June 20, 1957
Transcribed By Pamela Vick
Cal’s Column . . .
by Bert Nash
On the Hot Springs Highway about 13 miles out of Little Rock is a two-story building erected originally in 1812 by Thomas Gregory Douglass.
Thirteen miles out of Little Rock on the Hot Springs highway is the home of Thomas Douglass, built originally in 1812 by his grandfather, Thomas Gregory Douglass. A few years ago it was covered with lumber and at a glance belies its age.
The old house was built of logs. It is two stories high, with two rooms and a hall on each floor. The boards used in its construction, about 30 inches wide and about an inch thick, were cut by hand from large pine and cypress trees. The nails, hand made at a blacksmith shop, are square and only one side of the head is flagged.
Thomas Gregory Douglass, who built the house, was a descendent of the famous “black” Douglass clan of near Dundee, Scotland, so called because of the dark hair and light complexion of the members. These Scotland Douglasses were known for their ability as warriors. Mr. Douglass remembers that as a boy he heard the story of one ancestor, John Douglass, who distinguished himself in battle, causing an enemy king to remark: “Behold that swarthy man: with him I would have this war won.”
Several members of the Douglass family came to the United States and settled in New York. Mr. Douglass’ great-grandfather moved on to Tennessee, settling at the site of the present city of Nashville.
It was here that Thomas Gregory Douglass was born. In 1811 he went to the trading post of New Madrid, Mo. He was there at the time of the big earthquake that year. A short time later he traded his horse and a few belonging to an Indian for a canoe and returned to Tennessee, to remain only a short time before starting out at the head of an expedition that came to Arkansas. The party camped one night on a bend in the Arkansas River just below Little Rock. The members of the party were impressed at the sight of a large eagle’s nest in a tall tree. The following night, after a strenuous day of traveling, one of the party discovered that they were back beneath the eagle’s nest. They had traveled all day in a circle. The place was called Eagle’s Nest Bend, and is still known by that name.
The expedition crossed the Arkansas River at Little Rock at what is now the foot of Rock Street. About 13 miles out of Little Rock, Mr. Douglass was impressed with the scenery and the soil and decided to remain and make his home. He homesteaded three tracts of land, one at a time. The present owner has patents signed by President Madison, Monroe and John Quincy Adams. Several years ago he sold one of the tracts of land and had recorded for the first time a patent signed by President Adams in 1829.
“My grandfather,” says the present Mr. Douglass, “died at his home in 1835.”
---Arkansas Gazette Magazine section, page 7, 1936.