Andrew Jackson Donelson’s Home in Bolivar County, Mississippi

I suspect that most historians have numerous stories and images that never make it into their books. Some of them are turned into articles; most probably stay buried in research notes. In looking through old photographs, I came across some that I took in hopes of using them for the Donelson biography. I never found a way to incorporate them into the book or the articles that I wrote about Donelson, so I decided to put them in a blog post instead of letting them waste away.

Some background to the story is in order first. After selling Tulip Grove, his Nashville home built on land bordering Andrew Jackson’s, Donelson and his family moved to Memphis in the late 1850s. He split time between the city and the plantation that he owned in Bolivar County, Mississippi. This 1,579-acre plantation was located in the Australia Landing/Duncan community.

In June 2005, I made the drive over to the Delta region to try to locate Donelson’s Bolivar County home. I stopped in Cleveland to ask someone at the Chamber of Commerce where the home was located. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, so I assumed that it would be easy to find. Not so. After a few phone calls, the lady at the Chamber gave me directions to a local business, where a longtime resident, Johnny Summers, offered to take me out to the old Donelson place where he used to play as a child.

On the way, we passed over Hushpuckena Creek, which bordered Donelson’s property. To say I was excited at recognizing this landmark would be an understatement.

Hushpuckena Creek, which bordered Donelson’s property. This was the creek into which, in a moment of depression, he considered throwing himself, or so he wrote his wife, Elizabeth, in 1869.

Mr. Summers drove me out into an expansive field to a clump of trees.

Middle of the field looking at the clump of trees hiding the house

To give a different perspective, here is an image of the field from Google Earth. (The clump of trees is where the home is located.):

The creek runs left-to-right across the image. The clump of trees hiding the home is on the left-hand side of the image, right below the creek.

It wasn’t until he pointed them out in the trees that I could see the remnants of a fireplace, a well, and some other deteriorating building material.

Remnants of a well
Remnants of a chimney
Remnants of the home

I was shocked at the poor condition of the home . . . or what was left of it. I was also disappointed that someone went through the trouble to get the home listed on the NRHP register, then let it deteriorate.

The NRHP records for the Donelson home have not yet been digitized. Given its condition, unfortunately, I’m not sure there is much point in trying to preserve what little is left.

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5 Replies to “Andrew Jackson Donelson’s Home in Bolivar County, Mississippi”

  1. My great grandfather, John Tyler Lovinggood and his family moved in the Donelson Home in about 1890. Our family records are very sketchy from this time period. John Tyler died in 1896, and his second wife, Mary Wells remarried very soon after this date. Our family is trying to determine who her second husband was. We do know that the plantation was sold to a family named Yates in 1912. There is a remaining member of this family that currently lives in Jackson, MS. My great grandfather is buried in the Leslie cemetery just between Alligator and Duncan. We do not know where my great grandmother is buried, Her name was Louisa Dorson. She and John Tyler were married in Clarksdale in 1871. She died shortly after the birth of my grandfather–Webster Perry Lovinggood. He was born in 1882. John Tyler and Mary Wells wed in 1886 in Washington County, MS. If anyone has any further details about John Tyler Lovinggood, please contact me. Tom Lovinggood

    1. My great great grandfather grandfather, James Douglas Manning worked on the Australia Plantation and was listed in the 1880 census as being there. He then disappeared. Have no idea if he died, left, or what. I can follow his wife after that. No grave, no death certificate. He was a Civil War veteran. Such a mystery. I grew up in Clarksdale. Never heard of this area but am familiar with Duncan.

        1. Appreciate that. Wonder who has all the plantation records, if they do still exist. I think J. D. must have been an overseer of some sort. Or, he may have tenant farmed on the land. He was only 5’3” tall. But, being a part of the 27th Regiment, Company A, a rifle regiment, he was likely a marksman. I’ve been reading about Donelson and his method. Sounds like he wasn’t so successful at living in Memphis and conducting a plantation business in Bolivar county.
          Katherine Manning Wingate

      1. As an amendment from my previous posting, my great grandfather was John Tyler Lovinggood and his second wife was named Mary Wells. At first, we thought that she quickly remarried after John Tyler died in July 1896, but as of this date, we have no conclusive proof that she did remarry. My brother and I need to spend more time in the court house in Rosedale and Clarksdale to validate this theory

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