Second of a two-part series
The land where Greenwood Seminary for Young Ladies was located, a few miles south of Lebanon on Sparta Pike, remained in the Lawrence-Lindsley family for seven generations although it was passed to the distaff side for a second time after Lawrence and Julia’s daughter, Catherine, aka Kate, married Edgar Waters.
Waters was a farmer, who also served as the postmaster of Lebanon after he was appointed to that position in 1876 by President U.S. Grant. Edgar and Kate and raised their five children (Henry, Edgar Jr., Lucretia, Teleta and Frances) on the farm. Several of their grandchildren and two great-grandchildren would be raised there.
After the seminary closed in 1883, the estate, known as Greenwood Farms, began to make a name for itself in the early 1900s for its Jersey herds, which flourished throughout the first half of the 20th century.
Edgar’s son, Henry, a member of the Wilson County Agricultural Hall of Fame, proved instrumental in establishing the dairy industry not just in his home county, but across Tennessee and the nation.
The agricultural hall of fame has noted about Henry: “He was one of the pioneer Jersey breeders, and imported the foundation of his registered herd from the Isle of Jersey. He was President of the Tennessee Jersey Breeders Association and a director of the American Jersey Cattle Club. He was a charter member of the Wilson County Farm Bureau.
In 1918 he organized the Wilson County Dairy Improvement Association for which he served as secretary-treasurer for many years. During this time, Wilson was the only county south of the Mason-Dixon Line that could furnish the U.S. Department of Agriculture complete records on sires, dams and daughters.
In 1932 the Waters family had the highest-testing Jersey herd in America regardless of the size of the herd. For 12 years the herd was the highest producing of its size. Henry and his wife, Tressa, were ambassadors for the Jersey breed. They spoke at local, state and national forums on the importance of the dairy industry. Their Jersey cows and bulls were successful in the show ring and provided the basis for many other herds.
From 1922 to 1934 Henry served a junior dairy leader for Wilson County. Most of this time there was no county agent. In 1929 his group of young dairymen won first place in the National Dairy Show. In 1919 under his leadership the county 4-H group won first place in the State Fair Production Show and the National Dairy Show. It is likely that he helped more Wilson County farmers get started in the dairy business with assistance in many ways, than any other individual.”
Local historian G. Frank Burns wrote in the Oct. 21, 1945, Tennessean that “Henry Waters, one of the state’s leading Jersey breeders has some of the finest herds of cattle in the U.S. 80 gallons of milk a day. … In the current herd, there are about 125 registered Jerseys, including Design Lovely Volunteeress, an excellent daughter of Design’s Roseboy Observer, and Design’s Challenger, four-star senior herd sire of Greenwood Farms.
The regime of Jerseys on the farm dates back to a day before the turn of the century when Henry’s father, the late Edgar Waters, went to a farm auction and admired a graceful Jersey cow. Although intending to buy beef cattle, he changed his mind and bid the cow in, paying the top price at that sale. Since then, the Jersey has been monarch of Greenwood Farms. The herd book contains records from 1910 and lists many medal-winning Jerseys.”
Big house and boys’ house
Kathy Waters Foster tells a bit more about the two houses that stood at Greenwood when her grandfather, dairyman Henry Waters, was in his prime.
“My grandfather, Henry, met my grandmother, Tressa, at Nashville Bible School, now Lipscomb University. She cut her post-grad education at Vanderbilt University short to marry Henry before he shipped off to fight in World War I. She was to live in ‘the big house’ while he was at war. After he came back, they moved into ‘the boy’s house,’ which my great-great-grandmother, Julia, built as a masculine retreat for her sons,” Foster recalled.
“ ‘The boys’ house’ was listed on old maps as Phi Sigma House and was a respite for the husbands and sons and uncles. After my grandfather and grandmother married, it was fixed up for them, and later my grandmother’s parents lived there, too.
“I had three aunts who never married that lived in ‘the big house’: Aunt Lucretia, who taught school in Lebanon, my Aunt Teleta, and later my Aunt “Tanky” Frances moved back home after retirement.
“ ‘The big house’ was gradually dismantled in the mid-to-late 1960s. Henry gave sections of it to members of the family and they just recycled the material.”
The original two-story girls’ dormitory was moved and attached to “the boy’s house” and utilized as a dining room, kitchen unit, “boys’ room” and upstairs bedrooms.
As for her memories of living on the farm in late 1960s and 1970s, she said, “As a child growing up on the family farm, the dairy was in full force and was a huge part of busy comings and goings. There were families of tenant farmers who lived on the farm and worked there as well as other daily workers and my uncles.
“The original Jersey herd my grandfather, Henry, had was only a little one, 30 cows. Milk production from the little Jersey was rich and delicious. My father introduced Holsteins, the workhorse of milk producers. Sadly, the prize-winning Jerseys were lost to Bang’s disease (bovine brucellosis).
“The old brick kitchen had been turned into part of the milking parlor and then turned into a toolshed in my day. A structure attached was what I understood to be the carriage house and later housed tractors and such. When I was a teenager it housed my horse for a while, and I played in it. I played all over everything on the farm,” said Foster.
County historian Burns wrote in 1945: “The red brick seminary kitchen still stands in the rear of the old house, its walls still stained with smoke and grease fumes from the many meals prepared for the girl students. Other parts of the school have since been moved to various sections of the farm and even to other farms in the neighborhood.”
Gone to Texas
Lawrence and Julia Lindsley’s eldest son, Philip, settled in Dallas, in 1875, and prospered as a lawyer and investor. In 1909 he wrote “The History of Greater Dallas and Vicinity.”
Philip’s son, Col. Henry D. Lindsley, served as the 32nd mayor of Dallas, and, with Theodore Roosevelt Jr., helped organize the American Legion. Later the organization honored him with the honorary title of Past National Commander. Col. Lindsley’s grandson, Henry D. Lindsley III, married the granddaughter of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Foster’s cousin, Frances Reed Lockhart, also a fifth-generation Lindsley descendant who grew up in Lebanon, sheds one more bit of information about the old home place, noting it “has a warm place in a lot of our memories.”
“I remember across the lane from the kitchen next to ‘the big house’ was a bell tower. It had its own frame and was made of heavy timbers and stood about 15 feet high, and there was a bell you could ring that could be heard all over the farm to call the men from the fields,” said Lockhart.
While the seminary tower has disintegrated and its bell no longer tolls, the educational legacy of the Lindsley family rings loud and clear in such schools as Cumberland University and Southern Methodist University, which Col. Henry Lindsley helped establish.
Greenwood Seminary founders Julia and Nathaniel Lawrence Lindsley were laid to rest in Lebanon’s Cedar Grove Cemetery as were many of their descendants.
One of the few markers in Wilson Count bearing the Lindsley name, perhaps their sole public manifestation, other than their tombstones, is a green sign planted less than a quarter mile down Sparta Pike from where the seminary opened its doors 170 years ago. The white letters simply state: LINDSLEY RD.
Sources for this article include the following: A History of Cumberland University: 1842-1935, by Winston Paine Bone, 1935; Echoes From Caruthers Hall: Nine Lectures Delivered by Members of Cumberland University; The Goodspeed History of Wilson County, 1886, Goodspeed Publishing; History of Long Island, Benjamin Franklin Thompson, 1918, R.H. Dodd; History of Wilson County by G. Frank Burns; The Clarksville Weekly Chronicle, Oct. 16, 1868; The Republican Banner, May 26, 1869; The Tennessean, July 28, 1872, July 10, 1884, and Oct. 21, 1945; The Nashville Banner, July 29, 1916; and The Athens of the West: Education in Nashville, 1780-1860,by Timothy Augustus Sweatman,1996.