The Settlement of Portland, Tennessee
Articles 1 - 4
by William McGlothlin
Published in The Portland Herald, 1909-1910
|Article 1: ||Formation and
Settlement of Richland Afterwards Called Portland|
|Article 2: ||History of the
Founder of Richland and Change to Portland|
|Article 3: ||People Who Lived
in and Around Richland Prior to the War|
|Article 4: ||Richland Depot,
Kind of a Building, Dimensions, and How Constructed|
The laying out and first grading of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad in this section began
in the year 1856. It was let out by contract in one, two, three, four and five mile sections, and
every section had a boss. Irish laborers were mostly employed and the grading was done with
pick, shovel, and wheel-barrow. Small ties scalped on two sides were laid on this road bed
about three feet apart, and the rails were spiked down in the year 1857. The first train that ran
here was called the construction or work train, which hauled the tools, fixtures, ties and rails
necessary to forward the work. It was a new thing in the land, and oh! what a curiosity it was to
the people and especially to the small boy, to get an opportunity to ride on this construction
train. The construction work was rapidly pushed, the last part to be completed being the tunnel
under the ridge. By the latter part of the year 1858 trains were running through from Louisville
This entire section where Portland is located was then in timber interspersed here and there
with hazle bush thickets, and the land was owned by Thomas BUNTIN, whose residence on the
lands now owned by Mr. CARVER, and was then located on the Gallatin and Russellville road
near where the water sinks. He was a man of considerable property, owned a farm of several
hundred acres and many slaves.
The L&N R.R. Co. was desirous of locating the depot at what is know as "Blain's Crossing"
the place where the railroad crosses the Gallatin and Russellville road one-fourth mile north of
the depot, but Thomas BUNTIN did not own that land, and he proposed to the company that he
would give them two acres of land and build the depot (on the present site) if the company
would accept it and make him their agent. The company accepted the proposition and it was
In 1859 James GOOSTREE built a small store house on the site now occupied by the post
office, the first house erected after the depot. Soon after this John BUNTIN, son of Thomas
BUNTIN, built a four-room dwelling on the site where the widow BUTT's house now stands.
He also built a box house on the site where KERLEY & Sons are now doing business in which
he did business for some time. It was afterward occupied by two shoe and boot makers, first by
Ilie RIGGSBEE, next by John LASHURE and next by a Mr. BROGDEN as a dwelling.
About this time the brewing of red-handed war loomed up. Abraham Lincoln was elected
president, South Carolina seceded, Fort Sumpter was bombarded and taken, State after State of
the "old thirteen" went out of the Union. The white winged bird of peace had flown and
preparation for war on every hand was the watchword of the hour.
Richland was made a place of rendezvous. Col. HATTON's regiment, Col. SAVAGE's
regiment, Col. SENTER's regiment, Col. BATTLE's regiment and some others were organized
here, and Gen. Felix K. ZOLLICOFFER was in command of the camp, named "Camp Trousdale"
in honor of a noble veteran of Sumner County.
Time sped on. Wreck, ruin, and devastation ran riot in all of this land. No improvements
went up, no security to life or property, no civil government control was exercised. Might and
not right held complete sway, and it seemed that all was chaos and going to the bad, and many
improvements and fences and houses and ornaments and tangible property in every line had
gone up in smoke or otherwise destroyed.
This brings us to the year 1865. The war is over. A few of the old Confederate veterans
are struggling in from the "Lost Cause" and Richland looks more desolate than when the strife
Thomas BUNTIN who gave two acres of land, built the depot for the L&N R.R. and was
appointed for the first agent, named the place "Richland Station," and the post office department
at Washington adopted it. But there being at that time a "Richland" post office in Grainger
County, East Tennessee, the mails of both places frequently missent, causing complaint. The
railroad company, by mutual agreement between the railroad and postal authorities, in the spring
(perhaps April) of 1888, the name was changed to "Portland," and both of these names will be
frequently used in this brief history of the place.
We wish to further state that for want of better data in this narration of the origin and
settlement of "Richland" many dates and facts will be given from memory alone, and we trust
the reader will make due allowances, as mistakes and omissions of many things will most likely
As "Richland" and the Portland of today is almost entirely located on what was once the
lands of Thomas BUNTIN and his heirs, a history of this family is, in a great measure, the early
origin and history of "Richland."
Thomas BUNTIN and Miss Elizabeth TURNER were wedded about the year 1825. She
was of one of the pioneer and highly connected families of Sumner County--a noble woman, a
helpmate indeed. In the year 1827 or 1828 they purchased of George WILEY, what we have
ever since styled "the Thos BUNTIN home tract," containing about four hundred acres of land.
It has been generally considered one of the best farms in the county north of the ridge. Most of
this farm is now owned by W.C. and Joseph MCGLOTHLIN and W.A. CARVER, aside from the
portion covered by the town of Portland.
Camp TROUSDALE, named in honor of Hon. William TROUSDALE of this county, was
located on this farm. Gen. Felix K. ZOLLICOFFER, commander of the post, had his
headquarters at the BUNTIN residence.
Thomas BUNTIN was an ardent Secessionist--a very plain, outspoken man, a man of
sterling honesty and industry. He was a member of the County Court for several years, and was
looked upon in that day as a man of wealth, worth perhaps $100,000. He owned a number of
good farms--the HUFFMAN farm in Robertson County; CARTER farm, east of Gallatin;
GIBSON farm in Simpson County, Kentucky, and some other smaller tracts. In all he had 1,000
acres of land. The majority of these lands were fertile and in good state of repair. He owned
more than one hundred slaves of different ages, over whom he exercised marked care and
protection, and it was in this property that his estate increased in value most rapidly. When the
war came up they had five living children, two boys, James and John, and three girls, Adelia,
Mary, and Jane. The girls married good men. Adelia married Dr. THOMPSON, Mary married
J.C. LOVELL, Jane married James PLUMMER.
Thomas BUNTIN had a pleasant, congenial family and lived in ease and comfort. His life
was completely wrapped up in the cares of his family and his possessions. He grew tired of and
gave up the railroad agency. But alas! it was not decreed that this happy family was always to
have smooth sailing. In the latter part of 1862 and early 1863 all the Confederate camps north of
Nashville were ordered evacuated. Chagrin and dismayed were depicted on the faces of all
Southern sympathizers, and while the cannon are booming at Fort Donelson, telling of grim
warfare in reality, the Confederates are making hasty preparations to go south of Nashville. But
their places were soon occupied by Federal soldiers, to the consternation and terror of the
citizens, and devastation begins. They visited special vengeance on the outspoken Secesh. The
family of our narrative being stalwarts for the Confederate cause, were a shining mark on whom
to reap revenge. Their stock was first taken, the fences lighted cap fires, all feed stuffs taken
without reward, Negroes enticed from their homes. The home was made barren and desolate; no
food for man or beast could be retained, and they were forced to seek sustenance and shelter
Cruel, cruel lot! Stricken and heartbroken, the weight was too heavy on the aged father, so
on Jan. 30, 1865, his spirit passed over the river. Time sped on, but the beautiful home was
never restored. After a few lonely years his consort, on Dec. 25, 1871, joined her husband in the
great beyond. In a word, bad luck and adversity seemed to be the fate of their heirs, concerning
whom we may speak more fully hereafter.
Adjoining Thomas BUNTIN on the east lived Ezekiel HARPER, father of the noted Capt.
Ellis HARPER, who with his band made times lively with the Federals when they went foraging
in the country. This property is now owned by J.M. MCGLOTHLIN. Wm. HINESLEY's home
lay south and was a part of the David BRADLEY tract, and now owned by L.E. BUTT. David
BRADLEY's residence was sought of Richland on the Gallatin and Russellville road, a family of
note and one of the pioneers of the community. He ran an inn and entertained the traveling
public. There being no railroad facilities here then and being located on the main thoroughfare
of travel, it paid well. He possessed to an admirable degree all the graces and pleasantries to
make his guest feel at home, and ever and anon gave them an eye opener and throat cleaner that
they did not soon forget. It was also the rendezvous for militia battalion muster in those days,
which came off the second Saturday in April. Then a day of note, the people far and near came
out. A beautiful, picturesque, shady grove of natural oaks lay between the road and the
residence, making it a delightful location for public gatherings and speaking, and it was often
utilized for this purpose. It was here, away back in the fifties, that Gen. Wm. B. BATE, when
quite a young man, being a candidate for attorney-general, made one of his maiden speeches and
was elected and made an efficient officer.
This once regal home is now possessed by B. CUMMINGS, and every member of that
Over west, what is now across the railroad, was the home of Sander BRADLEY, a nephew
of David BRADLEY, some of whose descendants still live in this community. The property is
owned by a Mr. WAGONER, a German. Across the Shun Pike road, west, now owned by the
DONOHO brothers, was far back the COLSTON and David LOVELL settlement, all of whom
are dead or scattered to other parts, and on a portion of this farm, just before the war, lived
Gilford READ and family, father of the celebrated humorist writer, Opie READ, who came here
at 15 years of age and remained until free.
Adjoining this settlement on the north was Wm. NOLAN and J.B. MCGLOTHLIN. The
NOLANS are gone and Wiley CANTRELL is the occupant. The MCGLOTHLIN heirs retain the
old homestead. On the line between the two properties, near the residences of Robt. HARRIS
and Thos. HARPER, is the site where stood in ante bellum days "NOLAN's school house," being
then in the edge of a sedge field, a typical representation of the "old field school house" where
Risden D. MOORE, grandfather of the present MOORE generation, taught a number of sessions.
Later Andrew MCGLOTHLIN and still later W.T. MCGLOTHLIN taught with others. This was
the only place to have school in this entire neighborhood.
It was here that Opie READ, a gawky, uncouth youth, made this his first attempt at public
debate and got off some trite, peculiar hits that even then sparkled with wit and humor like
diamonds in the rough.
Moving on north we reach the home of our venerable school teacher, Risden R. MOORE,
where he lived and died at a ripe old age, honored and revered by the entire community. The
majority of the old homestead is still in the possession of the present R.D. MOORE.
One more settlement completes the circle--the MARTIN or BLAINE home. It came down
through the GWINNS and MARTINS to the George BLAINE family, and they have about all
passed over the river except J.O. BLAINE and a few distant relatives.
A noble and distinguished line it was, but the tooth of time is fast cleaning up the
landmarks and pioneers of former years.
Mr. Editor:--As it has been narrated that Thomas BUNTIN built the Richland depot upon
certain conditions and made it a present to the L&N R.R., perhaps some of your readers would
be glad to know what kind of a building, the dimensions, how constructed and its value. It was a
one-story box house and fronted north. The freight room was 20 x 30 feet, with double doors in
the front and rear. There was a platform in front on which to receive freight, a small platform in
the rear, and a tobacco hogshead hoister. The room was not ceiled. A pair of heavy scales was
the only furniture in the room and they were put in by the railroad. There were no windows in
the freight room and there was a store room 16 x 16 feet and a ticket office next to the railroad
12 x 16 feet. These rooms were ceiled with undressed poplar lumber. There were four batten
doors, one in front of each room, a small door from the ticket office into the store room and a
door in the south end of the office leading out to freight platform. There was one window in
front of both office and store room. There entire building was boxed with one-inch undressed
oak boards, and the cracks stripped with 1 x 3 inch strips. It was covered with shingles and was
never recovered. It was a rough shack for a depot, but answered the purpose for some thirty
years, and yet through all these years it never caught fire.
The railroad company had only one switch then; it was 500 feet long and ran near the
depot. All the railroad engines used wood at that time and had very poor spark arresters, and the
wonder is that the old dilapidated depot did not take fire repeatedly. Every party who kept goods
for sale in it carried insurance. The cost of the building then was about $500.
When the war of the States in 1861 was declared, Richland was in charge of Robert
WILES, including all the offices. "Camp Trousdale" was organized in the spring of 1861, but
owing to a scarcity of water in and around Portland the camp was moved to Cold Springs, one
and one-half miles northeast of Richland, retaining from the name, "Camp Trousdale." In the
latter part of the summer and early fall of 1861 Camp Trousdale was broken up. Some of the
regiments were sent to Virginia and the balance were moved up to Bowling Green, KY. Robert
WILES followed the Confederate troops to Bowling Green, leaving John C. PAYNE to take his
place. Robert WILES did not return to the South when the Confederates evacuated Bowling
Green in January, 1862. There were Confederate camps near old Mitchellville just prior to the
time they left Bowling Green, but all went South just before the fall of Fort Donelson.
Parts of several regiments who had volunteered from this country were then at Fort
Donelson in the engagement going on, and that, with the retreat of all the Confederates to the
south of Nashville and the defeat and death of General ZOLLICOFFER and his forces, cast a
gloom of despondency and depression over this entire land. This really was an epoch of woe and
devastation which reigned supreme over all the country, and this ordeal continued with but little
cessation until the close of the war in 1865. No improvements of any kind were erected in
Richland or the surrounding community, and neither life nor property were secure.
John C. PAYNE held the offices and did a small merchandise business in Richland until
the latter part of 1865, his family occupying the James GOOSTREE house across the railroad as
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