Anna Green Young Collection

Identifier: MSS.0536

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Scope and Contents

A brief, two page history of Captain George Ridley and his family, early settlers in the Nashville area, and Fort Ridley, built between 1785-1790.

The text follows:

One of the pioneers who lived to a good old age was George Ridley, he was decended from a good old English family that came to Virginia in 1685. He was a Native of Williamsburg, Va. He was born in 1727 and died Nov. 29, 1835 being one hundred and eight years of age. He came to East Tennessee thru a part of No. Carolina on the Holston River about the time of his second marriage; he had eight children by each marriage, making a large family of only sixteen Children.

He heard of the Cumberland Settlement and with his oldest sons and eight negroesmen made the journey of eight hundred (800) milees down the Holston aDd Tennessee rivers over the Mussel Shoals and by hard pulling and pushing with poles and oars up the Cumberland to the present site of Nashville. Here about 3½ or 4 miles of Nashville near a spring from which the bounds of the farms of G. P. Rose are run he cleared an acre of ground for his Fort and built a strong stockade around it, with a gate, as the Chochtaw Cbickasaw and Cherokee Indians were bitterly conteating this intrusion of their hunting grounds. Within this stockade he built in the regular pioneer style a double log house consisting of two rooms with a spacious passage between them, the whole under a wingle roof. One of these rooms served to sleep in, and the other for a kitchen, the passage way between being convenient to sit in and eat in. At three corners of this square stockade he erected block houses of the peculian type that long draw the attention of all who traveled that way. Within the stockade were also built the other structures necessary for the horses and cattle. It was the general plan adopted by the settlers. They were usually a little over twenty feet square. The method of construction was simple. Next to the ground were laid six logs, one on the other, each side well mortised, which made a log wall higher than a man standing. Then logs 24 ft. long were flaced on top of these, giving a projection on each side, the top being even with the floor of the room to be constructed above. On the end of these logs the building up with mortised logs continued until the required height was attained, then the gables and the roof put on. On the roof pieces of wood were fixed for the garrison to step on and to extinguish the flames should the Indians succeed in setting fire to it. There were loop holes in the upper story as well as in the projecting floor so the settlers could fire down at the Indiana.

At his place he cleared a large farm and became extensively engaged in agriculture aDd the raising of stock. The life of this man was attended with all the adventures and dangers incidental to the pioneers of those days and an interesting volumn could be written of his experiences. He was peculiarly qualified to act his part in leading the van of civilization into the wilderness by the possession of remarkable courage, energy, fortitude and physical endurance.

Captain Ridley was a man of a high sense of honor, and was always regarded as one in whom, truth stood above all interest. He was fond of prayer and the Holy Scriptures and in belief was a Missionary Baptist. His traits of character were prominent and well defined, uncompromising and persistant he did not allow anything to stand in the way of his plans but would drive on and execute when others failed.

Beverly Ridley, whose picture I present to you from the Green family, was hill oldest son born in 1762, came with him and was his chief aid and helper when he came to Nashville from East Tennessee. He married Annie Williams by whom he had nine children, four sons and 5 daughters. She died and he married again and had one child. He died in 1844 being about 82 yeara old.

Nancy Ridley, second daughter of Beverly Ridley, married John T. Elliston, who was the mother of Mary A. Elliston, who married A. L. P. Green, and has a number of decendants living here, myself among that number. George Ridley who built Fort Ridley being my great, great grandfather.

Another member of George Ridley's family worthy of mention is his third daughter Sallie, who married a son of John Buchanan, he had a fort about two miles from Fort Ridley. The Buchanan Fort was the scene of an affair memorable in the annals of the early settlers of Nashville. She was a woman of remarkable courage and fortitude. Her husband had implicit confidence in his wife's judgement and confided to her all his plans and undertakings. Upon one occasion the Fort was attacked by 900 Cherokees, Chickasaws and Creeks at midnight and were defeated by only twenty one men in the Fort. It was in this conflict that Sallie Ridley Buchanan's courage and fearless deeds crowned her as a model Indian fighter, she caught the bullets while a female relative clipped the heads off them. She would run out of the kitchen, carrying them still hot in her apron, saying “Here boys here’s bullets for you but be sure you dont sarve em out till you are sure of knocking some of those screaming devils over”. The fight was kept up until the Indians fearing the noise of the firing would bring aid and withdrew about daylight.

Ridley was not the first settler in this locality, one company coming about two yeard earlier. Four of Ridley's sons went with Jackson against the Creeks in 1813. The boys would go said the old man long afterwards, I could not stop them and I wouldn't if I could. Fort Ridley was the last of three structures to remain standing in the vacinity of Nashville.

Written by:

Anna Green Young

June 23, 1908


  • 1908 June 23

Language of Materials



.01 Linear Feet (1 folder)


A brief, two page history of Captain George Ridley and his family, early settlers in the Nashville area, and Fort Ridley, built between 1785-1790.

Physical Location

Special Collections & Archives

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by Ken Young, a former Vanderbilt University student. It was originally assigned "MSS. Coll. 20".

Finding Aid for the Anna Green Young Collection
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Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Library
1101 19th Ave. S.
Nashville TN 37212 United States


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