During the late 1700s, two families – the Elliotts and the Odoms – arrived in Sumner County and acquired a sizeable plot of land lying along East Station Camp Creek west of present-day Gallatin. When the children of the two clans grew to maturity, George Elliott married Mary Odom, and his brother, Charles, married Mary’s sister, Elizabeth. Charles and Elizabeth moved into an existing home, Walnut Grove, while George and Mary, in 1811, selected a building site across the creek from Walnut Grove upon which to build their home. The particulars of their new dwelling have been lost in time, but they named the plantation, Wall Spring, after Hugh Wall, the original owner of Elliott’s newly-purchased tract of land, and the fresh, clear-water spring that issued forth from the bluff along the creek’s bank.
Within a couple of years of the establishment of Wall Spring, George Elliott became involved in thoroughbred horse-breeding. When he returned home from military service in the Creek War and with General Andrew Jackson at New Orleans, he continued his operations, earning for himself a solid reputation among his fellow horsemen. He built a race track on his plantation which attracted horse owners, trainers, and jockeys from across the nation.
In 1827, Elliott built the existing brick house upon his Wall Spring property. The structure was developed in two phases, the first part following a Federal design and consisting of one-and-one half stories, with a central hallway flanked by two rooms on either side. The brickwork on the front facade was laid in Flemish bond. The second phase was completed around 1850, enlarging the house to two-stories as well as providing a one-story porch. The footprint of the new second floor was made to conform to that of the first floor.
Both Greek Revival and Italianate styles were incorporated into the addition. According to the Wall Spring application for National Register of Historic Places recognition, “few other local houses present such an obvious juxtaposition of divergent styles: Federal, Greek Revival, and Italianate. Especially important is the fact that these diverse styles reflect the aesthetic of the original owner.”
By the 1830s, Elliott was arguably the foremost horseman in Tennessee and the fame he achieved with his breeder program had even reached national and international proportions. He was noted for advocating the introduction of new foreign blood lines to American stock. Among his many champion thoroughbreds were Top Gallant, Leviathan, Pacolet, Napoleon, and Black Sophia. In later years, Elliott was appointed to a position with the State of Tennessee Agricultural Bureau, where he used his fifty years of experience as a top horseman and breeder to improve the state’s agricultural oversight. When he died in 1861, Elliott was still active in horse-breeding and racing.
Wall Spring is privately owned. This article originally appeared in Historic Sumner County (Grandin Hood Publishers 2014)