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By John Oliver, President, Historical Society

One of the first families to settle in what is now Trousdale County was the Lauderdale family.

Of course, they were not the only ones. We know, for example, that by 1820 there were members of the Rickman, Donoho, Alexander, Beasley, Ellis, Sanders, Parker, Hart, Walker, McConnell, Anthony, Story, Dalton, Rankin, Linville, McCadden, Henry, Stubblefield, Thompson, Tinsley, Vaughn, Taylor, Stafford, Sloan, McDonald, Lowe, Leath, Hall, Johnson, Harper, Hamock, and Burnley families living here – just to name a few.

Descendants of most of those early families can still be found here or in the surrounding counties. Once people set down roots, it’s hard to move somewhere else.

Submitted
The old man in this photo is James Hart Lauderdale. He was the oldest son of Maj. William Lauderdale, the founder of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The home of James Hart Lauderdale is still standing on old Halltown Road.

The Lauderdale family was here by 1796.

The family, like many others on the frontier, can trace its ancestry back to Scotland.

What makes the Lauderdale family stand out is the success the various members of the family achieved in those early years.

We will start with William Lauderdale.

William was just a teenager when, like most young men of the time, he joined the local militia. The Tennessee militia was the forerunner of the Tennessee National Guard and was formed to protect the new settlers against the Native Americans.

We need to point out that the white man had more or less stolen the land from its original occupants and the natives were not too keen on the idea, which in turn led to a little scalp taking and cabin burning.

William was soon promoted to the rank of first lieutenant and led a group known as “Lauderdale’s Company” – all men from Sumner County (as most of Trousdale County was then part of Sumner County).

He was later promoted to captain, fought in the Battle of New Orleans and returned home to Hartsville a hero. When the Seminole Indians caused troubles in Florida, William led a group of militia there.

By this time he had been promoted to the rank of major! In Florida he oversees the construction of a log fort, which his men quickly name in his honor – you may have heard of Fort Lauderdale.

Major William Lauderdale took sick and died on his return trip to Hartsville and was buried at a military post close to Baton Rouge.

But William wasn’t the only member of the family to leave his name behind!

William’s brother, James, was also in the Tennessee militia. He worked up to the rank of colonel and like his brother was in the fighting at New Orleans.

Unfortunately, Col. James Lauderdale was killed in the struggle to protect the city.

Now that alone makes James unique – not many Americans were killed in the Battle for New Orleans. But he was also the highest-ranking American to bite the dust.

As a result, he was honored for his sacrifice.

Lauderdale County, Tennessee, was named for James. As was Lauderdale County, Mississippi, and Lauderdale County, Alabama.

So James out did his brother three to one. Three counties in the United States are named after Col. James Lauderdale, while Maj. William has only one city named after him.

We can’t leave out the Lauderdale women.

A sister of William and James (and there were many more brothers and sisters) married James Franklin. She was the mother of Isaac Franklin, who built Fairvue Plantation in Gallatin. Isaac’s wife was Alicia, who after his death married a few more times and became one of the wealthiest women in the South. She is better known as the builder of Belmont Plantation, which later was turned into Belmont College (now Belmont University) in Nashville.

When it comes to leaving a legacy, you would be hard put to find a family who had done more than the Lauderdales. And they were all from little old Hartsville and Trousdale County!