Whenever there is a gathering of people who love local history and who yearn to tour historic homes in Robertson County, someone inevitably asks, “Have you ever been in GlenRaven?”
The beautiful house was built by Jane Washington Ewing and her husband, Felix Ewing, on acreage willed to her by her father, George Augustine Washington, in 1893.
Stories of Jane W. Ewing depict her as a kind, intelligent woman. At GlenRaven were built a school and a church. Her interest in the community led her to many acts of generosity.
Most people know of her husband only in his connection with the Planters Protective Association. He was General Manager from 1903-1916.
Deborah Kelley Henderson’s book, “Robertson County Historic Homes,” describes Ewing as a “former Nashville carriage maker.”
The book does tell that Ewing “concerned himself with every detail while the home was being built.” It tells that he was fully in charge of their farm. His knowledge of the tobacco industry led him to help organize the Planter’s Protective Association.
Most people interested in local history also know that the property had been heavily mortgaged by the time of the Great Depression. The farm did not pay well financially, and it was lost to the Ewings, who moved to Nashville.
As a member of the Washington family here and a “grand lady,” Jane Washington Ewing should certainly be counted as one of Robertson County’s important personages.
But Felix Ewing? Is he only to be remembered as a carriage maker who lost the beautiful home he had built? Should he only be connected with the Tobacco Wars in the early 1900’s?
Actually, Felix Grundy Ewing was part of a prominent Tennessee family.
Born on August 8, 1858, he was the son of John Overton and Sallie Bass Ewing. His father was not only a “tobacco planter” himself but also treasurer of a railroad company.
William S. Spear, whose “Sketches of Prominent Tennesseans” is still used for research today, included the Ewing family in his collection. Spear wrote, “No name in Tennessee shines with a more steady radiance than that of the Ewing family.”
The Honorable Judge Edwin Hickman Ewing is the subject of the particular sketch.
Judge Ewing’s law practice was so large that, in 1851, he had to make an effort to improve his health.
He visited Scotland and Ireland and then Egypt, where he toured the Pyramids. He went to Jerusalem, to the Jordan River, to Constantinople, to Paris, to London, and home. All of this was in 1851 – and his health recovered!
Judge Ewing’s brother was John Overton Ewing, the grandfather of Felix Ewing. It was, of course, also the name of his father.
There is more to the story.
In the Eagle’s Eye is sponsored by the Robertson County Historical Society. Call 615-382-7173 for more information.