- [S118] History of early Sevier County Doctors , Beulah Linn, (www.sevierlibrary.org/genealogy/doc/doc.htm).
Robert Hatton Hodsden was born on November 23, 1806 in Smithfield, Isle of Wight County, Virginia. He was the son of Joseph Bridger Hodsden and Mary Pasteur Hodsden, who were married in 1802. Robert Hodsden was educated at country schools and at an academy in Smithfield.
Hodsden left Virginia in the early 1820's and worked as a tailor until 1830 when he began to study medicine with Dr. John Hoyal (Hoyl) in Washington, Rhea County, Tennessee. After eighteen months Hodsden went to Philadelphia where he attended Jefferson Medical College.
By the fall of 1833 Hodsden had returned to East Tennessee and had entered into practice with Dr. James Gillespie in Maryville, Blount County, Tennessee. In 1835 Hodsden was appointed a trustee of Porter Academy in Blount County.
In October 1832 Dr. Hodsden married Elizabeth Hook, daughter of Robert Hook, Blount County. Elizabeth Hook Hodsden died in Maryville in August 1842.
In 1838 Hodsden was appointed a surgeon in the Cherokee removal. He made two trips, one from Ross' Landing (Chattanooga), the other from Charleston. Hodsden's report of the Ross' Landing excursion still exists and is in the possession of his great granddaughter Reese Marshall Ripatti of Sevierville, Tennessee. The one page report for the trip of June 12 -August 5,1838 mentions 28 cases of Dysentery, 30 cases of Flux, 4 cases of Measles, and one case of Worms. There were 68 deaths which received no treatment and 5 deaths which received medical attention. The report cites the Cherokees' unhealthy fondness for green fruit and bathing in cold water.
Hodsden was politically active during his adult life. He was a staunch Whig and represented Blount County in the state legislature's House of Representatives in 1841-42, the extra session of 1842, and the regular session of 1843-44.
Robert Hodsden married Mary Reese Brabson Shields (widow of David Shields, who died in 1839) on August 16,1843. She was the daughter of John Brabson I I and Elizabeth Davis Brabson. In his will John Brabson deeded his daughter a tract of land in the East Fork of the Little Pigeon River, in the area several miles from Sevierville known as Harrisburg. The land had formerly been owned by George Bush and was locally known as "the old Bush place." On that land Hodsden and his wife had a house built ca. 1845 which is currently standing. Based on the Federalist style of architecture, the two-story house featured several large rooms connected only by outside porches. In addition to the house, two original outbuildings still stand. To the left as one faces the main house is the loom house, used for the family's weaving, and to the right is a matching structure called the doctor's office which was presumably used by Dr. Hodsden in his medical practice. The house has remained in the family since its construction and is currently owned by great granddaughter Reese Marshall Ripatti. In 1975 the house, known for many years as "Rose Glen," was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1860 census lists Hodsden's combined real estate and personal property as valued at $52,090, making Hodsden the fifth wealthiest person in Sevier County. In 1860 Hodsden owned 15 slaves and his mother-in-law Elizabeth Brabson was the largest slaveholder in the county with 38 slaves.
The Hodsdens had six children: Priscilla, Virginia Katurah; David Shields; Penelope Brabson; John Brabson; and Mary Pasteur Hodsden.
Hodsden served as the president of the East Tennessee Fair which was held annually in Knoxville. He was also a member of the State Agricultural Bureau since its formation, and was the first Worshipful Master of Mountain Star Lodge No. 197, Masons, chartered October 10, 1850, in Sevier County. In 1855 he was elected vice president of the East Tennessee Medical Society and served as president in 1857.
Hodsden, a loyal Union man, served in the 1861-62 Tennessee state legislature House of Representatives, representing Sevier and Knox Counties. He and Representative John M. Fleming of Knox County were arrested for treason as Union men in 1861, but were later released.
Robert Hatton Hodsden died on June 18,1864, reportedly of heart trouble. He is buried in a private family cemetery-the Brabson Cemetery- in the Boyds' Creek community of Sevier County, Tennessee.
Prepared by Sally K. Ripatti, great great granddaughter of Robert Hatton Hodsden and Mary Brabson Hodsden. February 1982.
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 8 Mar 2011.
Endangered structures: Two historic Sevier buildings make list
Rose Glen on the corner of Pittman Center Road and Old Newport Highway in Sevierville is on the list of endangered historic buildings in East Tennessee.
New Salem Baptist Church in Sevierville, built in 1886, is the city’s oldest surviving buildings.
Two Sevier County structures are on the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance’s 2011 East Tennessee list of endangered historic buildings and places.
Rose Glen, an abandoned house on Pittman Center Road in Sevierville, and New Salem Baptist Church in Sevierville are among the structures on the list.
This marks the second list of endangered historic places in a 16-county area selected by the alliance from nominations received. Preservation strategies will be developed for each site on the list.
The East Tennessee Preservation Alliance works to protect places and structures.
Rose Glen and The Historic Dandridge School in Jefferson County are among those listed.
Rose Glen was, at one time, one of the largest plantations in Sevier County and East Tennessee. Established in the late 1840s by Dr. Robert Hatton Hodsden, attending physician for the Cherokee Removal and prominent politician, the site includes a Greek Revival house, physician’s office, cantilevered barn, and other period outbuildings.
The house is one of the few remaining Greek Revival style houses in East Tennessee and, by historian Robbie Jones’ account, the “most impressive antebellum house ever constructed in Sevier County.”
Today the house and outbuildings sit behind a chain link fence, but the long term future of the plantation is undetermined. ETPA encourages the property owner and family to sell or donate the important landmark to an individual or organization who is able to rehabilitate the site. The area is also endangered of being overtaken by new projects.
New Salem Baptist Church was built in 1886 by Isaac Dockery, a noted black builder, and is Sevierville’s oldest surviving building, Sevier County’s oldest brick church building, and the only historic black church in the county. The last services were held by the original congregation in the 1950s.
Since that time, the church has been used by other congregations and denominations, and the historic integrity has slowly been chipped away. The original bell tower and pulpit furniture have been removed and the overall interior has been altered significantly.
The church was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, and a Tennessee Historical marker was placed on the grounds in 2006. The building suffers from lack of maintenance and ventilation issues.
The Dockery Family Association has been working with the East Tennessee Community Design Center, the African American Heritage Alliance, and ETPA to find a long term preservation solution for the building.
The Historic Dandridge School in Jefferson County was built in 1927. The school building was sold by the county at an auction 10 years ago to a private individual with no long term plans for the building or site. Today, most of the building is empty and the 1950s addition is used as a mechanic’s shop.
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 14 Mar 2011.
Family: Property not abandoned, endangered
by JEFF FARRELL
While placed on the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance’s list of endangered historic buildings, owners of Rose Glen say they make every effort to preserve the property that’s been in their family for more than 160 years.
The doctor’s office located on Rose Glen, just like the house, is boarded up to keep intruders out. The property was once owned by Dr. Robert Hatton Hodsden and is still owned by his descendants.
SEVIERVILLE —Rose Glen made a list of endangered historic buildings, but the local family that owns the property say it’s not abandoned and it’s not endangered.
With a background that ties it to the Cherokee Removal and to one of the county’s early physicians, the antebellum home has many connections to Sevier County’s history. The site still includes a Greek Revival home, a physician’s office, cantilevered barn and other outbuildings from that era.
The property was owned by Dr. Robert Hatton Hodsden, a local politician and physician who helped see to the health of Cherokee during their forced removal from the area and was a Union sympathizer during the Civil War. The property is owned by Reese Ripatti, a descendant of Hodsden. It sits on Pittman Center road near Walters State Community College — Ripatti actually donated some of the property for the college’s Sevier County satellite campus.
The site was added to the National Historic Register in 1975. The East Tennessee Preservation Alliance recently added the home to its list of endangered historic buildings, a move the Ripatti family didn’t ask them to make. They had several disagreements with the way it was characterized by the society, especially with the idea that it’s abandoned.
“It is not abandoned,” Ripatti said. “It’s not occupied right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s abandoned.”
The family keeps horses and a garden on the property, and works to keep the house and other structures maintained, she said. They just recently fixed a window that had been broken, and they keep the house boarded up so that people can’t enter even if they get past the fence surrounding the land.
A spokesperson for the society said they use the term for any house that’s no longer occupied. “That’s probably the hardest thing for a building when nobody lives in it,” Ethiel Garlington said.
A member of the ETPA board of directors recommended the Rose Glen be added to the list, he said. Nominations can come from board members, property owners or just from the general public. The alliance requests nominations from the public each year, he said.
The ETPA also suggested that the family sell or donate the property, something the family is not interested in doing.
“It’s been in our family since my great-grand grandfather had it constructed and we have no intention (of selling the property),” Ripatti said.
Garlington explained that the society offers suggestions for how to preserve historic sites, and that the organization understands the family is not interested in selling or giving away the land. Now that the property is on the list, however, the society would be willing to help the family in efforts to maintain or preserve the house, including sending volunteers to help with tasks like keeping it safe from vandals or maintenance.
Adding a site to the list is meant to bring awareness to the history of the property and to offer help in keeping it maintained, not to attack the owners. “They’re actually doing more than the owners a lot of these houses (on the list),” he said. “A lot of them sit out in fields and don’t get cared for at all.”
Ripatti and her daughter, Sally Polhemus, are both proud to talk about the storied past of Rose Glen.
Once the site of one of East Tennessee’s largest plantations, the property was initially known as the “Bush Place,” as it had been owned by an early settler named George Bush. Hodsden took ownership of the property when he married Mary Reese Brabson Shields, the widowed daughter of John Brabson, who then owned the property, according to family history.
The house was built in the 1840s; the family moved in sometime before 1850. “I don’t know that my family ever knew an exact date, it was in the latter 1840s,” Polhemus said.
While Hodsden owned slaves, he was a staunch Unionist and at one point Confederate authorities accused him of colluding with Union guerillas who destroyed several railroad bridges in the Tennessee Valley during the war. Shortly before Hodsden’s death in 1864, it was a strategic point in a skirmish between Southern troops retreating after the Siege of Knoxville and pursuing Union forces.
Hodsden’s Union loyalties created a rift between himself and his pro Southern in-laws, but he was still buried at the Brabson Cemetery.
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 12 Jun 2012.
Upland Chronicles: Mason Temple in Sevierville has had long, rich history
by CARROLL McMAHAN
A small group of Masons gathered in the upper room of Nancy Academy on June 4, 1850, for the purpose of organizing a Masonic lodge in Sevierville.
Five petitions were received at the meeting and the petition of M.A. Rawlings was the first one to be presented. Thus was the beginning of the most enduring fraternal organization in the history of Sevier County.
A month earlier, a dispensation was issued by Robert L. Caruthers, Most Worshipful Grand Master, authorizing Robert H. Hodsden, George McCowan, John T. Harvis, Samuel Boyd, Robert H. Hynds, John R. Nelson, J.T.B. Hodsden, P.P. Porter and John Hodsden to open and hold from time to time a lodge of Ancient York Masons until the next meeting of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee.
The lodge charter was granted by the Grand Lodge of Tennessee on Oct. 10, 1850. The first three officers: Robert H. Hodsden, Worshipful Master; George McCowan, Senior Warden; and John Harvis, Junior Warden. The membership selected the name “Mountain Star” and the number given was 197.
The new lodge flourished notwithstanding the fact that some local residents were suspicious of Freemasonry. The Masons maintained they were merely a civic-minded fraternal organization bound together by harmless rituals. Some outsiders suspected them of everything from being a secretive group who imparted magical powers to devil worshipers to plotters to overthrow the government.
Despite their detractors, the local Masons grew in numbers. The lodge changed its meeting place in July 1851 to the second floor of the courthouse, but returned to Nancy Academy in October.
Isaac M. Thomas, a grandson of Isaac Thomas who was the first settler in the area that became Sevierville, was the first member of Mountain Star Lodge to die, on Oct. 25, 1852, and was buried in the Shiloh Cemetery with Masonic honors.
In 1853, a committee acted jointly with trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South in the erection of a new church on East Main. The lodge made an initial donation of $250 and paid half of the cost of the church bell. The entire membership marched from its hall in Nancy Academy to the new church property for the cornerstone ceremony.
Mountain Star Lodge used the upstairs of the church for more than 40 years.
After the Civil War ended several petitions were received by Mountain Star Lodge from returning soldiers. Among them were Riley H. Andes, Alexander Eckel, S.M. Hammer, John Murphy, Pleasant Stafford, Dr. P.E. Walker and Capt. E.M. Wynn. Over 30 members were admitted in 1866.
In 1899, a committee conferred with the trustees of Nancy Academy for the purpose of building a school and lodge building jointly on property owned by the lodge on what was then called Cedar Grove.
The lodge secured a charter in June 1899 for the founding of John Sevier College and subscribed $2,000 toward its construction. However, the charter members of the proposed college abrogated the contract with the lodge and John Sevier College was never realized.
Later the lodge sold the property to the Methodist Episcopal Church for $500 with a provision that a college be built within four years. As a result, Murphy College was built in 1890. Most of the first Board of Trustees of Murphy College were Masons. The college was named in honor of James Crawford Murphy, who was a charter member of Mountain Star Lodge and the largest contributor to the new institution.
In the early 1890s the Lodge began making preparations for buying a site upon which to build a Masonic Temple. Out of four sites considered, the membership chose a lot owned by William Catlett on East Main.
W.C. Murphy drew the plans, and specifications were prepared by J.R. Garland. Upon completion of the building in 1893 the lodge moved. This Masonic Temple was to serve the Mountain Star Lodge No. 197 and later the Royal Arch Masons along with the Order of Eastern Star No. 138 for 80 years.
That same year the Methodist Episcopal Church, South was dismantled and sold to W.C. Murphy, who used the material along with the old bell in the building of LuRetta Methodist Church.
The first-floor rooms of the Masonic Temple were used for several purposes, including as Sevier County Public Library. Fred Rawlings sponsored the worthy cause through its founding in 1920 until a new library was constructed in 1968.
In 1973 Mountain Star Lodge sold its Masonic Temple and property on East Main Street at public auction to a group that formed John Sevier Savings and Loan. The group changed only the first floor and added a back entrance. The unchanged upstairs was used as the Nancy Rogers Community Room.
In 1973 a new Masonic Temple was built on Newport Highway (today named Dolly Parton Parkway.) The old stations that were originally used in the Lodge room in the old Methodist Episcopal Church, South and then in the Masonic Temple on East Main Street were incorporated in the new Lodge room. These stations with their columns provide a link with the past.
As the years passed, the old Masonic Temple on East Main became the oldest public building still standing in Sevierville but hardly recognizable due to renovations. Sadly, the building was demolished in 2006 to make way for a parking lot for Sevier County Bank.
Since 1850 the Mountain Star Lodge No. 197 F&AM has provided benefits to the local citizenry that would have otherwise been delayed or maybe never realized at all.
— Carroll McMahan is the special projects facilitator for the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce. The Upland Chronicles series celebrates the heritage and past of Sevier County. If you have suggestions for future topics, would like to submit a column or have comments, please contact Carroll McMahan at 453-6411 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or Ron Rader at 604-9161 or email to email@example.com.
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 21 Apr 2013.
Upland Chronicles: Harrisburg was once a thriving community
- [S94] Sevier County, Tennessee Census, family 806 page 443b, line 23, 12 Oct 1850.
- [S34] In the Shadow of the Smokies, Smoky Mountain Historical Society, (1993), 230.