"Rural Vale" (Home of William Howe Nance) Found?

According to "The Nance Memorial" by G. W. Nance, WILLIAM HOWE NANCE (1779-1837) and his wife ELIZABETH VENABLE (MORTON) NANCE left Pittsylvania County, VA in the early 1800's and moved to Davidson County Tennessee, where they settled on "the headwaters of Indian Creek". There they built their homestead, which they named "Rural Vale". According to the book, William Howe Nance was involved in the establishment of the Primitive Baptist Church, "at Concord, three miles away on the waters of Mill Creek". With these clues, and with the aid of a number of mapping resources, I set out to see if I could locate the place. I am now fairly certain that I have the location of the homestead pinned down fairly precisely -- and that I may also know where Wiliam Howe Nance was buried.

The map which appears to the left summarizes the general situation. The area involved is a few miles to the southeast of Nashville, between Nolensville Road (Hwy 31), which follows Mill Creek, and Interstate 24 to the east. Indian Creek arises between these two main roads. According to the U. S. Geological Survey Quadrangle Map for this area (the Nolensville Quadrangle), there is a "Concord Ch." on Mill Creek. Just as described in "The Nance Memorial", it is almost exactly three miles from the point at which Indian Creek arises -- i.e., the headwaters of Indian Creek.

There are a number of other clues that make me certain that this is the area in which the "Rural Vale" homestead was located. First, this "Concord Ch." is almost certainly the Concord Primitive Baptist Church which William Howe Nance was involved in establishing. An article about the history of that church, "Concord Baptist Church, 1804-1846", by George F. Watson, published in the Williamson Co (TN) Historical Society Journal (No. 16, Spring 1985), confirms that the Primitve Baptist Church which William Howe Nance and two others took title to (as commissioners for the church) in 1816, was located on the waters of Mill Creek. Second, there are a number of references to William Howe Nance (and ohers of his family) in the book, "Historic Cane Ridge and Its Families", by L. B. Johnson (1973), and the headwaters of Indian Creek which appear on this map are in the "Cane Ridge" area, only 1 1/2 miles south of the Cane Ridge Cumberland Presbyterian Church (which is just to the east of the "Cane Ridge Park" which appears on the map).

The "Concord Baptist Church, 1804-1846" article discussed above speculates that there was a cemetery in the immediate vicinity of the Concord Baptist Church on Mill Creek, which has since been destroyed, in which one of the burials was that of William H. Nance. That speculation is supported by a detailed analysis of historical records and land transactions involving the church, which I will not attempt to summarize here. In addition, the article notes that the speculation of a lost cemetery at the church is supported by the fact that a number of persons known to have lived in this area have not been found in any of the cemeteries in the area, all of which have been surveyed.

I can confirm that there has been a very thorough researching of cemeteries in this area, which is near the convergence of Davidson, Williamson, and Rutherford Counties. I consulted "Rutherford County Cemeteries" (Stones River Ch. SAR, Ruth Co. Hist. Soc., 1985), "Davidson Co. TN Death Recorss & Tombstone Inscriptions" (Richard E. Fulcher, 1979), and "Directory of Williamson Co TN Burials" (Williamson Co Hist. Soc. 1973), and I was not been able to locate most of the members of William Howe Nance's family in any of them.

(The exception is that both Bethenia Harden (Sneed) Nance (1807-1865) and her daughter Bethenia Harden Nance (1844-1933) are buried in the Sneed Cemetery, on Smyrna Road near Brentwood. Bethenia Harden (Sneed) Nance was the wife of William H. Nance's son, Josiah Crenshaw Nance -- who, by the way, was also involved in the Concord Primitive Baptist Church on Mill Creek).

If you decide to go -- The Indian Creek headwaters area is bounded most closely by Battle Road on the east and south, and Burkett Road on the north. The closest point to the actual headwaters is a short dead-end road called Battle Ridge Lane. It ends only about 500 feet from the point at which Indian Creek arises. I have no idea whether anything remains of the Rural Vale homestead, and I tend to doubt it, but perhaps some intrepid Nance researcher can visit the area and try to find out.

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