John Donelson (1718–1785) was an American frontiersman, ironmaster, politician, city planner and explorer, who, along with James Robertson, co-founded the frontier settlement of Fort Nashborough, in Middle Tennessee, which would later become the city of Nashville, Tennessee. Donelson was also the father-in-law of future United States president, Andrew Jackson, who married his daughter, Rachel.
Donelson served in the Virginia House of Burgesses before moving to the Watauga settlements on the Holston and Watauga Rivers in Washington District, North Carolina. From about 1770 to 1779, he operated the Washington Iron Furnace at Rocky Mount, Franklin County, Virginia. Along with James Robertson, he co-founded Fort Nashborough, in 1780, which would eventually become Nashville, Tennessee. A collection of his diaries are kept in Cleveland Hall, in Nashville.
Donelson married Rachel [née Stockley] Donelson (1730-1801) in 1744. Their daughter, Rachel Jackson, married the seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson.
Death and legacy
Donelson was shot and killed on the banks of the Barren River in 1785, en route to Mansker's Station after a business trip.
Donelson, Tennessee was named in his honor.
- Crabb, Alfred Leland (1957). Journey to Nashville: A Story of the Founding. New York: Bobbs-Merrill.