Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Clinic Bowl, A Nashville Tradition

by Debie Oeser Cox

The research for this article was inspired by Barry Chamberlain.  He posted a question on the I Remember Nashville When Facebook Group, asking where he might find information about history of  the Clinic Bowl.

The first Clinic Bowl was held on Thanksgiving Day in 1947, between Litton and MBA. Litton won 32 - 20. The game was attended by 12,000 fans. It was sponsored by the American Legion with a goal of raising money to establish and fund a child guidance clinic to deal with behavior and mental health problems.  This game was touted as the first annual bowl game but it was not played again.  

In 1950, the Clinic Bowl was billed as the first annual Thanksgiving Day game, to raise money for the physical therapy clinic at Vanderbilt Hospital.  The 1950 Clinic Bowl was co-sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Interscholastic League, and the Mid-State Football Officials Association. In subsequent years the JCC continued their sponsorship along with NIL.  A slogan was adopted for the Clinic Bowl program that would soften any heart. "Strong legs run, so weak legs can walk."  East High triumphed over MBA, 26 to 6 in the 1950 game.

The Tennessean November 12, 1957
Through 1955 two top Nashville teams were chosen to play in the bowl.  In 1956, a change was made to match Nashville's top team with the best team in the Mid-State. These teams were chosen from those not in playoff games. The Clinic Bowl continued much the same through 1970 with most of the ticket sale proceeds going to the Vanderbilt Clinic.   
In the early 1970's the Clinic Bowl became associated with the TSSAA.  In 1972 the longstanding tradition of playing on Thanksgiving afternoon was ended.  Instead, the game was scheduled on the Friday before Thanksgiving.  The Clinic Bowl became the Class AAA Region 3 playoff game. The winning team advanced in the state playoffs. Part of the ticket sale income went to TSSAA. The Junior Chamber of Commerce continued to donate the portion they received to the Vanderbilt Physical Therapy Dept.  
The Clinic Bowl became the state championship playoff final in the early 80's with multiple classes playing on the same day at Dudley Field. The game had not been held on Thanksgiving afternoon for ten years. The hometown thrill of watching Nashville and Middle Tennessee teams play was lost.  The Clinic Bowl continued to be played but it was never the same again. The Junior Chamber of Commerce raised about one million dollars for Vanderbilt's Physical Therapy Department during the years of sponsorship for the Clinic Bowl. Nashville and Middle Tennessee high school football fans and players, have many fond memories of football at Dudley Field on Thanksgiving Day.

Clinic Bowl Teams and Scores 1947 through 1980.

Team & Score
Team & Score
Litton 32            
MBA 20
East 26
East 24
West 6
Litton 19
Father Ryan 12
Dupont 21         
Litton 20
Litton 20            
MBA 20
Litton 7
MBA 0 
Springfield 0
Springfield 0     
Hillsboro 0
Litton 20            
Murfreesboro 14
Father Ryan 26
Lawrenceburg 0
BGA 13               
Litton 0
BGA 18                             
Father Ryan 6
Chattanooga Brainard 13           
Madison 7
Father Ryan 14               
Murfreesboro 12
Glencliff 7                        
Lawrenceburg 7
Donelson 26                   
Lebanon  0
MBA 21
Litton 0
MBA 20                            
Stratford 0
MBA 35
Gallatin 7
Pearl 6
Maplewood 0
MBA 26
Two Rivers 6
Maplewood 16
Mufreesboro  8
Gallatin  7
Father Ryan 7
Overton  14
Pearl  0
Father Ryan  28
Maplewood 26
Maplewood 29
Lawrenceburg 0
Gallatin  31
Maplewood 13
Father Ryan  16
Gallatin 4
Gallatin 14
Maplewood 13
Gallatin  24
Gallatin  24
Father Ryan 17

Monday, September 25, 2017

J. J. Keyes Stadium

by Debie Oeser Cox

East Nashville High School has a new stadium.  The first game on the new athletic field was played September 22, 2017. A historic event for the school and for East Nashville. This was also the first East High home game, since November 2, 1985, when East beat Maplewood, at home, 6 to 0.

J. J. Keyes Stadium, dedicated Sept. 22, 2017. Photo by Theo Wright.

The old stadium at East High, demolished in 1987, was dedicated to the memory of J. J. Keyes in 1937. Keyes was the first principal of East High. He died in December 1936. It was announced at the recent game that the new stadium, has also been named in honor of J. J. Keyes.

J. J. Keyes Stadium, 1932-1987, photo Metro Nashville Archives
The first game played at the original stadium was on September 30, 1932, 85 years ago, almost to the day, of the first game in the new stadium. This was the first high school stadium in Nashville.There was great excitement across the city. Every local high school team wanted to play on the modern athletic field. More than 40,000 tickets were printed and a contest was held among schools to bring in the most attendees for the game. East Nashville High School was brand new and did not have a football team in 1932. The inaugural game saw the Hume Fogg Blue Devils challenge the Chattanooga City Schools, in front of an estimated of 15,000. Hume Fogg prevailed over Chattanooga, with a final score of 13 to 6.  Hume Fogg played all of their home games on the field for the next few years. 

The East High Eagles played their debut game, at home, on September 27, 1933.  The opposing team was Smyrna High School.  East won with a score of 19 to 7. The first East High coach was Jimmy Armistead. He started as the basketball coach in early 1933 and moved into football later in the year.  Coach Armistead wanted to call the team the Red Demons but the more popular name, Grey Eagles won out.

Professor J. J. Keyes

A former superintendent of Nashville City Schools, Professor John J. Keyes resigned a position as community relations director for the school system so that he could become the first principal. He was a long time resident of East Nashville and was instrumental in the movement for the high school to be built.  Keyes died in December of 1936.  In November of 1937, a decision was made by the school board to name the stadium, J. J. Keyes, in honor of the beloved educator.  

Professor John J. Keyes, 1933 East Yearbook, Metro Nashville Archives

John Japheth Keyes was born on December 31, 1864, in Canada, the son of Mary and Thomas. He grew up in Huron, Ontario, Canada.  In 1884, at the age of 19, J. J. Keyes, came to Tennessee and became a teacher in Maury County. He lived in the Jones Valley community.  In 1888 he came to Nashville, to attend George Peabody School for Teachers.  He received a B.S. degree from Peabody College in 1892. In 1893, he was hired as a teacher in Nashville and was at that time referred to as Professor Keys. His first assignment was at the Howard School.  In 1894, Keyes was transferred to Fogg School where he taught until he was elected as superintendent of schools, in 1909. He served as superintendent until 1918.  In 1919 he began teaching mathematics at Hume Fogg High School.  

In January of 1930, Keyes was appointed temporary school superintendent. He served until August of 1930 when H. G. Srygley was elected superintendent.  Keyes then became the first community relations director for Nashville City Schools.  In the fall of 1932, he was named principal of the new East High School.

 John J Keyes, returned to his parents home in Canada each summer. In August of 1894, he was married to Mary Ann Logan in Huron, Ontario, Canada.  He brought his bride to Nashville, where they lived out their lives. During their marriage, they had three children, all born in Nashville. The Keyes family lived in Northeast Nashville in several locations.  In 1913, the Keyes had a home built at 914 Meridian Street.  The yellow brick home is standing today. Professor Keyes died on December 15, 1936, in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 71, and was buried Spring Hill Cemetery in Madison, Davidson County, Tennessee.  (His death certificate gives his first name as Joseph, but all other records give his first name as John.)  

This story is dedicated to all East High Eagles former, current and future.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Gee's Tavern, Davidson County, Tennessee

written by Debie Oeser Cox
research by Debie Oeser Cox and Ronnie W. Ragan

The words ordinary, tavern, and inn were interchangeable, in describing a place where a traveler could find food, drink and board in the 19th century. In Davidson County, taverns were licensed by the County Court beginning in 1784.  The court set fees for food, drink, and bed and for the boarding and feeding of horses. A drink of hard liquor, wine or ale, could be had.  A home cooked meal was served several times a day. If needed, a bed would be available for the night.  Locals also visited for a glass of beer, or something stronger, after a hard day of work.  A tavern was a gathering place for neighbors to exchange area news and a place of entertainment. Political rallies were held by candidates of the region. Dances were held there and traveling and local musicians often played in the taverns.  

Foster's map, 1871, showing the Gee family locations in relation to Old Hickory Blvd. (OHB)

One of the better known taverns in northern Davidson County was Gee's Tavern.  In January of 1838, George W. Sevier sold "the well known tavern and farm" known as White Hall, to brothers, Joseph C. Gee and Samuel M. Gee.  

The Tennessean, January 8, 1838

The purchase was a tract of 179 acres on the road between Nashville and Gallatin, about eight miles from Nashville. In 1839 Joseph C. Gee purchased an additional 120 acres of land along the south side of Dry Creek. Joseph C. Gee and his wife Sarah and Samuel M. Gee and his wife Hannah lived on the farm and together managed the tavern.  

No image of Gee's Tavern has been found. It has been described as a wooden structure, on the west side of Gallatin Pike, near the place where the railroad crossed the road. It likely was clapboard but part of it may have been log. It was probably two stories with a cellar.  Many of the old stage coach taverns had a long covered front porch and often back porches as well. The tavern had enough furniture to sleep more than thirty people. There were tables, chairs and plates, enough to accommodate fifty.  The architecture may have been similar to the home of John Maxey, a near neighbor.

Dr. John Maxey home, Gallatin Pike, Davidson County, Tennessee

The road on which the tavern was located was the route of three stagecoach lines coming from Kentucky to Nashville. One line from Louisville came into Goodlettsville and then crossed over about where two mile pike is now located to the road from Gallatin.  The other two lines, from Franklin and Lexington Kentucky, merged at Harrodsburg and came through Gallatin on toward Nashville. This same road would have been the route traveled by those on horseback, on in wagons, from Kentucky to Nashville in the early 19th century. Some visitors stopped only for a meal and to rest and water their horses.  In November of 1838 Joseph C. Gee was appointed as one of the Directors of the Gallatin Turnpike Company.  In 1839 the Gallatin Turnpike opened between  Nashville and Gallatin, bringing more guests to the Gee Tavern.

Republican Banner, November 1, 1838

Joseph C. Gee was one of seven brothers, all born in Virginia.  They were sons of Joshua Gee and Rosa Porter of Madison County, Virginia. Joshua came to Davidson County in the 1830's and bought a farm in Neely's Bend. Six of the brothers moved to Tennessee at different times during the 1830's.  Other than Joseph C. and Samuel M., the others who came were, William W., Norville P., John P., and Smith H. Gee. 

In 1839, William W. Gee, a carpenter died in Nashville, leaving his wife Mary and five children. The oldest was seven.  Soon afterward, Mary died.  The children went to the country to live with their uncle Joseph at Gee's Tavern.  Joseph and Sarah may have lived with the children, in a separate house on the tavern property. Descriptions of the property indicate that there was a two story dwelling on the property as well as the tavern.  In 1840, Samuel Gee died, leaving his interest in the tavern property to his widow, Hannah.  In 1846, Joseph C. Gee purchased the interest of Hannah Gee, widow of Samuel M. Gee, in the White Hall tract.  There would be legal conflict between Joseph Gee for many years with Hannah. 

The community in which the tavern was located was known as Pleasant Hill, from at least the 1840's through the 1860's, and there was a post office and a private academy, of that name.  Joseph C. Gee was postmaster at Pleasant Hill for a time. The post office may have been located in Gee's Tavern.

October 1856

On October 20, 1847, Joseph Gee died. Having no children, he left his estate to his widow Sarah A. B. (Newman) Gee.  The inventory filed by Sarah, on March 24, 1848, of Joseph's estate, is typical of an inn keeper.  In part, Gee's belongings, at his death, consisted of seventeen bedsteads and seventeen set of beds & clothing. Bedsteads refer to the bed, beds to the mattresses, and clothing to the bed linens. There were ninety pictures and frames, ten maps, and two hundred and forty volumes of books. For dining there were four dozen plates, two dozen cups and saucers, one dozen cups and plates, eight tables and four dozen chairs.  In the sitting areas there were a lounge and three settees, a bureau, a Jackson Press, and a sugar chest. Gee's stock included sheep, hogs, cattle and horses.  He had an estimated five hundred barrels of corn on hand. Three hundred acres of land and eight hundred dollars in cash was listed in the inventory.  Gee actually owned about four hundred acres.  Listed in the inventory were ten slaves, Bob, Andrew, Lewis, John, Dink, Tom, Lydia, Courtney, Charlotte and Mary. The inventory was not complete.  No kitchen items or personal items were included. 

After the death of Joseph, Sarah continued to operate Gee's Tavern.  In 1850, Sarah and her late husband's brother Smith H. Gee were living in adjacent households, and he was likely assisting Sarah in running the tavern. She was busy raising the children of her late brother in law and surely needed help with the tavern. 

In January of 1856 Mrs. Gee's Tavern, along with most of the contents, burned. At that time, her late husband's brother Norville P. Gee was in charge of the tavern. Shortly after the fire Norville Gee took charge of another tavern a half mile closer to the city. It was just south of the Maxey place, which was located on the east side of Gallatin Pike at what is now Anderson Lane.

Daily Nashville Patriot, January 17, 1856

By August of 1858, Sarah Gee had rebuilt her tavern and offered it, along with 410 acres for sale.  She offered for sale, her farm of 410 acres, on the Gallatin Turnpike, 8 and ½ miles from Nashville.  The advertisement stated that 320 acres were on the west side of the road and 90 acres on the east side of the road and included, "the stand well known as Gee's Tavern, which lies at the intersection of the turnpike and railroad." 

Republican August 22, 1858

In September of 1859, Sarah A. B. Gee entered into an agreement with M. W. Wetmore and others to sell her property, but the deal apparently fell through. And then Sarah seemed to disappear.  She is not found in the 1860 census. Norville P. Gee's location in the 1860 census records indicate he is living back at the old tavern. There is a source that states that Gee's Tavern was burned by Union soldiers during the Civil War. In the late 1860's Norville Gee and his family bought land from the Scruggs family.  Theopolus Scruggs had a tavern near what is now the intersection of Old Hickory Boulevard and Gallatin Pike. Norville may have bought Scruggs old tavern but in 1870 he is listed as a farmer.

In 1867, Sarah had returned to the area and she filed a lawsuit against Thomas Bransford and others.  As a result of the case, an auction sale was advertised by the Clerk and Master of Chancery Court, of Sarah's property. It has not been determine if any of the property was sold at auction. The ads do not mention the tavern.  The ad does say there is a "commodious two story residence on the property. In 1868, Sarah sold the parcel on the east side of Gallatin Pike, which adjoined the Maxey property to her nephew Reuben Faulconer.  

 In 1871, she sold several other parcels.  Sarah died in Davidson County in May of 1874 and left all of her remaining property to Reuben Faulconer.

By the time of Sarah's death the old tavern's along the turnpikes leading into Nashville were gone. Trains took the place of stage coaches as a means of transportation.  After the American  Civil War, there was no longer much need for rural taverns.  The community of Pleasant Hill was gone.  Nearby was Sunny Point and Edgefield Junction.

1876 Gazetteer of Tennessee, Sunny Point was actually about 8 miles from Nashville

1876 Gazetteer of Tennessee, Edgefield Junction was actually about 9 miles from Nashville

There will be an additional post added soon about the Gee family.

Dedicated to the memory of George W. Massey, who passed away on May 6, 2017.  Though we never met in person, George was a facebook friend and a fellow history buff. We are grateful that he shared so many memories of the Madison area with us.