Skip to main content


Special Collections Online at UT

Foster and Cheatham Family Papers

Identifier: MS-3214

  • Staff Only

This collection houses an assortment of letters and ephemera documenting the Foster and Cheatham families. The majority of the letters are addressed to Ellen (Foster) Cheatham and deal primarily with such family matters as weddings and deaths. Ephraim writes letters to Ellen discussing the health and eventual death of Jane, Ellen's mother and Ephraim's wife. Other siblings write to her relaying news of their lives. There is much discussion of Nashville, as well as Philadelphia and Washington D.C. One letter is written on embossed Ashwood School letterhead. The Ashwood School was a girls' school in Maury County, Tennessee, which burned down around 1850. Some letters discuss societal differences between the North and the South. One letter expresses disgust that Union Army is composed of free soldiers.

This collection also contains several other pieces. The first of these is a speech that Ephraim Foster delivered in the United States Senate on 1839 January 23. It discusses amending An Act Authorizing the State of Tennessee to Issue Grants and Perfect Titles to Certain Lands Therein Described and to Settle the Claims to Vacant and Unappropriated Lands Within the Same. This act was originally passed in April of 1806. The second item is a funeral oration by Ephraim H. Foster celebrating the life of Henry Clay McNairy. Foster made this address on 1853 July 28. The final piece is a woodcut print of Ephraim Foster. This print was used in the Clayton History of Davidson County.


  • 1838 January 10-1850 October 28 (bulk 1838-1839)

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite and must be requested in advance. See for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.

Conditions Governing Use

The UT Libraries claims only physical ownership of most material in the collections. Persons wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants on for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.


0.1 Linear Feet


This collection consists primarily of letters written by members of the Foster and Cheatham families. The majority of these letters are addressed to Ellen (Foster) Cheatham. Many were written by her father, Senator Ephraim H. Foster, and discuss such family matters as weddings and deaths of interest. Other letters were written from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Nashville, Tennessee.

Biographical/Historical Note

Ephraim Hubbard Foster was born on September 17, 1794 near Bardstown, Kentucky and moved to Nashville, Tennessee with his family as an infant. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1820. For a while he was Andrew Jackson's private secretary. He was a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1829 to 1831 and from 1835 to 1837 and served as Speaker during both terms. He served in the U. S. Senate from 1838 to 1839 and again from 1843 to 1845 as a member of the Whig party. He died on September 6, 1854, in Nashville.

Jane Ellen Foster was born to Ephraim Hubbard and Jane Mebane (Lytle) Foster in December of 1821. She was married to Edward Saunders Cheatham (1818-1878), a state legislator, on October 19, 1841 in Henry County, Tennessee. She died on June 20, 1851.


This collection consists of one folder.

Acquisition Note

This collection is property of the University of Tennessee, Special Collections

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA