floor. The half of the
garden next the Kitchen and one section of the Vineyard on the Other side. The Pasture Lott between the house and Dickinson's
line and that around the chep(sic) and that part of the meadow West of the little Branch and the Small field adjoining
the Orchard fence & half the Orchard, Half the Big field commonly called the Still House field her half to lie
next to the creek and the field on the side of the Creek next to Wilson, & grinding free from toll when the mill is in
opperation and wood without stint for fires and sufficience of Timber for Repairs Convenient to the Dwelling House and the
Lands Above Allotted and Let Apart. Also the Tools with which her people work in doors with, one half of the Kitchen
furniture one double plough and Gears & three Single Ploughs all the furniture in the West end of the House The
side board in the passage and one half of the crockery, Glasses and China ware. Also two Thousand Pound of Pork one
hundred Barrells of Corn Thirty Bushells of wheat. One Mare & two Horses. Eight Ewes fifteen head of Hogs
three Cows and calves and all the Poultry & fowls, In Testimony we have hereto Amended our names and affixed our
Seals the day and Date Above. Written
Will Williams (Seal)
J. F. Williams (Seal)
State of Tennessee Davidson County Court October Session 1822
This Allotment of Dower to Milberry Philips Widow & Relic of Joseph Philips desceased was Returned
into Court and Acknowledged by William Williams and Josiah F. Williams the Executors of the decedant to be their Act and Deed
as Such & Ordered to be Recorded.
Test - Nathan Ewing - Clerk of said Court
This given to Wm Williams
You may wonder how long Joseph Philips' descendants held on to his plantation. I'm in the
process of researching that information, in part to determine the ownership of the Philips' Sylvan Hall Cemetery which is
shown on the Davidson County Tax maps as being a separate parcel of land with no owner named. I will post the relevant
On 2 September 1922 J. L. Hulme and wife Pearl M. Hulme sold the home portion of Joseph Philips'
plantation consisting of 207 45/160 acres to S. L. Brown and wife Asenith V. Brown for $40,000.