Our seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson, traveled the Trace many times in the early 1800's, from his home in Nashville to Natchez to be with his loved one, Rachel Donelson Robards, the daughter of John Donelson, the co-founded of Nashville, TN. Rachel was married at an early age to Lewis Robards from Kentucky, but she was very unhappy and so she moved to Natchez, to be away from her husband, Lewis. Believing that Mr. Robards had obtained a divorce, Andrew and Rachel were married in 1791. Two years later they found that the divorce had just then become final. A second marriage ceremony had to be performed. Political opponents used this gossip to attempt to make a scandal out of the Jacksons's happy marriage. A lot of controversy surrounded this affair. Mrs. Jackson suffered in silence from the gossip and rumors, but Jackson used dueling pistols to avenge his wife's honor.
Andrew Jackson built his white mansion, the Hermitage, in 1819 near Nashville, Tennessee, for his wife, Rachel. (Large plantations were given names by their owners ~ Hermitage, Beauvoir, Montpier, etc.) Rachel died of a heart attack less than a month before her husband was inaugurated in 1828 as President. Jackson was convinced that her death had been caused by grief over the scandal made against her during the presidental campaign.
Other famous frontier people known to have traveled on the Trace were: Pushmataha, Tecumseh, Indian chiefs; Louis LeFleur, French trader; Marquis deLafayette; Henry Clay; the young boy Jefferson Davis; Jim Bowie; Aaron Burr; John James Audubon; and Captain Merriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame. Captain Lewis lost his life on the Trace when he was mysteriously shot at Grinder's Stand in 1809.
In 1811, the steamboat New Orleans made its first appearance at Natchez. By 1819, twenty steamboats were operating between New Orleans, St. Louis, Louisville, and Nashville. With the steamboat's ability to easily travel upriver against the flow, it was no longer necessary for the traveler to use the Trace, with all its discomforts and dangers, to journey north. The Natchez Trace was then used less and less as a national roadway, and finally reduced to use only by local people who lived around it. As it was used less, it started to be reclaimed by the wilderness from which it was cut. By the early 20th century it was all but forgotten, and overgrown ~ reduced to a quiet forest lane.