The Philips' Sylvan Hall
Cemetery received it's first body sometime soon after the death of Rebecca, the daughter of Joseph Philips
and his wife Milbrey Horn. She was born on 16 April 1790 in Edgecombe County NC and made the trip from
NC to TN with her parents. She died in July of 1792 at two years of age. Joseph didn't sign the
purchase agreement to buy the 640 acres where she is buried until 21 December 1792, six months after she died.
So, it's not clear when she was buried there, but she is likely the first of the family buried in the cemetery.
If you would
like to be included in the list of persons who desire to either directly
participate in the restoration and on-going maintenance of Sylvan
Hall Cemetery or are willing to contribute to restoration and/or the maintenance or perpetual maintenance,
or provide support of some kind for the, send your name, email address, and telephone
number to email@example.com and I will add your name to the list of Friends of Philips Sylvan Hall Cemetery on the "Philips Sylvan Hall Cemetery 2013 Restoration" web site and contact you when your help is needed.
The Philips Sylvan Hall Cemetery is located at 36.2650429,-86.7633598. Enter these coordinates into Google Maps
and view the location on a Google Map.
Tennessee Code: Title 46, Chapter 1, Part 3, Section46-1-313 Trespass on or injury to cemetery
(a) No person shall
willfully destroy, deface, or injure any monument, tomb, gravestone, or other structure placed in the cemetery, or any roadway,
walk, fence or enclosure in or around the cemetery, or injure any tree, plant or shrub, or hunt or shoot, play at any game
or amusement, or loiter for lascivious or lewd purposes in the cemetery, or interfere, by words or actions, with any funeral
procession or any religious exercises.
(b) (1) A
violation of this section is a Class E felony.
On 2 March 2010 I visited the Sylvan Hall cemetery and took the video below showing the condition of the cemetery and
wall around it. All in all, it's not in bad shape for a cemetery that has been in existence for around 200 years.
However it does need tending to. At the least, the small trees and shrubs growing inside the wall need to be cut.
Even better would be a complete restoration of all of the headstones to the condition it was in in the photos above.
The wall itself appears to be in reasonably good condition with only one of the cap-stones being slightly out of
place. A large oak tree that stood on the south west corner outside the wall fell last year causing only minor damage
and it has been removed.
Click the "play" button in the screen below to view the video.
The Sylvan Hall Cemetery is located on a hill in a residential neighborhood off of Dickerson Pike just south
of Old Hickory Blvd. The yellow line between Dickerson Pike and the house represents the location of the original entrance
to the house. The cemetery is the burial place of many of the family of Joseph and Milbry Philips as well as several
of the family of Eliaha and Sarah Williams and Josiah and Margaret Williams.
The following two maps are Davidson County tax maps. The first map shows the location of Joseph Philips' home and
cemetery. The second map shows just the location of the cemetery.
The next two pictures show the Philips' Sylvan Hall Cemetery as viewed from the air.
I've pulled together a document which groups all of the available information that has been published
about each of the grave markers in the Sylvan Hall Cemetery along with birth and death and relationship information on each
of the individuals included in the document. It includes my best interpretation of the information on each headstone
based on available information.
The following came from Frances Martin, the wife of James Roderick (Rod) Martin, a descendant of Martha (Patsy) Philips and
her husband, Thomas Martin, a doctor from Louisiana who was of Irish descent. Martha Patsy Philips was the daughter of Joseph
Philips, Jr., and Milberry Horn.
In Joseph Philips’s Will, as part of Item 4 William D. Philips is given
"the land on which I now live, together with all that I purchased…" and as the last sentence of Item 4 "I will and order
such sum as may be necessary in the opinion of my executors, be by them expended in enclosing the family graveyard." Perhaps
that is the reason a "substantial rock wall" still surrounds the cemetery. --From a photocopy from microfilm of the
will of Joseph Philips, Deceased. Recorded September 3, 1822, in Will Book #8 1821-1826 of Davidson County, TN. Unfortunately
I got this copy before realizing that I needed to record the source of the microfilm. I think I made the copy from records
in Clayton Library in Houston where they have a lot of microfilm of Davidson County TN records.
An unusually substantial wall was built around the family graveyard, after the death of Joseph Philips. The wall
is about three feet in height by three feet in thickness and was constructed by the Philips slaves, no doubt, from slabs of
native limestone taken from one of the neighboring quarries.
Several large trees just outside the wall, possibly slanted
as young saplings over a hundred years ago, shade the gravestones now in the summer. The graveyard is located on the very
crest of a hill rising several hundred yards behind the brick homestead and outhouses, and overlooks the gently rolling, rich
fields below and a cheerful brook that flows not far from the house—a pleasant retreat for the shade of the old pioneer
from the Carolinas and his descendants, and a gentle reminder to the passing traffic on the paved highway at the foot of the
hill, that time is indeed fleeting, and that he who would leave evidence of his having lived for oncoming generations to observe
must choose wisely and build exceedingly well.
Milberry Horn Philips, mother of nine children, was left a widow, on
May 22, 1822. Three of the children having died before the death of their father, Milberry remained with her only surviving
son, William Duncan Philips, and lived at the homestead where she had first started her life in Tennessee;
Hall’ is six miles from Nashville on the beautiful Dickerson Pike. Milberry died in her 87th year, and is buried by
the side of her husband in the graveyard where he had been put to rest twenty-nine years before."
--From "A Brief
Sketch of the BATTLE, PHILIPS, WILLIAMS Families in Tennessee," compiled by Katherine Waits Ewing…1933.
(This I found on microfilm in the McIver Collection at the Tennessee State Archives. One
of Martha "Patsy" Philips Martin’s daughters married a McIver and her descendants gave many documents, enough to fill
three rolls of microfilm, to the Archives. The original copy of Martha Philips Martin’s memoirs is there along with
copies of letters to and from relatives. I purchased copies of all three microfilms so I could have them here in Texas
The microfilm is #1241 and consists of three reels of 35 mm film.
Inscriptions on stones in the graveyard of “Sylvan Hall,” home of Captain Joseph Philips who fought in
North Carolina during the Revolution. The farm is located on the Dickerson Pike, six miles north of Nashville, Tennessee
Philips, Oct. 31, 1763-May 22, 1822; born in North Carolina and settIed on this place in 1791.
Philips, wife of J. Philips, Dec. 4, 1764-Dec. 19, 1851; born in 859.
Carolina and settled on this place in 1791.
William D. Philips, son of Joseph and Milbiry Philips, born on this farm, April 19, 1804; died where he was born
and lived, June 15, 1879.
Eliza Dwyer, wife of William D. Philips, daughter of Daniel and Bridget Dwyer, born atRoscrea, Tipperary County Ireland, Aug. 3, 1801; died May 10
Margaret Thomas, wife of Josiah F. Williams, daughter of Joseph and MilbreyPhilips, Sept. 30, 1799-1844.
To the memory of Josiah F. Williams; this monument is erected by his children ; he was born on the 2nd day of Feb.,
1780, and died on the 29th day of Nov., 1851. His life was characterized by inflexible honesty, sterling ------ the most unpretending
Philips, Aug. 1, 1783 – Jan. 10, 1859
Williams and Sally Philips married Feb. 11, 1807.
Williams, April 15, 1776 – Mar. 6, 1872
memory of Charlotte Philips, who died July 23, 1811, in the 16th year of her age.
Williams, a moral and intelligent youth, May .3, 1814-July 14, 1826.
Elisha Williams; died, Aug. 17, 1811; age. 62 years. Married Mar. 25, 1775, and had six children:William, Betsey, Joshua, Elisha, Josiah, Martha.
Sacred to the memory of Eliza N., daughter of Wm. Williams, wife of Evander Mclver, departed this life Mar. 28, 1826,
in the 19th year of her age.
daughter of William and Sarah Williams, and wife of Robert M. Porter; born, Oct. 26,
1816; married, Dec. 4, 1838; died, Mar. 21, 1839.
H. Williams, Nov. 29, 1809 - Nov. 3, 1833.
infant son of J. F. and M. T. Williams.
Mclver Williams, May 25, 1829-Dec. 27, 1855.
D., son of J. F. and M. T. Williams, Jan. 11, 1829-Feb. 17, 1829.
son of Wm. D. and Eliza Philips, Sept. 3, 1846 - July 11, 1862.
Father—William P. Harding.
infant child of Win. D. and ----- .
Philips, who died July, 1823; age, 6 months.
this inscription lies the unfortunate Joseph John Sumner who was born Aug. 14, 1780, and perished in the Gulf of Mexico
on the morning of Dec. 28, 1813.Oh! Gulf of Mexico, why hast thou thus deprived
us of this our most affectionate friend. As the ---— of spring fadeth away the leaves, etc., etc.
William Henry Sumner, son of the above, Sept.
24, 1813 - June 30, 1816.
Not sure what the source of the following information is but I think It was compiled about 2000.
column without inscription.Apparently moved from original position.
of/WILLIAM & SARAH WILLIAMS/and wife of/ROBERT M. PORTER /born/October 26, 1816/married December 4, 1838/died March 21,
1839/Honorable age is not that which standeth in/ (illegible) of time nor that is measured by number/(illegible) wisdom
is the gray hair unto/(illegible) unspotted life is old age./(illegible) die in the Lord.” (Stone is down and bottom
broken of 1.)
H. WILLIAMS/was born 29 Nov.1809/died 3rd Nov. 1833.” (Footstone:“M.H.W.”)
WILLIAM S/A moral & intelligent youth/was born 3rd May 1814/Died 14th July 1826/Dominus Deus reginat.”
down on inscription side and too heavy to lift to read.
down - no legible inscription.
P. WILLIAMS/Born Feb. 15, 1824/Died Apr. 14, 1846.”
“(On one side) Wm WILLIAMS/Born/Apr. 15, 1776/Died/Mar. 6, 18(62 or 72)!(on one
side) SALLY PHILIPS/Born Aug.1, 178(3?)/Died/Jan. 19, 18(59?)/(on one side) Wm //WILLIAMS/and/SALLY PHILIPS/married/Feb. 11,
1807.” (This large monument composed of several sections has fallen.)
tall spire which has fallen on inscription side and was too heavy to left to read.
Wm. P. )
P. HARDING/and wife/MILBRYC. PHILIPS.
down and broken
this slab (rest of long inscription is illegible).”
fallen with no legible inscription.
without inscription - part of box tomb.
without inscription — part of box tomb.
part of tombstone without inscription.
broken and leaning against stone #19. The only legible word of inscription is “Sleeps.. .“
L./son of/J. (F?) & M. I. /WILLIAMS/born Jany 11th, 1829/died Feb. 17, 1829.” (Footstone: “D L W”)
P. HARDING/Mother/ Milberry C.) MILBERRY C. PHILIPS.”
PHILIPS/Born/Oct. 21, 1763/ Milbiry) Died/May 22, 1822/MILBIRY PHILIPS/wife of J. PHILIPS/Born/Dec. 4, 1764 /Died Dec. 19,
1851/Born in N. C./& settled
on this place in 1791.”(large thick slab)
D. PHILIPS/son of/JOSEPH & Eliza D. )MILBERRY PHILIPS/Born on this farm/ (June?) (10?) 1804 Died where he was born & lived June 15, 1879/ELIZA DWYER
/wife of/WILLIAM D. PHILIPS/daughter of/DANIEL & BRIDGET DWYER/Born at Roscrea Tipperary Co. Ireland/Aug. 3, 1801/Died
May 10, 1871.” (large thick slab with cross on top and inscription on the side)
without inscription - part of box tomb.
this inscription lies the William H.) unfortunate/JOSEPH JOHN SUMNER/who was born August the 14th, 17(8?)0 and perished in
the Gulf of Mexico/on the morning of the 28th of December 1813/ Oh! Gulf.of Mexico, why has thou thus /deprived us of this
our most affecionate/friend/as the herbace of spring fadeth away./The eaves of Autumn wither and die/so has thou in like
anner /cut short our hopes and blasted our/ expectations in the death of this worthy man./WILLIAM HENRY/SUMNER/son of
the above was born William
H.) September/the 24th 1813 and died June the 30th 1816/My little babe close to my (left?) doth he/Entombd without a mournful
sigh: Thus may you living Mortal see:/that all men were born to die.” (large slab which has fallen)
“Beneath this slab rest the remains/of/JOHN HUDSON SUMNER/Born November 4th, 1811:/Died June 22nd, 1837/He was
a kind son and affectionate/brother strictly moral through life/but in death his whole reliance was/on the merit of Him who came into/this world to seek and to save/Adam’s fallen race./Disturb
not this grave if you respect the/last wish of the virtuous dead.”
of a box tomb.
of a box tomb.
Broken top of a small
Note: From information compiled by Christine (Paradise) Sumner, wife of William Parks
Sumner Jr. and mother of Ann Elizabeth (Sumner) Shook and John William Sumner.
Joseph John Sumner's remains were brought home to Nashville and buried at "Sylvan Hall" the home of Captain Joseph
Philips, Revolutionary soldier. The farm is located on Dickerson Pike, 6 miles north of Nashville, Tennessee. His tombstone
"Beneath this inscription lies the unfortunate Joseph John Sumner who was born August 14, 1780 and perished in
the Gulf of Mexico on the Morning of December 28, 1813 ...."
Buried beside him is a son, William Henry Sumner, September 24, 1813, June 30, 1816.
Other inscriptions found in this old cemetery are:
Joseph Philips (spelled with two l's), October 31, 1763, May 22, 1822, born in North Carolina and settled on this
place in 1791.
Milbiry (Horn) Philips, wife of J. Philips, December 4, 1764, December 19, 1851, born in North Carolina and settled
on this place in 1791.
William D. Philips, son of Joseph and Milbiry Philips, born on this farm April 19, 1804, died where he was born
and lived, June 15, 1879.
Eliza Dryer, wife of William D. Philips, daughter of Daniel and Bridget Dryer, born at Roscrea, Tipperary County,
Ireland, August 3, 1801, died May 10, 1871.
Margaret Thomas, wife of Josiah F. "Williams, and daughter of Joseph and Milbrey Philips, September 30, 1799-1844.
To the Memory of Josiah F. Williams, this monument is erected by his children, he was born on the 2nd day of February,
1780 and died on the 29th day of November, 1851. His life was characterized by inflexible honesty, sterling , the most unpretending
Sally Philips, August 1, 1783, January 19, 1859, William Williams and Sally Philips married February 11, l807.
William Williams, April 15, 1776, March 6, 1872.In Memory of Charlotte Philips, who died July 23, 1811 in the 16th year
of her age.
Henry Williams, a moral and intelligent youth, l May 3, 1814, July 14, 1826
Elisha Williams died August 17, 1811, age 72 years, married March 25, 17?5 and had 6 children, William, Betsey, Joshua,
Elisha, Josiah, Martha>
Sacred to the Memory of Eliza N., daughter of William Williams, wife of Evander McIver, departed this life March 28, 1826,
in the 19th year of her age. (Evander is mentioned in the old collection of Sumner letters owned by the late Emmett Sumner).Mary,
daughter of William and Sarah (Sally) Williams and wife of Robert M. Porter, born October 26, 1816, married December 4, 1838,
died March 21, 1839.
Martha H. Williams, November 29, 1809, November 3, 1833.Robert, infant son of J. F. and M. T. WilliamsEvander McIver Williams,
May 5, 1829, December 27, 1855David D., son of J. F. and M. t. Williams, January 11, 1829, February 17, 1829
William, son of William D. and Eliza Philips, September 3, 1846, July 11, 1862 "Father" William P. Harding"Mother" Milberry
C. Philips (It is interesting how many different ways this name is spelled all in the same family)
Sarah, infant child of William D. and Eliza Philips who died July 1823, age 6 months.
SYLVAN HALL (PHILIPS) CEMETERY
NASHVILLE, DAVIDSON COUNTY, TN, OXBOW DRIVE
DavidsonCountyCemetery Survey Web Site
September 24, 2001
18 TOMBSTONE INSCRIPTIONS
inscription: WM. WILLIAMS/ BORN/ APR. 15, 1776/ DIED/ MAR. 6, 1862
inscription: SALLY PHILIPS/ BORN/ AUG 1 17 83?/ DIED/ JAN 19, 18 59?
inscription: WM. WILLIAMS/ AND/ SALLY PHILIPS/ MARRIED/ FEB 11, 1807
Born: 1824 Died: 1846
inscription: J. P. WILLIAMS/ BORN FEB. 16 1824/ DIED APR. 14, 1846
Born: 1814 Died: 1826
inscription: HENRY WILLIAMS/ A MORAL &/ INTELLIGENT YOUTH/ WAS BORN 3RD MAY 1814/ DIED 14TH JULY 1826/ DOMINUS DEUS REGINAT
Born: 1809 Died: 1833
inscription: MARTHA H. WILLIAMS/ WAS BORN 29 NOV. 1809/ &/ DIED 3RD NOV. 1833.
Born: 1816 Died: 1839
inscription: MARY/ DAUGHTER OF/ WILLIAM & SARAH WILLIAMS/ AND WIFE OF/ ROBERT M. PORTER/ BORN OCTOBER 26, 1816/ MARRIED
DECEMBER 4, 1838/ DIED MARCH 21, 1839/ HONORABLE AGE IS NOT THAT WHICH STANDETH IN/ (ILLEGIBLE) OF TIME NOR THAT IS MEASURED
BY NUMBER/ (ILLEGIBLE) WISDOM IS THE GRAY HAIR UNTO/ (ILLEGIBLE) UNSPOTTED LIFE IS OLD AGE. (ILLEGIBLE) DIE IN THE LORD.
inscription: ONLY LEGIBLE WORD OF INSCRIPTION IS SLEEPS
Born: 1829 Died: 1855
inscription: EVANDER MCIVER/ WILLIAMS/ BORN/ MAY 25, 1829/ DIED/ DEC. 27, 1855/ REV. XIV 13
Born: 1822 Died: 1829
inscription: DAVID L. SON/ PF J. F. & M. T./ WILLIAMS/ BORN JANY 11TH, 1822/ DIED FEBY 17TH 1829
inscription: BENEATH THIS SLAB AFFECTIONS (ILLEGIBLE) PAID/ BELOVED ELIZA'S DEAR REMAINS ARE LAID/ LET DAISES GROW AROUND
THE SPOT HE FOUND/ AND FRESHEST (ILLEGIBLE) DECK THE SACRED GROUND/ AH WHAT AVAILS IN THAT KIND
ARE (ILLEGIBLE) OR WHAT AVAILS THE SYMPATHETIC TEAR/ COULD FRIENDLY (ILLEGIBLE) THE PHYSICIAN (ILLEGIBLE) 3 MORE ILLEGIBLE
inscription: WM P. HARDING/ AND WIFE/ MILBRY C. PHILIPS
inscription: FATHER/ WILLIAM P. HARDING/ MOTHER/ MILBERRY C. PHILIPS
Born: 1846 Died: 1862
inscription: WILLIAM/ SON OF/ WM D. & ELIZA/ PHILIPS/ BORN SEPT 3, 1846/ DIED/ JULY 11, 1862
inscription: IN MEMORY/ OF/ CHARLOTTE PHILIPS/ WHO DIED JULY 23, 1811?/ IN THE 16TH YEAR OF HER/ AGE
inscription: JOSEPH PHILIPS/ WHO DIED JULY 1823/ AGED 6 MONTHS
inscription: JOHN HUDSON SUMNER/ BORN NOVEMBER 18?, 1811/ DIED JUNE 22? 1817? 10 ILLEGIBLE LINES
inscription: (BENEATH?) THIS INSCRIPTION LIES THE UNFORTUNATE/ JOSEPH JOHN SUMNER/ WHO WAS BORN AUGUST THE 14TH, 17(8?)0 AND
PERISHED IN THE GULF OF MEXICO/ ON THE MORNING OF THE 28TH OF DECEMBER 1813/ OH! GULF OF MEXICO, WHY HAS THOU THUS/ DEPRIVED US OF THIS OUR MOST AFFECTIONATE/ FRIEND/ AS THE HERBACE
OF SPRING FADETH AWAY,/ THE LEAVES OF AUTUMN WITHER AND DIE/ SO HAS THOU IN LIKE MANNER/ CUT SHORT OUR HOPES AND BLASTED OUR/
EXPECTATIONS IN THE DEATH OF THIS WORTHY MAN./WILLIAM HENRY/ SUMNER/ SON OF/ THE ABOVE, SEPT. 24, 1813-JUNE 30, 1816
inscription: JOS. PHILIPS/ BORN/ OCT. 31, 1763/ DIED/ MAY 22, 1822./MILBIRY PHILIPS/ WIFE OF J. PHILIPS/ BORN/ DEC. 4, 1764/
DIED DEC. 19, 1851/ BORN IN N. C./ & SETTLED ON THIS PLACE 1791
inscription: WILLIAM D. PHILIPS,/ SON OF/ JOSEPH & MILBERY PHILIPS/ BORN ON THIS FARM/ JUNE 10 1804/ DIED WHERE HE WAS
BORN; LIVED JUNE 15, 1879/ELIZA DWYER/ WIFE OF/ WILLIAM D. PHILIPS/ DAUGHTER OF/DANIEL & BRIDGET DWYER/BORN AT ROSCREA
TIPPERARY CO. IRELAND/ AUG. 3, 1801/ DIED NOV. 10, 1871.
The information shown below was drawn by Craig Kelley Adkisson on February 18, 2001 based
on an inventory of the Sylvan Hall Cemetery.