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Full text of "Tennessee county history series : Davidson County / by Frank Burns ; Robert B. Jones, editor"

Tennessee County History Series 



EDITORIAL BOARD 

Frank B. Williams, Jr., Editor for East Tennessee 
Robert B. Jones, Editor for Middle Tennessee 
Charles W. Crawford, Editor for West Tennessee 
J. Ralph Randolph, Coordinator 

EDITORIAL STAFF 
Anne B. Hurley 



TENNESSEE COUNTY HISTORY SERIES 



Davidson County 



by Frank Burns 

Robert B.Jones 

Editor 



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MEMPHIS STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS 

Memphis, Tennessee 



Copyright © 1989 by Memphis State University Press 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or 
utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical 
(including photocopying and recording) or by any information 
storage and retrieval system, without permission from the 
publisher. 

Map prepared by MSU Cartographic Services Laboratory 

Manufactured in the United States of America 

Designed by Gary G. Gore 

ISBN 0-87870-130-3 



To Harry Phillips 
Writer, Lawyer, Jurist, Counselor 



Acknowledgments 

To Johnnie, my wife, for her encouragement, and for her 
professionally competent copyreading of the manuscript. 

To my parents, whose memories of Nashville of 1917-1920 
inform this portrait of a place and its people. 

To the writers and scholars who have gone before along this 
path and whose trail I have followed using their printed words 
as a guide. 

To the people of Davidson County whose daily lives across 
the years make up the fabric of this story. 

Thank you. 

Frank Burns 
July 15, 1986 



Preface 



This is a story of a place. It is a story that has been told before, 
and told well, by many storytellers. Davidson County as the site 
of the capital of the state has been the scene of momentous 
events. Consequently historians have been attracted to the 
county as a subject for books, both general histories and spec- 
ialized studies. Moreover the Tennessee County History Series 
is limited in length; because it is intended for a general audience 
too much documentation of sources is avoided. The format is 
that of the personal essay, a narrative flow that draws the reader 
on by emphasizing cause and effect. My goal has been to select 
certain incidents from the story of Davidson County that have 
somehow been overlooked or sketchily treated by other writers 
and to develop these thoroughly. In this approach the guide has 
been J. E. Scates, the Memphis educator. 

In his book, A School History of Tennessee (Memphis, 1925), 
Scates said that "the concise is the opposite of the elementary. 
Instead of the usual hurried summary a concise history should 
select the most important persons, events, and movements and 
tell of them with some richness of detail." This is the method I 
have followed, realizing that many persons of note have been 
omitted or mentioned by name only in passing; that events have 
been passed over; and that movements important to contem- 



porary residents of Davidson County have assumed lesser im- 
portance in the perspective of later developments (the crucial 
question of public debt which marked the 1 880s, the temperance 
issue which burned so hotly from 1899 to 1939, the battle for 
woman's suffrage, which divided friend from friend up to 1919, 
for example). Because Nashville is the capital of the state there 
have been many events of statewide importance. I have chosen 
to ignore most of these which did not also have particular sig- 
nificance to the county even if the legislative battles did happen 
to occur within the county boundaries or the administrative de- 
cisions happened to be made by a chief executive whose home 
was temporarily within the city. Thus, while the formation of the 
metropolitan government is treated in some detail, the cam- 
paign for secession is not. The ratification of the nineteenth 
amendment in Nashville was most important to the state and 
nation, but even if the leaders of women on both sides were of 
Nashville and Davidson County this is not treated as an event of 
county history. 

Having some experience with scholarly writing in my own 
academic field, I am aware of the demands of that form; recog- 
nizing the validity of George Orwell's strictures in his essay on 
style, "Politics and the English Language," I am not averse to 
writing prose that is acceptable to the general public. Accuracy 
of idea has been my aim; I trust there are no inaccuracies of fact. 
Trustworthiness is the fundamental requirement for history. 

G. Frank Burns 






avidson county was organized in 1783, Fort Nashbor- 
ough having been established by the James Robertson party on 
December 25, 1779. The county is 508 square miles in area 
and is located on both sides of the Cumberland River. From the 
north clockwise it is bounded by Robertson, Sumner, Wilson, 
Rutherford, Williamson, and Cheatham counties. Generally the 
land is gently rolling although there are hills of considerable 
height on all sides of the county seat, Nashville, forming three 
long ridges: Paradise Ridge, part of the Highland Rim, north- 
west of Nashville from which Marrowbone, White's, and Man- 
sker's creeks descend; Harpeth Ridge, the watershed between 
the Cumberland and Harpeth Rivers; and a ridge which divides 
the Harpeth from the Little Harpeth River. The soil of Davidson 
County is mostly fertile, except for the rocky area of the Mar- 
rowbone Hills in the northwest; there are surface rocks in almost 
every part of the county and limestone strata are nowhere very 
far below the surface. This has been a problem to contractors 
working with water and sewer lines but has provided a firm 
foundation for the tall buildings of the city skyline. Most of this 
stone is an outcrop of the Nashville and Cincinnati formations. 
The rock to build the State Capitol was excavated from a fairly 
deep bed of limestone in the state quarry, once located west of 



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DAVIDSON 3 

the building. Resembling sandstone, it is actually limestone, lam- 
inated, bluish gray with dark bands. The bed underlies most of 
the city and some of this stone was also quarried at the foot of 
Gay Street on the river. Another type of native stone which was 
used for the fronts of many of Nashville's distinguished build- 
ings of the mid-nineteenth century was called Bosley stone. 

In 1980 the population of Davidson County was 477,811; in 
1970 it was 447,877; in 1960, 399,743. Incorporated towns in 
1980 were Belle Meade (population 3182); Berry Hill (1113); For- 
est Hills (4516); Goodlettsville (8327); Lakewood (2325); Nash- 
ville (455,651); Oak Hill (4609); and Ridgetop (1225). The 
municipalities of Goodlettsville and Ridgetop are shared with 
Sumner and Robertson counties respectively. Nashville has been 
chartered since 1962 as the Metropolitan Government of Nash- 
ville and Davidson County; there are two districts: the Urban 
Services District and the General Services District. The U.S. 
Department of Commerce has only the former in its report of 
urban population. 

Davidson County was named in honor of General William 
Lee Davidson, the "Piedmont Partisan." This distinguished 
North Carolinian was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 
in 1746, the family removing to the Catawba Valley of North 
Carolina in 1 748. With the approach of the American Revolution 
he was appointed one of the twenty-five members of Rowan 
County's Committee of Correspondence. North Carolina au- 
thorized the formation of two regiments to be a part of the Con- 
tinental Army, as distinguished from the Minute Men. In mid- 
April of 1776 these regiments were expanded to six, and Dav- 
idson was appointed major of the Fourth North Carolina, under 
Colonel Thomas Polk. After participating in several actions in 
the South, the regiment joined General George Washington and 
the Continental Line in Pennsylvania in the fall of 1777, fighting 
in the Battle of Germantown. Among the dead was Francis Nash, 
commanding general of the North Carolina troops and the man 
for whom Fort Nashborough (and therefore Nashville) was 
named two years later. Davidson served with Washington's army 
at Valley Forge and was ordered with his troops to return south 



4 Tennessee County History Series 

in the spring of 1778. By then a lieutenant colonel, he went 
south, but in December returned to Washington's command and 
was stationed at West Point. Washington was convinced that the 
war would be won in the South. Therefore he ordered Davidson 
to rejoin his regiment at Charleston in January of 1780. From 
that time on, the war in the Piedmont region of the Carolinas 
grew more and more fierce; the contending armies were in con- 
stant action. On February 1, 1781, defending a crossing of the 
Catawba River at Cowan's Ford against the soldiers of Lord 
Cornwallis, William Davidson, brigadier general commanding, 
was killed. His troops had for crucial months held western North 
Carolina for the cause of independence. Ten months later at 
Yorktown Cornwallis surrendered. It is recorded that half a cen- 
tury later old men wept when they told the story of Davidsons 
death. Many of his soldiers were among those who built the 
settlement on the Cumberland that bears his name. 

The Role the French Played 

They called the river Chauvanons — River of the Shawnees. 
They were the French traders, coming down from Vincennes; 
the same traders and soldiers of the King of France who claimed 
the sovereignty of the Mississippi Valley west of the mountains, 
who established a fort called Prudhomme on the bluffs of the 
Chickasaw Nation above the great river Mississippi. The large 
stream flowing into the Ohio a little way below the river of the 
Shawnees they called the Tcheraquis (Tennessee), the river of 
the Cherokees. It had been a forest land full of game, a rich land, 
first the Iroquois, then the Shawnee claiming jurisdiction. A 
great war had been fought between the Shawnee and the Cher- 
okee, who were victorious. It was a great power war like those 
being waged at the same time in Europe, for reasons, it must be 
said, far less vital to national interests. But it was a war that would 
have incalculable results as the Europeans in America extended 
their system of alliances into a new world already divided into 
rival powers and sophisticated strategies: the Iroquois and their 
kin were wooed by the French, the Cherokee by the English, the 
Creek by the Spanish. Each Indian nation chose a European 



DAVIDSON 5 

power, each for its own reason having nothing to do with Eu- 
ropean politics but having a great deal to do with native Amer- 
ican politics, a politics little or not at all understood by the 
European. 

But now the bluffs of the River Chauvanons (Cumberland) 
were in a hunting preserve patrolled by Cherokees. Here the 
French built a stockade and cabins to house themselves and their 
trading goods, not as a permanent settlement, because the 
French did not think in those terms, but as a place near a great 
salt lick which attracted the animals that the Cherokee hunting 
parties sought, and therefore would be convenient to Cherokee 
purchasers of trade goods. And later, after the Peace of 1763 had 
decided that the country between the Mississippi and the moun- 
tains would not be French but English — or at least under the 
sovereignty of King George III who in his wisdom then forbade 
his American subjects from crossing those mountains to make 
permanent settlements although allowing them to trade with his 
Redskin friends — the French abandoned that trading post, 
called French Lick, except for Timothy deMonbrun, who con- 
tinued to ply his vocation of storekeeper. (His proper name was 
Jacques Timothe Boucher, Sieur de Mont Brun. He had moved 
to the French Lick in the 1760s knowing that the bluffs had been 
a good place for trade, Jean de Charleville's fur trading post 
having been built there in 1710.) 

Mr. Robertson's County 

Davidson County has passed through many eras. To each of 
these the name of some person can be attached: some of heroic 
stature, some whose characteristics are typical of the age, some 
whom chance thrust into a position of prominence. The name 
of James Robertson has acquired the golden laurel of the hero, 
an Augustus of his time. 

Yet he was not the first settler, nor the leader of the first set- 
tlers, nor even the first permanent resident of Davidson County. 
Jacques Timothe Boucher de Montbrun was that: like Robert- 
son's his progeny still are residents. The year of his arrival is set 



6 Tennessee County History Series 

as 1760. And he was not first. He found six white men and one 
white woman near the river in the present Montgomery County. 
In the autumn of 1777 de Montbrun went to Vincennes, British 
headquarters for the Northwest territories, leaving his hunting 
and trading partner, LeFevre, alone at the French Lick. 

The following year (the American Revolution was pitting 
neighbor against neighbor in the Carolinas) about thirty Eng- 
lish-speaking Tory families attempted to colonize the Cumber- 
land; de Montbrun had dealings with them. Apparently they 
moved on across Kentucky, into Ohio. That winter (1778-79) 
Robertson and several companions came by canoe to the Lick 
for the first time and met not only de Montbrun and three other 
Frenchmen (all were Canadians), but a settler names Jones 
(Thomas Jones from Pennsylvania?) who had built a cabin and 
cleared a corn field in Jones' Bend, where the first house of An- 
drew Jackson was later erected in 1794. Clover Bottom, on 
Stone's River, had also been cleared and planted in corn before 
1780 by Michael Stoner, whose name still survives in the name 
of Stoner 's Creek. 

It had been in 1777 at Long Island in East Tennessee that 
Robertson, John Donelson, and Richard Henderson, there for 
the signing of the treaty of that name, met and discussed western 
settlement. Although Robertson wanted to take a party to 
French Lick in the spring of 1779, having been pleased by the 
findings of his party that winter, it was the autumn before every- 
thing was ready. Among other things Col. George Rogers Clark 
owned cabin rights in a tract of 3000 acres at the Lick which he 
had bought from a Virginia militia officer in 1776. Once Clark's 
cabin rights claims were proven invalid the way was clear for the 
permanent settlement by Robertson. Two parties were formed: 
one to go overland through Kentucky, taking horses and other 
livestock, the second to travel by boat down the Tennessee, up a 
short stretch of the Ohio, and up the Cumberland to the French 
Lick. Donelson would command the flotilla, which had many 
women and children aboard. Robertson on horseback started his 
march first. John Donelson (1718?— 1786), also a native of Vir- 
ginia and a member of the Commonwealth's House of Bur- 



DAVIDSON 7 

gesses, came with his family to Watauga and met with Robertson 
and Henderson. His group of settlers bound for the French Lick 
traveled aboard the flatboats, along the three rivers as planned, 
arriving in the spring after many dangers, enduring some 
deaths and illness. 

The Donelson family settled on Stone's River but moved to 
Kentucky has the hostilities with the Indians intensified. In 1786 
he decided to return and sent his family south to Mansker's Sta- 
tion in the northeastern part of Davidson County. After a time 
he started south, encountering two young men along the way. 
The two companions arrived in Nashborough with a tale that 
Donelson had been shot and fatally wounded by Indians. How 
they escaped while the more experienced frontiersman was 
killed they could not explain but they were cleared of suspicion. 
The murder remains mysteriously unsolved. 

Robertson (1742—1814), a native of Virginia but removed to 
North Carolina as a child, had gone with several other families 
to the newly founded Watauga settlements in East Tennessee in 
1768, becoming a judge. After the establishment of the Cum- 
berland settlement at French Lick, he was the leading citizen of 
Nashborough. Indeed on January 15, 1781, the night of his re- 
turn from a foraging trip to Kentucky, he saved the new colony 
when he heard the sound of stealthy warriors outside the walls 
of Freeland's Station, where his wife Charlotte had gone to stay 
with friends soon after the birth of their son Felix. Sounding the 
alarm, he took command and fought off the hostile tribesmen. 
In April a more serious attack was made and what has been 
called the Battle of the Bluffs ensued. This time the hero was 
Mrs. Robertson, who turned loose the dogs from the fort and 
diverted the attention of the enemy long enough for Robertson 
and his men, cut off by the surpise attack, to regain the walls. 
James and Charlotte Reeves Robertson (1751—1843) had earned 
their title, "Saviors of Nashville." 

In 1783 North Carolina created Davidson County, techni- 
cally from that state's Washington County. In 1786 Sumner 
County was taken from the northern and eastern parts of Dav- 
idson; Tennessee County to the north and west was cut off two 



8 Tennessee County History Series 

years later. In 1801 the General Assembly of Tennessee extended 
Davidson County's boundary south to the state line. Once the 
Indian claims to the southern lands were cleared, new counties 
were set up there and the county assumed its present dimen- 
sions. (The eastern boundary with Wilson was also adjusted in 
1801.) 

Davidson County took no part in the establishment of the 
State of Franklin in 1784. It may have been because the Watauga 
leadership believed those in Davidson opposed separation from 
North Carolina that the western boundary of Franklin was set 
by the enabling act as a line from the Falls of the River Ohio 
(present Louisville) directly south to Elk River, passing east of 
Nashville by some fifty miles. It should be noted that in 1796 the 
vote in Davidson on statehood was 94 for the new state, 517 
against. 

Communities of Davidson County 

In 1960 the U.S. Bureau of Census recognized 32 suburban 
communities in Davidson County. Bordeaux, Goodlettsville, 
Haynes Heights, Inglewood, Joelton, Madison, Maplewood, 
Ridgetop, Scottsboro, are north of Cumberland River. Antioch, 
Belle Meade, Berry Hill, Crieve Hall, Donelson, Dupontonia, 
Early, Forest Hills, Glencliff, Glendale, Green Hills, Harpeth, 
Hermitage, Hillwood, Oak Hill, Old Hickory, Providence, Rad- 
nor, Richland, West Meade, Woodbine, Woodmont, are south of 
the river. 

In the early days there were other named communities. 

White's Creek Pike goes northwest of Nashville from the 
Cumberland River to the county line. The land was settle early. 
Frederick Stump and Amos Heaton and their families reached 
there in late 1779 and built Heaton's Station the next spring. By 
1809 the White's Creek settlement was largely owned by the 
wealthy and influential Stumps. 

Stump set the pattern for country living on White's Creek. 
When he died in 1822 at the age of 99 he owned 1493 acres. This 
had been expanded from a land grant of 640 acres close to 
Buena Vista Ferry (originally Barrow's). Along the creek he built 



DAVIDSON 9 

an inn, operated a mill, cultivated fields of corn, and lived in 
peace with his neighbors and friends. 

In 1797 William Nolen came with his family from Virginia to 
Tennessee in a covered wagon. In the canebrakes south and east 
of the Cumberland settlement a wheel on the wagon broke. 
While repairs were being made (and this took a great deal of 
time) Nolen looked about him, at the beautiful country, good 
soil and water, and decided to settle there. The community that 
sprang up was called Nolensville, the road that still goes that way 
is Nolensville Road. Two notable houses were built along that 
road: Grassmere, one of the earliest brick residences, and Wren- 
coe, once the center of a large farm. Grassmere House, built by 
Michael C. Dunn, who also was a Virginian, has been willed with 
its 309 acres to the Cumberland Museum and Science Center 
for nature study by Elise and Margaret Croft, fifth generation 
descendants of Colonel Dunn. The land will demonstrate farm- 
ing methods used at each period of Davidson County history. 

Wrencoe, today a solid and dignified two-storey white frame 
structure with a full two-storey columned porch that extends the 
width of the house, surrounds the original house, one large 
room above another identical room, with stairway connecting 
and a fireplace in each. Standing at Mill Creek, the original 
house was the center of Wrencoe village: post office, dry goods 
store, blacksmith shops serving the needs of the nearby farmers. 

Not far away on Edmondson Pike, stands the John Chambers 
house, built well before the Civil War by the Turrentine family. 
Destroyed by fire in 1941 but rebuilt to the same plan that year, 
the house is a reminder of two names prominent in the com- 
munity called Tusculum, a neighborhood closely knit by kinship, 
common interests, and shared traditions. 

At the crossing of Mill Creek by the northern fork of the 
Murfreesboro dirt road stood the fort of Major John Buchanan 
where an attack by Indians coming up the Black Fox trail was 
repelled in the early days of the settlement. This road, where 
Buchanan's Mill was located in 1809, led to the old Jackson & 
Coffee storehouse at Clover bottom, crossed Stones River and 
proceeded to the Hermitage lane before going on to Lebanon. 



1 Tennessee County History Series 

This was then considered the best land in Davidson County 
for cotton farming and the best section in which to live. Here 
where the Donelsons and the Wards, the Overtons, Winstons, 
and Gleaveses. These were large landowners, with many acres 
and slaves to work them. On the southern fork of Mill Creek, 
which led to Murfreesboro, Fosters Mill was located on the water 
and Sangster's Tavern on the hill beyond. 

Between the Franklin Turnpike on the east and the Natchez 
Trace on the west, near Vaughns gap, from the county line north 
to just above Sugar Tree Creek, was the old 11th civil district. 
Here, on the turnpike from Nashville toward Franklin, lived for 
many years "Granny" White who kept the only inn and house of 
entertainment between those two places. She was a friend of 
Senator Thomas Hart Benton, who lived on the adjoining farm 
before he removed to Missouri. Indeed Benton referred to her 
by name in several speeches delivered on the floor of the U.S. 
Senate. 

Her husband, Zachariah White, had come to Nashborough 
in the earliest days and put in a crop but he was killed in the 
Battle of the Bluffs. In 1803 Mrs. White and her two orphaned 
grandchildren came from North Carolina to take up his grant 
and operate the famous tavern, which was conveniently located 
for travelers using the Natchez Trace only four miles to the west. 
After her death in 1815 she was buried near her cabin. 

The Cumberland Compact 

In 1846 the historian Albigence Waldo Putnam found the 
original Cumberland Compact in an old trunk which had be- 
longed to Samuel Barton, one of the 256 men who had signed 
the document and one of the 12 representatives in the Tribunal 
of Notables, or General Arbitrators, who first governed the in- 
fant Cumberland settlements. Written in a fair hand and signed 
on May 13, 1780, the document as found lacked its first page and 
was mutilated and defaced on its second, but it is still a remark- 
able tribute to the faith that Americans have in written law. It is 
now generally believed that the Compact was the work of Col. 
Richard Henderson, the patron of the Transylvania Land Com- 



DAVIDSON 11 

pany, of which empire the new settlements were considered to 
be a part. 

Settlers who signed the Compact were from eight stations: 
Fort Union, Donelson's, Bledsoe's, Asher's, Gasper's (Kasper 
Mansker's), Eaton's, Freeland's, and Nashborough (there was a 
ninth, Thompson's, that is a shadowy presence in some ac- 
counts). The 12 Notables were Samuel Barton, J. J. Blackemore, 
Isaac Bledsoe, Andrew Ewin, George Freeland, Isaac Lindsey, 
Thomas Mallory, James Mauldin, James Robertson, David 
Rounsevall, James Shaw, Ebenezer Titus, and Heydon Wells. 
Ewin was elected clerk, and presumably Shaw was elected to fill 
his seat on "The Committee," as the body preferred to call itself 
in its minutes. 

Samuel Barton was born in Virginia in January of 1749, was 
bound as an apprentice as a youth, took part in Lord Dunmore's 
War as a ranger in 1774, and during the American Revolution 
served in the Seventh Virginia Regiment, Morgan's Rifles. 
Whether he came to Nashborough with James Robertson's party 
is not known — he may have joined that group somewhere in 
Kentucky, as did a party from South Carolina — but he told his 
son Gabriel that he had come "where there were but four fam- 
ilies residing in the place." At any rate, Barton was a signer of 
the Compact and served as one of the Notables. In 1783 a second 
Compact was drawn up and signed by ten leaders including Bar- 
ton; in April of that year, when North Carolina established the 
county of Davidson, he was appointed a justice of the peace. The 
county court then elected Barton entry taker. He became second 
major of militia, and a commissioner of the new town of Nash- 
ville. When Davidson became a county of the new state of Ten- 
nessee in 1796 he was commissioned one of the justices of the 
peace and colonel of militia. But in 1798, not yet 50 years old, 
Samuel Barton gave up all of this and moved with his family to 
what would the next year become Wilson County, to a large plan- 
tation on Jennings' Fork of Round Lick Creek. He took up the 
vocation of surveyor in addition to his extensive farming oper- 
ations. Undoubtedly one of the reasons Barton left Nashville was 
the dispute over disposition of the funds of Davidson Academy 



1 2 Tennessee County History Series 

and the matter of 640 acres of land given the Reverend Thomas 
Craighead to persuade him to come to Nashville as preacher and 
teacher at the Academy. On September 4, 1797, Samuel Barton 
filed a lawsuit against two members of the Academy board, Lard- 
ner Clarke and James Robertson. Craighead's daughter had 
married Robertson's son and the family ties made the issue even 
more sensitive. Already the matter had cost Barton £640 hard 
money and threatened to cost him as sole solvent surety up to 
£900 which he sought to recover from the trustees. The dates 
of the suit and Barton's removal coincide, so it is reasonable to 
suppose some connection. In May of 1810 Samuel Barton died. 

The Ore Expedition 

The Cumberland settlements did not become safe until 1794, 
although by 1790 almost every acre of Davidson County had 
been claimed by settlers or holders of land grants. Cabins had 
been built and land cleared along Harpeth and Marrowbone as 
well as in all the bends of the river. Some of the land was never 
settled by the North Carolina soldiers of the America Revolution 
to whom it had been granted in lieu of back pay. Speculators had 
bought it up and in turn sold it to land-needy families in the 
seaboard states or in East Tennessee. These families soon heard 
that they had better remain east of Cumberland Mountain until 
the hostility of the Cherokees and the Chickamaugas, stirred up 
by agents of the British crown during the recent war, had been 
abated. But the central government offered no help. It was Gov- 
ernor William Blount (of the Territory South of the River Ohio — 
Tennessee was not yet a state) who offered a tiny force (60 sol- 
diers) under command of Major Ore as guards. Ore went 
straight to Fort Nashborough. Robertson, commander of mili- 
tia, completely without authority, mustered 550 mounted men 
and ordered them to follow the trail of the Chickamauga. They 
went to the Chickamauga towns of Nickajack and Running 
Water, in the area of present-day Chattanooga, and destroyed 
them, ending the danger. A new era was about to begin. 

Davidson County in 1795 had a population of 3613. Of these, 
728 were free white males, 16 and over, 695 were free white 



DAVIDSON 13 

males under 16; 1192 were free white females of all ages; 6 were 
other free persons (presumably but not necessarily free blacks); 
and 992 were slaves. It was a largely agricultural society. 

Already a Place of Music: The Sacred Harp 

The Sacred Harp is a song book, published in 1844, oblong 
in shape and durable in form, first compiled by two Georgia mu- 
sicians, Benjamin Franklin White and E. J. King. The songs in 
the book were, however, composed at a much earlier date and 
the song that bears the title "Nashville" was attributed to a com- 
posed named Alexander Johnson, with words written in 1800 by 
a well-known singing teacher, Jeremiah Ingalls, who had edited 
a collection of his own. Because Nashville had since 1800 been 
a center of religious music, the naming of a tune for the city was 
logical: there were other tunes named for Southern places — 
Manchester, Montgomery, Wilson, Carthage, Abbeville, Colum- 
bus, Corinth, Jackson — following an old English custom. There 
is no specific reference to Nashville in the lyrics: "The Lord into 
his garden come, The spices yield their rich perfumes; The 
spices yield their rich perfumes, the lilies grow and thrive." 

However, Nashville was not and is not a center for Sacred 
Harp singing, the land farther south from Georgia to Texas 
being more hospitable, perhaps because of an apparent rela- 
tionship to the various Baptist bodies rather than to the slightly 
more formal Methodist and Presbyterian congregations of Dav- 
idson County. Buell Cobb, an authority on Sacred Harp singing, 
conjecturs that carpeted floors were acoustically not suited to the 
resonances of the unaccompanied vocal music and that it found 
its true home in one-room country church buildings. 

Andrew Jackson's Town 

On October 26, 1788, a young lawyer, who had been practic- 
ing law in Jonesborough and had already fought one duel there 
before deciding to pursue his destiny in a new town, arrived in 
Nashville on the Cumberland. It was not because of the duel — 
his first — but because opportunity called. Andrew Jackson did 



14 Tennessee County History Series 

not go west alone; there were many other new settlers in the 
party. With him was John McNairy, friend of the young lawyer 
and judge of the superior court of the western district of North 
Carolina, who had appointed him public prosecutor. 

Nashville was small, a few hundred inhabitants living in log 
cabins, some houses, frame or a few of brick, even tent shelters. 
There were the courthouse, two stores, two taverns, and a dis- 
tillery. One of the houses was the blockhouse in which John 
Donelson's widow lived with her family, including a pretty 
daughter, Rachel, newly separated from her husband. Jackson 
was accepted as a boarder. 

A recent biographer (Robert V. Remini) comments: "No 
American ever had so powerful an impact on the minds and 
spirit of his contemporaries as did Andrew Jackson. No other 
man ever dominated an age spanning so many decades. No one, 
not Washington, Jefferson, or Franklin, ever held the American 
people in such near-total submission." 

It then was no wonder that from 1795 when the people of 
Davidson County elected him as delegate to the new state's first 
constitutional convention, with James Robertson and John 
McNairy, until 1840 when Whig ascendancy ended his domi- 
nance of public life Nashville was Andy Jackson's town. 

A Coming Man 

Public office came to Jackson swiftly after his first service. 
Delegate, then unsuccessful candidate for major general of mi- 
litia, he began his move to power in 1796 with election to the U.S. 
House of Representatives. William Blount, who had been ap- 
pointed first (and only) governor of the Territory of the United 
States South of the River Ohio, was to be one of the two new 
senators. Blount saw Jackson as a coming man. There were to 
be three federal offices: he and William Cocke were going to the 
Senate, Jackson got the third position. When Blount, harassed 
by threatened impeachment, did not run for reelection, Jackson 
took his Senate seat, but he resigned in 1798 to accept election 
as a superior court judge. In 1802 he was elected major general 
of the Tennessee militia. Meanwhile he had married Rachel, ac- 



DAVIDSON 



15 




Rachel and Andrew Jackson's first house on The Hermitage plantation 
was a log cabin, (from a post card, about 1905) 

quired property on Hunter's Hill, and founded the first Masonic 
lodge in Nashville, as well as having become a businessman, 
forming a mercantile firm with several branches in nearby 
county seat towns. Things were looking up for the Jacksons who 
had also acquired land in the eastern part of the county on which 
their home, The Hermitage, would be built. 

Two other events occurred which might have spoiled the pic- 
ture: Aaron Burr involved the new major general in his con- 
spiracy to take control of the western lands and Jackson killed a 
man in a duel: Charles Dickinson. He survived both scandals. 

And the county moved on: Davidson Academy was char- 
tered, Congress granted lands to support academies and Cum- 
berland and Blount colleges. The Bank of Nashville was 
chartered in 1807; four years later a branch of the Bank of Ten- 
nessee opened in Nashville. 



16 Tennessee County History Series 

Old Hickory's Soldiers 

Then the call of war sounded in Davidson County. Jackson, 
at The Hermitage, knew it was coming and issued a call for vol- 
unteers, as major general of militia, in March of 1812: "We are 
going to fight for the reestablishment of our national character, 
for the protection of our maritime citizens, to vindicate our right 
to free trade." 

Jackson got his regular army commission as major general. 
The next 12 months were to make a national hero and a presi- 
dent. With 3000 men he took the Gulf port of Pensacola on No- 
vember 7, 1814. The defense of New Orleans then became the 
general's urgent concern. Mobilizing every soldier he could find, 
he set up the American defenses along the Rodriguez Canal east 
and north of the city. The British attacked. Although they made 
command errors, it was the shrewdness of Jackson's troop dis- 
positions, taking advantage of favorable terrain, that won the 
day. For a generation it was a mark of much pride to point to a 
man on the streets of Nashville and say: "He was with Jackson 
at New Orleans." 

Andrew Davis, born a slave, found in 1908 that his earliest 
memories were of the soldiers returning from New Orleans. "I 
heard them tell their tales of war," he said. "I saw them get off 
their horses and kiss the ground for joy that they were home 
again. I saw General Andrew Jackson in his uniform, all blue 
and shiny buttons." It was an image that filled all Davidson 
County with pride, would carry "Old Hickory" to the White 
House, and made Nashville Andy Jackson's town until his death. 

A New Decade 

The 1820s were busy; in 1819 President Monroe visited; in 
1820 The Bank of Tennessee, at Nashville, was incorporated by 
the General Assembly. In 1823 Jackson, who had been Territorial 
Governor of Florida, was elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1824 a 
turnpike from Murfreesboro to Nashville was chartered. La- 
Fayette visited Nashville in 1825 and the next year Judge John 
Haywood, called "The Father of Tennessee History" died. And 
Sam Houston moved into center stage. 



DAVIDSON 17 

Mr. Houston on Trial 

A long- forgotten episode in the stormy life of Sam Houston, 
occurring not long after he moved onto the national scene as a 
member of the House of Representatives, is to be found in the 
Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee for 1825. 

In October of that year Houston, 32 years old and a Con- 
gressman, appeared before an evening session of the meeting 
of the Grand Lodge in Nashville complaining of "slanderous 
expressions" by Gen. George W. Gibbs. General Gibbs was one 
of those types so often found in the early public life of Tennes- 
see — a lawyer, a soldier, and a politician. He came to the Calf- 
killer Valley at an early date, was one of the first lawyers in White 
County, and had been elected to the state Senate. During the War 
of 1812 he resigned his Senate seat and went into the army, be- 
coming a general officer. 

Houston had heard General Gibbs make a public speech crit- 
icizing Major John Eaton, a close friend of both Houston and 
Senator Andrew Jackson. Houston told Eaton about it. When 
Gibbs denied making the critical remarks, Houston set to work 
to prove that the General was not only a slanderer but a liar. 
Proceeding to interview other persons who had been at the 
speaking, he took down their statements. Gibbs resented Hous- 
ton's actions and, the Congressman was told, "had taken the lib- 
erty of using certain charges against his veracity and character," 
to quote the formal language of the Masonic minutes. This was 
on March 6, 1825, at Murfreesboro. Then Governor William 
Carroll (Houston believed), no friend of Houston, spread Gibbs' 
comments all over Nashville. What irked Houston, a man whose 
temper was easily provoked, was that Carroll repeated the lan- 
guage in front of Wilkins Tannehill, Grand Master of Tennessee 
Masons, and the Grand Master refused to state in writing what 
the comments were. 

Freemasonry was in those days not only a fraternal order but 
a real center of political power in the state, a ready-made net- 
work of friendships that could offer the young politician quick 
access to high places. So Congressman Houston was ready to 



18 Tennessee County History Series 

believe that an attempt was being made to discredit him within 
the circles of the order. 

In June Houston was called before a joint meeting of Cum- 
berland Lodge No. 8 and Nashville Lodge No. 37 and resolu- 
tions were passed that criticized him. He protested. After long 
debate the resolutions were withdrawn, but Tannehill again an- 
tagonized Houston when he refused to permit consideration of 
a resolution that supported the Congressman. 

"You know that there is a difference between you and 
Brother Gibbs,"he told Houston. "Rumor has it all over town." 

"I know that rumor has a thousand tongues, and five 
hundred are slanderous," Houston retorted. 

Tannehill turned away, muttering to the others present: "Let 
them settle it themselves." 

Throughout the summer of 1825 the matter was stirred. Ru- 
mors began to be heard, told by persons who were not members 
of the Masonic order, that Congressman Houston had been cen- 
sured by the two Nashville lodges. Not only was Houston facing 
an election for his Congressional seat, but he was already eyeing 
Carroll's chair as governor. He decided that the whole thing must 
be settled soon. He petitioned the Grand Lodge to take juris- 
diction. That body did so, first passing a resolution intended to 
soothe the sensibilities of its Grand Master. After all the sound 
and fury the resolutions that finally were adopted tried to pacify 
everyone. Houston, the Grand Lodge said, "has acted correctly 
and honorably throughout the whole transaction," but neither 
was there reason to censure either Gibbs or Tannehill. Vainly did 
Tannehill try to point out the inconsistency. 

"If one has done right, the other has injured him," he pro- 
tested. The meeting adjourned. 

A Family of Educators 

After Davidson Academy became Cumberland College, with 
Presbyterian leanings, in 1825 Cumberland College became the 
University of Nashville (the Cumberland Presbyterians had es- 
tablished their Cumberland College at Princeton, Kentucky — 
later the name would come back to Middle Tennessee). Philip 



DAVIDSON 19 

Lindsley, professor of languages at the College of New Jersey 
(Princeton), was considering three offers that year He could be- 
come president of the University of Ohio, vice-president of the 
college at Princeton, or president of the small, struggling college 
in Tennessee. He chose the latter because of family ties. 

During the Revolutionary War his father-in-law, Nathanael 
Lawrence, a student at the College of New Jersey, was leaning 
on the fence in front of the Nassau Inn when the North Carolina 
regiment of the Continental Line came marching past. He 
joined up for the duration, became a lieutenant and an original 
member of the Society of the Cincinnati after the war. He was 
on the Long Room of Fraunces' Tavern in New York City when 
George Washington bade farewell to his companions in arms of 
1783. When North Carolina established its Military Reservation 
in Tennessee, granting land as past due service pay, Lawrence 
received two tracts of 2560 acres each. The young officer's 
daugher married Philip Lindsley. From Nashville Philip could 
conveniently operate the "Big Survey"on Spring Creek in Wilson 
County. He accepted the offer from the University of Nashville. 
(In 1844 he sent a son, Nathanael Lawrence Lindsley, to Cum- 
berland University in Lebanon as professor of languages; five 
years later the son established Greenwood Seminary on the 
tract). 

President Lindsley put together an outstanding faculty, and 
before his resignation in 1850 the university had graduated 432 
students. The school, and the Nashville Female Academy, 
founded in 1816 and becoming the largest school for girls in the 
United States, were among the bright stars of the Jacksonian city. 

Billy Carroll 

He was born in Pennsylvania in 1788 and came to Nashville 
in 1810. He soon became one of the leading merchants of the 
town. At the outbreak of the War of 1812, William Carroll was 
made major-general of Tennessee militia, when Andrew Jackson 
was elevated to major-general of the United States Army. He re- 
turned from the war a popular figure. He enlarged his business 
interests and was one of the owners of the first steamboat to 



20 Tennessee County History Series 

come to Nashville wharf. By 1821 Carroll had become interested 
in politics. He was elected governor in that year, and then was 
reelected twice. The constitution forbade a fourth consecutive 
term and he stood aside while Sam Houston took the chair. 
Would he have been satisfied with the six years of service if Hous- 
ton had not resigned? At any rate he was a candidate again in 
1829, was elected and reelected twice again. Only John Sevier 
and Carroll have ever been elected governor six times or served 
twelve full years. A genuine progressive, Carroll had one of the 
most successful administrations in the history of the state. His 
campaign promises were carried out: a state prison system; a 
hospital specifically to treat mental illness; a comprehensive pro- 
gram of river, road, and bridge improvement; reform of the 
state's tax structure; and finally a new constitution drastically dif- 
ferent from that of 1796, particularly in the system of state courts 
and the organization of county civil districts, replacing the for- 
mer "captain's companies" of the obsolescent militia organiza- 
tions. It was in 1822, during Governor Carroll's first term, that 
the first bridge across the Cumberland River at Nashville was 
constructed. This was to be known as "the covered bridge." Sub- 
stantial and elegant in its design, the bridge crossed from the 
northeast corner of the Public Square to the Gallatin road on the 
opposite side. The cost was $85,000. However, the elevation was 
not sufficient for later river traffic and in 1855, 11 years after 
Carroll's death, it was removed and replaced by the even more 
famous suspension bridge. 

Governor Houston Has Left His Wife! 

The most shocking event of the 1820s was the separation of 
Govenor Houston and his beautiful young wife. This unfortun- 
ate romance and marriage and Houston's abrupt termination of 
it caused him to abandon a promising political career in Ten- 
nessee, which might have taken him to the White House. 

The ball where Houston in 1828 met Eliza Allen, the young 
woman who would become his bride, was held in the Brittain 
Drake house, which stood on the main road several miles east of 
the Hermitage. Houston, 31 years old, became governor of Ten- 



DAVIDSON 21 




'. e,vt 



The covered bridge across the Cumberland River at Nashville in 183 1 . 
(sketched reproduction of Charles Alexander Lesueur's sketch in the 
collection of the American Antiquarian Society) 

nessee in 1827 and in the summer and fall of 1828 worked hard 
for the election of Andrew Jackson to the presidency. He and 
Jackson were invited to attend the ball and so were other prom- 
inent politicians. Eliza Allen was a sister of United States Rep- 
resentative Robert Allen of Gallatin. When Houston was serving 
in the Congress he had been presented to Allen's teenaged sister, 
but was not impressed. Eliza came to the ball in the company of 
her Caruthers kin, of Lebanon. Houston saw the young woman 
with violet eyes and braided blonde hair and was smitten by the 
19-year-old beauty as he had not been by the schoolgirl. 

The Aliens, it is fair to say, recognized that this would be a 
match that could hold much promise. Houston was not only gov- 
ernor, assured of reelection, a protege of the man who was sure 
to be president. He was also handsome, ambitious, and likely to 
be himself some day an aspirant to the presidency. Houston vis- 
ited John Allen in Gallatin, as he had done before, but this time 
it was as a suitor. His suit was accepted. The marriage, celebrated 
at the candlelit Allen home on January 22, 1829, did not last. 
History was made in its breach. Less than three months later they 



22 Tennessee County History Series 

parted for reasons that are still unknown. But the repercussions 
sent Houston to Texas in despair. There he met his true destiny. 
He did indeed become president, but President of the Republic 
of Texas. Aaron Burr's dream had become Sam Houston's 
reality. 

Why did they part? The newlyweds had not gotten along 
smoothly from the wedding night, according to friends. Had 
Houston, as some biographers assert without documentation, 
had a Cherokee consort during the time the youth spent with 
the tribe in East Tennessee? And did Houston confess this to a 
sensitive young bride, not realizing the shock this might be? Or 
was it that he realized she still cherished a prior attachment to 
another? Was there a physical incompatibility? At any rate, Sam 
Houston suffered a broken heart, for a while at least. One of the 
bridesmaids at the wedding said years later that Eliza told her 
of a strange incident. The Allen mansion stood near the Cum- 
berland River. One afternoon in 1829 in the garden Mrs. Hous- 
ton was told by a servant that a tall, strange man was in the 
reception hall and had asked to see her. As she entered the room 
she recognized Houston although he had disguised himself. He 
did not suspect that his secret had been learned and during their 
conversation spoke only of casual matters, but all the while he 
gazed at her steadily as if to stamp her face on his memory. He 
arose, made a deep bow, and left. Descending the bluff, he 
climbed into a canoe, and rowed away. Only an hour's ride dis- 
tant was the Eagle Tavern, a famous stage hostelry a few miles 
southeast of The Hermitage. Other witnesses record that the 
night before Houston left for the West he stayed the night at the 
Eagle Tavern. 

Davidson in the Thirties 

The decade from 1830 to 1840 saw Tennessee and Tennes- 
seans more prominent on the national scene than they had ever 
been. It was the Age of Jackson. Perhaps for this reason, there 
was less sensational action on the county stage. Events may be 



DAVIDSON 23 

summed up in few words: the stars fell; the cholera scourged; 
financial panic frightened; Texas called; and the Whigs arose. 

The population of Davidson County was 5566. 

A Nashville merchant was governor when the decade began. 
Billy Carroll anticipated a later plank of the Whig platform: in- 
ternal improvements. He proposed and the General Assembly 
passed in 1830 the Internal Improvements Act for development 
of roads and rivers. By the middle of the 1830s one result was 
the Hermitage Turnpike from Nashville east, replacing the old 
dirt road that had served since pioneer days with a macadamized 
highway. In 1831 a state prison was built in Nashville. On the 
Davidson County farms, wheat threshers were coming into use, 
reducing the amount of manual labor required and increasing 
yields tremendously, leading to the establishment of great flour 
mills. In 1834 a steam-powered rolling mill, with six boilers, 
opened near the upper ferry landing. In 1836 McEwen, Hayes 
8c Hill began operating their new paper mill. 

The corporate limits of Nashville had been extended in 1830, 
and a new post office became necessary in 1834. It was moved 
from the Public Square to the Colonnade Building on the corner 
of Cherry (Fourth) and Deaderick streets. During the 1830s and 
1840s there were only two postmasters: Gen. Robert Armstrong 
(1829-1845) and Col. Leonard P. Cheatham (1845-1849). Dur- 
ing this period also two noted lawyers flourished: Felix Grundy, 
who had been Chief Justice of Kentucky until removing to Nash- 
ville in 1807 and who was called "the ablest criminal lawyer in 
the Mississippi Valley" until his death in 1840, and Francis B. 
Fogg, one of the most admired public men of the decades before 
the Civil War. Davidson County was represented in the Consti- 
tutional Convention of 1834 by Fogg and Robert Weakley, a for- 
mer U.S. Representative. 

The prison was ready to receive guests on January 1, 1831. The 
first prisoner was from Madison County, a tailor sentenced to 
serve two years for assault with a knife. The prison was operated 
according to "the Auburn plan." Convicts occupied separate cells 
at night, but worked together in the day. There were a number 
of useful occupations offered: blacksmithing, picking wool, 



24 Tennessee County History Series 

shoemaking, harness making. The intent was to teach the men 
a trade that they could use as law-abiding citizens. The public 
tended to be dubious. Nevertheless it was a progressive notion. 
Even more progressive was the decision to build a mental hos- 
pital near Nashville for the treatment of what the Act called "the 
most severe of earthly afflictions. "This was in 1832 and $10,000 
was appropriated; the building, designed by the architect Adol- 
phus Heiman, was completed in 1840 after four times that 
amount had been spent. Strange to say there was much oppo- 
sition to hospitalization of the mentally ill because of the cost to 
the taxpayer. 

After the Medical Society of Tennesse had been established 
at a meeting of physicians in Nashville in 1830, a terrifying event 
focused public attention on health matters. Asiatic cholera swept 
over a filthy city. The city had incurred its very first public debt 
in 1830 when the corporation borrowed $50,000 to erect a water- 
works. Physicians had been insisting that a contaminated water 
supply would encourage the spread of disease. But it was the 
disposal of waste that caused physicians to be even more appre- 
hensive when Asiatic cholera came to seaboard cities in 1832. 
The disease appeared in Davidson County in December of that 
year, affecting the poorer, more congested sections first, the ru- 
ral areas not at all. After 29 deaths the plague subsided, but from 
May 8, 1833, to June 17 it returned and raged without distinction 
of wealth or age. There were 83 deaths, including Josiah Nichol, 
president of the Branch Bank of the United States. 

Jackson's reelection in 1832 continued the feeling at home 
that all was well, but there seemed to be a slowing down. Poeple 
did not really understand the banking crisis, but money did not 
seem to go as far. 

Houston and Davy Crockett, San Jacinto and the Alamo had 
put Texas on everyone's lips but it was the financial crash of 1837 
that sent many Davidson countians to Texas. On May 22, 1837, 
a meeting called because of increasing uneasiness over the trou- 
ble in the financial world of the Eastern states and chaired by 
Albert H. Wynne, discussed the probable suspension of specie 
payments by the banks. It was a complex situation aggravated 



DAVIDSON 25 

by a worldwide credit crisis and the unfavorable balance of trade 
suffered by the United States. Banking crises tended to affect all 
parts of the commercial community and when crops in Davidson 
County (and Tennessee) failed in 1838 many farmers and small 
businessmen lost all they had. Their response was to seek better 
times in Texas, and in Arkansas and Louisiana. Others went West 
involuntarily. 

The Cherokees who had resisted their tribal chiefs' decision 
to accept new land in the West were forcibly removed, under U.S. 
Army supervision. Their route, to become known as "The Trail 
Where They Wept" in Cherokee, or Trail of Tears, crossed Dav- 
idson County. 

And in 1840, a presidential year, the rise of Whiggery in Ten- 
nessee was marked by the great Whig Convention, in the very 
front yard of Old Hickory. John Bell had been a leader in es- 
tablishing the Whig party. He had been a member of the General 
Assembly in 1826 when he defeated the brilliant Felix Grundy 
in a race for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives that 
later came to be called "the Hermitage seat." He eventually be- 
came speaker of the U.S. House, and split with Andrew Jackson 
mostly because of Van Buren's succession to the presidency. Be- 
ginning in 1834, Whiggery rose, its center in Middle Tennessee 
and in Knoxville, and in 1840 the party held its largest conven- 
tion in Nashville. Electing William Henry Harrison that year and 
carrying Jackson's state overwhelmingly, the Whigs did not lose 
the state in a presidential contest until 1852. Davidson County 
was a stormy battleground each campaign, Democracy retaining 
a substantial body of support. 

It was in 1833 that the natural phenomena known ever after 
as "the night the stars fell" occurred. Astronomers expect that 
from time to time the earth in its orbit will pass through great 
fields of meteors, pieces of rock or debris in space that when they 
strike the atmosphere will burn up because of friction. Not com- 
ets at all, the meteor showers will indeed appear from earth to 
be stars, rapidly moving out of their normal places in the heav- 
ens. There were so many to be seen on this night in 1833 that to 
the average watcher of the night sky it did appear that the heav- 



26 Tennessee County History Series 




&*& 



The second Hermitage, built in 1819. (sketched reproduction of 
Charles Alexander Lesueur's 1831 sketch in the collection of the Amer- 
ican Antiquarian Society) 

ens were falling in a fiery shower upon the earth below and that 
the world was coming to an end. 

Reflecting the great political excitement of the period was the 
rapid change in newspapers. The first daily newspaper in Dav- 
idson County was issued on November 23, 1831. It was the Na- 
tional Banner and Nashville Advertiser, and William G. Hunt was 
the editorial manager. On August 22, 1837, two newspapers, the 
National Banner €sf Nashville Whig and the Nashville Republican & 
State Gazette, were consolidated as the Republican Banner, a daily 
newspaper owned by Allen A. Hall and S. Nye, with C. C. Norvell 
as associate editor, handling the daily chores of news writing. 

The most fashionable place of entertainment in the 1830s 
was Vauxhall Gardens, named for the similar resort in London. 
Located near Franklin Pike in the southern part of Nashville, it 
was owned by John Decker. There was a large and handsomely 
decorated assembly room, a promenade and walks, along which 
were set up booths for various amusements, and a circular rail- 
way, 262 yards in circumference, which was still remembered 60 
years later. Cars ran on the rails propelled by the passengers who 



DAVIDSON 27 

simply grasped a crank and turned it as rapidly as they wished 
to travel. 



Mr. Zollicoffer 's Town 

Felix Kirk Zollicoffer was a resident of Davidson County for 
only a year more than half his life. During those 21 years, he 
stamped his name on the annals of county and town with such 
bold print that Nashville of the 1840s and 1850s was to bear the 
marks of his Whig philosophy as distinctly as it had borne the 
brand of Jacksonian Democracy for a generation. 

A Greek Capitol 

Tennessee had no designated permanent capital until 1843. 
The state constitution of 1796 designated Knoxville the capital 
city until 1802; after that date the legislature met in several 
places, including Nashville, but the new constitution of 1834 re- 
quired designation of a permanent seat of government no later 
than the first week of the 1843 session of the General Assembly. 
The legislature that convened in October of 1843, after quite 
prolonged balloting, agreed on Nashville as the capital. 

Once Nashville had been chosen as the permanent capital of 
Tennessee, the General Assembly authorized the erection of a 
suitably impressive capitol building. The sum of $10,000 was ap- 
propriated to begin construction. The elevation called Camp- 
bell's Hill was selected and acquired, the Corporation of 
Nashville purchasing the property for $30,000 and donating it 
to the state. Clearing of the land began on January 1, 1845, and 
the foundations were nearly finished by July. Edwin H. Ewing 
delivered the address at the laying of the cornerstone on July 4. 
The Nashville architect Adolphus Heiman had submitted a pro- 
posal for a Gothic Revival structure, but this had been rejected 
in favor of a Greek Revival building designed by the famous 
Philadelphia architect William Strickland. 

Both Heiman and Strickland are responsible for some of 
Nashville's most distinguished buildings, the latter accepting a 
number of commissions while work on the capitol was in prog- 



28 



Tennessee County History Series 




The state Capitol, William Strickland, architect, as shown on the Con- 
federate States $20 bill. 



ress. On April 7, 1854, Strickland died. His funeral services were 
held in the hall of the House of Representatives, which by that 
time had become a kind of town hall for the city's public occa- 
sions. His body was placed in a recess of the wall of the north 
portico. The last stone of the tower was laid on July 21, 1855; 
that of the lower terrace on March 19, 1859. The General As- 
sembly had begun to meet in the building on October 3, 1853. 



An Egyptian Church 

One of Strickland's commissions was the third building of the 
First Presbyterian Church, on Church Street (since 1955 the 
Downtown Presbyterian Church). While the second building, 
erected in 1832 and destroyed by fire in 1848, had been in the 
classic Greek style, the Strickland design was Egyptian Revival. 
This had come into favor with architects, jewelers, and cabinet- 
makers after Napoleon's Egyptian campaign. The capitals of the 



DAVIDSON 



29 




The Downtown Presbyterian Church, William Strickland, architect. 
Dedicated as the First Presbyterian Church on Easter Sunday, 1851. 
(sketch by unidentified artist on present church bulletin) 



pillars on the front portico are lotus leaves; the winged sun of 
Heliopolis is repeated as a motif both in stone and in painted 
decorations. Brilliant interior colors heighten the geometric de- 
signs along the walls of the auditorium. It is altogether one of 
the most remarkable buildings in Tennessee, and is one of the 



30 Tennessee County History Series 

few Egyptian Revival buildings still standing the United States. 
The cornerstone was laid on April 28, 1849. 

The President Is Dead. . . 

Andrew Jackson became dangerously ill in May of 1845, 
while Sam Houston was on a speaking tour delivering addresses 
on temperance and on the annexation of Texas, two major 
causes of the day. With his wife and son, young Sam, Houston 
wanted to reach Nashville before his beloved mentor died. Jack- 
son had been ill for months, the ravages of tuberculosis finally 
overcoming the tough old man. He resolutely defied death long 
enough to write several letters, to Houston, to President Polk, 
to his old friend Francis P. Blair in Washington. He even sat for 
a portrait painter, George P. H. Healy. On May 29 the dying man 
received 30 visitors to his sickroom, taking each by the hand for 
farewell. The next day Healy showed the finished portrait to his 
approving model. To the last day Jackson maintained his alert 
interest in public affairs, in farm operations, in religion and the 
future life, and the welfare of The Hermitage people, white and 
black. The President died at 6 o'clock Sunday evening, June 8, 
1845. Thirty minutes later the Houstons arrived. "My son," Sam 
Houston said, "try to remember that you have looked on the face 
of this great man." 

The fifteen years after Nashville was selected permanent 
capital of the state were packed with events of note. There was 
the war with Mexico. And in 1847 the government powder mag- 
azine exploded; in 1849 there was a cholera epidemic which 
claimed as one victim former President Polk who died at Polk 
Place, his downtown mansion. 

The national government produced its first postage stamps 
in 1847. Only seven local post offices in Tennessee were selected 
to issue the gummed stamps: these circled Nashville, perhaps as 
a compliment to President Polk. The next year Polk declined to 
ask reelection, and in the election of 1848, a military hero, Gen- 
eral Zachary Taylor was nominated by the Whigs for the presi- 
dency. He won, and after his inauguration on March 5, 1849, 
Polk returned to Tennessee. He chose to take a roundabout way 



DAVIDSON 31 

home, traveling by boat to Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, 
and around into the Gulf and New Orleans, there taking a 
steamboat up the Mississippi River. During his stay in New Or- 
leans he contracted cholera, which was again of epidemic pro- 
portions that year. Returning to Nashville and to his new home, 
the former residence of Felix Grundy on the corner of Union 
and Vine, he was given the best possible medical care, and, it is 
recorded, responded to treatment so that he had overcome the 
disease, but four days later, on June 15, 1849, he succumbed to 
weakness. Sarah Childress Polk continued to reside in the man- 
sion until her death, one of the capital's most respected and in- 
fluential citizens. 

An American Bridge 

In 1850 the first suspension bridge was built across the Cum- 
berland River. The old covered bridge remained in place until 
the new one, 700 feet long, 110 feet above low water mark, was 
finished. The new bridge was planned by Adolphus Heiman, 
and the building contractor was Capt. M. D. Field, brother of 
the Cyrus Field who had superintended the laying of the first 
Atlantic cable. The first wire for the suspension bridge was 
stretched May 22, 1850; on June 28, the first horse and buggy 
crossesd over. At 6 p.m. on November 14, 1851, the old bridge fell, 
with a splintering crash, just after the laborers tearing it down 
had left work for the day! 

An Italian Villa 

But most representative of the prosperous decade were the 
fine homes that were built, of which the finest was Belmont. Isaac 
Franklin's death in 1846 left his young widow, Adelicia Hayes 
Franklin, the wealthiest woman in America. She was a descen- 
dant of the Bishops of Bath and Wells, and knew the courts of 
Europe. It is the influence of Le Petit Trianon that is felt most 
strongly at her new house. Furnishings of rosewood and ma- 
hogany, fine statuary of marble, a lavish formal garden in the 
manner of Tuscany, even a zoo and a deer park, embellished the 
villa. Windows, columns, decorative detail follow the pattern of 



32 Tennessee County History Series 

the palace where Adelicia, now Mrs. Joseph A. S. Acklen, moved 
in the court of the Empress Eugenie. The main entrance, 
through which the students of Belmont College have been pass- 
ing since 1951 and before them the young ladies of Ward-Bel- 
mont, consists of a recessed portico with two Corinthian columns 
forming three bays between the end projections that shape the 
recess. The columniation supports a cornice, above which is a 
parapet wall with statuary at the corners. On either side of the 
entrance are one-storey projecting porches. An octagonal ob- 
servatory was placed atop the house. Belmont was completed in 
1850. 

Life and Death of a Public Man 

Born in Maury County, killed in Kentucky, Felix Zollicoffer 
was brought back to the mourning city he called his own for bur- 
ial with full military honors. 

That the fiery editor's body was brought back to his town 
from the battlefield where he had lain dead, for a hero's funeral, 
in a Confederate general's uniform, and that the funeral was the 
last opportunity for the friends of the Confederacy to publicly 
display their loyalty to the cause before the fall of the city to 
Federal troops, simply secured his fame. 

Of Swiss descent, Zollicoffer was born May 19, 1812, in 
Maury County, Tennessee. At 15 he became a printer's devil, ap- 
prenticed to his cousin, A. O. P. Nicholson, in his shop in Co- 
lumbia. Two years later he was editor of a weekly newspaper at 
Paris, started with high hopes and slender resources by young 
Zollicoffer and two other teenagers. The enterprise failed, but 
Zollicoffer sold all he had including horse, saddle, and bridle, to 
pay its debts and become a journeyman printer. At 23 he finally 
became steadily employed with the Knoxville Register where he 
came under the influence of John Howard Payne (author of 
"Home, Sweet Home"). After marriage to Louisa Pocahontas 
Gordon in 1835 he settled down as an editor and publisher at 
Columbia, with time off in 1836 to fight in the Florida Seminole 
War. He also was appointed State Printer. A supporter of the 
Whig party, his opposition to Martin Van Buren was so effective 



DAVIDSON 33 

that he became the leading Whig editor of the state. His support 
of James Chamberlain Jones for governor, putting him in op- 
position to Maury County's famous James Knox Polk, attracted 
such attention that he was called to Nashville in 1841 to take 
editorial charge of the Nashville Republican Banner, the state 
Whig organ. 

The Whig campaign of 1844 sought to repeat the national 
triumph of 1840. Henry Clay was the standard bearer; the Dem- 
ocrats finally chose as a dark horse candidate James K. Polk. This 
made the Whig effort in Tennessee more important and more 
difficult. A large speaking ground was laid out near Nashville 
and on one August day a great parade was organized with 
hundreds of uniformed partisans from Davidson and other 
counties marching in companies to the speaking. Some were 
named "the Ashlanders,"for Clay's mansion; others called them- 
selves "Cedar Snags." One cavalry unit was named "the Horn 
Company" because every horseman carried a horn of tin, wood, 
or bone, which they blew lustily, as other paraders sang: "Come 
along, come along, Tennessee boys! Come along, come along, 
do! We'll open the way for Henry Clay, and Frelinghuysen too!" 
On a wagon pulled by six white horses was a loom, being oper- 
ated by an expert woman weaver, indicated Clay's friendship for 
the working class. As the wagon moved along the line of march 
the woman wove cloth which Colonel Sam Morgan of Nashville 
tore off in strips and tossed to the onlookers. The largest dele- 
gation in the parade was awarded the prize of the day, a pink 
satin banner bearing a full-length portrait of Henry Clay. 

Zollicoffer had become editor in 1842; he was appointed ad- 
jutant general of Tennessee by Governor Jones and then comp- 
troller general. All Nashville came to know his ability and his 
personal magnetism. In August of 1849 he ran for the state Sen- 
ate from Davidson County and was elected. In 1851, after a brief 
Democratic interlude under William Trousdale, Zollicoffer 's 
powerful pen helped put William Bowen Campbell into the gov- 
ernor's chair and made the editor a national figure. He served 
as delegate to the Whig convention in Baltimore, at which Win- 
field Scott was nominated; Scott lost the election but carried Ten- 



34 Tennessee County History Series 

nessee. During the heated campaign Zollicoffer was involved in 
an episode of violence that made him even more famous. It was 
the summer of 1852. The editor of his Democratic competitor 
was John Leake Marling. Anew bridge was to be built across the 
Cumberland. There was controversy about the proper site. Mar- 
ling favored the foot of Broadway, Zollicoffer and his newspaper 
favored a crossing from the corner of the Public Square. Marling 
suggested that the Public Square location offered opportunity 
for personal profit to the Whig editor and his friends. Several 
editorials were exchanged, tempers rose, and on the morning 
of August 20 Zollicoffer walked out of his Deaderick Street office 
to the corner opposite Marlings offices (in a building on the 
southwest corner of the present Fourth Avenue and Charlotte) 
and waited. Marling emerged, they stood on opposite sides of 
the street, and exchanged shots, both receiving wounds. (Both 
recovered and were reconciled.) 

The next year Zollicoffer, nominated for the Congressional 
seat by the Whigs, was elected and served three terms. He sup- 
ported the platform of the Southern Whigs and what came to 
be called the American Party: support of the Union, the Con- 
stitution, and enforcement of the laws, obvious code words for 
endorsement of the Dred Scott decision and the Fugitive Slave 
laws, the rock on which the late Daniel Webster's presidential 
aspirations had foundered. Such moderation was palatable to 
Davidson County voters; but their centrist position was increas- 
ingly untenable in a union moving toward disunion. In Novem- 
ber of 1860, after the election of Lincoln, Zollicoffer wrote a 
friend that he opposed secession as a remedy; if the Southern 
states would meet in convention and formally request that the 
Federal government agree never to interfere with slavery as it 
existed in the several states, this would be a wiser and a better 
remedy. It was a singularly impractical and unrealistic notion. A 
more practical step, although the house of the Union was already 
afire, was the National Peace Conference which met in Wash- 
ington on February 4, 1861, suggested by the legislature of Vir- 
ginia. Zollicoffer and other moderates, including former 
President John Tyler, were delegates. Fort Sumter and the call 



DAVIDSON 35 

to arms followed swiftly. Tennessee seceded in May; Zollicoffer 
was commissioned a brigadier in the Provisional Army of Ten- 
nessee, was assigned to the command of Camp Trousdale, and 
in July was sent to Knoxville as commander of Confederate 
forces in East Tennessee. In September his army advanced into 
Kentucky, fortifying Cumberland Gap, and on January 19, 
1862, in the Battle of Mill Springs near Fishing Creek in Pulaski 
County, Kentucky, Zollicoffer was shot dead by Colonel S. S. Fry. 
Each officer, in the confusion of the battle, supposed the other 
to be of his own side and Fry was first to recognize the truth, 
firing his pistol at the Confederate general with mortal effect. 

After the battle the general's body was removed to the Union 
camp. Dr. D. B. Cliffe of Franklin, Zollicoffer 's brigade surgeon, 
was given permission to embalm it, and General George Thomas 
directed Surgeon Cliffe to transport the remains and those of 
Lieutenant Balie Peyton, Jr., to Nashville. On arrival, the gen- 
eral's body lay in state in the hall of the House of Representatives 
in the State Capitol, clad in dress uniform, his sword sheathed 
and lying upon the coffin, as hundreds of citizens and soldiers 
passed by. Bishop James Otey conducted Episcopal services and 
the funeral cortege wound down Capitol Hill and out to the City 
Cemetery where the body now lies. It was the last ceremonial 
act of Confederate Nashville and it closed an era in the story of 
Davidson County. 

The Wool Champion of the World 

Mark Robertson Cockrill (1788-1872) was another individ- 
ual to stamp his achievements on this period of Davidson County 
life. In 1815, immediately after the Napoleonic Wars, it became 
possible to break the monopoly in breeding and raising Merino 
sheep thereto held by the Spanish monarchy. Mark Cockrill, 
born in a log cabin in Davidson County, was an enterprising 
young farmer tilling the acres conveyed to him by his father in 
1811, when he sold the 210 acres that included some of the pres- 
ent Centennial Park and the rights to half the spring located just 
off the present West End Avenue, known as Cockrill's Spring, 
for money to buy thirteen head of Merino purebreds from a 



36 Tennessee County History Series 

flock near Washington, D.C. He drove them home himself, over- 
land, and was in the wool business. Quality was Cockrill's goal: 
"the first order of Broad Cloth wool." Wool and the hand loom 
were the staples of Middle Tennessee agriculture. There was cot- 
ton, of course, but in the natural strife between cotton and wool 
Davidson County was a sheep county. Cockrill's flocks numbered 
in the thousands. Woolen broadcloth was the fabric of a gentle- 
man's wardrobe and Cockrill's wool went into the very best 
broadcloth. In 1835 he won a silver cup at the Kentucky State 
Fair for "the best wooled sheep." (These were not Davidson 
County born; all were natives of Cockrill's large estate near Can- 
ton, Madison County, Mississippi. He sold it that very year for 
$210,000 and came back home.) By 1848 he was urging hilly 
Davidson and other Middle Tennessee counties as the ideal 
ground for the Merino, which liked to ramble in places where 
traditional row crop farming was difficult. He issued a head-on 
challenge to German Silesia, which Europeans considered the 
leading sheep and wool country. Competing at the Crystal Palace 
Exposition in London in 1851 against wool from Silesia, Saxony, 
Scotland, and all the other great wool-producing countries the 
Davidson County product was pronounced the finest in the 
world. "Nature gave me the advantage in climate," Cockrill said, 
modestly. 

The farm, called "Stock Place," in the decade before the war 
offers a fair example of the significance of agriculture in the 
economy of Davidson County in the nineteenth century. It con- 
sisted of 5000 acres about five miles west of Nashville on the 
Charlotte Pike. The low ground was very productive; the up- 
lands were rocky and less so. Where there was no rock the land 
was fertile and was either tilled or sown in bluegrass. There were 
3000 animals: 2300 head of sheep and the balance horses, mules, 
and cattle. Most of the cattle were Durhams, but in 1856 Cockrill 
had pioneered the raising of purebred Bates Shorthorns in Ten- 
nessee. To operate the farm he employed eight farmhands, six 
men and two women. The wool clip of two years comprised 
18,000 pounds of fine Saxony wool which was valued at 60 cents 
a pound. He cultivated 120 acres of corn, 300 acres of oats, and 



DAVIDSON 37 

100 acres of wheat. The rest was in grass. The land was enclosed 
by a stone fence and the Cumberland River to the north. The 
farm supported a family of 40 persons; he later testified to Fed- 
eral authorities that he had owned 98 slaves, presumably in ad- 
dition to the farm hands and the "family," who were likely 
Cockrill's kin. This was not an uncommon extension in the Cen- 
tral South of that time, and later. 

Golden Days 

Many see the fifties as Davidson County's most glorious times. 
Certainly there were noteworthy events. In 1850 the Southern 
Convention met to discuss the slavery question and the national 
crisis, remaining in session 80 days. Jenny Lind appeared in con- 
cert under the management of P. T Barnum. The first passenger 
train of the Nashville & Chattanooga railway in 1853 ran as far 
as Antioch. Ex-President Millard Fillmore visited in 1854, and 
the municipality of South Nashville was united with Nashville. 
But there were less desirable events too. During 1856—57 three 
great fires destroyed 22 buildings: March 16, 1856, 13 buildings 
on the Public Square; July 9, 8 more including the Masonic Hall; 
April 12, 1857, the courthouse and the historic old Nashville 
Inn. The Zollicoffer-Marling shooting affray of 1852 had not 
resulted in death to either, but in 1859 two other newspaper ed- 
itors, Allen A. Hall and George Poindexter, shot it out on the 
street and Poindexter was killed. 

On October 1 , 1 858, Randal William McGavock took the oath 
as mayor of Nashville. Thirty-four years earlier, another Randal 
McGavock, his uncle, had been mayor of a Nashville that con- 
tained 4500 persons — a large village or a small town — which no 
turnpike entered, still just a market town for the surrounding 
farms. Young McGavock presided over a city of 30,000, capital 
of a state with an imposing new capitol building, served by three 
railroads. 

In 1858 Nashville was governed by a board of 8 aldermen 
and a council of 16. The mayor's duty was to send recommen- 
dations to the two bodies and preside over their joint meetings 
as the official head of the city, albeit a part-time functionary with 



38 Tennessee County History Series 

little real power. (McGavock, as a matter of fact, practiced law 
throughout his term.) Nevertheless the mayor could exercise 
considerable influence and McGavock took pride in the street 
improvements, the building of Howard School, the meetings for 
railroad development, and above all in the new workhouse (in 
which religious services were held every Sunday afternoon). Be- 
fore Nashville had any organized charity, he founded and was 
first president of the Robertson Association, a group of 20 who 
helped the poor and distressed during such emergencies as 
flood, drought, fire, and epidemic disease. Although McGavock 
declined to seek reelection in 1859 it was said of his administra- 
tion years later that "there has never been one more anxious and 
thoughtful for the welfare and improvement of the city than Mr. 
McGavock." 

Industrialization was fostered by the Whigs, wherever pos- 
sible, but in some respects this kind of development was slow. 
Dr. John Shelby had opened a steam sawmill on the east bank of 
the Cumberland River in the early 1850s, and in 1864 Frank and 
Hugh McGavock were running another. A major engineering 
work of the period was the railroad bridge across the Cumber- 
land, opened to traffic October 28, 1859. A drawbridge, it was 
built for the joint use of the Louisville 8c Nashville and the Edge- 
field & Kentucky railroads. The cost was $250,000, loaned the 
two companies by the State of Tennessee under the Whigs' gen- 
eral internal improvement laws. The bridge was 700 feet long, 
with two fixed spans and two draws. The engineer in charge 
could, it was claimed, turn the main draw into position in four 
and a half minutes. 

And although the county seat was evolving into an industrial 
urban community, it was still the center of a rich agricultural 
region. True, the city covered six square miles and numbered 
37,000 inhabitants (including suburban); true, the city was cos- 
mopolitan with substantial German, Irish, Jewish, Greek, and 
Italian elements, besides those original Scotch-Irish, English, 
and French settlers' grandchildren, and the descendants of Af- 
ricans; but there were still forests of hardwoods and cedars on 
the hillsides and in 1860 farmers of Davidson County raised 



DAVIDSON 39 

1,114,901 bushels of corn. The numbers of mules, horses, 
sheep, pigs, and cattle pastured on the lush grass presented a 
scene of agrarian contentment. This would end with the coming 
of war. And all the excitement of nationalistic patriotism, the 
bands, the flags, the high hopes would end with Zollicoffer's 
death. Buell's gunboats brought a new era. 

Andrew Johnson's Town 

In March of 1862 Andrew Johnson was made Military Gov- 
ernor of Tennessee. He took up his residence in Nashville. Rul- 
ing with an iron hand, imprisoning from time to time clergymen, 
physicians, elder statesmen, city officials, businessmen, and an 
occasional woman suspected of carrying contraband under her 
voluminous skirts (usually quinine or other medicines), Johnson 
was detested by all Davidson Countians who refused to take his 
prescribed loyalty oath. But after he became vice-president in 
January of 1865 and within six weeks president succeeding the 
assassinated Abraham Lincoln, his moderate plan for Recon- 
struction and his support of what came to be called in Tennessee 
the Conservative cause (backed by the popular former governor 
William Bowen Campbell) won the ex-Confederates over. For 
diametrically opposed reasons Nashville was from 1862 until 
1873 Andy Johnson's Town. 

Occupied City 

Zollicoffer was killed at the lost battle of Mill Springs, Ken- 
tucky, on January 19, 1862. The Confederate right wing crum- 
bled and was ordered back toward Nashville. On February 6 
Fort Henry on the Tennessee River fell. The battle for Fort Do- 
nelson, its stronger mate on the Cumberland, began. On Sun- 
day, February 16, Gen. George B. Crittenden's forces, retreating 
from Monticello, Kentucky, into Middle Tennessee by way of 
Livingston, crossed the Caney Fork at Trousdale's Ferry, 40 miles 
east of Nashville. 

The panic which followed the realization that after Fort Do- 
nelson fell it would be only a matter of time before Federal 



40 Tennessee County History Series 

troops would be marching into Nashville has never had a 
parallel. 

The population knew that the battle at the fort on Sunday, 
February 16, would be decisive. Crowds gathered outside the 
Union and American office Saturday evening for bulletins. The 
next morning vague rumors began to spread, becoming more 
specific as they flew. Gen. Don Carlos Buell was at Springfield 
with 35,000 men. A flotilla of Federal gunboats was at Clarksville 
with orders to shell Nashville to destruction. Buell would be in 
Edgefield by sundown. And so it went — all false. But when John 
Miller McKee of the Union and American arrived at his office he 
found the city in a tumult. No calm voice could be heard. Inexpl- 
icably Confederate Governor Isham Harris, asked to issue a pro- 
clamation setting forth the true facts, declined to do so. Nothing 
was done to allay apprehension. It was as Rome must have been 
with the Goths at the gates. And it was such a beautiful, sunny 
day. 

Services at the churches were either canceled or shortened 
and the pastors did not utter reassuring words: a hasty prayer 
and a quick exit was the rule. It was said that the governor had 
advised all women and children to leave the city by 3 a.m. Large 
numbers rushed toward the railroad stations, possessions under 
their arms or on their backs; they were mostly on foot for wagons 
or carts were not to be had. Earlier that day Gen. Albert Sidney 
Johnston had advised the governor to remove the state archives 
to a place of safety. The papers were packed and shipped to 
Memphis, probably on the same train that carried members of 
the General Assembly, which had gone through the formality of 
adjourning, to meet again in Memphis at the call of the governor. 
(The two houses had adopted a resolution authorizing this in a 
secret session held a few days previously.) 

On Monday the Confederate headquarters realized that 
Nashville indeed could not be held. It must be surrendered. 
Crittenden's troops were ordered to change their line of march 
and head for Murfreesboro. The post office was closed (mail 
from the South was stopped at Murfreesboro, from Sunday). 
Two gunboats at the wharf were burned. (The pre-dawn blaze 



DAVIDSON 41 

alarmed citizens who had heard the Texas Ranger troops swear 
they would burn Nashville to ashes rather than "turn it over to 
the Yankees.") On Tuesday, February 18, the Federal boats not 
having appeared, the distribution of Confederate government 
stores commenced, large amounts going to the citizens. Thou- 
sands of women, young and old, had been laboring for the gov- 
ernment for several months without pay and they accepted 
payment of their due in this way, newspaperman McKee re- 
cords. Despite protests from citizens who saw no reason for the 
act and much harm, the railroad bridge and the great suspen- 
sion bridge that connected Nashville and Edgefield, allowing 
food supplies from the surrounding farms to come into the city, 
were destroyed by order of Gen. John B. Floyd, the former 
being burned and the cables of the suspension bridge being cut 
allowing it to collapse. Since the Federals were moving by water 
it was difficult to see the military necessity. 

On Tuesday, February 25, the flotilla arrived. First to land 
were soldiers of the sixth Regiment of Ohio Volunteers, disem- 
barking from the Diana preceded by their band playing "Hail, 
Columbia!" Their flag was hoisted above the state capitol, but 
soon another took its place. A native of Salem, Massachusetts, 
William Driver had lived in Nashville since 1837. He had gone 
to sea at the age of 14 and eventually became master of the 
Charles Doggett. During the voyage of this ship from Salem to 
New Zealand in 183 1, Captain Driver began calling its starry flag 
"Old Glory." When he decided to retire from active sailing, he 
came to Nashville where his brothers Henry and Joseph had 
moved, bringing the ensign of the Charles Doggett with him, the 
original "Old Glory," and it was this large banner that he offered 
the Federal troops on the morning of February 27. They hoisted 
it to the top of the Capitol flagpole and it flew there all night, 
replacing the smaller regimental standard. Driver died in 1886 
and was buried in the City Cemetery. By statute his grave is one 
place at which the flying of the national flag at night is 
authorized. 



42 Tennessee County History Series 

The Battles 

A large part of the Union force in Nashville was withdrawn 
at the beginning of April of 1862. Actually the authority of the 
Military Governor encompassed little more than Davidson 
County. But on July 4 Johnson delivered one of the best speeches 
of his career. Speaking in Nashville to a crowd containing many 
who were for the Union but also were opposed to the abolition 
of slavery, he said: "I am for this government above all earthly 
possessions, and if it perish, I do not want to survive it. I am for 
it, thought slavery should be struck from existence and Africa 
swept from the balance of the world." 

He thundered: "I believe, indeed, that the Union is the only 
protection of slavery — its sole guarantee; but if you persist in 
forcing this issue of slavery against the Government, I say in the 
face of Heaven, give me my Government, and let the Negro go!" 

It was a cogent statement of the position Lincoln was to take 
consistently and which would form the foundation of the Lin- 
coln-Johnson plan of Reconstruction. In all probability the 
speech made Johnson vice-president. 

That spring Buell's troops had joined Grant at Pittsburg 
Landing and cavalry under Bedford Forrest and John Hunt 
Morgan was active everywhere; in May there had been a small 
battle with Morgan east of Nashville. On July 5 Confederate 
raiders surrounded the capital. In July Nashville was virtually 
cut off from communication with the North. General Braxton 
Bragg, planning to invade Kentucky, flanking the comparatively 
small force in the Nashville defenses, wanted to hamper the con- 
centration of Buell's army. Forrest moved toward Nashville from 
Altamont, in the Sequatchie Valley. On July 13 he captured Mur- 
freesboro; a garrison at Lebanon was hastily recalled to Nash- 
ville and the Federal commanders expected a full-fledged 
assault. Forrest had pulled back to McMinnville, then moved 
through Lebanon toward The Hermitage. Johnson impressed a 
thousand slaves from Davidson County farms to work on for- 
tifications. Forrest observed the situation, decided not to press 
his luck. 



DAVIDSON 43 

Bragg's correspondence for the month of August in the Of- 
ficial Records plainly reveals that as late as August 1 1 his target 
was to be not Kentucky (where a battle was fought at Perryville 
in October) but Nashville. Bragg was then planning to proceed 
north from Sparta intending a frontal attack across Stones River. 
But he changed his mind. On October 7, while Bragg's main 
force was in Kentucky, Confederate Generals S. R. Anderson 
and Bedford Forrest, with Governor Harris, who fancied him- 
self a military leader, moved toward Nashville. The result was a 
battle at Lavergne, southeast of Smith Springs, a loss for the 
Confederates. On November 5 Forrest led a force of 8000 cav- 
alry and infantry in an assault on the southen part of the city. 
This took place at 4 a.m. Two hours later, as it was becoming light, 
1500 Confederate cavalry entered Edgefield, driving the Fed- 
eral pickets before them. The railroad depot and machine shop 
and eight freight cars were destroyed. The railroad bridge, 
burned in the panic of February had been rebuilt and the at- 
tackers made an unsuccessful attempt to destroy it again before 
they withdrew. The fight lasted in all about ten hours. Confed- 
erate troops were moving south from the failed Kentucky cam- 
paign, toward Murfreesboro along the Cumberland and Stones 
River turnpike. Union Gen. Thomas L. Crittenden's II Corps 
was moving south in parallel down the eastern edge of Davidson 
County and by the end of December Gen. William S. Rosecrans, 
who had replaced Buell at Johnson's insistence, was ready to act. 
Bragg had also convinced himself that Nashville was a soft apple 
ready to fall into his hands. The result was the Battle of Stone's 
River, a tactical draw but a strategic victory for the Union. 

Not until October of 1863 would there be even a half-serious 
threat to the capital, although Confederate conscription was car- 
ried on right at Clover Bottom and around The Hermitage 
throughout the spring and summer. Letters stamped with Jeff 
Davis' picture were addressed to and delivered at Couchville, for 
example. In October Gen. Joseph Wheeler's cavalry conducted 
a large raid; in August of 1864 Wheeler again struck toward 
Nashville and on the night of August 29 cut Union communi- 
cations within eight miles of headquarters. Urged to make an 



44 Tennessee County History Series 

onslaught on the city Wheeler thought better of it and turned 
toward Alabama. In September Atlanta fell. Soon afterward 
Gen. John Bell Hood initiated his grand plan to strike a daring 
blow for victory. 

There are those who insist that Gen. George Thomas won 
the Civil War on December 15-16, 1864. (An obscure officer 
named Gen. John F. Miller was in command of the post, but 
Thomas was field commander.) Hood marched north from Al- 
abama, leaving Sherman to march to the sea; On November 30 
a great battle was fought at Franklin. Hood's casualties in the 
frontal assault were enormous, not only in infantry but in the 
crucial area of field commanders. Federal troops retreated to the 
Nashville defenses. Thomas posted his army in a great crescent, 
its wings touching the Cumberland River at each end. On the 
afternoon of December 3 there was heavy skirmishing at the 
eastern side of the Federal line. The multitude on Capitol Hill, 
from which height the flashes of artillery fire beyond the Acklen 
residence (Belmont) could be plainly observed, stared fasci- 
nated. On the next day, Sunday, December 4, the Federal cavalry 
won a sharp fight on Hillsboro Pike. The two sides felt each other 
out for the next four days, but on Thursday night one of those 
snowstorms that so quickly come into Middle Tennessee blew in 
and snow fell furiously all day Friday. The next day, December 
10, was characteristically sunny and crisp, and was used to pre- 
pare breastworks for the inevitable battle, but at dawn Tuesday 
the ground was covered with a thick shell of ice making it im- 
possible to walk. A change in the wind to southerly warmed the 
earth and Thomas decided to attack on Thursday at 40 minutes 
after noon. 

It was one of the major battles of the war. In spite of the dis- 
parity in numbers it was, like Waterloo, "a near thing." And in 
spite of the fierce charges and countercharges including the 
charge up Shy's Hill (between Hillsboro and Granny White 
Pikes), Hood lost not over 1500 in killed and wounded and 
Thomas not over 4000. The Union victory is reflected in the fig- 
ure of 5000 Confederate soldiers taken prisoner. As the retreat- 
ing army sang, it was all too true that "the gallant Hood of Texas 




The Battle of Nashville monument stood on Franklin 
Road until damaged by a tornado in 1974. (sketch by 
Michael Birdwell from a photograph) 



46 Tennessee County History Series 

played hell in Tennessee." Large scale Confederate military re- 
sistance in the West ended with this defeat. 

The city council, Union men all, appointed by Governor 
Johnson, passed a resolution thanking General Thomas for his 
able defense of the city and Brigadier General Donaldson, his 
aide, for the assistance he had rendered the corporation in ob- 
taining provisions for the poor and in furnishing transportation. 

As might have been expected in a wartime city filled with 
men far from home, prostitution was a major problem for both 
military and civil authorities. In the 1860 U.S. Census, 207 
women gave their occupation as "prostitute." There may have 
been ten times that number during the Federal occupation. The 
soldiers frequented a section known as "Smokey Row." Thou- 
sands of soldiers were treated in Army hospitals for veneral dis- 
ease. In early July 1863 a plan for deportation went into effect. 
The authorities rounded up 450 white women of the town, 
placed them on a steamboat and sent them elsewhere. The 
steamer went to Louisville. The authorities there forbade its 
landing. It proceeded to Cincinnati and met the same welcome. 
The Secretary of War ordered the boat back to Nashville and 
that ended the matter. The Provost Marshal pondered the prob- 
lem and solved it, to his satisfaction at least. He instituted a plan 
for medical examination and licensing. The fees would support 
a hospital facility for rehabilitation. The plan succeeded. 

A Lodging at the Union Hotel 

In 1979 a number of miscellaneous old papers and books 
were being discarded at the Wilson County Courthouse in Leb- 
anon. One of these books appeared to be a ledger, perhaps an 
exhibit in a forgotten civil lawsuit. Examination revealed it to be 
a hotel register, the register of the Union Hotel, E. W Dandrige, 
proprietor, located on Market Street near the Nashville Public 
Square for the period of October 21, 1864, to July 7, 1865. 

Most interesting are the pages covering the days of Hood's 
movement toward Nashville, November 30 to December 15. 
During this time there were guests from Cincinnati and Louis- 
ville, Chattanooga, Murfreesboro,Johnsonville, and Tullahoma. 



DAVIDSON 47 

Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin are represented. A 
gentleman signed himself on December 11th as Jeff Davis of 
Richmond, Virginia, and he was accompanied by one John Bar- 
leycorn. Horace Greeley of New York purported to be a guest 
on December 29. On the day of the battle, December 15, how- 
ever, there is a more puzzling registration: Lt. J. F. Watkins, 8th 
Tennessee cavalry, a regiment which was with Bedford Forrest 
at the time. In all, 308 guests registered between November 30 
and December 15. There was no evidence of the panic that had 
gripped the city nearly three years before. An increasing num- 
ber of known Middle Tennessee Confederates are listed on the 
register after January 1 — one, J. H. Williams, who served with 
Wheeler's cavalry, inscribed a mocking verse poking sardonic 
fun at German soldiers in the Union Army. On April 20 an un- 
known hand wrote: "The Rebel Army is played out." 

Reconstruction 

For a time after peace was restored national troops remained 
in Nashville, the main encampment being marked by an enor- 
mous garrison flag. The appearance of the camp and the de- 
meanor of the troops was not warlike. All were somehow 
relieved that it was over. Indeed, prosperity seemed to be the 
expected order. There was plenty of work for lawyers and doc- 
tors and teachers: deferred litigation filled the court dockets; 
new schools were being opened, in many cases with returning 
soldiers as teachers. Discharged men who had been preparing 
for a medical career came back to the University of Nashville and 
completed their studies. The Tennessee Conference of the 
Methodist Church met in October of 1865 and made pastoral 
appointments. One appointment was that of David Campbell 
Kelley, Bedford Forrests' second in command. Mrs. Robert Hat- 
ton, widow of a Confederate general, took her place in the Cap- 
itol: she was appointed state librarian. Davidson was an 
agricultural county — in the decade after 1860 the number of 
farmers increased by 40 percent while the average size of a farm 
decreased. Carpenters and bricklayers were in great demand. 
But Nashville had a new problem too. 



48 Tennessee County History Series 

The freedmen from farms in adjoining rural counties were 
moving to the city. For the first time Nashville began to have a 
residential section distinctly black in population, although there 
had been free blacks in the city before the war. There had been 
riots in Nashville in October of 1864 related to the coming na- 
tional election, and as a result the McClellan slate of electors re- 
moved their names from the Davidson County ballot. During 
Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan, although active, was never 
the disturbing force that it was in the Deep South. It is said that 
the meeting that pulled together the scattered local bodies into 
the unified Southwide force was held at the Maxwell House. 
Davidson County Klansmen are reputed to have met in "kon- 
klave" in abandoned Fort Negley. One display of Klan force in 
Nashville occurred on March 5, 1868, when a mounted body 
hooded in Klan uniform rode along Church Street past the cam- 
pus in an attempt to frighten the students of newly established 
Fisk University. In spite of this brief intimidation, the trustees 
kept the school open, the students stayed, and by the next year 
planning for a new campus began. 

The Jubilee Singers 

Thoughtful people, North and South, recognized the role 
that education would play in the lives of young black boys and 
girls. At Fisk in 1872 George White, who taught music, selected 
a dozen young people, gave them the name of Jubilee Singers, 
trained them in concert versions of the old slave songs (which 
he correctly perceived as songs of longing for freedom), and 
took them on a concert tour that began in humble village 
churches but ended eventually in the palaces of Europe. 

Maggie Porter Cole, when she was an old woman in Detroit 
in 1935, recalled her childhood in the slave quarters of her Mid- 
dle Tennessee farm home, how the workers coming home at 
dusk would raise their voices in the spirituals, how she was sent 
to the little school in Nashville, and how the Jubilee Singers took 
their melodies to the world. It is true that her voice was the great- 
est in that original group; that Mark Twain spent hours talking 
with her; that Madame Schumann-Heink, the celebrated Ger- 



DAVIDSON 49 

man contralto, sat beside her in hotels in Paris and Berlin hear- 
ing her tell of the days "before the war;" that Gladstone wrote in 
her book that she "delighted his soul with music;" and that she 
sang before the Czarina of all the Russias while Grand Dukes 
applauded. But the most important thing the singers did was to 
put the value of black education before the general public. Mem- 
bers of that first tour were Minnie Tate, Green Evans, Isaac Dick- 
erson, Jennie Jackson, Maggie Porter, Ella Sheppard, Thomas 
Rutling, Benjamin M. Holmes, and Eliza Walker. In a famous 
novel, Chariot in the Sky, Arna Bontemps, poet of the Harlem 
Renaissance and head librarian at Fisk for many years, has told 
their story. 

Fisk University was founded in 1866 by representatives of 
the American Missionary Association and the Freedmen's Bu- 
reau. Its first classes were held in a former Union Army barracks 
and hospital on Church Street. In 1876 a new building in Gothic 
architecture was dedicated on a hill on Jefferson Street, to avoid 
the repeated floods that affected the original location. This 
building is called Jubilee Hall because the $150,000 needed to 
construct it was raised by the Jubilee Singers on their concert 
tours — the first college building in the United States to be paid 
for with money raised solely by student efforts. Jubilee Hall is 
now used as a residence hall and incidentally for teas, receptions, 
and weddings. The oldest building on the Fisk campus, however, 
is one of the Army barracks, which was moved there in 1873. 

It had been on January 1, 1873, after the new campus of 25 
acres was bought, that work on the foundations of the new build- 
ing began — perhaps in commemoration of the effective date of 
President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, ten years be- 
fore to the day. And it was on the same day, exactly three years 
later, that the service of dedication was held, featuring an an- 
them, the music composed by James Merrylegs of Scotland with 
words from the Psalms. The architect of the building was Ste- 
phen D. Hatch of New York City. 

It was not only the young black people of Davidson County 
who enrolled in that first class at Fisk: students came from all 
over the Central South, and many were older men and women 



50 Tennessee County History Series 

(here again Fisk was a pioneer, for coeducation was uncommon) 
who saw the need and the advantage of becoming educated in 
a world of freedom. 

Fisk was not the only institution for blacks opened in the 
postwar era. The Freedmen's Bureau also assisted in the estab- 
lishment of Central Tennessee College in 1866, a joint effort 
with the Women's Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church. In 1874 funds to add a medical department to the col- 
lege were provided by Hugh, Samuel, and Alexander Meharry. 
Central Tennessee College became Walden University in 1900. 
In 1916 the medical school received a separate charter as Me- 
harry Medical College. In 1931 the medical school moved from 
its buildings on First Avenue South and Chestnut Street to the 
present campus near Fisk. A third black institution, Roger Wil- 
liams University, was established in 1874 by Baptists on 21st Av- 
enue South, a site acquired in 1910 for George Peabody College 
for Teachers. 

Bankruptcy 

Reconstruction was a time of recovery, but it was also a time 
for opportunism. Government with its easy access to the public 
purse offered a tempting field for looters. The appointment of 
Augustus E. Alden, a northern newcomer, as mayor of Nashville 
in 1867 aroused the barely concealed wrath of traditional com- 
munity leaders. Old party names had lost their meaning: not all 
who had supported the Union cause in Davidson County sup- 
ported the Republican cause — the Radicals, as they called them- 
selves. Nor had all who now opposed the Republicans been 
Democrats, many had been Whigs; therefore the Radical op- 
position called themselves Conservatives. And, finally, only a mi- 
nority of Radicals could properly be called "Carpetbaggers" — 
transplanted northerners. There were native Tennesseans, like 
Gov. William G. Brownlow and Gen. William B. Stokes, who glo- 
ried in the name of Radical. Alden, however, was from the 
North, a Republican Radical, and hated. He was also progres- 
sive, in the best sense: free public education for black and white, 
municipal welfare programs, and necessary public works con- 



DAVIDSON 51 

struction projects were undertaken by the Alden administration. 
Economy, however, was not a high priority. Expenditures were 
twice receipts. The wealthier property owners became dis- 
turbed. A Tax-Payers Association was formed at the suggestion 
of Dr. J. Berrien Lindsley, with a Union man, H. G. Scovel, as 
president. In the spring of 1869 Col. A. S. Colyar, Judge Joseph 
Conn Guild, and former Gov. Neill S. Brown were appointed a 
committee to apply to the chancery court for a decree placing 
the city government in the hands of a receiver and an injunction 
forbidding the city officials from exercising any further author- 
ity or making any further expenditures. It was an unprece- 
dented step. Chancellor Charles G. Smith granted the decree 
and appointed John M. Bass receiver. His required bond was 
$500,000. The largest property owners in Nashville, including 
six black men, signed the bond. By October the restrictions on 
suffrage had been removed and, with men enfranchised who 
had not been able to take the required oath that they "had not 
served the Confederacy nor sympathized with it" during the war, 
K. J. Morris was elected mayor with a satisfactory board of al- 
dermen. One of three commissioners elected in 1870 was a black 
man, Randall Brown, the first to hold elective office in Davidson 
County. 

"Entrenched in the Hearts of the People" 

In 1872 Andrew Johnson came to Nashville again. There was 
a Democratic Party state convention to nominate a candidate for 
Congressman-at-Large. A political friend met with the ex-pres- 
ident in his room at the Maxwell House. Johnson explained to 
him that there was considerable pressure on him to become a 
candidate but he was reluctant because he was making careful 
plans to run for the Senate seat three years later. "If my name is 
put in nomination, promptly withdraw it on my authority," he 
instructed. This happened, and Gen. B. F. Cheatham was nomi- 
nated the Democratic candidate; Horace Maynard was the Re- 
publican nominee. But under continued pressure from friends, 
Johnson the next day stood in the Public Square in Nashville and 
announced that he would be an independent candidate. The 



52 



Tennessee County History Series 




Resembling the striped brickwork of Keble College, 
Oxford, is the Petway Reavis Building on Church Street, 
its distinctive face unnoticed by passersby who do not 
look up. 

canvass that followed was remarkable for its eloquence and lack 
of malice. Maynard won, but Johnson did what he had planned: 
secured the election of a General Assembly favorable to his Sen- 
ate hopes and his vindication of the congressional impeachment 
charges. Said the New York Times: "He is more firmly entrenched 
in the hearts of the people . . . than at any time since 1860. "The 
hatred with which Occupied Nashville had regarded Andy John- 
son when he was total military dictator of city and county had 
turned to admiration and love. 

In the early winter of 1 875 the General Assembly was to elect 
a United States Senator. Johnson realized his ambition. After a 
fiery canvass of the state and backed by 35 solid votes that would 
not be swayed, Andrew Johnson was returned to the Senate. He 



DAVIDSON 53 

defeated three former Confederate generals and a respected 
former Whig candidate for governor, Gustavus A. Henry. At the 
Capitol the crowd that had packed the legislative chambers when 
the last of 55 ballots was taken rushed into the downtown streets 
cheering, marching to the Maxwell House. He spoke to a crowd 
of ten thousand on the Public Square in the evening, as the 
champion of mercy and justice for the South. A Johnson biog- 
rapher, Lloyd Paul Stryker, asserts: "No oration in his whole ca- 
reer was comparable with this and at no time did he seem 
greater." 

Cholera! 

Although Davidson County was described in a brochure for 
a college in the 1840s as "healthful" this was not quite true. There 
were serious health problems, often reaching epidemic propor- 
tions: not the mosquito of the Mississippi valley, but the poor 
sanitation of a community living on a shelf of limestone. Cholera 
had been the most lethal scourge. This violent intestinal infec- 
tion first entered the United States from the Orient in 1832. A 
year later it swept into Middle Tennessee, reaching its deadly 
peak in June; again in 1834 it rame, and in the early summer of 
1835. Previous plague years were surpassed in 1849 when 311 
died including the recent president of the United States, James 
Knox Polk. Cholera came back to Nashville in 1854 as recorded 
in a letter a Texan received from his father in Tennessee: "It has 
been one of the sickliest springs and summers I have ever wit- 
nessed since the cold plague in 1816, and a great many deaths 
of cholera, typhoid, measles, the flux, and other diseases." 

Remarkably the county was not visited by cholera in epi- 
demic form during the war years. But in 1866 recovery was 
impeded by a cholera epidemic of great severity. The dreadful 
climax came in 1873. Business was beginning to flourish. The 
county's population was increasing. But in May of what was a hot, 
early summer, the first case of cholera was diagnosed in Nash- 
ville. On June 8 the disease was epidemic in proportion. The 
exodus to the hills began. Dr. William K. Bowling noted a strange 
fact: "Cholera shuns the country where malaria abounds. Co- 



54 Tennessee County History Series 

lumbia, 40 miles south of us, with its annual chills and fever, was 
never visited by cholera, while Lebanon, amid her majestic ce- 
dars and innocent of chills, is terribly scourged by it." June 20 
came to be known as "Black Friday." Coaches traveling to the 
Cumberland mountains, where health prevailed, had been 
crammed full of frightened families for days. Hundreds per- 
ished before the epidemic abated. Dr. Bowling forbade his pa- 
tients to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. He began to suspect the 
truth: cholera was conveyed in water, raw milk, raw vegetables 
and fruit, most frequently when contaminated by the common 
housefly. 

This then was a watershed. Although it would be years before 
the events of the great war and occupation, first by an army, then 
by spoilsmen, would be forgotten, and although the transition 
to a financial and transportation center was so slow that those 
living then hardly noticed, after 1873 Nashville was no longer 
the occupied city, ruled by Andrew Johnson. On July 31, 1875, 
its military governor from 1862 to 1864, but its choice for United 
States Senator in 1874, died at his home at Greeneville. Perhaps 
no other man in Tennessee history had so reversed his public 
image. 

A Southern Courthouse Town 

This is the period from 1873 to 1908, the time of dreams of 
the "New South," of a town left in the backwaters when the flood- 
waters of occupying armies, carpetbaggers, and wartime prof- 
iteers and speculators had receded. It was an era of railroads 
and red brick warehouses and factories, of trade and transport, 
of bonds and stocks, of telegraph and electric light bulb, the new 
telephone, halftone engravings in the Nashville Banner, leisurely 
summer afternoons, and misty autumn evenings. Through it all 
Nashville remained a southern courthouse town. 

Civic Leaders 

Samuel Dold Morgan is entombed in the State Capitol, in an 
alcove in the southeastern corner of the building. He had been 



DAVIDSON 55 

chairman of the committee that designed and erected it. To his 
committee he announced at once: "Some of you want to build 
only a large brick barn. I will not have it." 

Born in 1798 in Staunton, Virginia, he came with his family 
to Blount County as an infant, and then to Huntsville, Alabama. 
After attending the University of Nashville, he became a resi- 
dent of the city in 1833. He entered the wholesale dry goods 
business and actively participated in the erection of textile mills. 
He may be called Nashville's first industrialist. He was an ardent 
Whig from the beginning, participated in the great Whig parade 
in Nashville in 1844, and remained loyal to the Union. After Fort 
Sumter, however, he strongly supported the Southern cause, es- 
tablishing a factory in Nashville to manufacture percussion caps 
used by the Confederate Army in the victory of First Manassas. 
When Nashville was occupied he moved his factory farther 
south and continued to supply caps throughout the war. After 
his death on June 10, 1880, the shops and factories of the city 
were closed at noon on the day of the funeral. 

It is surprising that the name of Thomas A. Kercheval (1837- 
1915) is almost forgotten. Mayor of Nashville from 1872 to 1887, 
with the exception of two brief interruptions when Democrats 
were elected, the "Red Fox," as Kercheval was known, retained 
power against both the old Confederates and the New South 
business progressives. He apparently used an alliance of white 
labor, blacks, Irish immigrants, and white Republicans to fashion 
a ward-based political organization like those running northern 
cities. Born at Fayetteville, he came to Nashville during the Fed- 
eral occupation and became a clerk in the Provost Marshal's 
headquarters. He read law and was admitted to practice, taking 
leadership of the Republican party as a Radical during Recon- 
struction. In 1867 he was elected to the state Senate, was re- 
elected, became a member of the city council, and in 1872 won 
his first term as mayor. In 1874, a Democrat, Morton B. Howell, 
unseated him, but he came back in 1875 and remained mayor 
until 1883. A reform movement carried the election that year, 
which also marked the beginning of two-year terms for the 
mayor. The business candidate, C. Hooper Phillips, served from 



56 



Tennessee County History Series 




Built in 1886 and demolished in the 1960s, Tarbox School was a red 
brick structure on Broad Street near Division. There were eight grades 
with promotions twice a year. Many successful men and women of Dav- 
idson County still remember their years at Tarbox with affection, 
(sketch by Michael Birdwell from a 1960 photograph) 



1883 to 1885, when Kercheval returned. He finally yielded the 
office in 1887, when he became a member of the Board of Public 
Works. 

The best that can be said of Kercheval's administration is that 
he maintained a status quo, neither going hopelessly into debt 
nor reducing city services. He was an unashamed partisan of the 
Republican administrations from Ulysses Grant to Benjamin 
Harrison at a time when the spoils system flourished. And he 
was a friend of laborers as well as the saloonkeeper, of the black 
and the poor white as well as the ward heeler. The business class, 
the former Whigs, and the old aristocracy were Democrats in 
Bourbon Davidson County — and they disdained the Red Fox 
and his followers. 



DAVIDSON 57 

But former Confederate officers also held positions of lead- 
ership during this period, of whom Benjamin Franklin Cheat- 
ham may have been the most famous. Cheatham was born in 
Nashville in 1820 and served in the Mexican War as, successively, 
a captain, a colonel, and, as the war ended, a general of Ten- 
nessee Volunteers. When gold was discovered in California in 
1849, he went West, but soon returned to Nashville. 

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Cheatham offered his serv- 
ices to the state and was appointed a brigadier general, ending 
the war as major general. He had been a personal friend of Gen- 
eral Grant during the Mexican War and they resumed their 
friendship after 1865. During Reconstruction he was a strong 
voice for stable government and restoration of suffrage to the 
Confederate soldier. When the Democrats regained power un- 
der John C. Brown and James D. Porter, Frank Cheatham was 
named Superintendent of State Prisons in 1875. After Grover 
Cleveland became president he was named postmaster of Nash- 
ville in 1885; he died in September of 1888. 

Samuel Watkins was a man whose services after his death 
have been greater than those during his lifetime, because of the 
bequest that established the Watkins Institute. He was born in 
or about 1794 in Virginia. He was a foster grandchild of James 
Robertson. He served in the Creek War and at New Orleans, 
then learned the brickmaking trade, and from 1827 to 1861 was 
a prominent builder. He acquired a large farm near the city on 
the Hillsboro Pike. Although he was not in favor of the war he 
lost greatly by its destructive events; part of the Battle of Nash- 
ville took place on his land. Because he was not for secession he 
was made superintendent of the gas company in 1862 and he 
rose to be president of the Nashville Gas-Light Company. After 
his death in 1880 a bequest of $100,000 and a lot at High (now 
Sixth Avenue North) and Church streets provided- for the es- 
tablishment of a free school, at first for the poor, but soon for 
the general adult public, called Watkins Institute. This unique 
institution plays a key role in adult education in modern Dav- 
idson County. 

The first woman physician of Davidson County was Dr. Clara 



58 



Tennessee County History Series 




Union Station from a post card of 1922. 



C. Plimpton, a graduate of the New York Homeopathic College. 
She located in Nashville in 1878 and was successful in her prac- 
tice and as attending physician at the Woman's Hospital. 

Railroads 

One of the most prominent names in the development of the 
railroads that were to be the main dynamic force behind Dav- 
idson County's growth during the 35 years following 1873 was 
Edmund W. Cole. He arrived in the city in 1845, 18 years old, a 
Giles County farm boy, and without a cent. Employed as a clerk 
in various kinds of stores for three or four years, he finally was 
accepted as a bookkeeper for the post office. This experience 
after several years got him the same job with the Nashville & 
Chattanooga Railroad, founded in 1848 by Vernon K. Steven- 
son. Cole became superintendent of the line in 1857; president 
in 1868, after the company had endured stirring times during 
the Civil War. During the next four years he acquired four small 
lines. In 1873 he renamed the line the Nashville, Chattanooga, 
8c St. Louis Railroad, known to all Davidson County as the "N.C. 
and Saint L" or just the "ennancee." 

The Louisville & Nashville Railroad, much larger and a part 



DAVIDSON 59 

of the August Belmont empire, bought Stevenson's controlling 
interest in 1880. Cole resigned and entered the banking busi- 
ness. His sudden death on May 25, 1899, at the Fifth Avenue 
Hotel shocked the city. 

Athens of the South 

In the fall of 1871, in Lebanon, at the meeting of the Ten- 
nessee Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
South, Dr. David Campbell Kelley handed a resolution to the 
secretary. It was a declaration that a committee should be named 
and directed to visit at least seven other Conferences with the 
stated purpose of looking to the creation of a university of high 
grade and large endowment within the boundaries of the Con- 
ference. The resolution being adopted the committee named in- 
cluded Dr. Kelley, Dr. R. A. Young, and Dr. A. L. P. Green. The 
result of their efforts was a decision to locate The Central Uni- 
versity of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in Nashville. 
Through the efforts of Bishop Holland McTyeire Commodore 
Cornelius Vanderbilt gave $500,000 for this purpose. Soon after 
he gave a second equal sum, and his son, William H. Vanderbilt, 
added another half million. The university was then named Van- 
derbilt University. It opened for classes in 1873. Dr. Young was 
elected secretary of the Board of Trust for seven years. The first 
four years of his term were devoted to buying and improving 
the campus at the end of Broadway, south of West End Avenue, 
and putting up numerous buildings. 

In 1875 another newly formed school came into the estate 
and buildings of the University of Nashville. The story is quite 
complicated. 

During the administration of Dr. Philip Lindsley from 1825 
to 1850 the University of Nashville (whose name had been 
changed in the former year from Cumberland College) was re- 
spected intellectually but starved financially. 

Philip Lindsley's son, John Berrien Lindsley, succeeded him. 
A medical department was opened and within a decade was the 
third or fourth largest in the country. In 1854 the Western Mili- 
tary Institute became the military department. It prospered. 



60 



Tennessee County History Series 




Old Central, on the 
Vanderbilt Univer- 
sity campus, was a 
fine city residence 
before there was a 
university. It even- 
tually became 
home of the De- 
partment of 
English. 



The literary department, reopened in 1855, struggled until the 
Civil War. The school was then closed but in 1870 it was orga- 
nized as a military college by Gen. E. Kirby Smith. 

When the George Peabody Fund became involved in the af- 
fairs of the University of Nashville in 1875 at the invitation of 
the state, a new organization became imperative. Eben S. Stearns 
was elected president. 

The literary department of the University of Nashville was, 
in effect, converted into what was first called the State Normal 
College. The preparatory department, created by a bequest in 
the will of Montgomery Bell and called Montgomery Bell Acade- 
my, became virtually a separate operation. The academy had 
opened in the former literary department buildings in 1867. 



DAVIDSON 61 

What was officially called the State Normal College of the 
University of Nashville was established by the General Assembly 
of the state in 1875 and on December 1 of that year this insti- 
tution was inaugurated. The enabling act amended the charter 
of the University of Nashville and, by implication, directed the 
trustees to discontinue the College of Arts, and to make an ar- 
rangement with the trustees of the Peabody Fund to establish a 
normal school for the professional training of teachers. 

Dr. Stearns served as president until his death in 1887, when 
he was succeeded by Dr. William H. Payne. By 1880 the school 
had become the State Normal College, and then in 1889 the Pea- 
body Normal College. On November 2 1 of that year the Peabody 
trustees, including former President Rutherford B. Hayes, came 
to Nashville, meeting on the campus for the first time. 

Under Dr. Payne the school grew vigorously until 1901. Paul 
K. Conkin, in his 1985 history of Vanderbilt, details concisely the 
moves of Chancellor James H. Kirkland to arrange an "affilia- 
tion"between Peabody and Vanderbilt by which the teachers'col- 
lege would be a part of yet separate from Vanderbilt. This was 
an ingenious idea which was quietly broached during a period 
of transition for the normal college. The timing may not have 
been a coincidence. 

However other forces were moving and the devious scheme 
of Kirkland did not mature. James D. Porter, chairman of the 
board of trustees of the University of Nashville, was chosen as 
the new president of Peabody Normal College. He was 72. He 
was opposed to moving the school from its South Nashville cam- 
pus to one close to Vanderbilt, a site on 2 1st Avenue South made 
available by the trustees of Roger Williams University, which had 
ceased operation. Once the move was approved, he resigned, in 
1909. 

The status of the school at this time is difficult to explain 
because the legal entities overlapped somewhat. In 1903 the 
University of Nashville consisted legally of these components: 
the Peabody College including the Winthrop Model School; the 
Medical College; the Conservatory of Music; the Montgomery 
Bell Academy. 



62 Tennessee County History Series 

The medical department of the University of Nashville had 
been organized in 1850. It was reconstituted in 1867. In 1874 it 
became known officially as "The Medical Department of the 
University of Nashville and of Vanderbilt University." The fac- 
ulty and classrooms were the same. Degrees were confirmed in 
the name of each institution. This arrangement was terminated 
in 1895. Vanderbilt erected its own building; most of the faculty 
stayed in what then was called The Medical School of the Uni- 
versity of Nashville. In 1909 this combined with the University 
of Tennessee medical school. 

So in 1909 George Peabody College for Teachers was char- 
tered; in 1911 Bruce Ryburn Payne accepted the presidency. In- 
struction ceased on the old campus, and in 1914 it was resumed 
in three new buildings on the new. (There is no adequate history 
of the University of Nashville; therefore, this account is offered 
in detail in an attempt to partially fill the gap.) 

One premier institution was lost in 1877, when the Nashville 
Female Academy closed. Founded in 1816, Dr. Daniel Barry was 
its first principal, succeeded by Dr. R. A. Lapsley, Dr. W. A. Scott, 
and Dr. C. D. Elliott, who served from 1840 until 1877. In 1860 
this was the largest women's college in the United States with 513 
students and 38 teachers. The building, on Church Street, was 
badly damaged during the Federal occupation, but the school 
did reopen, although on a much smaller scale. The depression 
of 1873 affected its prospects severely. Litigation having its ori- 
gin in personal animosities and possibly covetousness was fatal. 

Centennials 

There were two great celebrations during this period. The 
first was the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the 
founding of Nashville. On May 20, 1880, the equestrian statue 
of General Andrew Jackson by Clark Mills, the famous sculptor, 
was unveiled as the chief event of Nashville's Centennial. During 
the 1870s a large terrace had been laid out east of the Capitol. 
The Jackson statue was the centerpiece of this terrace. In 1879 
the Tennessee Historical Society had learned that the work by 
Mills was for sale. There were three: one now stands in Jackson 



DAVIDSON 63 

Square in New Orleans, and the second in Lafayette Square, 
across from the White House, in Washington. Mills told the 
crowd it was "the first equestrian statue ever poised on hind feet 
in the world and the first ever modeled and cast in the United 
States." He said that he considered the Nashville statue the most 
perfect of the three. The Capitol was decorated with streamers 
and garlands and a temporary triumphal arch was erected over 
the main gate (then located at the southeast corner of the 
grounds). The crowds packed every part of the terrace, 
thronged to the porticoes, and hundreds sat precariously on the 
roof. Two young ladies were seen to climb out of a window of 
the second floor and perch confidently on the narrow ledge out- 
side from which they could obtain a better view. In 1884 a marble 
base replaced the temporary wooden pedestal of the statue, ap- 
propriately, as the city's first charter was granted in 1784. 

Tennessee had been admitted to the Union in 1796. There- 
fore there was much interest in a centennial exposition to be held 
in Nashville, modeled on the great Chicago Worlds Fair of 1892, 
but on a smaller scale. In 1894 an association was formed to pre- 
pare an exhibition of the arts, sciences, inventions, resources, 
and products of the state. Industrial recruitment and develop- 
ment was the goal to be kept foremost in mind; Tennessee would 
put its best foot forward. Difficulties arose and the opening was 
postponed from 1896 but on May 1, 1897, the Exposition for- 
mally opened, with cannon firing, flags waving, fireworks, 
speeches by Gov. Robert L. Taylor and others, and electrical gen- 
erators turned on by the pressure of a button in the White House 
by President William McKinley. (Later the President, his wife, 
and a large delegation came to Nashville on Ohio Day.) The of- 
ficial attendance on opening day was recorded as 20,175. The 
grounds gleamed. There were 34 white buildings in a setting of 
green grass, small lakes, flower beds, walks winding through the 
trees; altogether, the newspapers said, "an enchanted city." Call- 
ing it "Centennial City," E. C. Lewis, the director general, pre- 
sented a key to Major John W. Thomas, president of the 
Centennial Company. 



64 



Tennessee County History Series 




The Parthenon represents Nashville as "The Athens of the South. "The 
original replica of a Greek temple was the central building of the Ten- 
nessee Centennial Exposition of 1897. In 1931 it was rebuilt in per- 
manent form, under the supervision of Wilbur F. Creighton. 



The Carmack Tragedy 

Edward Ward Carmack was born near Castalian Springs in 
1858, but came to reside at Columbia in Maury County. He was 
a lawyer but was drawn, as many lawyers are, toward journalism 
and politics; indeed, the three professions are symbiotic. In 1886 
Col. Duncan Cooper, publisher of the Nashville American, 
needed an editor for his newspaper and, impressed by young 
Carmack's record in the legislature, asked him to take the job. 
Later Carmack founded the Nashville Democrat, and when it was 
merged with the American he became editor-in-chief of the com- 
bined papers. In 1892 he was hired as editor of the Memphis 
Commercial and plunged into city politics there. In Nashville, he 
had been a spokesman for the Regular Democrats and Senator 
Isham G. Harris, a Memphian. He also became interested in the 



DAVIDSON 65 

cause of temperance and reform. After the congressional elec- 
tion of 1894 had proven disastrous for the Democrats, Carmack 
wrote: "Unquestionably, the Democratic Party has failed to meet 
the wishes of the people." His recommendation was that the 
Democrats embrace the cause of free silver and economic re- 
form. Memphian Josiah Patterson, the incumbent congressman, 
was a "gold bug." It was inevitable that the fiery, ambitious Car- 
mack would challenge him, and in 1896 he defeated Patterson 
and went to Congress. He served there until 1901 when he was 
chosen to succeed Harris in the Senate. Malcolm "Ham" Patter- 
son, son of Josiah Patterson, succeeded Carmack as congress- 
man from the tenth district. 

Defeated for reelection to the Senate by Robert L. Taylor, 
Carmack then looked toward the governorship. Ham Patterson 
and Ned Carmack were natural rivals. Carmack had become an 
ardent supporter of the prohibition of the sale of intoxicating 
liquors. In speeches and editorials he advocated the enactment 
of a statewide prohibition law (a "four-mile" law provided de 
facto local option). Patterson was backed by some of the party 
establishment and the powerful liquor interests — distillers, 
brewers, wholesalers, saloonkeepers — in the 1908 Democratic 
primary. He won the nomination in a bitter contest. 

Carmack then became editor of The Nashville Tennessean 
(formed by the merger of the Democrat and the American) and 
continued the battle. With a vigorous editorial pen, he exposed 
a number of dubious transactions involving friends of the 
administration. One of his targets was Col. Duncan Cooper of 
Nashville. On Sunday, November 8, 1908, an editorial appeared 
in the Tennessean entitled "Across the Muddy Chasm," a personal 
attack on Cooper, who then remonstrated and thought he had 
received an assurance that his name would not appear again. On 
Monday another editorial, "The Diplomat of the Zweibund," 
mentioning Colonel Cooper, was published. That evening, as 
Carmack walked along Seventh Avenue North between Union 
and Church streets, he encountered Colonel Cooper and his son 
Robin. Shots were fired and Carmack was left for dead on the 
sidewalk. Duncan Cooper was tried and convicted. The case 



66 



Tennessee County History Series 




Gables, turrets, and late 
Victorian stained glass 
mark the Romanesque 
Revival building of the 
Lindsley Avenue Church 
of Christ, built in 1894 as 
Grace Presbyterian Church. 



against his son was not pressed. After the Tennessee Supreme 
Court confirmed the sentence, Colonel Cooper was greeted by 
the warden at the gates of the state penitentiary with a pardon 
signed by Governor Patterson. The public outrage was so great 
that in January 1909 a statewide prohibition law passed over the 
governor's veto. The Democratic party was split, and Pattersons 
political career never recovered. 

Vanderbilt Football — Glory Days 

Between 1902 and 1913 the Vanderbilt football team was 
beaten by only four teams: Cumberland University, the Univer- 
sity of the South (Sewannee), Michigan, and Ohio State. During 
these twelve years games against all other schools ended in vic- 
tory for the Commodores. And one of those defeats led directly 
to the employment of the man whom many remember, over fifty 
years later, and regard as a genius of the game — Dan McGugin. 
It was the 6-0 loss to Cumberland in 1903 that smarted. The 



DAVIDSON 67 

"Big Four" in Southern football were Vanderbilt, Sewanee, 
Clemson, and Cumberland. After the defeat, in Nashville, John 
Edgerton, Vanderbilt captain, who was from Lebanon, lay on the 
ground and wept. "I can't go home now!" he muttered. Beating 
Sewanee later was no compensation: Clemson and Cumberland 
played in Montgomery, Alabama for the Southern champion- 
ship that Thanksgiving, the first postseason game played in the 
South. 

On February 15, 1904, McGugin was hired, and the glory 
days began, never to be forgotten. 

A Time For Reform 

The period from 1909 to 1925 was dominated in Davidson 
County by two influences: reform and war. The First World War 
shook the county in every way, economic, cultural, social, and 
political, although the political effects were not so much a prod- 
uct of the war crisis as of a realization that Nashville was losing 
ground to its more aggressive rivals, Memphis, Birmingham, 
and Chattanooga. The structure of government needed change. 
It was Hilary Howse, elected by the Democratic Regulars in a 
struggle with the reform faction, whose personality dominated 
the era. 

Before Hilary Howse was elected mayor in 1909, the city of 
Nashville had been embroiled in political turmoil, the product 
of strife between the new commercial and financial class and 
those who preferred a status quo dominated by ward politics. 
This was a complex controversy. It involved the strong tide of 
civil and moral reform that had been rising nationally since the 
scandals of the Grant presidency. Locally it was sometimes called 
the "Good Government" movement, or "Goo-Goos," as its foes 
sneered. 

But Who Shall Be Our Leader? 

Hilary Howse was born in 1866 in Rutherford County and 
stayed on the farm until he was 18. He said he came to town with 
thirty cents in his pocket (actually, "three borrowed dimes"). 



68 



Tennessee County History Series 







Thoroughly Italian in appearance with its red tile roof, yellow brick, 
and campanile, the Cathedral of the Incarnation has a beamed ceiling 
decorated in gold leaf, the first of its kind in the United States. The 
building was dedicated in 1914. 

After working as a clerk in a furniture store, he and his brother 
Kai Howse in 1900 opened their own store. His rise in politics 
began with a seat on the county Democratic executive commit- 
tee. He won a seat on the county quarterly court in 1900, won a 
seat in the state Senate in 1905, and again in 1907. He supported 
legal betting on horse races (Cumberland Park was a flourishing 
racing establishment), and Malcolm Pattersons run for gover- 
nor, always opposing prohibition. 

Between 1887, when Republican rule ended with the resig- 
nation of Thomas A. Kercheval, and 1909, Nashville had nine 
different mayors. Charles P. McCarver had resigned in 1890, 
and was succeeded by William Litterer, who served until George 
Guild was elected in the fall of 1891. Guild was reelected in 1893 
but William M. McCarthy, a Good Government candidate (sup- 



DAVIDSON 69 

ported by the anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic American Protective 
Association) won in 1895. The Democratic "Regulars" and the 
Nashville Irish joined forces in 1897 to elect Richard Houston 
Dudley. James M. Head, a lawyer, former owner of the Nashville 
American, a progressive but not a reformer, succeeded Dudley in 
1899. He served two terms and was succeeded by Albert S. Wil- 
liams in 1903, who was succeeded by Thomas O. Morris in 1905 
and James S. Brown in 1907. The Committee of One Hundred, 
which wanted reform in government but wanted social reforms 
even more, played a major role in these shifts. Regrettable to 
say, money from saloonkeepers and gamblers also played a role, 
and the price for their support was a wide-open town. The po- 
litical panic that followed the death of Carmack led to statewide 
prohibition. To counter this fearsome threat, Hilary Howse, 
running for mayor in 1909, exploited the natural resentment of 
the citizenry against compulsion and the resentment of liquor 
dealers at loss of profits. In an often-quoted statement he said: 
"As long as I stay in a free country I will eat and drink as I please." 
Howse carried every ward in the primary. In the general election 
on October 14, 1909, he defeated Charles D. Johns, a former 
sheriff running on a strict enforcement platform, two to one. 
For the next fifteen years the person of Hilary Howse was to be 
the principal issue in local public affairs. 

The ouster of Howse in 1915, under new state legislation, 
was caused by deficits and other budget problems which raised 
the ire of the civic reform faction whose chief deity was fiscal 
responsibility. A new city charter installing a commission plan of 
municipal government had been adopted in 1913: popular at 
the time, it soon proved to be the most chaotic and unworkable 
method of government possible. Howse regained the mayor's 
chair in 1925 and served until his death in 1938. 

1918: Year of Trouble, Year of Triumph 

There had been two catastrophes during the decade: soon 
after midnight on November 5, 1912, a corner of the city res- 
ervoir on Kirkpatrick Hill cracked, spilling more than 25 million 
gallons of water. No lives were lost, but there was much property 



70 Tennessee County History Series 

damage to homes and buildings; the aftermath shook the foun- 
dations of municipal government as well. On March 22, 1916, a 
fire destroyed more than 900 buildings in East Nashville. There 
was one death, 3000 persons were without shelter, and an area 
from First to Tenth streets was left scorched. 

Then the morning of July 9, 1918, a trainload of workers at 
the powder plant at Old Hickory was inbound. Proceeding at 
speed, it collided head-on with another N.C. & St. L. train, west- 
bound on the same track at a curve near White Bridge Road: 
101 died. The wreck at Dutchman's Curve is still the worst in the 
loss of life in American railroad history. 

The powder plant was the major war industry in the county. 
In 1917 the DuPont Corporation of Wilmington, Delaware, ob- 
tained a government contract to manufacture smokeless pow- 
der. The plant built at Old Hickory had a capacity of 700,000 
pounds per day. A company town (Dupontonia) was built: over 
10,000 construction workers of the Mason-Hangar Company 
worked on the project. The plant was in production only eight 
months before the war ended; afterward DuPont established a 
plant to manufacture cellophane and rayon, an early venture 
into synthetics, that maintained Old Hickory as a major indus- 
trial complex for another half century, one of the six largest pay- 
rolls in the county. 

Stanley Horn, a Nashville businessman (also noted historian 
and writer) recalled: "They had 56,000 men (and women) on the 
payroll and they were recruited from everywhere. The plant was 
so big and had so many people on its payroll that Nashville was 
just turned around. The streets were full of strange-looking peo- 
ple, of course; no local young men were around." 

The winter of 1917-1918 was terribly cold. Over one period 
snow lay unmelted for twelve days, 18.5 inches deep. In Decem- 
ber of 1917 the low temperature was minus 6; on the morning 
of January 12, 1918, minus 17. This made the effect of the 
worldwide influenza pandemic worse. Stanley Horn recalled 
that hundreds of workers at the powder plant died; "big truck- 
loads came to Nashville undertakers every day. I'd look out the 
window of my office and see 'em go by, a harrowing sight." In 



DAVIDSON 71 

October of 1917 one funeral director buried 117 persons — ten 
on one day. A Nashville soldier wrote from training camp that 
the men had to "march three feet apart; cover our mouth and 
nose with a handkerchief when you cough or sneeze." 

A Nashville soldier, Pvt. Glenn Gladhill, wrote home about 
the last months of the war: "All the pep we got from America 
makes us twice as strong, and gave us just what it took to finish 
the game. The pivotal time of the war was when we stopped the 
Germans at Chateau Thierry, for after that they continued to 
lose from one front to the next. The Americans didn't prove the 
cowards they expected and their soldiers learned a great deal 
more then than the Kaiser was able to belie. The St. Mihiel was 
just a sample of what we could do when we wanted to as we later 
showed them in the Argonne." 

To Catch the Kaiser 

In December of 1918 while encamped at Tuntingen, Lux- 
emburg, the men and officers of the 1 14th Field Artillery found 
themselves more comfortably quartered than they had been in 
many months, and also with time on their hands. Col. Luke Lea 
of Nashville and a party composed of three other officers and 
four noncoms traveled to Amerongen, Holland, to interview 
Kaiser Wilhelm. It was all quite regular, Colonel Lea insisted; he 
had the permission of General Spalding to make the trip and 
passports signed by Queen Wilhelmina. His real intent was to 
take the Kaiser into custody and bring him to France where he 
could be tried for war crimes. They arrived at the castle of Count 
Bentinck and were admitted. Told of their arrival the Kaiser de- 
clined to see them unless they could show credentials stating that 
they were official representatives of the American government. 
Meanwhile the count, suspecting for some reason that an at- 
tempt was to be made to abduct his imperial guest, doubled the 
guard around the castle. Colonel Lea withdrew gracefully, and 
later a full investigation was conducted which found that no reg- 
ulations had been violated! However the Kaiser for several 
months refused to leave the castle unless he was with an armed 
guard. 



72 Tennessee County History Series 

To Honor Strength and Valor 

In 1919 funds totaling $1 million were made available by 
state, county, and city governments for the erection of a suitable 
building to honor 3400 Tennesseans who had died in the war. A 
location on Capitol Boulevard, between Union and Cedar 
streets, was chosen. The building was completed in 1925. It is a 
three-storey limestone structure, somewhat resembling a Greek 
temple but in neo-Classic style, designed by McKim, Mead & 
White (Edward Daugherty was the firm's Nashville associate). 
The main entrance, from what is now the Legislative Plaza but 
which was then called Victory Park, is into a wide central court, 
open at the top, between the two main sections. This court is 
reached from the east by wide stone steps leading to a Doric por- 
tico. There are large fluted columns. In the center of the court 
there stands a bronze statue of a young man in heroic pose sym- 
bolizing the strength and valor of soldiers. The statue is by Belle 
Kinney of Nashville and her Austrian husband Leopold Scholz. 
There are bronze tablets on the western side of the court, bear- 
ing the names of the war dead. The north hall contained state 
offices; the south an auditorium seating 2200. In the basement 
for many years was located the Tennessee State Museum, which 
placed major emphasis on artifacts and mementoes of the wars 
in which Tennesseans had fought. 

The auditorium became the focus of cultural life: in it per- 
formed not only the new Nashville Symphony but also many re- 
nowned artists such as Vladimir Horowitz and Robert Merrill, 
brought by such local organizations as Community Concerts. 
Here too the Grand Ole Opry was staged until it was moved to 
the Ryman; here speakers such as Adlai Stevenson addressed 
audiences that filled the hall to its capacity. 

"Where Every Prospect Pleases" 

From the end of the war until the faint distant thunder of 
economic trouble began to be heard, Nashville was looked on by 
many as Eden. True, the poor were there, often living in squalor. 
True, the black community was segregated. But whatever else 
may be said of the Howse regime it always worked to better the 



DAVIDSON 73 

lot of the people; the rich could take care of themselves, and did, 
in beautiful, fashionable homes, with expensive automobiles, 
trips abroad, fine clothes, and the delicious cuisine for which the 
Central South had become famous. The professional and mer- 
cantile class enjoyed a higher standard of living: the suburbs 
were green and pleasant. Life was not a rat race, although in 
"Fire On Belmont Street," perhaps his best poem, Donald Dav- 
idson warned of the perils of materialism. By 1925 Davidson 
County had turned the corner of the century, had set its feet on 
the way out of post-Confederate backwaters, and knew where it 
wanted to go. 

Opry Town 

Davidson County's position as the trading center for the 
counties to its east, the valleys of the Cumberland, Stones, Caney 
Fork, and Obed rivers, the Cumberland Plateau as far east as 
Mayland, as far south as Tracy City, as far north as Monticello, 
Eddyville, and even Somerset, Kentucky, was suddenly im- 
mensely augmented by the tremendous force of radio. No 
longer a toy for young boys to tinker with in the shed, radio, 
emancipated from ponderous and clumsy batteries, entered the 
home in the middle 1920s. 

Nashville was early into the electronic game. WTNT, "The 
Dynamite of Dixie," Luke Lea's broadcasting station, in 1929 
shared air time with WD AD, Dad's Tire Store on Broad. Life and 
Casualty Insurance Company was quick to see how insurance 
could be sold by a salesman on whom no door could slam and 
established WLAC. But above all, there was WSM— "We Shield 
Millions" — the National Life and Accident Insurance Company, 
the "Shield" company, one of the county's major employers. And 
WSM would be given what the Federal Communications Com- 
mission called "a clear channel," so it could reach thousands of 
farm homes without interference from other transmitters, giv- 
ing the rural audience the same message their city cousins en- 
joyed. If television would be, thirty years later, a revolution, 
radio was an earthquake. 



74 Tennessee County History Series 

The Grand Ole Opry from 1925, when it began, until 1941, 
when its character began to change, was the dominant voice of 
rural Tennessee culture in America. It was pure corn, overalls, 
fruit jars, possum, and bird dogs. The Texas honky-tonk swing, 
rhinestones, and electronics would come, each in turn, later. But 
from the start it was show business. From 1925 the show has 
never missed a Saturday night broadcast. WSM carried no net- 
work programs on Saturday night. 

In a sense Sidney Johnson Harkreader was the first full-time 
musician on the Saturday night show. Others had regular work 
of other kinds, but the fiddle was Sid's life. He was not only there 
when George D. Hay, "The Solemn Old Judge, "named the coun- 
try music broadcast the Grand Ole Opry but Fiddlin'Sid played 
the first tune after Dr. Walter Damrosch's program of classical 
music on NBC had ended and the air was given back to the local 
station. "You've heard grand opera," observed Hay, "now let's 
hear Grand Ole Opry!" Fiddlin'Sid, Uncle Dave Macon, and Dr. 
Humphrey Bate and his Hawaiian orchestra played on the first 
remote control broadcast from WSM. This was no hole-in-the- 
wall personal appearance, but a performance before 6000 peo- 
ple sponsored by the Nashville Policemen's Benefit Association 
and held in what has come to be called "the mother church of 
country music," Ryman Auditorium. This program was on No- 
vember 6, 1925, and was advertised as "An Evening With WSM," 
featuring "these artists and musicians in person that you listen 
to over your radio every evening." The advertisement in the 
newspapers urged: "Hear Uncle Dave and Fiddlin'Sid on the 
banjo and guitar." The two had recorded for Aeolian Vocalion 
Record Company in New York City on July 10, 1924, and dis- 
cographers say that it is almost certain they were the first from 
Tennessee to record traditional country music. "Uncle Jimmy " 
Thompson was 77 when Hay asked him to play on the radio and 
within a month, he was known all over the country. That more 
or less impromptu show from the studio was the beginning of 
regular country music programming on WSM. The first tune 
"Uncle Jimmy"played was "The Tennessee Wagoner,"as best any- 
one can now remember. According to the best-known anecdote, 



DAVIDSON 75 

Hay suggested after an hour that the old man might be getting 
tired. Thompson replied, "An hour? Fiddlesticks! A man can't 
get warmed up in an hour. I just won an eight-day fiddling con- 
test down in Dallas and here's my blue ribbon to prove it. This 
program's got to be longer. "Deford Bailey, harmonica player de- 
luxe, also has a claim to being the first to play on the Opry, and 
he lasted on the show until the 1 940s, longer than either Thomp- 
son, whose regular appearances ceased after mid- 1927, or Hark- 
reader. Apparently the name "Grand Ole Opry"was given in Jan- 
uary of 1926, although it did not appear in published radio pro- 
grams until December of 1927. 

The Fugitives Speak Out 

Nashville's voice to the nation was not only expressed by ra- 
dio. A little magazine, produced by a group of Vanderbilt Uni- 
versity students and teachers between 1922 and 1925, changed 
the course of American poetry. The Fugitive was influential far 
beyond its expectations. 

John Crowe Ransom, years later looking back on a distin- 
guished career, said: "It was all something of an accident, really. 
We were brought together in a particular time and place that 
favored the kind of thing we were going to do, to do it actually 
without knowing what we were going to do; without knowing 
what it was that we intended to do or, even, that we intended to 
do it." 

The group of young men would gather of evenings in a 
house on Whitland Avenue, the home of a Nashville merchant. 
They read poetry, poems that they had written, and they listened 
and severely criticized, and they pondered the esoteric philos- 
ophizing and speculative inquiries of Sidney Mttron Hirsch. 

This had actually had its beginnings in 1914 when Donald 
Davidson enrolled in Ransom's Shakespeare course. Other 
gifted teachers on the English faculty were Edwin Mims, the 
chairman, and Walter Clyde Curry. With Davidson in their 
classes were other bright young men. Ransom, Davidson, Curry, 
William Yandell Elliott, Stanley Johnson, and Alec Brock Ste- 
venson were drawn into discussions in a congenial group that 



Tennessee County History Series 




The James M. Frank house on Whitland Avenue was the regular meet- 
ing place of the Fugitives from 1920 to 1928. These young students 
became one of the most influential groups of poets and critics of the 
twentieth century. 



met in the Hirsch apartment near the campus. Interrupted by 
the war the meetings resumed at the home of James M. Frank 
(Hirsch's brother-in-law) with poetry the center of the groups 
interest. 

These, and Merrill Moore, son of John Trotwood Moore, 
writer and editor; Allen Tate; and eventually Robert Penn War- 
ren; Laura Riding, wife of a Midwestern professor; Ridley and 
Jesse Wills; William Frierson; Alfred Starr; and Andrew Lytle 
founded the little magazine, or joined the group, or contributed 
to it. There were other contributors, some already well known, 
such as Witter Bynner or Hart Crane; but no one, then or now, 
considered them Fugitive poets. The Fugitive was published from 
April 1922 to December 1925; Jacques Back had been a sue- 



DAVIDSON 77 

cessful business manager: its ceasing to publish was not caused 
by insolvency. 

In 1928, national recognition followed the publication of Fu- 
gitives: An Anthology, but by then literary fame had come to many 
of the group. Five of them had turned their attention to public 
affairs: Tate, Davidson, Ransom, Warren, and Lytle, with others 
of the Vanderbilt community — Lyle Lanier, Frank Owsley, H. C. 
Nixon — conceived a symposium advocating the Agrarian ideal 
(or "the southern way of life") as a remedy for the increasingly 
visible ills of finance capitalism and the industrial ethos. In 1930 
the symposium, I'll Take My Stand, containing a statement of 
principles, written by Ransom, and essays by these five Fugitives 
and Lanier, Owsley, Nixon, John Donald Wade, Henry Blue 
Kline, John Gould Fletcher (the Imagist poet), and Stark Young 
(the New York theater critic), appeared. It was a challenging 
book whose central thrust was completely misunderstood. That 
it has survived as a work of influence is due, according to the 
scholar Louis Rubin, who wrote the preface to a later edition, to 
the fact that the subject of the symposium was not topical but 
universal: Man, "in his zeal for the benefits of modern scientific 
civilization... was placing so high a value on material gain that 
he ignored his own spiritual welfare and his moral obligations 
to society." 

Six years later a second symposium, Who Owns America? ed- 
ited by Tate and historian Herbert Agar, included essays by the 
five Fugitives, three of the other Agrarians, and thirteen addi- 
tional contributors recruited by Tate and Agar (T. S. Eliot, Sin- 
clair Lewis, and Dorothy Thompson were also invited and 
accepted but did not complete their contributions). In 1938 Dav- 
idson alone published The Attack on Leviathan, a final work of 
social protest. Ransom had been lost to Vanderbilt and Nashville 
in 1937 when the university declined to meet an offer by Kenyon 
College, to the dissatisfaction of many of Ransom's friends but 
to the probable advancement of Ransom's career as a literary 
critic: he founded The Kenyon Review, one of the most influential 
voices of the New Criticism. 



78 



Tennessee County History Series 




The distinguished poet, Randall Jarrell, was as a teen-aged boy the 
model for the sculpture of Ganymede, cup-bearer of the gods (fifth 
figure from left), on the west pediment of the Parthenon. 

Cupbearer to the Gods 

One of the younger generation of poets influenced by the 
Fugitives, Randall Jarrell, student of Ransom and one of the few 
American poets of the period to write lasting poems about World 
War II, is memorialized in a unique way. As a 14-year-old Nash- 
ville boy he was the model for the figure of Ganymede, cup- 
bearer to the Olympians who are sculptured on the western 
pediment of the Parthenon. This replica in concrete of the clas- 
sical temple which stands on the Acropolis of Athens was com- 
pleted in 1931. First erected for the Tennessee Centennial of 
1897, it was reproduced in more durable materials by Hart, 
Freeland, and Roberts as a permanent part of the city's cultural 
monuments. The Doric columns of the peristyle are more than 
six feet in diameter and the double bronze doors weigh 15 tons. 
The decorations of the Doric frieze are by George J. Zolnay; the 



DAVIDSON 



79 




Amqui Railway Station, formerly Edgefield Junction on the Nashville, 
Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway near Madison, where tracks to Louis- 
ville and St. Louis went their separate ways, (sketched by Michael Bird- 
well from a photograph) 

54 statues are by Belle Kinney and Leopold Scholz. A statue of 
Pallas Athene is being completed (1988) and will be erected in- 
side the great court. 

Out to the Suburbs 

Although there had been "additions" to the city, Davidson 
County's development had followed the traditional pattern of 
villages at the crossroads — a store, a church, a schoolhouse, a 
post office. There- had been New Town (West Nashville) and 
South Nashville, Edgefield too. Belle Meade's deer park was di- 
vided. Tusculum, Antioch, Couchville, and Goodlettsville were 
towns in their own right. The streetcar lines had been an incen- 
tive for having the advantages of both rural and urban living. 

But it was Bluefields that was the county's first true subdivi- 
sion of the twentieth century. A. F. and R. D. Stanford went from 



80 Tennessee County History Series 

Tennessee to Oklahoma, made money, and returned to Tennes- 
see in 1918. Donelson (which has been known by many names, 
including Spring Place, Slip-up, and McWhirtersville, according 
to regional historian Leona Taylor Aiken) was confined by the 
McGavock properties, the McMurrays' land, and the Hoggatts' 
Clover Bottom Farms. Buying Clover Bottom, the Stanfords 
started residential and business development. Robert Donnell 
Stanford, Sr, built a row of fine houses along Lebanon Road 
across from Clover Bottom mansion. Then came business build- 
ings in Donelson. In 1929, to the accompaniment of full-page 
newspaper promotional advertising, a city real estate company 
opened a subdivision named Bluefields on the northern part of 
the McMurray land. When the company ran into difficulties the 
Stanfords took over. The original development included 1 1 1 lots 
and was served by a new eight-inch water line brought out from 
the city. Viewed by travelers from the Donelson overpass, the 
first houses were like a dream of the future, as indeed the de- 
velopment proved to be. 

The Banks Tumble Down 

There has been for many years a symbiotic relationship be- 
tween banking and politics — Andrew Jackson's struggle with the 
Bank of the United States was by no means the first example. In 
Davidson County in the 1930s the connection was to have pain- 
ful consequences. In October of 1929 the stock market crashed, 
but this had little effect in Davidson County, Tennessee. It was 
in November of 1930 that the storm hit Caldwell & Company, 
the Bank of Tennessee, the American National, the Fourth and 
First National, and Tennessee Hermitage National. The first two 
failed; the second and third merged; the last was taken over by 
the Commerce Union Bank. Although that bank and the Broad- 
way National, American National, and Third National came 
through the crisis, deposits in these banks fell from $107 million 
in September of 1930 to $64,250,000 two years later. It was the 
fall of Caldwell & Company that was the most spectacular be- 
cause of the ramifications. Luke Lea, former U.S. Senator and 
newspaper publisher, and banker Rogers Caldwell were con- 



DAVIDSON 81 

trolling partners. Early in 1930 the value of the firm's stock and 
property began to decline sharply; a merger with Banco Ken- 
tucky of Louisville was arranged. The transaction required sev- 
eral risky financial moves that eventually led to receivership for 
the Bank of Tennessee. In the end the State of Tennessee lost 
$6.5 million in deposits; this led to an attempt to impeach Gov- 
ernor Henry Horton, who had been supported by Lea. (The 
storm toppled 120 banks in seven states: its effects in western 
North Carolina are preserved in a famous novel by Ashevillian 
Thomas Wolfe.) And indirectly the affair enabled the Crump 
political organization to take control of the state government for 
32 of the next 38 years. 

The New Deal Comes In 

In 1933 the Tennessee Valley Authority was created; in 1935 
the Works Progress Administration was established. Both pro- 
vided jobs; the TVA made cheap electricity possible for every 
home, farm, and business. In the Nashville District of WPA, Col. 
Harry S. Berry was director. He made possible the financing of 
farm-to-market road projects, construction of schools, gymna- 
siums, parks — including the restoration of Fort Negley and im- 
provement of Percy and Edwin Warner parks — and construction 
of the airport that bears his name (BNA — the abbreviation for 
the field — is "Berry, NAshville"). The Public Works Administra- 
tion built anew city market. On August 10, 1936, Mayor Hilary 
E. Howse spoke at the dedication of the new post office, a model 
of Art Deco architecture. 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Nashville with Mrs. 
Roosevelt in 1934. People lined the streets: the symbol of hope 
for the common man, FDR did not come as a guest of prominent 
persons in elegant mansions, and his visit to the Hermitage sig- 
naled the link the New Deal sought with Jacksonian democracy. 
Nine of the fourteen presidents since Lincoln had visited the city 
but none had come since Taft (although while president of 
Princeton, Dr. Woodrow Wilson had spoken in Nashville). 



82 



Tennessee County History Series 




The great snow of February 1929 
reached the axles of this Model T 
Ford and eventually 15 inches. 



Weather, Hot and Cold, Wet and Dry 

In memory few things stand out as vividly as the weather. 
A tornado swept through the village of Una in 1917, the frigid 
winter of 1917-18 marked that decade. Twice rainy winters had 
caused the Cumberland River to come out of its banks: in late 
December 1926 and early January 1927, there was a total of 
1 1 .49 inches of rain and both Stone s and the Cumberland rivers 
overflowed. On Christmas Day 1926 more than 5000 people 
were forced to leave their homes. The water at one point was 
three miles wide. Again in January 1937 there was a major flood; 
the river crested at 53.8 feet (56.15 ten years before) and much 
of the area next to the river was under water. That was the time 
of the dreadful Louisville flood: Station WSM stayed on the air 
around the clock helping the Kentuckians with a constant, des- 
perate flow of emergency messages: "Send a boat..." 

East Nashville, devastated by fire in 1916, was struck by a 
tornado on March 14, 1933. The funnel first touched a corner 
of the Public Square, leaped the river, and destroyed houses be- 
tween the railroad and Woodland Street, and then on Porter 
Road and Inglewood. Ten persons were killed, over 1500 houses 
destroyed. 

And the winter of 1940 cannot be forgotten (although 1963 
and 1985 were as frigid) because on January 26, 1940, the river 
at Nashville froze so hard any number of people could walk 



DAVIDSON 83 

across. It had been so when James Robertson's party arrived; it 
had been frozen in the 1890s; but because of the dams and res- 
ervoirs it would not ever be so again. As long as that generation 
lived they would remember and tell their grandchildren. 

Jack Normans Nashville 

In a column in The Nashville Banner in the 1980s lawyer Jack 
Norman reminisced, usually beginning, "Do You Remember?" 
He might have remembered these... 

Joe Hatcher, Red O'Donnell, Bowser Chest, Blinkey Horn, 
the Golden Gloves, the Hippodrome, Nick Gulas, Chief Che- 
wacki, Lasses and Honey, Skeets Mayo, names sharp in memory 
but fading, fading. 

Once Albert Bell, age 100, recalled a circus that performed 
in the 1840s. Ten thousand people had crowded to see it. "Of all 
that vast concourse," he said, mournfully, "only she and I were 
left alive to remember, and now she is gone and only I am left." 

"He hit it on top of the ice house!" Francis Craig and "Red 
Rose." Pen Pick-Ups by Parrish. Moon River, David Cobb, Char- 
ley Roberts, the Old Night Owl, the Hermitage, the Andrew 
Jackson, and the Sam Davis. Sulphur Dell, Flo Fleming, Lance 
Richbourg, Phil Weintraub, the Vols of 1934, little David Scobey 
and the Bisons of 1940. Do you remember June 1941 when 
Tommy Tatum hit three home runs over the left field fence? Or 
back in 1932 when Stan Keyes hit one over the flagpole in center 
field? And: 

The East Eagles, the DuPont Bulldogs, the Donelson Dons, 
the Burk Terrors. Nabrico, Loew's Vendome, the Paramount, 
the Fifth Avenue, the Knickerbocker, the Princess, Loew's. If you 
called it the Vendome, you had to have been born before 1920. 

Do you remember when Gone With the Wind first showed in 
Nashville? January 1940, and there were reserved seats. On that 
cold night did you stand in that long line along Church Street, 
around the corner and down the alley, waiting for the doors to 
open? And do you remember the unbelievable beauty of that 
first scene when it was "quittin' time at Tara"? 

Do you remember Marian Ellis, Dorothy Ann Distlehurst, 



84 Tennessee County History Series 

the Still kidnapping? Did your Banner boy drop your afternoon 
paper flat on the front walk as he rode by on his bicycle on the 
sidewalk, or did he fold it and pitch it? Did you read Tailspin 
Tommy, Dan Dunn, Secret Agent X-9, Buck Rogers, Krazy Kat, 
Barney Google, Gasoline Alley, Little Orphan Annie, Steve Can- 
yon (but then it was called "Terry and the Pirates")? Did you lis- 
ten to Vic and Sade, Clara, Lou, and Em, Pepper Youngs Family, 
Eddie Cantor, Shep Fields and his Rippling Rhythm with a brash 
young comic named Bob Hope? Did you follow One Man's Fami- 
ly, or hear the Met on Saturday afternoons, or the Philharmonic 
on Sundays? 

Did you ever stop in at Dean's Tasty-Toasty across from the 
old Vanderbilt dental school in South Nashville? (Dean Wilkin- 
son, who played football for Harvard before he played for 
Hume-Fogg!) 

Did you eat at The Owl, or see Doc Godwin at the pharmacy 
or at Dudley Field every game? Do you remember Smokey Joe 
in the Tennessean Cartoons, or Mrs. Naff, or Signor de Luca, or 
Madame Galli-Curci, or Fritz Leiber in The Merchant of Venice} 
("Study Shakespeare, young gentlemen, you never know when 
you might quote him to good effect to a jury!") Did you read 
about Walter Liggett, Abby Arnett, Gus Kiger, or Albert 
Vaughan? Did you go into Candyland, Zibart's, Mills', the Sat- 
suma Tea Room, the B. 8c W, Shacklett's or Walgreen's at the 
entrance to the Arcade? Did your parents take you into Burks 
for your first big boy's suit? Or did you go into Dury's or Steiff s, 
with that jewelers' smell, or to the old Phillips and Buttorff store 
that had those tremendously high ceilings? Did you know Albert 
Williams and hear him quote the jingle that Governor Roberts 
could not duck? 

Sunday, December 7, 1941, marked the end of a world. 



By the Stove at Harvey's 

In 1941 a new day came to downtown Nashville and to Mid- 
dle Tennessee merchandising. Fred Harvey, who had learned 
the department store business in Chicago, bought Lebeck Broth- 



DAVIDSON 



85 




Candyland, on Church Street, was the meeting place for 
three generations of shoppers. 

ers, an old-line Nashville store with desirable Church Street 
frontage, and made showmanship pay. He renamed the store 
Harvey's, adopted the slogan "The Store That Never Knows 
Completion," acquired some used merry-go-round horses from 
a defunct carnival, had them repainted and installed as a kind 
of trademark, eventually expanded into adjoining buildings, 
and installed the first escalators in Middle Tennessee. Hiring ex- 
perienced window dressers from larger cities, he made his 
Christmas windows the talk of the town, sponsored an elaborate 
Christmas display. at Centennial Park every holiday season, and 
kept the pot boiling generally. "Meet me by the stove at Harvey's 
(referring to an old-fashioned — and nonfunctioning — black 
potbellied stove near the west entrance) became a byword with 
shoppers. His competitors, principally nearby department 
stores like Cain-Sloan and Castner-Knott, remained competitive 



86 Tennessee County History Series 

by hustling but for twenty years it was Fred Harvey's that set the 
pace. And Harvey came to Nashville because of Ed Potter. 

In 1916, Edward Potter, Jr., organized a new bank in Nash- 
ville, with the approval of his father, A. E. Potter of the Broadway 
National Bank, where young Potter was employed. The German 
American Bank was located near the Public Square. The word 
"German"at that time signified stability and financial solidity and 
was attractive to Davidson County's prosperous German-Amer- 
ican community. The war caused a change of name: first to the 
Farmers and Merchants, then later to Commerce Union. In 194 1 
Lebeck Brothers store, which owed the bank a considerable sum, 
filed a petition in bankruptcy, asking reorganization. Commerce 
Union was awarded ownership of the lease on the Church Street 
building. Later a broker informed Potter that the manager of 
the basement store of Marshall Field & Company in Chicago, a 
man named Fred Harvey, might take over the store. Talking face 
to face with Harvey, as he preferred to do, Potter asked: "How 
much of your own capital are you willing to invest?" Harvey gave 
just the right answer: "Everything I have in the world — $65,000." 
Ed Potter had brought a merchandising genius to Nashville. 

While the Storm Clouds Gather 

A Nashville newspaperman, Herman Eskew, thought that 
the absolute peak of American civilization before the Second 
World War was a 1941 maroon Ford V-8. Premonitions aside, 
the summer and fall of that year were pretty good: defense con- 
tracts meant more employment, the cost of living was reason- 
able, there were good things to buy in the stores, and the weather 
was nice. Hitler had invaded Russia and knowledgeable folk said 
this meant Germany's eventual defeat. At least he wouldn't have 
time to think about invading England or taking Egypt or med- 
dling with America. Japan? Our fleet controlled the Pacific, 
didn't it? 

In 1938 the WPA had built an eighteen-jump three-mile 
course in Percy Warner Park, and in May of 1941 the first run- 
ning of the Iroquois Steeplechase took place, a pleasant event 
which has survived. 



DAVIDSON 



87 




The Ryman Auditorium, for decades the home of the 
Grand Ole Opry. 



The Ryman Auditorium had become a center of the arts in 
Nashville. Thomas G. Ryman was a riverboat captain in the 
1880s; Sam Jones of Georgia was a traveling revival preacher 
whose meetings drew great crowds. Hearing Jones in 1885, Ry- 
man underwent a religious conversion and decided to build an 
auditorium for meetings by Jones and other preachers. Hugh 
Thompson of Nashville was the architect; its imposing facade 
faced North Summer Street. Called the Union Gospel Taber- 
nacle, the building was used for other large public assemblies, 
including a Confederate reunion, for which a balcony, still called 
the Confederate Gallery, was installed. The first meeting was 
held by Jones in 1890, although the building had not been fin- 
ished. By 1894 the role of Town Hall formerly filled by the Hall 
of the House of Representatives had been taken over by what 



88 Tennessee County History Series 

came to be known as Ryman Auditorium after the captain's death 
in 1904. Almost every celebrity of politics, theater, and music 
played the Ryman during the next sixty years. Its grande dame 
from 1910 to 1959 was the legendary Mrs. L. C. Naff. But in the 
late autumn of 1941 the Ryman met its true destiny. The Grand 
Ole Opry moved in. Minnie Pearl (Mrs. Henry Cannon) is the 
best source, with Roy Acuff, for events of those carefree days. 
She had joined the show in her role as a country girl from Grind- 
er's Switch in November of 1940 (for $10), performing at the 
War Memorial building. She was on the road when the increas- 
ing crowds caused the show to move. When she returned and 
was put into the Prince Albert NBC segment of the radio show 
with Whitey Ford, the Duke of Paducah, as another comic and 
Acuff as master of ceremonies, the Opry began to move into the 
format that it followed for another quarter century. It was in 
1941 that something else happened to forever change the show: 
Bob Wills did a guest spot wearing an all-white suit and a white 
cowboy hat: no more bib overalls for the musicians. 

The War Years 

On December 7, 1941, as it did to all the nation, war came 
to Davidson County. It was a pleasant, sunny December Sunday. 
Home from church, their dinner eaten, the Sunday newspaper 
divided among the family, the radio turned on (every Sunday 
afternoon WSM broadcast the New York Philharmonic), they 
found real the apprehensions that had been felt with increasing 
force since the blitzkrieg overran the Low Countries and France 
in 1940, but in an unexpected way. The sudden interruption — 
"Japanese planes have bombed Pearl Harbor" — should not have 
come as a surprise. The afternoon newspaper the day before 
had carried the front page headline: "Civilians Warned to Leave 
Manila." But from every Davidson County home went the ques- 
tion: "Have you heard? Have you heard?" 

Nashville mobilized. For nearly four years the city was a focus 
of military activity: as a transportation center; as the railhead for 
the gigantic Tennessee Maneuvers of Second Army; as the near- 
est city to the 20th Ferrying Group headquarters at Seward Air 



DAVIDSON 89 

Force Base in Smyrna, to Fort Campbell, and to the Air Force 
Classification Center on Thompson Lane. 

The Aviation Manufacturing Company built the first defense 
plant, adjoining Berry Field; it was bought by Vultee Aircraft 
Inc. in 1940 to produce the Vultee Vengeance, a dive bomber 
which never lived up to its expected potential although it saw 
action with the British Royal Air Force and the Indian Air Force 
in Burma and India. Vultee also produced Lockheed P-38 Light- 
ning fighters. In 1942 the Nashville Bridge Company began to 
build minesweepers for the Navy. 

In 1942 a Davidson County officer, Lt. Gen. Frank W. An- 
drews, was named commander of U.S. Army Ground Forces in 
Europe. He was killed in an aircraft crash in Iceland in May of 
1943. 

Also in 1942 the Army Air Force established on Thompson 
Lane a large Classification Center which processed air recruits 
after their initial indoctrination and determined their future 
training as pilots, navigators, or bombardiers. Later, when this 
need slackened, the center became a convalescent hospital. 
Thayer General Hospital, constructed on White Bridge Road, 
was for more serious cases, and later became a Veterans Admin- 
istration Hospital. 

In 1943, while on a training flight in Texas, the plane flown 
by Cornelia Fort, a pilot for the WASPS, crashed. She was killed, 
the first woman pilot to die in active service in the United States. 
She was 23. Cornelia Fort Airport is named in her honor. 

The WASPS — Women's Army Service Pilots — were promised 
full military status with all benefits accruing to members of the 
Armed Forces. In a singular breach of faith, the Department of 
Defense reneged on this promise. Nashville provided another 
WASP pilot — Jennie Lou Gower, member of one of Nashville's 
pioneer families. She learned to fly in the Civilian Pilot Training 
Program while in college, joined the service after America en- 
tered the war and flew air transport for thousands of miles and 
survived to reside in California for many years, until her death 
in 1986. 



90 Tennessee County History Series 

Second Army Maneuvers 

In the autumn of 1942 a decision was made to resume field 
maneuvers in Middle Tennessee. Large scale war games had 
been conducted in an area around Camp Forrest, near Tulla- 
homa, the previous summer, and General George S. Patton had 
perfected the armored tactics that were to bring him fame and 
his divisions victory in Europe. Between the wars Erwin Rom- 
mel, as a young military attache, had visited Nashville and Mid- 
dle Tennessee, following the cavalry campaigns of Confederate 
General Nathan Bedford Forrest, making them a pattern for the 
use of tank units as cavalry. Now the Army, perceiving in the 
Cumberland River and the hilly country to the south and north 
a similarity to the Rhine and western Europe, decided to send 
divisions into the state for their last preparation before actual 
combat. 

Lebanon was chosen as headquarters and Nashville as the 
principal railhead. Over the hills and valleys of 21 counties the 
blue army and the red army engaged in weekly problems, di- 
visions being moved in and out by a calendar of phases, each 
lasting about four weeks. Nashville was London, or Antwerp, or 
Cherbourg, without the bombing. The first and second prob- 
lems usually took place east of Davidson County, but the third 
in each phase would poise attacking blue troops around Donel- 
son and Couchville. This force would advance to the east toward 
hilly terrain. In at least one instance a problem involved the de- 
fense of Berry Field against blue airborne troops (defenders 
were always red). 

Maneuvers paused at noon on Thursday afternoon, or at 
noon Friday, when a light plane would fly over the mock battle 
lines, sounding a siren. Then thousands of soldiers (and in the 
months between September 1942 and the last problem in March 
1944 over one million soldiers would pass through the Tennes- 
see Maneuver Area) would pour into Nashville and the county 
seat towns around, seeking recreation. Facilities were limited, in 
spite of the best efforts of the USO and the American Red Cross; 
movie theaters were packed, cafes were packed, drug store soda 




ftl. 



B 

". .... . ' '--. • '.'.,...""'■"'.',"■ %. ■ o 







*-/' ; .:: ■ %":>■>■■; ':- : -<- / , .v-"-; 



Troops of Second Army held full scale maneuvers in Davidson and 
other Middle Tennessee counties from 1941 to 1944 to prepare for 
battle in Europe. This scene is near Couchville. (photo by U.S. Army) 



92 Tennessee County History Series 

fountains were forced to shut down twice a day for clean-up. 
Each PX was strained to the limit. Hundreds roamed the side- 
walks looking for something of interest. Churches opened their 
doors and set up lounges, schools opened their gyms for week- 
end dances. The Grand Ole Opry had never drawn such crowds, 
nor had Nashville had such an experience since 1865. 

At Remagen Bridge 

On March 7, 1945, the city of Cologne was in Allied hands. 
A task force of the Ninth Armored Division in which Lt. Hugh 
Mott of Nashville was an officer moved up to the west bank of 
the Rhine to the little town of Remagen. The railroad bridge 
across the river was intact. The German lieutenant assigned to 
the demolition job had boasted in a cafe that the bridge would 
go up at 4 o'clock. It was 3:50 p.m. The Americans, led by Mott, 
scrambled onto the bridge snatching up wires and explosives. 
When the charges were set off, there were two small blasts. The 
bridge did not fall. The Americans were over the Rhine. The 
whole strategic plan of both Allies and Germans had to be al- 
tered quickly. The bold charge of that platoon had altered the 
course of the war. And in the Tennessee maneuvers, one prob- 
lem never presented was how to capture a bridge. 

The False Armistice 

A mystery never solved originated in Nashville on August 12, 
1945. The United Press had moved on its wires: "The President 
has just announced that Japan has just accepted the surrender 
terms of the Allies." Two minutes later, but not soon enough to 
stop many radio stations from putting the erroneous "flash" on 
air, a "kill" message went out. A confidential investigation fol- 
lowed. Its results were inconclusive. However, it was determined 
that the bulletin came over the southern wire, which was sending 
news at the time (8:35 p.m. ); that only Memphis and Nashville 
could have originated the message; and that Nashville was the 
most probable source. The only United Press sending machine 
in Davidson County was in the bureau offices on the twelfth floor 
of the Third National Bank Building, adjoining the studios of 



DAVIDSON 93 

Radio Station WLAC. On Sunday nights the office manager, 
Alice Loss, did not work. The only persons in the U? office were 
Donald Taylor, radio news editor of WLAC, and his wife. Taylor, 
an experienced wire service reporter, told investigators that 
there was no way the message could have come from that office 
because it came in on the radio wire while he was there. And the 
wording of the message was not that prescribed for a "flash," 
which according to style instructions has no articles, verb aux- 
iliaries, or qualifications. An experienced operator would have 
said: "President Announces Japan Accepts Surrender Terms." 
The mystery was never solved. Japan's surrender was an- 
nounced two days later, at 6 p.m., Tuesday, August 14, Central 
War Time. The sale of beer was stopped in Davidson County for 
24 hours. 

Soon afterward Colonel Jack DeWitt of Nashville (head of 
WSM) was the first person to make radar contact with the moon. 
This scientific accomplishment, intended simply as research in 
communications technology, has led to most of the develop- 
ments in twentieth century space science. The little blip return- 
ing after a few seconds was the equivalent of the beeps heard a 
half century earlier from Marconi's tiny transmitter. 

Renewal 

Over 36,000 Davidson County men and women had seen 
service; 734 died. 

After the dislocations of war and the deterioration of time, 
the key word from 1945 to 195 1 was renewal. Most obvious, after 
the needs of public utilities, was the area around the State Cap- 
itol. In 1949 the Capitol Hill redevelopment project began, one 
of the first federal urban renewal projects in the nation. First to 
go were the shacks and slums along Jo Johnston and Gay streets, 
96 acres being cleared to make room for the James Robertson 
Parkway. Not until 1957 did the project near completion. In 
1960, with the new landscaping of the Capitol grounds, the ex- 
tensive renovation and repair of the building itself was finished. 
Surrounding it were a new municipal auditorium, a new state 



94 Tennessee County History Series 

library and archives building, and office buildings, public and 
private, including the 31 -storey National Life Center. 

Schools 

Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial College, established in 
1909 by act of the General Assembly as a normal school and 
opened for classes in 1912, was given university status in 1951. 
It had had various definitions of role and scope over the years 
but had attained full Land Grant University recognition before 
1979 when the U.S. District Court in response to litigation or- 
dered the University of Tennessee at Nashville to be merged with 
it. After the merger, the campus consisted of the 150-acre main 
site, the modern facility at Charlotte and McLemore which had 
housed the predominantly evening classes of U-T Nashville, and 
320 acres of farm land. Within the university there are eight 
schools. Hopes that a School of Veterinary Medicine might be 
added were disappointed when this was awarded the University 
of Tennessee at Knoxville. 

In 1953 it was conceded among educators that the school 
systems of Nashville and Davidson County were the best in the 
state. There were then 24 schools in the athletic conference 
called the Nashville Interscholastic League (NIL). Of these, 
three were located outside the county; three, Montgomery Bell 
Academy, Father Ryan, and Harpeth Hall, were private schools. 
The eighteen public schools were West, East, North, Cohn, 
Hume-Fogg, Isaac Litton, Donelson, DuPont, Hillsboro, Cen- 
tral, Madison, Cumberland, Joelton, Antioch, Howard, Belle- 
vue, Goodlettsville, and Tennessee Industrial School (soon to 
become Tennessee Preparatory School). In addition there were 
the predominantly black schools: Pearl, Haynes, and Cameron. 
In 20 years the movement toward large comprehensive high 
schools would eliminate a dozen of these, including some that 
were considered among the most effective teaching institutions 
in Tennessee. 



DAVIDSON 



95 





rr: 




The first large public high school in the county, Hume- 
Fogg stands at the corner of Eighth and Broad. 



A Musical Interlude 

Attention should be paid to what may have been the liveliest 
musical group in the county during the late 1940s: El Chico! 
Playing for parties (and any other occasion opportunity offered) 
Mrs. Weaver Harris (whose nickname was generally applied to 
the entire group) led with her fiddle through a repertoire of 
lively numbers, including "Listen to the Mockingbird." Centered 
on the Murfreesbpro Road, but by no means confined to that 
neighborhood, the players were Lanier Merritt, a noted collec- 
tor of Confederate memorabilia, on the banjo; Mrs. James Kil- 
lebrew; Mrs. Mary Organ Elliott; Herschel Gower, Vanderbilt 
professor and author; Mrs. Oscar Noel (Eleanor Crawford); 
Mrs. Harris; Claudine Estes; Jennie Gower (Wynne), a wartime 



96 Tennessee County History Series 

WASP pilot; Ruth Bumpass; Paul Brown; Morton Howell; and 
Mrs. LB. Dilzer. Nashville social life will never be the same. 

The Great Ice Storm 

For ten days in the winter of 1951 Davidson County was 
gripped by snow and ice, the worst in the county's history, cer- 
tainly in terms of disruption of daily life. Some called it a bliz- 
zard; it was not. The event began with a chilly rain on January 
30. Late in the afternoon it could be observed that the rain was 
freezing into ice as soon as it touched a hard surface. That night 
the rain became sleet and on January 31 the temperature 
dropped to minus 1 as snow began to mix with the sleet. Snow 
fell on top of the ice, tree limbs began to fall and power lines to 
snap, and 16,000 homes were without electricity. 

On February 2 the groundhog was effectively sealed into his 
burrow, shadow or no shadow, and the temperature was down 
to minus 13 (a record at that time). Roads and streets were 
blocked by fallen limbs, live wires lay crackling on the ice, and 
the sound of electric transformers exploding could be heard in 
every section. When road scrapers went out to clear the snow 
away, the operators found solid ice six inches thick underneath. 
By February 4 there had been two days of brilliant sunshine and 
the thermometer read above freezing. The minimum reading 
on the next day was 27 and ice began to thaw. On February 6 it 
rained, melting more of the ice. Unhappily the freeze returned 
on February 8 bringing glazed surfaces to streets and highways, 
but the great storm was over. 

The Winds of Political Change 

Litton Hickman had been county judge since 1917. He had 
presided over a body whose aim often seemed to be to protect 
rural Davidson County from the encroachment of a sometimes 
disturbing urban community. Under the Tennessee Constitution 
of 1870, a county might be divided into as many as 25 civil dis- 
tricts. Each was entitled to two magistrates as members of the 
county quarterly court. Any district containing an incorporated 
town was entitled to another, elected by voters of that town, and 



DAVIDSON 97 

the county seat was entitled to one more. In smaller counties this 
resulted in approximate proportional representation; in a 
county with a very large city, the representation was quite dis- 
proportionately skewed toward the rural citizens. It was not Bev- 
erly Briley's aim to alter this situation; that remained for the 
landmark Baker vs. Carr decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, a 
suit initiated by The Nashville Tennessean with nationwide conse- 
quences. Briley's appeal was that of an energetic, progressive 
young man. In 1950 he defeated Judge Hickman. In 1951 the 
reins of city government were handed by Thomas L. Cummings, 
who had succeeded Hilary Howse in 1938 and whose adminis- 
tration had moved the city forward through the war years, to 
Ben West, a young attorney. Their race had been close. West won 
by 55 votes. Briley and West worked closely together in planning 
the future development of city and county. Quietly the first dis- 
cussion of consolidation of the two governments took place. It 
was in a talk before the Rotary Club on June 21,1 955, that Briley 
first made his thinking public: there must be a single consoli- 
dated metropolitan form of government; during the next six- 
teen months a special charter commission worked out a plan. 

Growth and Growing Pains 

If "renewal" had been the word for the late 1940s, "expan- 
sion" was the hallmark of 1951 to 1957. 

By 1950 the student body at Vanderbilt totaled 3529. (It 
would double during the next 25 years.) The original campus 
measured 75 acres. Nashville's westward expansion, caused in 
some ways although not entirely by the presence of the school 
itself, constrained future growth. Five square blocks of resi- 
dences at the western edge of the campus were acquired, not 
always with the cheerful willingness of the owner to sell. Then 
the university began to get property to the south, wiping out 
such residential neighborhoods as Garland Avenue, unfortu- 
nately occupied by some of Vanderbilt's most loyal supporters. 
By 1975 the university campus comprised 260 acres. 

And in 1951 Ward-Belmont College was in trouble. In 1865 
William E. Ward had established Ward's Seminary for Young La- 



98 



Tennessee County History Series 







The Nashville Electric Service building facing the inner 
loop of the Interstate system resembles a Byzantine 
mosque of Istanbul. 

dies. The Nashville Female Academy having succumbed to the 
dislocations of war, Ward recognized that there was an oppor- 
tunity for a new institution. An alumnus of Cumberland Uni- 
versity at Lebanon, Ward first considered locating his school 
there. But he opened his school in Nashville instead, to imme- 
diate success, and moved in 1866 to a building on Spruce Street. 
In 1890 two ladies from Philadelphia, Ida Hood and Susan 
Heron, purchased the Acklen mansion, Belmont, and 15 acres 
of the former estate, and opened a college for women, Belmont 
College. During their regime many additions were made to the 



DAVIDSON 99 

house, including the part known as North Front. In 1913 Ward 
Seminary and Belmont College were combined under the name 
Ward-Belmont. The new school became famous throughout the 
South and Southwest as a choice place to educate a young 
woman. Not only were academic standards high but manners, 
etiquette, and conduct were emphasized; music and art were 
fields in which the carefully chosen faculty excelled. The college 
operated its own country club! 

But this was coming to an end. The Tennessee Baptist Con- 
vention had acquired Cumberland University in 1946 after its 
Presbyterian U.S.A. sponsors had decided to place all their re- 
sources at Maryville College. The Baptists merged with their 
new school Tennessee College for Women at Murfreesboro. 
Both the law and college branches of the school flourished; en- 
dowment increased; an expansion program was authorized. 
Meanwhile in Nashville Ward-Belmont was caught in a financial 
crunch that seemed likely to cause a default on its indebtedness 
to financial institutions of the city. 

Late in 1950, Ward-Belmont's creditors quietly proposed a 
plan to the executive committee of the Baptist Convention: 
Merge with Cumberland, move the older college to Nashville, 
sell its property, and become solvent again. The storm that this 
caused in the spring of 1951 has largely been forgotten, but its 
consequences have been far-reaching: under the leadership of 
Susan Souby, the principal, the faculty of Ward-Belmont prep- 
aratory school, a profitable part of the operation, withdrew to 
organize Harpeth Hall School. Alumni of Cumberland rallied 
to preserve the historic school of law in its traditional setting and 
reclaimed the Lebanon property. But by common sense and 
good management and determination, Belmont survived as a 
four-year coeducational college in the Baptist tradition, soundly 
financed and with many modern buildings besides the Acklen 
mansion and its additions. 

Five Years of Change 

Fred Harvey had done his part to move Nashville into the 
swift stream of postwar expansion, but the years from 1957 to 



100 Tennessee County History Series 

1962 were to see the beginning of the end of downtown as it had 
been known for decades. 

The decline of mass transit — first the streetcars, then the 
steadily contracting city bus routes — and increasing use of the 
personal automobile produced a parking crisis. There was no 
way to solve the problem in a Nashville of narrow downtown 
streets and space too valuable to abandon to parking lots. And 
in 1960 the civil rights movement entered downtown Nashville, 
variety store lunch counters, specifically. 

Early that year hundreds of black Nashvillians began a cam- 
paign of "sit-ins" at McClellan's, Woolworth's, and Walgreen's on 
Fifth Avenue North. That was a snowy winter but a heavy snow 
on February 13 did not stop a march of over a hundred persons, 
mostly Fisk and TSU students, into downtown. By the end of the 
week there were sit-ins in five stores by three hundred persons. 
After stormy times reason prevailed and on May 10 the color 
bar was abandoned at almost all downtown eating places. It must 
be recognized that the three months of demonstration and pro- 
test caused many women shoppers, particularly the middle-aged 
and elderly, to change the shopping habits of a lifetime. Indeed, 
emotionally and resentfully Davidson County was still 
segregated. 

The School Doors Open 

In 1954 the United States Supreme Court reversed Plessy vs. 
Ferguson. To the astonishment of unreconstructed Tennesseans 
who had hated Harry Truman and voted Republican in 1952 
because of opposition to the civil rights bills, the Eisenhower 
administration put the weight of the federal government behind 
desegregation. Racial discrimination in assigning students to 
public schools was outlawed; "separate but equal" was no longer 
the law of the land. George Peabody College had admitted black 
students in 1953; Vanderbilt soon followed suit. In September 
of 1955, A. Z. Kelley, a black resident of East Nashville, decided 
that his son Robert ought to be admitted to East High School, 
within walking distance of their home, rather than ride a bus to 
Pearl High School, admittedly an excellent school but a long way 



DAVIDSON 101 

across town. The class action lawsuit asked for the desegregation 
of Nashville schools. After legal sparring the board of education 
agreed to desegregate one grade a year. In September of 1957 
the first black children entered Caldwell School. The year before 
the city public parks, golf courses, and pools were desegregated. 
A curious intruder was John Kasper, friend of the poet, Ezra 
Pound, and holder of views closely resembling Fascism. That fall 
he first came to Nashville to lead protests against desegregation 
of the first grade in public schools, and to make inflammatory 
speeches, including one in a Vanderbilt dormitory. 

Gold for the Tigerbelles 

Wilma Rudolph was her name and she made the name of 
Tigerbelle famous around the world. Coach Ed Temple was Ten- 
nessee State's women's track and field coach. His methods were 
thorough and inspiring. Since 1956 Temple has sent 32 track 
competitors into the Olympic games. They have won eleven gold 
medals, five silver, and four bronze medals for the United States 
(actually, for themselves; Olympic competition is among indi- 
viduals, not nations). Temple was coach of the American wom- 
en's teams in 1960 and 1964 and at Rome in 1960 Rudolph, of 
Clarksville, won three of the gold medals. Another successful 
coach whose graduates went on to professional success was John 
Merritt, football coach at Tennessee State. 

The County Outside the City 

In their books, William Waller, Don H. Doyle, and Jack Nor- 
man, Sr., recall some picturesque neighborhood names. Some of 
these are Cab Hollow (many residents came originally from 
DeKalb County), Crappy Chute, Black Bottom, Varmint Town, 
Slowey's Corner, Billy Goat Hill, Oklahoma, Hell's Half-Acre, 
Mile Pond, Melrose, Flat Rock, Woodbine, Boscobel, Sulphur 
Dell, and Bosley Spring. But these were all sections of the city. 
The county's villages had a life and a history of their own. For 
example, there were Antioch, Bellevue, Clover Bottom, Donel- 



102 



Tennessee County History Series 





Granny White Market is nearly the last of the old country stores (an- 
other is Smiths Store at Una). Located near Radnor Lake at the corner 
of Otter Creek and Granny White pikes, the store began operation in 
1927. In 1987 it was owned by Reese Smith, Jr., and operated by Helen 
and Howard Maxon. 



son, Elm Crag, Goodlettsville, and McWhortersville. 

Maple Trees at Antioch 

Southeast of Nashville in the 1890s flourished the village of 
Antioch. The name remains and the rural atmosphere of nearly 
a century ago is preserved in two structures facing one another 
across Antioch Pike: the United Methodist Church, a white 
frame building erected in 1891 in clapboard Gothic, and the La- 
fayette Ezell house, similar in style with gables and a porch 
trimmed with wooden carving. 

Here once there were birds, and squirrels, and rabbits 
among the maple trees that autumn turned red and gold in the 
evening sun and neighbors were just close enough, down the 



DAVIDSON 103 

pike, and the country store and the community school were just 
a walk away. 

The Neighborly Life in Bellevue 

In 1960 Bellevue, west of the city in the Harpeth Hills, was 
a community of farms and single family homes and a high 
school. It was typical of the Davidson county towns of 1930- 
1959, a community of small-town charm and diversity, with 
pride in its individual personality, pride that was centered in the 
high school, visible as the center of Bellevue life to the motorist 
coming over the top of Nine Mile Hill. 

When the high school was lost in the rush to comprehensive 
high schools of enormous size — and Bellevue was one of the last 
to go — the community knew anger. Many felt that this was rob- 
bing Bellevue, as it had robbed Donelson some years earlier, of 
something of value. In the late twentieth century many in Met- 
ropolitan Nashville and Davidson County believed that the 
neighborhood school is the cement that holds a neighborhood 
together like nothing else can do. But there are many things 
other than a school that hold a community together, given the 
will. There are, in this case, the Kroger supermarket, which 
takes the place of a public square as a place to sooner or later 
see everybody, the Natchez Trace restaurant, the community 
newspaper, The Westview (Doug Underwood, editor and pub- 
lisher), and above all pride in the community's individual 
personality. 

Fifty years ago there were mostly single family houses on 
tree-shaded lots along the main thoroughfare. Up a little valley 
there were family farms growing vegetables. There was a cafe; 
there was a tourist court. There may have been a few apartments 
but no condominiums. The Kroger store at the intersection of 
Old Hickory Boulevard and Highway 70 was rebuilt larger 
across the street; then it was rebuilt a second time, larger still, 
on a third corner of the two thoroughfares. 

There was a large pasture in a good location. In 1981 it was 
proposed to build the Bellevue Regional Mall there. Six years 
later it was still a large grassy field. But there are 12 pizza res- 



1 04 Tennessee County History Series 

taurants. However, it is at the Natchez Trace that people hear 
the latest news, find out what's going on, shake hands with local 
candidates for public office, see familiar faces, call folks by their 
first names, share a cup of coffee in midmorning and afternoon. 

On the Banks of Stone's River 

A tract of 129 acres on the west bank of Stone's River, part of 
Clover Bottom Farms, was purchased from the State of Ten- 
nessee in 1972 by two businessmen, Clifford E. Hooper and 
Robert Baltz. They planned a residential, commercial, and office 
development costing $70 million. Apartment buildings would 
follow the shoreline; a shopping center would be circled by An- 
drew Jackson's old race track. Streets and sewer lines were built. 
But there was a flood of unprecedented depth in 1 974. The proj- 
ect was abandoned. 

Clover Bottom, a fertile piece of level land near the Her- 
mitage, was traversed by the Hermitage turnpike and out-of- 
state automobile travelers in the 1930s marveled at the report 
that three crops of hay were gathered each year. 

In 1805 that tract was developed into a commercial complex 
by Jackson, John Hutchings, and John Coffee: a general store, 
a boatyard, a racetrack, a tavern, and "a house of entertainment," 
as the proprietors advertised. An economic depression coupled 
with bad debts soon doomed the enterprise. 

But as a farm the estate owned by John Hoggatt after 1797 
and by his descendants for nearly a century flourished. He built 
the house which was acquired by Andrew Price, then by A. F. 
and R. D. Stanford, and is now used by faculty of Tennessee 
School for the Blind. 

Franklin College at Elm Crag 

Tolbert Fanning was a minister of the gospel, an educator, 
and a farmer and saw no incompatibility among these vocations. 
In 1840 he moved from Franklin to a farm five miles east of 
Nashville which he named Elm Crag. At the same time he was 
named editor of the periodical of the Tennessee Agricultural 
Society. 



DAVIDSON 105 

The farm was in the southern part of the old Civil District 
No. 2; at the opposite end of the district was McWhortersville 
(also called "McWhirtersville") where Donelson Post Office was 
located in a toll gate house. 

Fanning's principal farming interest was in livestock breed- 
ing. He brought the finest of cattle, sheep, hogs, and horses to 
Elm Crag. In about 1845 he began to combine his interest in 
agriculture and education by establishing at Elm Crag an agri- 
cultural school for young men, with whom he himself labored 
in the fields, instructing them in the latest and most efficient 
methods. In 1843-44 he constructed buildings for a college 
which he named Franklin College, announcing: 

"Young men of the country, mechanics who are willing to work, 
blacksmiths, carriage or wagon makers, saddlers, carpenters, cab- 
inet makers, printers, or plowboys can be educated at Franklin 
College by their labor and are earnestly invited to attend." 

In 1861 because of the coming of war Fanning resigned as 
president; shortly the school was suspended. It was reopened in 
1865 but in a short time the buildings burned and Franklin Col- 
lege ceased to exist. 

If the Civil War left eastern Davidson County relatively un- 
scathed, this was not true of the southern acres. For example, 
the Samuel Watkins farm on Hillsboro Pike four miles south of 
the city was in the path of Hood's advance in December of 1864. 
The two-storey house with its Palladian portico and four tall 
white columns was ransacked and robbed; the shade trees that 
were not felled for campfires on the bitterly cold night before 
the battle were mangled by cannonball and shell. His cattle were 
slaughtered, his horses seized for cavalry mounts, and the land 
scarred by trenches and the ruts of wagons and cannon wheels. 
Even the church building erected on the farm by the staunch old 
Presbyterian for the use of the Methodists of his neighborhood 
was destroyed. 

Goodlettsville Leads the Way 

The village of Goodlettsville is in a pleasant section of rolling 
hills and pastures planted in long-season grasses affording ani- 



1 06 Tennessee County History Series 

mals green grazing even during the winter. The soil is typical 
limestone-phosphate. Houses are neat and fences are well 
tended. In 1870 the country roads were white with the limestone 
which surfaced them, the streams ran clear and fresh. 

All was not well: the Civil War had devastated farms as much 
as cities. Orchards had been chopped down, livestock slaugh- 
tered or stolen, fences burned. In 1873 there was an economic 
collapse that affected farmers more than any other class. Sheep 
raising was a dependable source of income and the price paid 
for a group of lambs often cetermined the available cash a farm 
family would have for the year. 

It was in 1877 at Goodlettsville, situated on the border of 
Davidson and Sumner counties, that the first cooperative live- 
stock marketing association in the United States was organized. 

The Tennessee Agricultural Hall of Fame recognizes two 
Davidson County honorees: Mark Cockrill [see above, "Wool 
Champion of the World"] and the Goodlettsville Lamb & Wool 
Club. 

Northern Davidson county after the severe depression of 
1873 had become a center of sheep and wool production. Every 
farmer owned a flock of sheep and took pride in selling top 
grade animals when buyers came around in the spring. Some 
Goodlettsville farmers owned 100 sheep and would sell about 
that many lambs a season; others had as few as ten, but the rail- 
road station was a busy place, as more than 2000 lambs went to 
the Chicago market. 

Buyers would estimate weights and pay accordingly. In 1876 
one skeptical farmer challenged the weight estimate and offered 
to take his sheep down to the scales at the depot to be sure. The 
buyer scoffed and tried to dissuade him. The farmer was stub- 
born. The result was that every one of his lambs exceeded the 
estimated weight. The next year, in May of 1877, a meeting was 
held with 19 sheep growers present. William Luton was elected 
president and Robert A. Cartwright secretary (later president). 
The new organization vowed to stick together in marketing their 
lambs, selling only through the club and observing uniform 
standards of weight and condition. It worked. It was the first 



DAVIDSON 



107 




Radnor Lake State Natural Area. The 1000 acres were acquired by the 
state of Tennessee in 1973. Impounded by a dam built in 1914, the lake 
covers land over which armies fought in 1864. 



such cooperative marketing organization in the United States 
and it brought new prosperity to Goodlettsville and to stockmen 
everywhere. 

Seventy-five years later there were 850 farmer-owned and 
farmer-controlled livestock associations in the United States with 
939,000 members who sold $1.3 BILLION worth of sheep, 
hogs, and cattle on an open market. In 1877, in contrast, the 
market had been tightly controlled by a cabal of buyers who trav- 
eled from village to village in the rural South and West acquiring 
animals on a "take it or leave it" basis. 

The Great Country Houses 

Two Rivers, in modified Italian Renaissance style, was com- 
pleted about 1859. David H. McGavock was married to Willie 
Harding, whose family had built Belle Meade in 1853. The name 



108 Tennessee County History Series 

was given his daughter's mansion by William Harding because 
of its location near the juncture of Stone's and Cumberland riv- 
ers. It is the last great country estate house erected in Davidson 
County before the Civil War. The owner is now the metropolitan 
government which uses the house as a conference center. 

Three other houses in the county outside Nashville are note- 
worthy and have played a role in its history. They are Traveller's 
Rest, Tulip Grove, and Belle Meade. 

In or about 1 799 Judge John Overton, who was to be Andrew 
Jackson's political counselor, built a log house on the road lead- 
ing south from Nashville. Overton in his long career as a lawyer 
was revenue collector of the Mero District and a member of the 
state Supreme Court. The house, added to many times, is now 
a two-storey frame in modified Federal style with the character- 
istic small front entrance porch leading to a central hall flanked 
by large receiving rooms. The shuttered windows are also char- 
acteristic, as are the chimneys at each end. Many conferences of 
significance in Tennessee and national politics took place in the 
house. Later Overton, Jackson, and General James Winchester 
planned the development of West Tennessee and founded the 
city of Memphis and Overton moved to West Tennessee. 

Tulip Grove, on Lebanon Road across from The Hermitage 
grounds, was built in 1836 for Andrew Jackson Donelson, sec- 
retary and namesake of the president. The designer was Joseph 
Reiff, who also built The Hermitage in 1835, after a fire dam- 
aged the second mansion. Tulip Grove is a brick, two-storey 
mansion, more comfortable than imposing, but Donelson's ca- 
reer which included service as minister to Prussia and candidate 
for vice president in 1856, would make his house worthy of no- 
tice regardless. 

Belle Meade estate was established in 1806 by John Harding. 
The present house was built in 1853 and its greatest days fol- 
lowed the Civil War. One of the states great plantations, Belle 
Meade was one of the earliest Thoroughbred horse breeding 
farms in America, established by William Giles Harding. It was 
his son-in-law, General William H. Jackson, whose efforts gave 
it international fame and brought many distinguished visitors to 



DAVIDSON 109 

Davidson County as well as sending many distinguished horses 
to race brilliantly and successfully. By 1910 its heyday was over 
but it has been maintained as a show place by efforts of the As- 
sociation for Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities since 1954. 
Cheekwood is built on a hill. In concept it is eighteenth cen- 
tury England, a stately home. There is a wrought iron stair rail- 
ing in the oval stairhall that was in Queen Charlottes Palace at 
Kew. The Countess of Scarborough once owned the crystal 
chandeliers. The mahogany doors are from Grosvenor House. 
But the house is not a copy. It is an original, planned by Bryant 
Fleming of Ithaca, New York, and begun by Mr. and Mrs. Leslie 
Cheek in 1929. The house was completed in 1932. The Cheek- 
Neal Coffee Co. had become successful through Maxwell House 
Coffee — named for the famous hotel and given the slogan 
"Good to the last drop! "by President Theodore Roosevelt during 
his visit to Nashville. The house was inherited by Mrs. Walter 
Sharp. In 1959 Cheekwood was presented to the state. It was 
opened to the public in 1960 and is the site of the Tennessee 
Botanical Gardens and Fine Arts Center. 



Distinguished Visitors and Others 

More than half of the presidents of the United States have 
visited Davidson County, or have resided there. In the twentieth 
century these visitors have included Theodore Roosevelt, Wil- 
liam Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, 
John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B.Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Ger- 
ald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. 

Another distinguished twentieth century visitor was the sec- 
retary-general of the United Nations, Kurt Waldheim, now pres- 
ident of Austria, who came in 1976 for the first meeting of the 
United Nations outside New York. Waldheim and his daughter 
visited Opryland as guests of Governor Ray Blanton, and tried 
the log flume ride. The year before Opryland had been host to 
American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts who had just 
joined in a history-making joint space flight. At Opryland they 
rode the Wabash Cannonball together. 



110 Tennessee County History Series 

Wilson was not president of the United States when he came 
to Nashville on November 29, 1905. As president of Princeton 
University he was invited to speak to the teachers of the city at 
Watkins Hall. Although his brother Joseph was an editor of the 
Nashville Banner and his son-in-law William Gibbs McAdoo, later 
secretary of the treasury, was a native of Tennessee, Wilson did 
not return to Nashville during his administration. After Taft, the 
next incumbent president to visit Nashville was Franklin D. Roo- 
sevelt in 1934. It was almost thirty years more before another 
incumbent chief executive would come. John F. Kennedy on 
May 20, 1963, spoke at Vanderbilt University, lunched with Gov- 
ernor and Mrs. Frank Clement at the governor's mansion on 
Curtiswood Lane, and visited George Peabody College to inspect 
the human development laboratory and discuss the visiting pro- 
fessorships supported by the Kennedy Foundation. Lyndon B. 
Johnson was in Davidson County twice in less than a year. On 
March 15, 1967, he and Mrs. Johnson came to The Hermitage 
for the bicentennial of Andrew Jackson's birth, and on June 28, 
1968, he returned to dedicate the Percy Priest Dam and Res- 
ervoir on Stone's River. Richard Nixon helped dedicate the new 
Grand Ole Opry House on national television March 16, 1974, 
played the piano, and was instructed in the art of the yo-yo by 
Roy Acuff, grand old man of the Opry. His successors, Gerald 
Ford (1974-77) and Jimmy Carter (1977-81), participated in a 
joint discussion of American foreign policy at Vanderbilt in 
1985; Carter and Ronald Reagan had made campaign stops in 
1980. 

Indeed it was later learned that a more sinister visitor had 
stalked Carter during his visit. John Hinckley had been warned 
by security guards at the airport when he was detected with a 
weapon. He made a telephone call to an unidentified local num- 
ber and passed on, to shoot President Reagan in Washington, 
D.C., soon after Inaugration Day, 1981. 

Albert Osborne, who rode a bus to Mexico beside Lee Harvey 
Oswald in 1963, later resided at the Nashville YMCA, and FBI 
agents came there to question him when his identity became 



DAVIDSON 111 

known to them. Before he could be questioned again, Osborne 
had gone home to England and died there. 

The mother of Sirhan Sirhan, Robert Kennedy's assassin, 
came to Nashville in 1968 seeking help and mercy for her son. 
James Earl Ray, Dr. Martin Luther King's assassin, pleaded guilty 
to the act at the federal courthouse in Nashville and was sen- 
tenced to life; part of his term has been served at the state prison. 

And there were the James boys. There are fourteen con- 
firmed authentic Frank and Jesse James sites in Davidson 
County. Some of them are: the house at 606 Boscobel Street 
where Jesse and Zee James were living in 1875 and where their 
son Jesse was born; the Walton farm off Clarksville Highway 
where Frank and Annie James were living in 1877; the Felix 
Smith place on West Hamilton Avenue where Frank and Jesse 
and their families lived in 1879; a house at 3111 Hyde's Ferry 
Pike where Frank and Jesse lived in 1880; Jesse's 1881 residence 
at 903 Woodland and Frank's at 814 Fatherland; and Jesse's last 
Tennessee home at 711 Fatherland (most sites have been re- 
numbered since). Ted Yeatman, authority on the James Broth- 
ers, says it is appropriate that the Tennessee Performing Arts 
Center now stands on the site of Mrs. Kent's boarding house 
where Jesse lived as John Davis Howard from September to De- 
cember 1880 because Jesse was always playing a role. 

And a man claiming to be Jesse Woodson James himself told 
his grandchildren in the 1930s (this man lived from 1844 to 
1951!) that Nashville had been the Confederate underground 
capital for nineteen years after Appomattox. 

Metroland — John Seigenthaler's Town 

He was born and educated in Nashville. In 1949 he began 
work as a reporter for Silliman Evans' Nashville Tennessean and 
like all young reporters he worked hard to learn the territory. 
He has held almost every news and editorial position on the 
newspaper: beat reporter; general assignment reporter cover- 
ing crime, the courts, local government, the General Assembly, 
and national politics; feature magazine writer; copy editor; city 



112 Tennessee County History Series 

editor; editor; and publisher. He was a Nieman Fellow at Har- 
vard, a Communications Fellow at Duke, an associate professor 
of public policy at Duke during the 1980 academic year, and has 
written two books, A Search for Justice and An Honorable Profession, 
both in collaboration with other distinguished journalists. 

In 1961 Seigenthaler entered government service, joining 
the Kennedy administration as administrative assistant to the at- 
torney-general, Robert Kennedy. Working with the U. S. De- 
partment of Justice in the fields of organized crime and civil 
rights, he was the administration's chief negotiator with the gov- 
ernor of Alabama during the 1961 Freedom Rides. During that 
crisis he was attacked by a mob of white persons and hospitalized 
with a concussion. 

Returning from Washington to become editor of the Tennes- 
sean y Seigenthaler brought new life to the media, not only in 
Nashville, not only in Tennessee, but in the South. For the first 
time a Nashville newspaper could honestly claim parity with the 
Louisville Courier-Journal and the Memphis Commercial Appeal. 
The influence of his office at 1 100 Broadway was felt in every 
part of the state. For the next twenty years Nashville would be 
John Seigenthaler 's town. 

The history of Davidson County and Nashville ends in 1962; 
now it is the story of Metroland. Some of the changes would have 
come anyway: the lakes, for example, reservoirs created by the 
large Corps of Engineers dams, Old Hickory and Percy Priest. 
Not only were thousands of acres put under water, but the shores 
became the site of new attractive residential developments and 
recreational areas. A second development was the construction 
of interstate highways. Nashville was the hub of three of these: 
24, 40, and 65, with connecting loops. The proposed outer loop, 
1-440, was to cause much controversy lasting nearly 20 years as 
environmentalists chose this for a battleground. A third devel- 
opment was the "Nashville skyline," the sudden development of 
downtown Nashville into towering office complexes, beginning 
in 1957 with the Life & Casualty Tower on the corner of Fourth 
Avenue North and Church Street. And there was the growth and 
promotion of the music industry, centered in "Music Row,"along 



DAVIDSON 



113 




Percy Preist Dam on Stone's River was named for the former journalist 
and Congressman from the "Hermitage District" for a quarter of a cen- 
tury. The reservoir formed by the dam is a popular recreation area. 
Another is Old Hickory Dam and Reservoir on the Cumberland River. 

16th, 17th, and 18th avenues South, near George Peabody 
College. 

Music City replaced Athens of the South as Nashville's pro- 
motional pseudonym. The industry was fond of calling the city 
"the third coast," referring to the established entertainment cen- 
ters of New York City and Los Angeles. In the 1950s the "Nash- 
ville sound" came to be recognized as new and different: Owen 
Bradley at Bradley's Barn, a recording studio in a rural neigh- 
borhood, first introduced echo chambers, drums, and impro- 
vised performance. Chet Atkins, already recognized as a 
talented performer, was a producer for RCA Victor and brought 
the "sound" to a major label; he also brought famous artists to 
Nashville to record. Patsy Cline was one of the first to make 
"crossover" hits: high on both popular and country charts. 

Tragedy struck the music community in 1963 and again in 
1 964 when airplane crashes took her life and those of Hawkshaw 



114 



Tennessee County History Series 




John Hartford is one of 
the singers and composers 
who began their rise to 
fame in Music City, U.S.A. 
His first hit was "Gentle 
on my Mind." 



Hawkins, Cowboy Copas, and musician-executive Randy 
Hughes near Camden on March 5, 1963, and Jim Reeves near 
Nashville on July 3 1 , 1964. One product of Music City, a native, 
succeeded on the pop and gospel side rather than country and 
western. Pat Boone got his first pay for singing by leading songs 
at a Church of Christ meeting at nearby Gladeville; at 16 he 
hosted "Youth on Parade" for WSIX. At 19 he married Shirley 
Foley, daughter of country star Red Foley. After winning on "Ar- 
thur Godfrey's Talent Scouts," the David Lipscomb graduate rose 
to fame like a rocket. 

An entertainment landmark is the Belle Meade Theatre on 
West End Avenue. Opening in May of 1 940, when Edgar Bergen 
and Charlie McCarthy played in Charlie McCarthy, Detective, the 
elegant movie palace features in its front lobby a "Wall of Fame": 
photographs signed by stars who have made personal appear- 
ances. This was an idea of the first manager, E. J. Jordan. 

Another landmark is Mills Book Store, now in three loca- 



DAVIDSON 115 

tions, a family store lately owned and operated by Adele Mills 
Schweid and her husband, Bernie Schweid. An advertisement 
for the store denied the rumor that Mrs. Schweid was first cra- 
dled in a Random House box in the back of Mills, then located 
on Church Street, but this family business is more than ninety 
years old and has searched as far as Europe for out-of-print 
books faithful customers sought. (In 1987 Ron Watkins became 
proprietor.) 

Closely related to the development of the Music City image 
was the growth of the tourist industry, culminating in the estab- 
lishment of Opryland U.S.A. on the banks of the Cumberland 
River eight miles east of the city. Planning began in 1968; in 1972 
the amusement park was opened to the public. The new Opry 
House was opened in March of 1974, with a memorable per- 
formance on the yo-yo by President Richard M. Nixon. Opry- 
land Hotel was opened in 1977. In 1983 Gaylord Broadcasting 
Company of Oklahoma acquired Opryland U.S.A. from Amer- 
ican General Insurance Company of Houston, which had taken 
over National Life. 

Not all music personalities have been connected with WSM. 
John Richbourg was known as "John R." when he ran the first 
rhythm and blues show on WLAC. He and other "deejays" such 
as Bill "Hoss" Allen and Gene Noble between 1946 and 1973 had 
what was believed to have been the largest audience of any 
record program. 

Not all Metro personalities are music-connected. Sheriff Fate 
Thomas is an example. Each year the sheriff is host to the annual 
rabbit dinner of the Sure Shot Rabbit Hunters Association, of 
which the sheriff is president. The first of these events was held 
in 1954 when twelve hunters got together to eat the product of 
their hunt. The 32nd was held at the State Fairgrounds and was 
attended by 5000. Celebrities also, in the world of politics, were 
the Doyles. Jacobs H. "Jake" Doyle died in 1986. He was the last 
of the old generation of politicians. Jake Doyle had been chair- 
man of the Civil Service Commission, a Democratic primary 
election commissioner, and a member of the county Democratic 
primary board. His sister Frances had been a council member 



116 Tennessee County History Series 

(city and Metro) and a state representative; his brother Andrew 
J. was a judge of the General Sessions Court; his brother William 
P. "Pat" Doyle was a councilman and state representative; and his 
brother Clarence an attorney and forceful advocate. Another 
celebrity is Police Chief Joe Casey who became president of the 
International Association of Police Chiefs in 1987. 

The adoption of Metro government ended the old style of 
politics, controlled by ward and district political leaders. Brett 
Hawkins, historian of the movement for consolidation, says, 
"The problem in Nashville was Ben West and annexation, and 
the solution was Metro." He sets up various candidates for the 
real power behind the movement for consolidation: the Citizens' 
Committee for Better Government, James H. Roberson, the Ten- 
nessean, "professional politicians" who took over the movement 
after the failed effort of 1958, and eliminates each in turn as the 
key power. It was West, he decides, and the "green sticker," that 
was the catalyst. The sticker was applied to an automobile wind- 
shield to indicate payment of a wheel or "use" tax for which 
county as well as city residents were liable. In 1961 the General 
Assembly passed an act authorizing a referendum to create a 
new Charter Commission; the proposal passed August 17, 1961. 
The charter commission that was then established included Cecil 
Branstetter, R. N. Chenault, Carmack Cochran, K. Harlan Dod- 
son, Jr., Victor S. Johnson, Z. Alexander Looby, G. S. Meadors, 
Rebecca Thomas, Joe E. Torrence, and Charles Warfield. Edwin 
F. Hunt was legal counsel. 

George H. Cate, Jr., chairman of the Citizens' Committee for 
Better Government, was not a member but in the campaign that 
preceded the referendum of June 28, 1962, was an especially 
effective speaker. The vote in favor of Metro was 36,978 to 
28,103. After the suit oiFrazier vs. Carr was settled by opinions 
of Chancellor Glenn W. Woodlee and the state Supreme Court 
upholding the constitutionality of consolidation, the voters on 
November 6 and 27 elected Beverly Briley mayor, George Cate 
vice-mayor, and a council of forty persons. 

After the civil rights campaign gained desegregation of pub- 
lic schools and public facilities, many in the white community 



DAVIDSON 



117 




In 1960 WSM-TV showed live the hostage crisis at the Tennessee State 
Prison. Announcer Jud Collins holds the microphone, (photo from TV 
screen) 



believed the progress made was sufficient. During the middle 
1960s however court-ordered busing to achieve racial balance in 
the public schools stirred controversy once more. Black voters 
had never been denied access to the polls, although the state poll 
tax did hinder voter participation by the poor, black and white. 
Busing affected the white suburban middle class most of all. 
Black organizations focused on Davidson County. NAACP, 
SCLC, CORE, SNCC, Black Muslim, all, from moderate to rad- 
ical, were represented. Street demonstrations were their 
weapon. In the spring of 1964, again in April of 1967, after a 
controversial visit by militant activist Stokely Carmichael, and 
once more in April of 1968, after the assassination of Dr; Martin 
Luther King, violence gripped the city. As time passed the ten- 
sion relaxed. The 1970s sought solutions rather than the con- 
frontations that Saul Alinsky, community organizer who spoke 



118 Tennessee County History Series 

at the Peabody summer lectures in 1967, had advocated. Alinsky 
had said that social progress comes only through divisiveness. 
But it would be environmentalism and rock music that would 
stir emotions, not civil rights. By 1974 conditions had so much 
changed that the Race Relations Information Center closed. 

Influential leaders of the black community have included Dr. 
Z. Alexander Looby and Senator Avon T. Williams, attorneys; 
the Rev. Kelly Miller Smith, Sr, pastor of the First Baptist 
Church, Capitol Hill; Robert Lillard, the first black trial judge 
in Nashville; Coyness Ennix, member of the county board of 
education; J. C. Napier, nineteenth century financier, city coun- 
cilman, and registrar of the U. S. Treasury; Dr. Dorothy Brown, 
surgeon; Eva Lowery Bowman, businesswoman and organizer 
of the Southwest Civic League. 

Davidson County sent two ambassadors to Europe: in 1969, 
Guilford Dudley, former chairman of Life & Casualty Insurance 
Company, was appointed ambassador to Denmark. Joe M. 
Rodgers, finance chairman of President Reagan's Committee to 
Re-Elect the President and a successful general contractor, was 
appointed ambassador to France in 1985. 

Although Rodgers and Dudley are among Metro's wealthiest, 
it is Ray Danner who is listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the 
wealthiest in America. The chairman of Shoney's opened his first 
restaurant in Madison Square shopping center in 1959; now he 
is worth an estimated $ 1 75 million. Jack Massey of Nashville was 
on the list in 1984, with a fortune estimated at $150 million. He 
has made many large gifts to Belmont College. 

The Department of Commerce estimates that by the year 
2000 Metro's population will exceed one million and the per cap- 
ita income will be $ 15,454, an increase of 39.8 percent over 1983, 
the third highest increase in the nation. 

By 1983 the largest private employer, according to the Nash- 
ville Area Chamber of Commerce, was Vanderbilt with 6630 per- 
sons, slightly more than Hospital Corporation of America, 6500. 
South Central Bell employed 4500; AVCO, 4215; Opryland, 
4175; and Kroger, 2960. Government employees were by far the 
largest bloc however: state, federal, Metro, and Metro schools 



DAVIDSON 



119 




One of Davidson County's most distinguished lawyers of the twentieth 
century was Z. Alexander Looby. He is shown seated at defense coun- 
sel's table (second from left) in a 1954 murder trial, (photo by Neal 
Blackburn) 

together employed over 42,000 persons! Besides AVCO, only 
four purely industrial employers in Metroland hired more than 
1000 workers. They were DuPont, Genesco, Ford Glass, and 
Aladdin. 

In September of 1985 the grand opening of One Nashville 
Place was held. The 23-storey glass and granite office tower 
might have been one of the "towers of Zenith" described by nov- 
elist Sinclair Lewis. A dozen exhibits of Metros progress were 
displayed in the lobby: one for Riverfront Park, another for the 
Summer Lights festival; a model of the new airport. There was 
none for Lower Broad. 

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge is a symbol of what Lower Broad 
used to be while the Ryman housed the Opry. It was a fabled 






120 Tennessee County History Series 

barroom for country musicians who could come out of the back 
door of the Ryman and into the back door of Tootsie's where 
Hattie Louise Bess presided until her death in 1978. After the 
Opry moved away from the Ryman, the area decayed, although 
some stubborn businesses have clung to their locations between 
Fifth and First. Symptomatic of one problem, according to an 
article in The Nashville Banner, was The Fish Net, a haven for 
transients and street people which closed in June of 1986. A Mu- 
sic Row lawyer who gave free legal aid to some of the transients 
pointed to alcohol and drugs and their easy availability as the 
central problem. "Where there are poor people there are prob- 
lems that cause their poverty," said the Rev. Bill Barnes, pastor 
who spends much of his time ministering to the needs of the 
underclass. Besides the Edgehill United Methodist Church, 
where he is assigned, efforts to combat poverty are forwarded 
by the Christian Cooperative Ministry, the East Nashville Co- 
operative Ministry, the Holy Name Church, the Woodmont Bap- 
tist Church, Belmont United Methodist Church, and the 
Salvation Army. 

In considering other problems the International Leadership 
Center of Dallas conducted a survey of Metro that saw planning 
as the vital need. It found the 1980 General Plan, intended to 
serve twenty years ahead, already obsolete. The decision by 
American Airlines to make Nashville a regional hub was seen as 
having the most profound impact on growth. The survey found 
that decisions irrevocably affecting the whole community have 
been made within a tight-knit business community while the mu- 
sic industry, the universities, the several ethnic communities, and 
the blue-collar commmunity have been largely excluded. One 
major problem is the decay of the water and sewer system that 
underlies downtown: the cost of replacing it has been estimated 
at $700 million. Said the Tennessean: "There is more to devel- 
opment and renovation than just putting up pretty new build- 
ings and sitting back and collecting the rent from them." But in 
one of his last interviews Mayor Briley took a more balanced view 
of Metro: 



DAVIDSON 



121 




Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway near the Ryman was a 
celebrated gathering place for Opry artists and fans. 



"It has an usual culture. It has a great warmth among its people. 
It has a tradition of respect for law and order, heavier than most 
cities. It has a good economic base of being so diverse, never any 
one or two or three industries can claim ownership of it. It has a 
broad-based power structure that comes from a completely un- 
usual economic society; then the fact that we have so many uni- 
versities here gives it a more educated middle class. I don't mean 
there are not extremes where there is not that good an educa- 
tion — but as a whole the middle class here is better educated than 
you'll find in a lot of places and that's especially true of the black 
part of the community. That's very healthful. In addition the broad 
base of the religious organizations that have their headquarters 
here have brought people into the community who are good social 
thinkers. That's rather unusual for a city." 

Sports is often seen as a metaphor for American life. Here 
were three success stories: Roy Skinner, following Bob Polk, 
made Vanderbilt a major basketball power; Larry Schmittou 
brought professional baseball back with a genius for attracting 



122 Tennessee County History Series 

large crowds to Greer Stadium to watch the Sounds; and Steve 
Sloan electrified Commodore football fans by making Vander- 
bilt a real contender in the Southeastern Conference. The old 
Nashville Vols who had played in Sulphur Dell since 1885 closed 
out that era in 1963, winning their last game in the Southern 
Association but before a mere handful of loyal fans. Brighter 
was the picture in the 1984 Olympic Games, when swimmer 
Tracy Caulkins brought three gold medals home to Metro. And 
the first quarter-century of Metro ended on a high note: the 
David Lipscomb College basketball team won the national cham- 
pionship in the 1986 NAIA tournament at Kansas City. 

In 1972 John Seigenthaler became publisher and in 1978 
president of Tennessean Newspapers, Inc. In 1982, after the 
Gannett company bought the Tennessean he was given the ad- 
ditional assignment of editorial director of USA Today. His in- 
terest in the profession of letters led to a television program, "A 
Word on Words," for the Southern Public Television Network. 
He was a participant and a moderator of the Cumberland Writ- 
ers Conference, and in 1986 received an honorary Doctor of 
Humane Letters degree from Cumberland University. His other 
personal awards include the Sidney Hillman Prize for Courage 
in Publishing, the National Headliner Award for Investigative 
Reporting, and the Pi Delta Epsilon national Medal of Merit. He 
was awarded the 1981 Mass Media Award of the American Jew- 
ish committee, was elected a Sigma Delta Chi Fellow, and the 
First Amendment Chair of Excellence has been established at 
Middle Tennessee State University in his name. Not only is Met- 
roland Mr. Seigenthaler 's town: his influence is felt far beyond 
its borders. 

Governors From Davidson County 

Remarkably, there have been few governors of Tennessee 
who could be claimed as natives or residents of Davidson County 
at the time of their election. Not until William Carroll, the fifth 
governor (1821-1827, 1829-1835), was a resident of Davidson 
County an occupant of the governor s chair. He was a native of 



DAVIDSON 123 

Pennsylvania and came to Nashville as a young man, becoming 
a hardware merchant. He was also one of Andrew Jackson's of- 
ficers in the Creek War. His old comrades in arms, like Jackson's, 
stood by him and formed a dependable political nucleus. 

In 1827 Governor Carroll was constitutionally unable to seek 
reelection. Another resident of Davidson County succeeded 
him: Samuel Houston, born in Virginia, reared in Blount 
County, briefly at home with the Cherokees, then a soldier with 
Jackson in the Creek War, in which he was wounded. Becoming 
a lawyer he practiced at Lebanon until elected district attorney, 
when he moved to Nashville. He was elected to Congress from 
what later came to be called the Hermitage District in 1823 and 
1825. He was elected governor in 1827 and it was conceded that, 
as a protege of General Jackson, there was no limit to his political 
future: "First Jackson will be president, then Houston." The 
shocking end of the marriage between Governor Houston and 
young Eliza Allen, still not satisfactorily explained, finished, it 
was thought, Houston's career. But he did become president — 
of the Republic of Texas, whose independence General Houston 
assured at the Battle of San Jacinto on March 17, 1836. 

Jackson, of course, although he had been military governor 
of Florida, was never governor of Tennessee. The next resident 
of Davidson County to serve as chief executive was Neill S. 
Brown. (It is sometimes said that James Chamberlain Jones was 
born in Davidson County. He was born at Fountain of Health, 
a resort on the Wilson-Davidson county line; although the post 
office for the resort hamlet was in Davidson County, Jones' birth- 
place was east of the line.) Governor Brown was born in Giles 
County, but spent his adult life in Nashville. He served as a sol- 
dier in the Seminole War and held elective office as a legislator, 
a presidential elector (he was a Whig), governor (1847—1849), 
speaker of the state House of Representatives, and member of 
the 1870 state constitutional convention. He also was minister to 
Russia. 

William Bowen Campbell reversed Neill Brown's experience 
in that he was born in Davidson County, but spent most of his 
adult life elsewhere, chiefly in Smith and Wilson counties (his 



1 24 Tennessee County History Series 

residence in Lebanon is listed on the National Register of His- 
toric Places). He was governor in 1851-1853. 

James D. Porter was born at Paris in Henry County and Paris 
may properly claim him as a resident because of his long practice 
of law there, but after his service as governor (1875-1881) he 
became president of the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Rail- 
road, then served President Grover Cleveland as assistant sec- 
retary of state, after which he became successively a trustee of 
the Peabody Educational Fund, a trustee of the University of 
Nashville, and finally chancellor of the Peabody Normal College, 
successor institution of the University of Nashville. Porter died 
at Paris in 1912. 

Although John P. Buchanan, governor in 1891-1893, was a 
great-grandson of Major John Buchanan, pioneer and founder 
of the famous Buchanan's Fort in Davidson County, he was a 
resident of Rutherford County. And although James B. Frazier, 
governor in 1903-1905, was a son of Judge Thomas N. Frazier, 
for many years judge of the criminal court of Davidson County, 
he was properly a resident of Hamilton County. Albert H. Rob- 
erts, governor in 1919—1921, was a native of Overton County 
and chancellor of the fourth division until he became a candi- 
date for governor in 1918. He remained in Davidson County 
after his term and his residence at Donelson, high on a hill over- 
looking that community, was a landmark of eastern Davidson 
County. 

The last resident of Davidson County to serve as governor 
was Hill McAlister (1933-1937). A lawyer, he had served several 
terms as state treasurer, experience useful during the times of 
financial crisis in which he was inaugurated. His terms coincided 
with the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the 
New Deal. He was elected in one of the most bitterly contested 
primaries held in the state since the split over Prohibition, de- 
feating Lewis Pope only because of a heavy majority in E. H. 
Crumps Memphis. His administrations marked the beginning 
of Crump's sixteen-year hegemony. Nevertheless he was not an 
unsuccessful administrator: he saw that state expenditures were 
reduced, a committee began an exhaustive study of public edu- 



DAVIDSON 



125 



cation, and a system of state parks was developed. He was born 
in 1875 and died in 1960. 

Frank G. Clement (1953-1959; 1963-1967) became a resi- 
dent of Davidson County after his service as governor, but he 
was elected from Dickson County. After his third term as gov- 
ernor ended, he began the practice of law in Nashville but was 
killed in an automobile accident in 1969. 




Hugh Walker (left), newspaperman and official Dav- 
idson County historian until his death in 1986, and 
Dixon Merritt, former editor of the Nashville Tennes- 
sean, were authors of books on Tennessee history. 



Suggested Readings 

Adams, George Rollie, and Ralph Jerry Christian. Nashville: A Pictorial 

History. Virginia Beach: Donning, 1980. 
Amis, Reese. History of the 11 4th Field Artillery. Nashville: Benson, 1920. 
Beard, W. E. It Happened in Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville, 1912. 
Brandau, Roberta Seawell. History of the Homes and Gardens of Tennessee. 

Nashville: Garden Study Club, 1936; rpt. 1964. 
Caldwell, Mary French. Andrew Jackson's Hermitage. Nashville, 1933. 
Clayton, W. W. History of Davidson County, Tennessee. Philadelphia: Lewis, 

1880. 
Conkin, Paul K. Gone with the Ivy: A Biography of Vanderbilt University. 

Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985. 
Crabb, Alfred Leland. Nashville: Personality of a City. Indianapolis: 

Bobbs Merrill, 1960. 
Creighton, Wilbur Foster. Building of Nashville. Nashville, 1969. 
Crutchfield, James A. Footprints Across the Pages of Tennessee History. 

Nashville: Williams, 1976. 
Davis, Louise Littleton. Nashville Tales. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican, 

1981. 
Douglas, Byrd. Steamboatin on the Cumberland. Nashville: Tennessee 

Book Co., 1961. 
Doyle, Don H. Nashville in the New South, 1880-1920. Knoxville: Uni- 
versity of Tennessee Press, 1985. 
Nashville Since the 1920s. Knoxville: University of Tennessee 

Press, 1985. 
Durham, Walter T Nashville: The Occupied City, 1862-1863. Nashville: 

Tennessee Historical Society, 1986. 
Edgerton, John, ed. Nashville: The Faces of Two Centuries, 1780-1980. 

Nashville: PlusMedia, 1979. 
Gower, Herschel. Pen and Sword: The Life and Journals of Randal W. 

McGavock. early journals, Gower, ed.; (political and Civil War jour- 
nals, Jack Allen, ed.) 
Graham, Eleanor, ed. Nashville: A Short History and Selected Buildings. 

Nashville: Metro Historical Commission, 1974. 

126 



DAVIDSON 127 

Hawkins, Brett W. Nashville Metro: The Politics of City-County Consoli- 
dation. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1966. 

Hearne, Mary Glenn, coordinator. Nashville: A Family Town. Nashville: 
The Nashville Room, Public Library, 1978. 

Hoobler, James A., ed. Nashville Memories: Thirty-Two Historic Postcards. 
Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1983. 

Horn, Stanley. The Decisive Battle of Nashville. Baton Rouge: Louisiana 
State University Press, 1956. 

Huddleston, Ed. Big Wheels and Little Wagons. Nashville: Nashville Ban- 
ner, 1960. 

Norman, Jack. The Nashville I Knew. Nashville: Rutledge Hill, 1984. 

Putnam, Albigence W. History of Middle Tennessee, or Life and Times of 
General James Robertson. 1859. rpt. Knoxville: University of Ten- 
nessee Press, 1971. 

Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Empire: 
1767—1821. New York: Harper & Row, 1981. Andrew Jackson and 
the Course of American Freedom: 1822-1832. New York: Harper & 
Row, 1981. Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy: 
1833-1845. New York: Harper 8c Row, 1984. 

Russell, Fred. Bury Me in an Old Press Box. New York: Barnes, 1957. 

Seven Early Churches of Nashville. Intro. Alfred Leland Crabb. Lectures: 
H. T. Tipps: J. E. Windrow; Walter Stokes, Jr.; Herman Burns; 
Joseph Green, Jr.; Loren Williams; Msgr. Charles M. Williams; 
Wayne H. Bell; Fedora Small Frank. Nashville: Elder's, 1972. 

Tennessee: A Guide to the State. Federal Writers Project. New York: Viking, 
1939. 

Thomas, Jane H. Old Days in Nashville. Nashville: Publishing House, 
Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1897. 

Walker, Hugh. Tennessee Tales. Nashville: Aurora, 1970. 

Wallace, Louis D., ed. Makers of Millions. Nashville: Tennessee Depart- 
ment of Agriculture, 1951. 

Waller, William, editor. Nashville in the 1890s. Nashville: Vanderbilt Uni- 
versity Press, 1970. 

Nashville: 1900 to 1910. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 

1972. 

White, Robert H., ed. Tennessee, Old and New. Sesquicentennial Edition. 
2 vols. Nashville: Tennessee Historical Commission, 1946. 

Williams, Samuel Cole. Tennessee During the Revolutionary War. Nashville: 
Tennessee Historical Commission, 1944. 



128 Tennessee County History Series 

Wolfe, Charles K. The Grand Ole Opry: The Early Years. London: Old 

Time Music, 1975. 
Woolridge, John. History of Nashville, Tennessee, 1890; rpt. Charles Elder, 

1970. 
Young, R. A. Reminiscences. Nashville: Methodist Publishing House, 

1900. 
Zibart, Carl. Yesterday s Nashville. Miami: Seeman, 1976. 



Index 



Illustrations are indicated by an asterisk following the page number. 



Acklen, Mrs. Joseph A. S., 32 

Acuff, Roy, 88, 110 

Agar, Herbert, 77 

Agriculture, 10, 23, 36-37, 38-39, 47, 

105, 106-107 
Aiken, Leona Taylor, 80 
Alden, Augustus E., 50-51 
Allen, Bill "Hoss," 115 
Allen, Eliza, 20-22, 123 
Allen, Robert, 21 
American, The, 64, 65, 69 
Amqui Railway Station, 79* 
Andrews, Frank W., 89 
Antioch, 79, 101, 102-103 
Armistice, false, 92-93 
Armstrong, Robert, 23 
Atkins, Chet, 113 
Attack on Leviathan, The, 77 
Automobile, impact of, 100 

Back, Jacques, 76 

Bailey, Deford, 75 

Baltz, Robert, 104 

Banks, 15, 16,80-81,86 

Barnes, Bill, 120 

Barry, Daniel, 62 

Barton, Gabriel, 1 1 

Barton, Samuel, 10-12 

Bass, John M., 51 

Bell, Albert, 83 

Bell, John, 25 

Bell, Montgomery, 60 

Belle Meade, 79, 107, 108-109 

Belle Meade Theatre, 1 14 

Bellevue, 101, 103-104 

Belmont, 31-32, 44, 98-99 

Belmont College, 32, 98-99 

Belmont United Methodist Church, 120 

Berry, Harry S., 81 

Blackemore, J. J., 11 

Blanton, Ray, 109 



Blacks, 12, 37, 42, 48-50, 51, 100-101, 

116-118 
Bledsoe, Isaac, 1 1 
Blount, William, 12, 14 
Bluefields, 79-80 
Bluffs, battle of the, 7 
Boone, Pat, 114 
Bontemps, Arna, 49 
Bowling, William K., 53-54 
Bowman, Eva Lowery, 118 
Bradley, Owen, 113 
Branstetter, Cecil, 116 
Briley, Beverly, 97, 116, 120-121 
Brown, Dorothy, 118 
Brown, James S., 69 
Brown, NeillS., 51, 123 
Brown, Paul, 96 
Brown, Randall, 51 
Buchanan, John, and fort, 9, 124 
Bumpass, Ruth, 96 
Burr, Aaron, 15 

Cain-Sloan, 85-86 

Caldwell, Rogers, 80-81 

Campbell, William Bowen, 123 

Candyland, 85* 

Cannon, Mrs. Henry, 88 

Capitol building, 27, 28*, 55, 62, 63 

Carmack, Edward Ward, 64—66, 69 

Carroll, William, 17, 19-20, 23, 122-123 

Carter, Jimmy, 110 

Cartwright, Robert A., 106 

Casey, Joe, 1 16 

Castner-Knott, 85-86 

Cate, George H.J n, 116 

Caulkins, Tracy, 122 

Centennial Park, 35 

Centennials, 62—63 

Central Tennessee College, 50 

Chambers- Turrentine house, 9 

Cheatham, Benjamin Franklin, 51, 57 



129 



130 



Tennessee County History Series 



Cheatham, Leonard P., 23 

Cheek, Mr. & Mrs. Leslie, 109 

Cheekwood, 109 

Chenault, R. N., 116 

Christian Cooperative Ministry, 120 

Civil War, 39-47, 105, 106; battles, 42-46 

Clark, George Rogers, 6 

Clarke, Lardner, 12 

Clay, Henry, 33 

Clement, Frank G., 1 10, 125 

Cliffe, D. B., 35 

Cline, Patsy, 113 

Clover Bottom, 6, 43, 80, 101, 104 

Cochran, Carmack, 116 

Cocke, William, 14 

Cockrill, Mark Robertson, 35-37, 106 

Coffee, John, 104 

Cole, Edmund W, 58, 59 

Cole, Maggie Porter, 48-49 

Colyar, A. S., 51 

Commercial, 64 

Consolidation, city-county, 97, 112, 116 

Cooper, Duncan, 64-66 

Cooper, Robin, 65—66 

Copas, Cowboy, 114 

Couchville, 43, 79 

Covered bridge, the, 20, 21* 

Craighead, Thomas, 12 

Creighton, Wilbur R, 64 

Croft, Elise and Margaret, 9 

Cumberland College, 15, 18, 19, 59 

Cumberland Compact, the, 10-12 

Cumberland Park, 68 

Cummings, Thomas L., 97 

Curry, Walter Clyde, 75 

Dandrige, E. W, 46 

Danner, Ray, 118 

Daugherty, Edward, 72 

David Lipscomb College, 122 

Davidson, Donald, 73, 75, 77 

Davidson, William Lee, 3-4 

Davidson Academy, 11-12, 15, 18 

Davidson County: communities of, 8—10, 
101—109; creation of, 7—8; geography, 
1-2; map, 2*; population (in 1795) 12, 
(in 1830s) 23, (in 1980) 3, (in 2000) 
118; visitors to, 109-111 

Davis, Andrew, 16 

Decker, John, 26 

Democrat, the, 64, 65 

Democrats, 33, 50, 56, 64-65, 66, 67-68. 
See also Politics. 



Demonbreun. See Montbrun, Jacques 

Timothe Boucher de. 
Desegregation, 100-101, 1 16-1 18 
DeWitt, Jack, 93 
Dickerson, Isaac, 49 
Dickinson, Charles, 15 
Dilzer, Mrs. I. B., 96 
Dodson, K. Harlan Jr., 116 
Donelson, 80, 101-102, 124 
Donelson, Andrew Jackson, 108 
Donelson, John, 6-7, 10 
Donelson, Rachel, 14 
Doyle, Andrew, 1 16 
Doyle, Clarence, 116 
Doyle, Frances, 115—116 
Doyle, Jacobs H. "Jake," 115 
Doyle, William P. "Pat," 1 16 
Drake, Brittain, 20 
Driver, William, 41 
Dudley, Guilford, 1 1 8 
Dudley, Richard Houston, 69 
Dunn, Michael G., 9 
Dupontonia, 70 

Eagle Tavern, 22 

Early settlers, 6, 8-9, 10, 1 1, 12 

East Nashville Cooperative Ministry, 120 

Eaton, John, 17 

Edgefield: battle at, 43; junction, 79 

Edgehill United Methodist Church, 120 

Edgerton, John, 67 

Education, 1 1-12, 15, 18, 38, 47, 48-50, 

56, 59-62, 94, 95*, 97-99, 100-101 
El Chico! (musical group), 95-96 
Elliott, C. D., 62 
Elliott, Mary Organ, 95 
Elliott, William Yandall, 75 
Elm Crag, 102, 104-105 
Employment, 118-119 
Ennix, Coyness, 1 18 
Epidemics: cholera, 24, 30, 31, 53-54; 

influenza, 70—71 
Eskew, Herman, 86 
Estes, Claudine, 95 
Evans, Green, 49 
Evans, Silliman, 1 1 1 
Ewin, Andrew, 1 1 
Ewing, Edwin H., 27 

Fanning, Tolbert, 104-105 
Field, M. D., 31 
Fillmore, Millard, 37 



DAVIDSON 



131 



First Presbyterian Church, 28-30, 29* 

Fish Net, The, 120 

Fisk University, 48-50, 100 

Fletcher, John Gould, 77 

Fogg, Francis B., 23 

Foley, Shirley, 1 14 

Ford, Gerald, 110 

Ford, Whitey, 88 

Forrest, Nathan Bedford, 42 

Fort, Cornelia, 89 

Frank, James M., house, 76* 

Franklin College, 104-105 

Franklin, Adelicia Hayes, 31-32 

Franklin, state of, 8 

Frazier, Thomas N., 124 

Freeland, George, 1 1 

Freemasonry, 17-18 

French, 4—5 

French Lick, 5, 6, 7 

Frierson, William, 76 

Fry, S. S., 35 

Fugitive, The, lb, 76—77 

Fugitives, the, 75-77 

Fugitives: An Anthology, 77 

George Peabody College for Teachers, 

50,62,100,110 
Gibbs, George W., 17-18 
Gladeville, 114 
Gleaves family, 1 
"Good Government" movement, 

67, 68-69 
Goodlettsville, 79, 102, 105-107 
Goodlettsville Lamb and Wool Club, 

106-107 
Gordon, Louisa Pocahontas, 32 
Gower, Herschel, 95 
Gower, Jennie Lou, 89, 95-96 
Grace Presbyterian Church, 66* 
Grand Ole Opry, 72, 74-75, 88, 92, 1 10 
Granny White Market, 102* 
Grassmere House, 9 
Green, A. L. P., 59 
Grundy, Felix, 23, 25, 31 
Guild, George, 68 
Guild, Joseph Conn, 51 

Hall, Allen A., 26, 37 
Harding, William Giles, 108 
Harding, Willie, 107 
Harkreader, Sidney Johnson, 74, 75 
Harpeth Hall School, 99 



Harris, Isham G., 64 

Harris, Mrs. Weaver, 95 

Hart, Freeland, and Roberts, 78 

Hartford, John, 114* 

Harvey, Fred, 84-86 

Hatch, Stephen D., 49 

Hatton, Mrs. Robert, 47 

Hawkins, Brett, 116 

Hawkins, Hawkshaw, 113-114 

Hay, George D., 74 

Haywood, John, 16 

Head, James M., 69 

Healey, George H. P., 30 

Heaton, Amos, 8 

Heiman, Adolphus, 27, 31 

Henderson, Richard, 6, 7, 10—1 1 

Hermitage, The, 43, 104, 108, 110 

Heron, Susan, 98-99 

Hickman, Litton, 96-97 

Hinckley, John, 110 

Hirsch, Sidney Mttron, 75, 76 

Hoggatt, John, 104 

Hoggatt family, 80 

Holmes, Benjamin M., 49 

Holy Name Church, 120 

Hood, Ida, 98-99 

Hooper, Clifford E., 104 

Horn, Stanley, 70 

Hospitals, 89 

Houston, Sam, 16, 17-18, 20-22, 

24, 30, 123 
Howard School, 38 
Howell, Morton, 96 
Howell, Morton B., 55 
Howse, Hilary, 67-69, 81, 97 
Hughes, Randy, 1 14 
Hunt, Edwin F, 116 
Hunt, William G., 26 
Hutchings, John, 104 

Ice storm, great, 96 

Fll Take My Stand, 77 

Indians, 4-5, 7, 25 

Industry, 23, 38, 70, 89, 1 19, 120; 

early mills, 8-9, 10, 38 
Irish, 69 
Iroquois Steeplechase, 86 

Jackson, Andrew, 6, 13-16, 17, 19, 21, 
24, 30, 104, 108, 1 10, 123; houses of, 
15*, 26*; equestrian statue of, 62-63 

Jackson, Jennie, 49 



132 



Tennessee County History Series 



Jackson, William H., 108 

Jarrell, Randall, 78 

James, Frank and Jesse, 111 

Johns, Charles D., 69 

Johnson, Andrew, 39, 42, 46, 51-53, 54 

Johnson, Lyndon B., 110 

Johnson, Stanley, 75 

Johnson, Victor S., 116 

Jones, James Chamberlain, 33, 123 

Jones, (Thomas?), 6 

Jordan, E.J. , 114 

Jubilee Hall, 49 

Jubilee Singers, 48-49 

Kasper, John, 101 

Kelley,A. Z., 100-101 

Kelley, David Campbell, 47, 59 

Kennedy, John E, 110 

Kenyon Review, 77 

Kercheval, Thomas A., 55-56, 68 

Killebrew, Mrs. James, 95 

Kinney, Belle, 72, 79 

Kirkland, James H., 61 

Kline, Henry Blue, 77 

Ku Klux Klan, 48 

Lafayette, Marquis de, 16 

Lanier, Lyle, 77 

Lapsley, R. A., 62 

Lawrence, Nathanael, 19 

Lea, Luke, 71,73,80-81 

Lebeck Bros., 84-85, 86 

Legislative Plaza, 72 

Lewis, E. C, 63 

Lillard, Robert, 118 

Lind, Jenny, 37 

Lindsley, Isaac, 1 1 

Lindsley, J. Berrien, 51, 59 

Lindsley, Nathanael Lawrence, 19 

Lindsley, Philip, 18-19,59 

Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ, 66* 

Litterer, William, 68 

Looby, Z. Alexander, 1 16, 1 18, 1 19* 

Loss, Alice, 93 

Louisville & Nashville RR, 58-59 

Luton, William, 106 

Lytle, Andrew, 76, 77 

McAllister, Hill, 124-125 
McCarthy, William, 68 
McCarver, Charles P. 68 
McGavock, David, 107 



McGavock, Frank and Hugh, 38 

McGavock, Randal, 37 

McGavock, Randal William, 37, 38 

McGavock properties, 80 

McGugin, Dan, 66-67 

McKee, John Miller, 40, 41 

McKinley, William, 63 

McMurray family, 80 

McNairy, John, 14 

McTyeire, Holland, 59 

McWhortersville, 102, 105 

Macon, Uncle Dave, 74 

Mallory, Thomas, 1 1 

Marling, John Leake, 34 

Masonic Lodge, first, 15 

Massey, Jack, 118 

Mauldin, James, 11 

Maynard, Horace, 51 

Maxon, Helen and Howard, 102 

Maxwell House, the, 48, 51, 53, 109 

Meadors, G. S., 1 16 

Medical School of Universitv of 

Nashville, 61-62 
Meharry, Hugh, Samuel and 

Alexander, 50 
Meharry Medical College, 50 
Mental hospital, 20, 24 
Merritt, Dixon, 125* 
Merritt, Lanier, 95 
Merritt, John, 101 
Meteor shower, 25 
Mill Springs, battle of, 35, 39 
Mills Book Store, 114-115 
Mills, Clark, 62 
Mims, Edwin, 75 

Minnie Pearl. See Cannon, Mrs. Henry. 
Monroe, James, 16 
Montbrun, Jacques Timothe 

Boucher de, 5-6 
Montgomery Bell Academy, 60, 61, 94 
Moore, John Trotwood, 76 
Moore, Merrill, 79 
Morgan, John Hunt, 42 
Morgan, Sam, 33 
Morgan, Samuel Dodd, 54-55 
Morris, K.J., 51 
Morris, Thomas O., 69 
Mott, Hugh, 92 
Music City, 113-115. 

See also "Opry Town." 

Naff, Mrs. L. C, 88 
Napier, J. C, 118 



DAVIDSON 



133 



Nash, Francis, 3 

Nashborough, Fort, 1,3, 11 

Nashville, 13, (in 1788) 14, (1824) 37, (in 
1830s) 23, (in 1850s) 37-39, (in 1920s) 
72-73, (in 1930s) 83-84; bankruptcy, 
50-51; downtown, 99-100, 112-113, 
119-120; fall of, 40-41; fires, 37, 70, 
82; government, 37-38, 51, 68-69, 97; 
Music Row, 112-113; population, 37; 
reservoir, 69—70 

Nashville & Chattanooga RR, 37, 58 

Nashville Bridge Co., 89 

Nashville Female Academy, 19, 62, 98 

Nashville Gas-Light Co., 57 

Nashville Symphony, 72 

Nashville Vols, 122 

Nashville, battle of, 44-46, 57; 
monument, 45* 

Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis RR, 
58,70,79,124 

Natchez Trace Restaurant, 103, 104 

New Deal, 81, 124 

New Orleans, battle of, 16 

Newspapers, 26, 64, 65, 83, 103, 110, 
111-112, 120, 122 

Nichol, Josiah, 24 

Nicholson, A. O. P., 32 

Nixon, H. C, 77 

Nixon, Richard, 110, 115 

Noble, Gene, 115 

Noel, Eleanor Crawford, 95 

Nolen, William, 9 

Nolensville, 9 

Norman, Jack, reminiscences of, 83—84 

Norvell, C. C, 26 

Nye, S., 26 

Old Central, 60* 

"Old Glory," 41 

Old Hickory Dam, 112 

Old Hickory powder plant, 70 

Olympic winners, 101, 122 

"Opry Town," 73-84. See also Music City. 

Opryland U.S.A., 109, 1 10, 1 15, 1 18 

Ore Expedition, 12-13 

Osborne, Albert, 110-111 

Otey, James, 35 

Overton, John, 108 

Overton family, 10 

Owsley, Frank, 77 

Parthenon, 64*, 78, 78* 



Patterson, Josiah, 65 

Patterson, Malcolm "Ham," 65, 66, 68 

Payne, Bruce Ryburn, 62 

Payne, John Howard, 32 

Payne, William H., 61 

Peabody Normal College, 61, 124 

Percy Priest Dam and Reservoir, 

110, 112, 113* 
Percy Warner Park, 81, 86 
Petway Reavis Bldg., 52* 
Peyton, Baliejr, 35 
Phillips, C. Hooper, 55-56 
Plimpton, Clara C, 57-58 
Poindexter, George, 37 
Politics, 25, 32-33, 34, 50, 51-53, 56, 

64-66,67-69,96-97, 116 
Polk, James K., 30-31,33, 53 
Polk, Sarah Childress, 31 
Porter, James D., 61, 124 
Postage stamps, 30 
Potter, Edward Jr., 86 
Price, Andrew, 104 
Prison, state, 20, 23-24 
Progressives, 50 
Prohibition, 65, 69 
Prostitution, 46 

Radio, impact of, 73 

Radnor Lake State Natural Area, 107* 

Railroad bridge, 38, 41 

Railroads, 37, 38, 58-59, 70 

Ransom, John Crowe, 75, 77 

Ray, James Earl, 111 

Reconstruction, 47-48, 50-53, 56 

Recreational areas, 107, 112, 113 

Redevelopment projects, 93-94 

Reeves, Jim, 114 

Reform period, 67-73 

Reiff, Joseph, 108 

Remagan Bridge, 92 

Republican party, 55 

Richbourg, John, 115 

Riding, Laura, 76 

Roads, 9, 10, 16,20,23, 112 

Roberts, Albert H., 124 

Robertson, Charlotte Reeves, 7 

Robertson, James, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 14, 57 

Robertson Association, 38 

Rodgers,JoeM., 118 

Roger Williams University, 50, 61 

Roosevelt, Franklin D., 81, 110, 124 

Roosevelt, Theodore, 109 

Rounsevall, David, 1 1 



134 



Tennessee County History Series 



Rubin, Louis, 77 

Rudolph, Wilma, 101 

Rutling, Thomas, 49 

Ryman, Thomas G., 87 

Ryman Auditorium, 72, 74, 87*-88, 120 

Sacred Harp, The, 1 3 

Salvation Army, 120 

Sangster's Tavern, 10 

Schmittou, Larry, 121-122 

Scholz, Leopold, 72, 79 

Schools, See Education. 

Schweid, Bernie and Adele Mills, 1 15 

Scott, W. A., 62 

Scovel, H. G.,51 

Second Army Maneuvers, 90-92, 91* 

Seigenthalerjohn, 111-112, 122 

Shaw, James, 11 

Sheep raising, 35-37, 106-107 

Shelby, John, 38 

Sheppard, Ella, 49 

Shy's Hill, 44 

"Sit-ins," 100 

Skinner, Roy, 121 

Sloan, Steve, 122 

Smith, Charles G., 51 

Smith, E. Kirby, 60 

Smith, Kelly Miller Sr, 118 

Smith, Reese Jr., 102 

Souby, Susan, 99 

Southern Convention, 37 

"Southern Courthouse Town, A," 54-67 

Sports, 66-67, 83, 101, 121-122 

Stanford, A. E and R. D., 79-80, 104 

Starr, Alfred, 76 

State Normal College, 60, 61 

Steamboats, 19-20 

Stearns, Eben S., 60 

Stevenson, Alec Brock, 75 

Stevenson, Vernon K., 58 

Stoner, Michael, 6 

Strickland, William, 27-28 

Stump, Frederick, 8-9 

Suburban development, 79—80, 

103-104, 112 
Suspension bridge, first, 31,41 

TV, 117*, 122 

TVA, 81 

Tannehill, Wilkins, 17-18 

Tarbox School, 56* 

Tate, Allen, 76, 77 

Tate, Minnie, 49 



Taylor, Donald, 93 

Taylor, Robert L., 63, 65 

Temple, Ed, 101 

Tennessee A & I College, 94 

Tennessee Centennial Exposition, 63, 78 

Tennessee State University, 100, 101 

Thomas, Fate, 1 15 

Thomas, John W., 63 

Thomas, Rebecca, 116 

Thompson, Hugh, 87 

Thompson, "Uncle Jimmy," 74-75 

Titus, Ebeneezer, 1 1 

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, 119-120, 121* 

Torrance, Joe E., 116 

Travellers Rest, 108 

Tulip Grove, 108 

Tusculum, 9, 79 

Two Rivers, 107-108 

Union Hotel, 46-47 
Union Station, 58* 
University of Nashville, 18, 47, 

59-62, 124 
Underwood, Doug, 103 
Urban problems, 120-121 

Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 59 
Vanderbilt, William H., 59 
Vanderbilt University, 59, 61, 62, 66-67, 
75-76, 77, 97, 100, 101, 1 10, 1 18, 121 
Vauxhall Gardens, 26 

WPA, 81,86 

Wade, John Donald, 77 

Walden University, 50 

Waldheim, Kurt, 109 

Walker, Eliza, 49 

Walker, Hugh, 125* 

War of 1812, 16 

War Memorial Building, 72, 88 

Ward, William E., 97 

Ward-Belmont College, 32, 97-99 

Ward family, 10 

Wards Seminary, 97-98 

Warfield, Charles, 116 

Warren, Robert Penn, 76, 77 

Watkins,J. E, 47 

Watkins, Ron, 115 

Watkins Institute, 57 

Watkins, Samuel, 57, 105 

Weather, 70, 82-83, 82*, 96 

Wells, Heydon, 1 1 



DAVIDSON 



135 



West, Ben, 97, 116 

Western Military Institute, 59 

Whigs, 25, 32-33, 34, 38, 50, 55, 56; 

campaign of 1844, 33 
White, George, 48 
White, Granny, 10 
White, Zachariah, 10 
Who Owns America?, 77 
Wilhelm, Kaiser, 71 
Williams, Albert S., 69 
Williams, Avon T., 118 
Williams, J. H., 47 
Winchester, James, 108 
Wills, Bob, 88 
Wills, Ridley and Jesse, 76 
Wilson, Joseph, 110 



Wilson, Woodrow, 81, 109, 110 

Winston family, 10 

Woodmont Baptist Church, 120 

Workhouse, 38 

World War I, 70-72 

World War II, 88-93 

Wrencoe, 9 

Young, R. A., 59 
Young, Stark, 77 

Zollicoffer, Felix Kirk, 27, 32-35, 39; 

views on secession, 34 
Zolnay, George J., 78 



About the Author 







'^'WS:Mr 



y 



George Frank Burns is a graduate of Lebanon High School 
and Cumberland University. From 1943 to 1966 he was a re- 
porter and editor of The Lebanon Democrat, and also wrote for 
The Nashville Banner, The Tennessean, and United Press Interna- 
tional, contributing articles to Time, Newsweek, the Christian Sci- 
ence Monitor and Billboard. 

In 1967, taking a Master of Arts from George Peabody Col- 
lege in English and history, he became public relations director 
and chairman of publications at Cumberland. In 1973 he earned 
a Ph.D. in English at Vanderbilt University. The following year 
he joined the faculty of Tennessee Technological University and 
retired in 1987. 

Dr. Burns has studied at Oxford University, the University 
of London, and the Shakespeare Centre of the University of Bir- 
mingham, earning a certificate in genealogy and heraldry at 
Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1988. He is the author of the Ten- 
nessee County History Series volume on Wilson County and 
published a study of William Faulkner's Tennessee connections 
for Tennessee Homecoming '86. He has been commissioned to 
write a biography of Congressman Joe L. Evins and a history of 
Cumberland University.