The rich story of Rippavilla begins on December 6, 1818, when Nathaniel Frances Cheairs IV, of French Huguenot descent, was born on the property located in Spring Hill, Tennessee.
In his young adulthood, Nathaniel IV began courting Miss Susan Peters McKissack, daughter of Master William McKissack II, also of Spring Hill. The happy couple wished to marry and Nathaniel IV announced his intentions to his father, Nathaniel III. Unfortunately, Nathaniel III had one objection - all "Nathaniels" along his family line had married women named "Sarah" and young Nathaniel was to do the same. Nathaniel III was so insistent on the tradition that he offered his son $5,000 in gold to find a bride named Sarah. Nathaniel IV would not be bribed, he would marry his love Susan.
At this point, Susan's father made the young couple a generous offer. As owner of the local brickyard, Master McKissack had an ample supply of bricks, and agreed to supply all bricks and slave labor needed to build the young couple a home. Always the wise businessman, Nathaniel III saw the offer and agreed to finally grant his blessing. Nathaniel Frances Cheairs IV and Susan Peters McKissack were married on September 2, 1841and even received the $5,000 in gold as a wedding gift.
For the first ten years of their marriage, Nathaniel and Susan lived in two-story log cabin located on the back of the property. It was in that cabin that Susan gave birth to three of their four children. In 1851, the Cheairs completed construction on a smokehouse and kitchen house.
In 1852, construction began on what is now Rippavilla Mansion. Construction continued for three years and during this time, the Cheairs family lived above the kitchen house. The home was completed in 1855 and the young family moved in shortly thereafter. Susan Cheairs gave birth to their fourth, and last, child in the mansion. The family happily resided in the mansion for six years before the beginning of the Civil War in 1861.
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