Edwin Litton Hickman was born August 4, 1875, son of John Pryor and Kate Litton Hickman. The home in which the Judge was born and where he lived most of his life was on Gallatin Road near the site of the present East Nashville YMCA. The home had been built by his parents on land that had formerly belonged to his maternal grandfather Isaac Litton.
Litton Hickman began his education in a private school run by his mother in their home with his mother as his instructor. He later attended school at Brennan’s Military Academy in Nashville. When Mr. Brennan died the school was taken over by one of the instructor’s, Mr. Garrett, and was after know as Garrett’s Military Academy. After graduating from Garrett’s, Litton Hickman entered the School of Law at Vanderbilt University. He received his degree in June of 1896, and opened a law office on Church Street on the second floor of the Baxter Court office building.
Litton Hickman was a member of the Tennessee General Assembly in 1903, 1905 and 1907. In 1918 he was elected judge of Davidson County and served in that capacity four consecutive terms, retiring in 1950 after being defeated in the Democratic primary by Beverly Briley. The County Judge was the financial officer for the county and also presided over the county court.
Litton Hickman was married in1914 to Henrietta Evelyn Hill of Robertson County. They became parents of two children. Their son was Edwin Litton Hickman, Jr. Their daughter, Mrs. Henrietta Morgan, an officer in the Waves during World War II, died while in the service.
Judge Litton Hickman died on October 12, 1956 and was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. He was a member of Saint Anne’s Episcopal Church.
Memoirs of Litton Hickman
I was born on August 4th, 1875, and have lived all my life in this home in which we are now sitting. The site was originally part of the estate of Isaac Litton, my maternal grandfather. The neighborhood was a very well defined one, extending from Tenth Street in East Nashville out the Gallatin Road to the Madison area. It was a distinct unit, apart from Edgefield on the one side and open country on the other.
During my early years, our friends were necessarily the people who lived within the bounds of our immediate community. We knew practically every one who passed along the Gallatin Road except an occasional stranger from a distance. I remember in the Autumn that flocks of turkeys, herds of cattle and sheep and droves of hogs were driven by our house bound for the Nashville markets.
Frequently, pack peddlers, walking through the country, with great bundles of merchandise wrapped in black oilcloth, strapped to their backs would trudge along the dusty highway. They carried stocks of linens, laces and small wares. I enjoyed the visits of the peddlers. They were usually Jews of Syrians, lately come to this country, and their broken English and many gestures were very intriguing. One of these men had a hand organ, and was accompanied by a trained bear. When he arrived one Summer day, at my grandfather’s house next door to us, a large dog, in a deep sleep, was lying on the front porch. The peddler stopped in the front yard and started a lively tune. The dog woke up, and as he did so the bear stood upright on his hind legs. The dog gave one stricken howl and lunged through the wire mesh of the screen door and proceeded down the hall and burst through the back door screen in the same fashion. It was several hours after this ignominious flight before the dog returned.
I was an only child, but never a lonely one. There were eleven first cousins, four who lived at my grandfather Littons and seven in the family of my uncle George S. Litton who love next door to my grandfather. There were birthday parties, Christmas parties and many fishing and hunting trips with my father and his friends. Frequently, relatives came from a distance to visit for a week, or two or longer. Everything went along in a pleasant, leisurely fashion. The absence of hurry or tension in our lives during those years is on of the things that I remember most vividly.
Families in the Neighborhood
A great many men who owned and lived in homes in this neighborhood were business or professional men and did not depend on their land for their entire living. I can recall as if it were yesterday the families in this community. In addition to Hickman and Litton they were: Stratton, Johnson, Bailey, Bransford, Dodd, Cahal, Weakley, Douglas, Loftin, Maxey, Williams, Brown, Sharpe, Pitts, McFerrin, Roberts, Hunter, Pryor, Tillman, Stull, Irwin, Chadwell, Menees, Bradford, Ford, Walton, Cooper, Nelson, Gambill, Wrenne, Moore, Childress, Talbot, Mathias, Woodruff and Watts. The majority of these families were large, and their descendants have been prominent in County and State affairs.
Dr. I. C. Loftin whose home was a mile further out the road beyond ours, was probably the best known and most beloved man in the community. he was the family doctor and a friend of everyone I knew. He was available at any hour of the day or night in any kind of weather. If the roads were impassable for his buggy, he rode to the patients homes on horseback, with well filled saddle bags containing all medicines and supplies that might be needed in any emergency. As a small child, I remember that I was interested in watching him fill capsules or measure individual doses of other powders and fold them neatly in a paper as he sat by the bedside. He was a fine person and a physician of marked ability. He was fond of horses and always had several splendid ones in his stable. On the road he always drove at a fast clip, and, as a country expression went at that time, "took nobody’s dust".
Dr. Loftin’s horses were invariably fast trotters. His friend Mr. Jno. W. Hunter, a member of the firm of Hunter & Wellburn, booksellers in Nashville, also owned and drove fast horses. Mr. Hunter’s horses were pacers. It was not at all by pre-arrangement, but merely a peculiar coincidence that Dr. Loftin and Mr. Hunter very often arrived at the rivers end of Russell Street at precisely the same time in the afternoon. This was the starting point of an exciting race, with each driver urging his horse to greater speed, and each apparently indifferent to the presence of the other. The fact that Dr. Loftin was usually the winner in this encounter established more firmly his conviction that a trotter was the only satisfactory road horse.
Dr. Loftin’s home, now one hundred three years old and still containing much of its original furniture is owned and occupied by his son Frank M. Loftin and Mrs. Loftin.
I believe that Mr. Loftin and I, Mrs. Nina Stratton Foster, who lives at her ancestral home on the Gallatin Road at Stratton Avenue, and Misses Alice and Fannie Walton whose home is on the Gallatin Road opposite Spring Hill cemetery are the only residents of this area who are now living in the houses in which they were born. The Walton house was built in North Carolina during the time that Tennessee was a part of that state.
In the vicinity of the present intersection of Woodland and 16th Streets was the estate of Mr. A. V. S. Lindsley. There were three springs on this acreage and one of them was, for a time, the official meeting place of the Ku Klux Klan.
The residence of Gov. Neil S. Brown was in East Nashville, a short distance north of main St. The Browns were very prominent in Tennessee and Davidson County and had splendid family connections. In later years when many of the residents of this community were moving away and establishing homes in the more fashionable West End and Harding Road sections Mr. Tully Brown, a son of Governor Brown was approached by an acquaintance, who remarked, "Mr. Brown, it seems very strange to me that man of your birth, breeding, fine appearance and great intelligence has not also moved away from East Nashville". Mr. Brown replied, "Sir, those qualities which you have just enumerated are the reason that I do not have to live in any particular locality in order to obtain recognition".
A somewhat similar anecdote was told of East Nashville citizen of lowly origin and crude manners who had acquired a good deal of money during many years of operating a saloon and gambling house. He retired from business and purchased a home in a very swanky West End neighborhood and was preparing to move there. One of his friends anxiously inquired "Do you think that you will be comfortable and feel at home in a neighborhood like that"? "Oh, yes" replied the man, "I hear that some very nice people live over there".
Mr. John Bransford owned a beautiful home on the Gallatin Road. The house sat back a considerable distance for the road and was located between the present Eastland and and Chickamauga Avenues. Mr. Bransford loved trees and the many magnificent ones that he had planted and nurtured made his place one of outstanding beauty and interest.
The Reverend Jno. B. McFerrin, for whose family McFerrin Avenue is named was a distinguished Methodist minister and a famous orator.
The Hon. Wm. F. Cooper, at one time Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Tennessee owned a beautiful home on Porter Road. This place was later leased and occupied for a number of years by Oscar Nelson. Mr. Nelson had served through the Civil War as a member of Quantrelles famous regiment. This regiment was not officially connected with the Confederate Army, but it is never-the-less rendered valuable service to the Southern Cause. This was especially recognized in their daring raids into Arkansas and Missouri. This estate is now the home of Dr. and Mrs. Lucius Burch. The Hon. G. N. Tillman, a prominent lawyer and at one time a candidate for the office of Governor of Tennessee, owned a beautiful home on the Vaughn Pike.
The Hon. Robert Vaughn owned a beautiful home and farm on the Vaughn Pike. Mr. Vaughn was at one time Attorney General for this district. He also served for a number of years as Clerk and Master. This estate is now owned and occupied by his daughter, Mr. Joel B. Fort, Jr.
Mr. Burnett Ford lived in Neely’s Bend. He and my father shared many Civil War reminiscences. They had both been captured in battle, but not in the same engagement, and had been sent to a northern prison at Fort Delaware, where they remained until the end of hostilities.
Mr. Robert Chadwell lived in a large home on the Neely’s Bend Road. He was very hospitable and each Sunday when he attended service at Madison Methodist Church, he bustled about and invited practically everyone present to accompany him home for Sunday dinner. On one occasion he invited his young daughter, whom he did not recognize in her Sunday hat. At another time, upon arriving home with a bevy of guests, he was embarrassed to discover that a lady whom he did not know at all had accepted his invitation and even more disturbed when he found that no one else knew here. This fine flow of family hospitality did not perish with the passing of Mr. Chadwell. A few years ago one of his grandsons invited a guest for a fortnight’s visit and he remained for two years.
Judge Watts lived at the intersection of Gallatin Road and Neely’s Bend Road. He represented the defendant in on of the most gruesome murder cases that was ever tried in Nashville.
James Litton Cooper owned a large farm in the Vaughn Pike community. He was a son of Washington Cooper, and a nephew of William Cooper. Washington and William Cooper were celebrated portrait painters of the 18th century. Their beautiful paintings are today priceless treasures of many descendants of the older Davidson County families.
Among these gentlemen whom I have mentioned there were some who were ardent prohibitionists. Others were not.
I recall the story of the two groups in the Neeely’s Bend community – all friend and neighbors – but one faction was dry, very dry. The other was extremely convivial. One wintry Saturday afternoon this latter group had gathered at a residence overlooking Neely’s Bend Road. As they sat deploring the miserable weather and the bad condition of the roads which prevented their driving into Nashville for a pleasant visit to their favorite bar, they spied one of their abstemious neighbors plodding slowly homeward, with two well filled market baskets. "Just look at him," one of them said, "Five or six dollars worth of groceries, and I’ll bet he hasn’t a quart of whiskey in his house".
There were few traffic accidents that were traceable to alcohol. In those days horses were always sober, smart, invariably knew the way home, and were anxious to get there. Many gentlemen who imbibed too freely while in town arrived home safely by means of a little luck and a great deal of horse sense.
There were very few schools in this community when I was a child. A log school house situated on the corner of Mooretown lane (now Straightway Ave.) and the Gallatin Road, had the largest enrollment. This was a two teacher school, and for a number of years my mother and Miss Emma Childress taught there. This was a county public school located in, at that time, the 18th Civil District. There were three School Commissioners in the district, and the teachers were selected and appointed by them. The salaries ranged from $30.00 to $50.00 per month. A few years later a school building was erected at Spout Spring, on the Porter Road. My mother also taught there. There was, of course, a school in the Madison vicinity, but I do not remember its site. There were three small schools for Negro children, on in Mooretown, one in Rock City and one in Briarville. For a few years during my early teens, a Mrs. Clark conducted "Mrs. Clark’s School for Girls" on the thoroughfare which is now Greenwood Ave. I can never forget this institution of learning, because, at one time, I was the astonished victim of the strict discipline which existed there. One of the boarding students at Mrs. Clark’s was a friend of mine, a beautiful, charming girl whose mother was a friend of my mother. One day in the late winter when the Marchel Neil roses were blooming in great profusion in my mother’s greenhouse, mother and I cut an enormous bouquet of the lovely yellow blossoms and attached my card. I mounted my horse, rode over to Mrs. Clarks and presented my offering to the servant who opened the door, with the request that it be delivered to the above mentioned object of my affection. I then rode home in a glow of satisfaction over a mission so neatly accomplished. In a short time, a servant from the school appeared with the roses and a note from Mrs. Clark, addressed to my mother and stating flatly that her young ladies did not receive gifts from young gentlemen. My mother was furious, and our disgust with the whole proceeding was further intensified on the following Sabbath when a member of Mrs. Clark’s staff appeared at Hobson Chapel morning service with several of the roses pinned securely to her ample bosom.
Regardless of their various religious convictions, the majority of the families in this immediate vicinity, attended services at Hobson Methodist Church, which was then, and now is, situated on Greenwood Avenue. My parents and I were Episcopalians, but as the nearest Episcopalian church was in Edgefield, I attended church school at Hobson. There was a small Baptist church about one and one half miles directly east of our home. It was situated on the outskirts of the present Negro settlement called Rock City.
There was a Methodist Church near Madison on the Neelys Bend road, and a Presbyterian church on the Gallatin Road at its intersection with the Neelys Bend Road.
There were three Negro settlements nearby, Mooretown, Rock City and Briarville, the latter located near Madison. The residents of these settlements, for the most part, owned their own homes and were good citizens. Their properties rarely consisted of more than a house, yard, stable lot and garden. They were employed as house servants and farm laborers by the other residents of the community. Capable cooks could be obtained for $8.00 per month, with the privilege of occupying a house on the premises. If the cook happened to have several small children, and a husband who made frequent appearances, there was always food and shelter for everyone. I remember when our friend and neighbor Major J. C. Pryor, who had a very large family, increased the wages for his cook to $10.00 a month. It caused great consternation in the community.
At one time a severe epidemic of small pox appeared in Nashville and Davidson County. It was especially violent in Mooretown, and I remember that there was a yellow flag, indicating the presence of the contagion, on nearly every house on Mooretown Lane. The county maintained a pest house on the river, and the afflicted were supposed to be taken there, but the Negroes were in great fear of this place, and tried as well as possible to conceal the nature of their illness. This was entirely understandable, as the pest house was in no sense a hospital and patients there could not receive as good care as they could in their own homes.
The County Asylum and Poor House
The Davidson County Asylum and Poor House was situated on the Gallatin Road in the section now known as Inglewood. This institution consisted of a two story main building in the which the superintendent and his family lived, a long row of single rooms for the indigent, opening on a covered porch along tow sides of the yard, and quarters for the insane within a 12-foot stone walled enclosure. There was a farm on the property where the indigent, who were physically able, were required to work. With the exception of periodical religious services, I do no think that there were any recreational or rehabilitation programs ever undertaken for these inmates. I do know, from a rather terrifying, personal experience, that the insane sometimes escaped. One summer afternoon a small Negro boy and I had gone to a distant pasture to drive home our cows when we saw a man coming slowly towards us. He was eating a large raw turnip and dragging a length of chain which was attached to one of his ankles. We ran wildly toward home and he ran after us. We reached home a little ahead of him and he ran on into the Gallatin Road where he was picked up by a search party.
At this time the Cumberland River was spanned by a suspension bridge. I distinctly remember when this bridge was replaced by the present Woodland Street bridge. I was a spectator when the bridge formally opened to traffic. This was a gala occasion. The horse drawn fire engines and as many heavy vehicles of other types as could be gotten on the bridge at one time, were drawn up to test the strength of the new structure. During the time in which the new bridge was under construction; traffic was diverted to a pontoon bride a little north of the present bridge site.
For a time mule drawn street cars ran from the public Square to 10th St. These cars, open at the front and rear had seats along the sides. When the driver reached the end of the line, he stepped out unhooked the mules, led them around, hitched them on to the other end of the car and proceeded to retrace the route. In the course of time these vehicles were replaced by electric cars which came clear to Eastland Ave. Later, the line was continued still further out to Mooretown Lane. A few years after this, A Mr. Philip Shelton who owned a large tract of land in the Inglewood area established a privately owned line from Mooretown Lane to Inglewood and operated a dinky between these points. We were delighted to have this convenient and pleasant mode of travel. Going to Nashville and back home again each day on the street car was very much like attending a large neighborhood gathering. Everyone knew everyone else. The conductor stood on the rear platform, greeting all passengers by name as they came aboard, collecting and ringing up the fares, and peering anxiously backward and down the side streets for late sprinters. We gradually disposed of our horses and horse drawn vehicles.
My father, and, as well as I can remember, all of his friends and our neighbors were Jeffersonian Democrats. They were intensely interested in politics, both state and national. They had not so long before emerged from the evil Reconstruction days following the Civil War, therefore, when it had become possible for them to again have a voice in their country’s affairs they were keenly conscious of individual responsibility. Enthusiasm for their chosen candidates were frequently demonstrated by torch light parades through downtown Nashville. The first one of these that I remember was on the occasion of the election of Grover Cleveland to the Presidency. Thirty five or forty horsemen assembled on the Gallatin Road in the early evening to ride over to the Public Square to take part in the celebration. Although, I was a small boy at that time, my father, realizing the great importance of the occasion allowed me to go along. I shall never forget how proud I felt as we set forth – in spite of the fact that father was firmly clutching a lead rein attached to my horse. All went well until an over exuberant rider dashed between us and very nearly unsaddled all three. The torches that we carried were simple in construction, but very effective. They were made by attaching a can of oil or grease to one end of a long pole – a lighted wick was placed in the can and the other end of the pole rested in a stirrup.
I received my early education in the county schools that were taught by my mother and our neighbor, Miss Emma Childress. One of these was a log school house located at the intersection of Gallatin Road and Mooretown Lane (Straightway Avenue), another was at Spout Spring on the Porter Road, and a small private school that mother taught at home. Mother’s schools were happy ones. Everyone loved "Miss Kate". The smaller pupils took turns sitting on her lap while they recited, and on the last day of school, every blessed one of us got a prize for some form of excellence.
I do not remember my exact age when I left all of this, regretfully, but as I was still wearing short trousers, I must have been eleven on twelve years old.
I entered Brennan’s Military Academy which at that time was located on the third floor of the I.O.O.F. building on the corner of Sixth Avenue (High Street) and Church Street.
At that time my grandfather Litton had a town residence on Spruce Street (8th Avenue). This was very convenient. I rode into town every school day morning, left my horse in Grandfather’s barn, and went to classes. At the noon recess I dashed back to Grandfather’s for a large hot lunch. In a short time Mr. Brennan moved the school to a building on the corner of 8th Avenue and Broad Street. This is the present site of the new Federal Building. The Academy was eventually moved further out 8th Ave. to a large house near the city reservoir. Here Mr. Brennan died, but the school continued under the name of Garrett’s Military Academy. Mr. Garrett had been one of the teachers at Brennans.
Mr. Brennan was a splendid gentleman and one of the most interesting people that I have ever known. His teaching methods and curriculum were thoroughly good, but, the wonderful talks that he conducted with the students on Friday afternoons were the times that appealed to all of us.
On these afternoons we had no regular classed at all. We just sat enthralled while Mr. Brennan told us all manner of things, but when it was finished we were conscious of having received a vision of what we might achieve in the future. This does not adequately describe the wonderful atmosphere at Brennan’s but I know that all of my life I shall feel grateful to Mr. Brennan for the things that I learned while I knew him.
Some of my fellow students at Brennan’s and Garrett’s were W. J. Wallace, Jr., Dr. Duncan Eve, the late Wm. B. Marr, Alex Lipscomb and James Hager. Our uniforms were made of beautiful gray cloth with black piping.
During these years, I was a member of the Boy’s Choir of the Church of the Advent, which was at that time located on the corner of 7th Avenue (Vine Street) and Commerce. I shall never forget on miserable Sunday morning. I was scheduled to sing my first solo, and I was very apprehensive about the success of my performance, I had pledged my brother warblers to the strictest secrecy, as I did not wish my family nor any of my close friends to be present. But there was a traitor in the ranks and he told my best girl. When the crucial moment came and I turned to face the congregation, there she sat in one of the front pews, beaming brightly. It was awful. For a long moment I was completely paralyzed. Several repetitions of the Prelude finally registered and I managed to get through.
After my graduation from Garretts, I entered the Vanderbilt School of Law. At that time a college education was required for receiving a degree in Law. The professors in the School of Law at that time were, Judge Edw. Baxter, Mr. McPhail Smith and Mr. Thos. E. Malone. Some of my class mates were the late Kinnard T. McConnico, the late Gen. F. M. Bass, Geo. Hite, Jno. C. Brown, Morton Dismukes and Lawrence Finn of Kentucky. Mr. Bass and Mr. McConnico were my very close personal friends.
I was a member of the Vanderbilt Glee Club and the S.A.E. Fraternity. We had no Chapter house on the campus but held our meetings on the third floor of the I.O.O.F. building in downtown Nashville.
Other private schools of the period were, Peabody College for Teachers in South Nashville, St. Cecilia Academy, a Catholic school for girls, in North Nashville, and Fisk University for Negroes in North Nashville. Mr. C. B. Wallace was the principal of Wallace’s school for boys, which was, for its first years located on 6th Avenue, South (High Street) at the present site of the Greek Orthodox Church. Ward Seminary for Young Ladies, on 8th Avenue (Spruce Street), Price’s College for Young Women, on Broad St. and Prof. Desheil Robertson’s Academy for Boys on Woodland Street. For a few years Mrs. E. S. Buford was the president of Buford College for Girls in the Glendale Section.
When I received my degree from the Vanderbilt School of Law in June of 1896, I opened a law office on Church Street on the second floor of the Baxter Court office building (now the Exchange Building). During those early years there was only one Criminal Court Judge, an Attorney General and one Assistant Attorney General. These gentlemen tried the cases on their dockets in an orderly and competent manner. Their courts were open all day, and they took no extended vacations.
The Chancellors were Andrew Allison, John Allison and Thomas Malone.
The Circuit Judges were, the Hon. Claude Waller, John W. Childress and Judge Bonner. The Criminal Judges were J. Mac Anderson, Wm. Hart and A. B. Neil. Judge Neil is now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Tennessee.
There were a great many famous lawyers in Nashville at this time. Mr. John J. Vertrees ranked as one of the greatest lawyers in the South. During President Taft’s administration he was appointed to defend Secretary of the Interior, Ballinger in a case involving the misappropriation of federal funds, Major W. O. Vertrees, the Hon. Robert Vaughn, who was Attorney General for a time, James Bradford, Abe DeMoss, Walter Stokes, Jordan Stokes, K. T. McConnico, Francis M. Bass, who was at one time attorney General, Edwin Price, Jno. Bell Keeble, Capt. Thos. Steger, Wm. C. Cherry, Charles Trabue, Harry Stokes, Judge John Lellyet, W. A. Bryan, Hamilton Parks, Andrew J. Caldwell, Lit Pardue, Moses Priest, Percy Maddin, Judge John A. Pitts, Edw. Seay, A. B. Anderson, Judge M. H. Meeks, Col. W. C. Collier, Henry Williamson, Judge E. H. East, and General Jeff McCarn, who was U. S. District Attorney for Hawaii, were others who were very prominent members of the Nashville Bar.
Many of the lawyers who practiced their profession in Nashville at this time did not have a formal education, but had "read law" in the office of and older lawyer.
Oratory was a valuable asset, and fortunate indeed was the barrister who could command a fine flow of words in the presentation of his case. This, indubitably, had its effect on a jury whose "twelve good men, to wit:" may have felt, and understandably so, that they deserved some form of entertainment while sitting so long and glumly.
Many of the older lawyers habitually wore Prince Albert coats, standing collars and black string ties.
Two Nashville lawyers have been elevated to the Supreme Court of the U. S. States. They were the late Horace Lurton, and the late J. C. McReynolds. Judge Lurton was the first Judge, whom I ever knew about, who campaigned for the position. The Hon. J. M. Dickinson of Davidson County was a Secretary of War during the Administration of President Taft.
My law practice was general. At the time very few young lawyers were financially able to be choosy about either their clients or their cases. I was always glad to be appointed by the court to represent clients who were not able to pay for legal services. It was a very good way to gain experience and to become established in the profession.
I remember that on one occasion I had been requested to represent a little Negro boy who had been arrested for larceny. When I arrived at the court accompanied by the boy and his mother, I found that the regular judge was absent, and that a young lawyer, a new comer to Nashville, had been appointed to preside. Just as my case was called, the judge ordered a fine minute recess. When court reconvened I discovered that my small client had vanished. It was a situation that required immediate action. Realizing that the temporary judge was both inexperienced and inept, I arose and said, "may it please the court that I should like to enter a plea of Quo Vadis". Whereupon, His Honor replied, "Plea granted". This was a standing joke for many years.
I recall another unusual case. I had to make a trip to New Orleans for the purpose of taking some depositions. When I got on the train, I discovered that Bernie Norton, a city detective, was also going to New Orleans. His mission was the return of a prisoner to Nashville for trial on charges of passing worthless checks and the theft of a large diamond. He had purchased the diamond in Nashville from a Jew, who was a merchant. He had made a small partial payment with one of a handful of out-of-town Cashiers checks, and had then fled to New Orleans, before the check bounced, where he was apprehended. Mr. Norton told me that the man was a dangerous criminal, with a long record, and asked me to assist him on the homeward journey. I finished my errand and met Mr. Norton and his handcuffed charge in the late evening, at the New Orleans station. Mr. Norton pinned a large formidable looking badge on my vest, and the three of us boarded the train and occupied a drawing room. The prisoner had been searched by New Orleans detectives, his hotel room had been carefully searched, and he had been under such constant surveillance that he had no chance to contact an accomplice. They felt reasonably sure that the diamond was concealed on his person, but they couldn’t find it. At midnight Mr. Norton left me in charge while he took a nap. By this time I was getting rather tired of my badge, so I told the man that I was not an officer, but that I was a lawyer and I advised him to return the diamond if he had it. He stoutly reiterated that not only did he not have the diamond in his possession, but that he had never had it. However, he asked me to represent him in his forthcoming trial, and I agreed to do so. Upon our arrival, he was searched in the Nashville Police Station and searched in the jail.
When his case came up for trial, there were twelve cases against him. I was able to obtain a verdict of two years in the penitentiary in six cases. The other six cases were nolled on costs.
When he entered the State Penitentiary to begin his sentence, he was again searched carefully by the officials there. Every article of his clothing was ironed, but the diamond was not found. Mr. Gillenwater, the warden of the penitentiary was convinced, from hearing the testimony in the case, that he was still in possession of the stone. He placed another convict with stool pigeon tendencies in the same cell, with instructions to gain his confidence. In a short time the two men began discussing the chances of escaping by bribing a guard. The cell mate informed my client that it could be done, but that it would require a large amount of money. My client replied that he had in his possession a very large and valuable diamond. This was the awaited moment. The stool pigeon refused to start any negotiations until he saw the diamond. The diamond was quickly produced.
For all those weeks and during the many careful searches, it had been carried sewn securely in the corner of the wide hem of a handkerchief. The prisoner said that each time that he had been searched, he had taken the handkerchief and all other articles from his pockets and placed them in full view of the officers. When the search was finished, he returned everything to his pockets.
Another case with an unusual turn was one involving a well know safe cracker named Coleman. It was alleged that he and an accomplice, whose name I do not remember, had robbed the safe of the Weinstein and Small jewelry store on Church Street. They were not apprehended at the scene of the crime, but were arrested in Chicago, and returned to Nashville.
The late Pat Estes and I represented them. The State was able to prove that they were in this vicinity at the time of the robbery, and that due to their former records they were the most likely suspects. Due to the weakness of the State’s case, we were granted an acquittal.
On the day that they were released, I brought them to my home to stay until their train left. I knew that they would in all probability be picked up on some other charge if they remained in town. I remember that we sat out in the yard while they told me many interesting things about their questionable calling.
They also gave me a first hand account of their activity in Nashville. They had robbed Weinstein and Small. Incidentally they were extremely critical of a firm that would entrust its valuables to a safe so easy to crack.
After the robbery, they had driven out the Gallatin Road, secreted their acetylene torch and burglar’s tools somewhere near Amqui on the right-of-way of the Nashville-Gallatin Interurban. From there by a circuitous route, they reached Clarksville, where they rented a boat for a part of their journey, and eventually had gotten back to Chicago. I drove them up the Gallatin Road, but although they searched carefully, they were not able to locate their tools.
They were both men past middle age and had the appearance and bearing of successful business men.
They had been proprietors of a large saloon and gambling house in Chicago during the first World’s Fair.
By way of expressing their appreciation when they left, they assured me that from the next big job which they executed successfully, they would send me a handsome present. I was very much relieved when I heard no more from them.
I defended Denny Ferrick and Humpy Kelly, two young Irish boys, who had killed a boy named McNeese, in a row over a crap game. They were convicted and sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary, but were pardoned by Gov. Malcom Patterson before they started serving the sentence.
There was nothing at all unusual about this case, but while the trial was in progress, Denny told me an amusing story about his parents.
Mr. and Mrs. Ferrick lived in the back of a little grocery store on Cedar St. Mrs. Ferrick ran the store while Mr. Ferrick worked at the New Shops.
On pay day he had to bring his pay envelope home unopened. Mrs. Ferrick opened it, gave him enough money for tobacco and car fare, and kept the remainder for household expenses. The only way Mr. Ferrick could have nay money for himself was in working overtime and concealing the fact from his wife.
Mrs. Ferrick grew suspicious and watched him so carefully that she discovered and confiscated his small hoard of savings.
The following week, Mr. Ferrick again started his personal fund by working overtime. On pay day he collected five dollars in excess of his regular stipend. All the way home he tried to think of a safe place to hide his five dollar bill. He arrived with still no well defined plan, but as he came to his front porch he spied a potted geranium that had died from lack of care. The dead stalk of the plant, firmly embedded in a concrete like ball of earth, sat loosely in the pot. Quick as a flash, Mr. Ferrick lifted out the geranium, inserted his money in the bottom of the pot, and replaced the geranium.
He entered the house. Mrs. Ferrick was waiting. She had found out all about the over time, and she demanded the money. Mr. Ferrick denied everything, and in the fight which ensued, he soon realized that safety lay in flight. He dashed out of the door with Mrs. Ferrick in pursuit. Just as he cleared the steps, Mrs. Ferrick seized the potted geranium and hurled it at his head. It missed him, by an uncomfortable margin, and landed in an open cistern containing about two feet of water.
A few hours later when the domestic atmosphere had cleared, Mr. Ferrick piloted his son Denny to a good, safe place and sought his help.
"Denny," said he, "In the bottom of the cistern, in the bottom of the pot, is a five dollar bill". "If you will get a ladder and climb down and bring up the pot, we will split the five". Denny went down and came up. "Now," said Mr. Ferrick "We will go and get some change. I owe you two dollars and fifty cents". "You are crazy" said Denny, "Unless you give me the whole amount, I will tell Mama."
The First Murder Case
I assisted Gen. W. H. Washington in the prosecution of this sensational case. Francis M. Bass was Attorney General at the time.
Dr. J Herman Feist, a handsome young Jewish doctor, who possessed as unusually magnetic personality, had not been in Nashville very long until he was a welcome guest in the homes of the leading Jewish families.
He enjoyed a large and lucrative practice, but as time passed, his tremendous attraction for women caused his social and professional downfall, and but for a legal technicality, might have cost him his life.
It was a well known fact that a handsome young Jewess of a prominent and wealthy family, was completely infatuated with him. She showered him with expensive gifts. Other women from various walks of life became acquainted with him as patients and soon were madly in love with him.
One of these was a Mr. Mangrum, the wife of a barber. Mrs. Mangrum was a handsome young woman who dressed quite well and wore several handsome diamonds.
Dr. Feist must have, for a time, returned her affection, or at least a convincing facsimile thereof, for Mrs. Mangrum left her home and her husband, in order to devote all of her time to their association.
This was a situation that Dr. Feist neither expected, requested nor desired. Mrs. Mangrum was not his equal in any of the cultural or social graces. She was insisting on marriage and he knew that such a union would be for him, both social and professional suicide.
Inmates of a house of ill repute, where he and Mrs. Mangrum frequently met, overheard many conversations between them, in all of which Mrs. Mangrum was becoming increasingly impatient for a more dignified recognition of their relationship.
In the last overheard conversation, Dr. Feist had apparently capitulated. He advised Mrs. Mangrum to keep her diamonds at all times, on her person, to go to Chicago and await his coming. He assured her that he would then marry her.
Nearly two weeks later, Mrs. Mangrum’s body minus the diamonds, but fully clothed and with no mark of violence, was discovered floating in the Ohio River, near the mouth of the Cumberland. Her trunk had been checked through to Chicago, but she had never arrived there.
Dr. Feist was arrested. We were able to prove that on the evening of the day on which Mrs. Mangrum’s trunk was checked, Dr. Feist had rented a horse and buggy from the livery stable which he patronized. the horse was an unusual and peculiar color, and it was a well established fact that Dr. Feist always drove this particular horse. The evening was rainy and cold, and few persons were out, but two or three testified that they saw the horse and buggy at the Union Station. The curtains and storm apron prevented their seeing the occupant or occupants. They had seen no one either get out or get in the buggy. Therefore, they had assumed that the person or persons had driven up, remained a short time and driven away.
A Mr. Gillenwater, who was at that time warden of the State Penitentiary told of having seen Dr. Feist, early in the night, driving towards West Nashville, but stated that he could not identify the other occupant of the vehicle. He later changed his story by substituting the name of an elderly and well known physician, who made no night calls and who had no patients in West Nashville. We were not able to put Mr. Gillenwater on the witness stand.
The livery stable proprietor testified that, long after midnight, Dr. Feist returned the horse and buggy to the stable. The horse was muddy, weary, and winded, and the buggy was very muddy.
We were able to obtain a conviction in the lower court, mainly from the testimony of the inmates in the house where Dr. Feist and Mrs. Mangrum met during their illicit relationship.
Dr. Feist’s deterioration during the trial was almost complete. He had been a handsome man, elegantly dressed and well groomed. In two weeks he lost thirty pounds in weight.
K. T. McConnico and Charles Rutherford who represented Dr. Feist, appealed the case to the Supreme Court. This Court reversed the case by a vote of three to two, rendering the decision that we had failed to prove venue.
The Clark Case
Mr. Clark, the quiet, well mannered, and educated son of an Alabama minister, came to Nashville and was connected with a lumber firm. He lived in a small house on 8th Ave. with a woman to whom he was not married. The woman had no close friends in Nashville and her very few acquaintances were the trades men whom she patronized. Mr. Clark, also, had a few contracts outside of his business associates. One exception was Wm. N. Wright with whom he occasionally played cards at the Elk’s Club.
The incident leading to Mr. Clark’s arrest occurred on a cold, snowy winter’s night.
The watchman at the Hyde’s Ferry bridge heard the impatient pawing of a horse on the icy surface of the bridge. When he went to investigate the disturbance, he found a woman’s body with a heavily weighted wire around the neck. A horse drawn buggy was racing madly away.
Several hours later when Mr. Clark, almost frozen from long exposure, returned the horse and buggy to the livery stable, he was arrested.
In the trial which followed, he denied having killed the woman, but admitted that he had attempted to dispose of her body. he testified that he was intending to sever the relation existing between him and the woman, because of his having fallen in love with a young girl, living in Alabama, whom he wished to marry. He further testified that, on the evening in question, he had arrived at his home and found that the woman was dead. He presumed that she had suffered a heart attack or possibly a stroke. He knew that she had no relatives and he felt reasonably sure that having no intimate friends, her absence would not be a matter of interest nor inquiry. He knew that summoning outside aid and the publicity it would engender, would be disastrous to his future. He would have to dispose of the body and thus close the whole terrible incident. After nightfall he went to a livery stable rented a horse and buggy drove to his house and placed the body, with weights attached in the seat beside him and hastened out the Hyde’s Ferry Pike. He intended to stop midway of the bridge and cast the body over the railing. But when he saw the watchman approaching, he realized that he did not have sufficient time to complete his tack. He left the body on the bridge and made his escape.
I believe Mr. Clark told the truth. However, he was convicted in the lower court. This verdict was set aside in a higher court, because the prosecution had failed to establish the cause of death.
Wm. N. Wright and other counsel defended Mr. Clark. Mr. Wright was strictly an office lawyer, and he very seldom appeared in court. But because of his friendship for the accused, he agreed to make the opening speech for the defense.
A short time before the case came to be heard, a pathetic little man from Harriman, Tennessee, who possessed no worldly goods and less legal learning, had arrived in Nashville. He announced to one and all that Nashville had, for a long time, needed a good criminal lawyer. Furthermore said he, "I am it".
He volunteered his services in the prosecution of the Clark case. He made a speech which lasted an hour and fifteen minutes. He rocked himself on his tip toes. He threshed the air with flailing arms. He pounded the table. His voice rose to screeches and descended to quavers, but he failed to throw any light on the matter at hand. Thoroughly exhausted he sat down.
Mr. Wright arose, and for a long moment stared at the late orator. Then he said,
"When the first bird of Spring
Attempted to sing, And before he had uttered a note, He fell from a limb And plumb dead was him For the song, it It had frez' in his throat".
Mr. Wright made no further mention of his adversary.
The same little man who came to Nashville with such great ambition had a habit of attending "Old Hoss" sales at the Freight Depot. There were sales of unclaimed freight. If packaged, they had to be purchased with out examination of the contents. Once he returned from a sale with a large wooden box, and upon opening it he discovered that it contained several dozen packages of a noxious green powder, labeled Dr. Somebody's Fit Cure.
Rather than lose the fifty cents that he had expended, he took it himself. Two or three times a day he would stir up a dose in a glass of water and drink it down.
The Woodruff Case
A Mrs. Woodruff who lived in an isolated spot on the Neely’s Bend Road, was in the habit of making frequent trips to Louisville, Indianapolis, and other cities of a comparable distance from Nashville. She always returned with a small child with whom she claimed to have adopted.
Her first act upon returning was to have the life of the child insured, she being naturally the beneficiary. No one paid a great deal of attention to her and her small charges for several years. Finally, one of the companies in which she had policies, became suspicious when a child died under peculiar circumstances, and a small boy disappeared. An investigation was started. The boy’s weighted body was found in a nearby pond. Mrs. Woodruff was convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life imprisonment. She died several years ago in the State Penitentiary. When she was convicted there was a baby girl still in her care. John C. Ferris who was County Judge at that time, placed the child with a family, who soon after moved to Washington, D. C. and established a home there.
During my last term as County Judge, a charming, well dressed woman came to my office one day and asked me to assist her, if possible, in discovering the identity of her parents. She told me that Judge Ferris had placed her with foster parents who lived in Washington. She said her parents had been dead for many years, but that she remembered that they had often mentioned the name of Mrs. Woodruff in some rather vague connection to her.
I was not able to help her trace her ancestry, but I was glad to assure her that she was lucky to be alive.
For many years in Davidson County, Magistrate’s Courts were located in Nashville on Deaderick St. These courts were presided over by duly elected members of the County Court. They had jurisdiction only in civil cases involving &500.00 or less.
In criminal cases, they had authority to bind an offender over to another court. Before the days of rapid transit the magisterial jurisdiction was a great convenience to the people of the rural districts. They were able to settle small cases, with their respective magistrates presiding. All of this could be done without the time or trouble of making a long trip to Nashville.
But when the Justices of the Peace established offices in Deaderick St. and sought to make money, justice was badly handled. The value of the position of magistrate depends greatly on the integrity of the individual.
During my years as a practicing lawyer I managed the campaign in Davidson County of the Hon. Thomas R. Preston of Chattanooga, in his race for Governor. We were carried Davidson County, but Mr. Preston was defeated by the Hon. Thos. C. Rye of Paris, Tenn.
I was a member of the Lower House of the Tennessee Legislature during the years of 1903, 1905 and 1909.
This was an interesting experience. While serving these terms, I introduced the bill which extended the corporate limits of Nashville, annexing the suburban areas of Lockeland, New Town (now West Nashville), North Nashville as far out as St. Cecilia Academy, and a portion of Waverly. I also assisted the Davidson Delegation in the passage of a great deal of important Labor legislation.
I sponsored a Bill which reduced the number of Davidson Civil Districts from 25 to 14.
Also, during these terms, the Hon. James M. Head, Mayor of Nashville, asked me to assume charge of the passage of an Enabling Act, giving the City of Nashville the right to issue bonds for the purpose of constructing and owning a subway and conduit system, and the right to compel the Telephone, Electric Light, and all other companies to place all overhead wires in this conduit, at a rental agreed upon by the city and the companies.
I secured the signatures to this bill of all members of the Davidson Delegation.
At this time a recess was taken by the Legislature, and when it again convened, one member of the delegation had changed his mind. He fought the measure on the floor of the House. It was stoutly defended by the remaining members of the Delegation, but, even so, it was defeated.
If this legislation had been passed, it would, in my opinion have been a wonderfully progressive step for the city. The revenue derived from the rental of this space would have, eventually, reduced very materially, the rate of taxation. In addition, it would have enabled the city to present a more pleasing appearance.
During one session, when the Hon. John I. Cox was governor, I was appointed by the Speaker of the House, as one of a Recess Committee, making a report on Charitable institutions.
While we were visiting the State Asylum on the Murfreesboro Road, on of the inmates introduced himself, and pointing to another inmate said, "See that man over there," "Well, he’s a poet". I said that I would like very much to meet the poet. When we approached the poet’s corner, he sprang to his feet, grasped me firmly by the hand, an announced in ringing tones.
"John I. Cox
Don’t wear no sox".
We also made a visit to the Blind Girl’s home in East Nashville.
Several years prior to my visit, my mother and father had made it possible for a Confederate Veteran in a nearby county, to place his blind daughter in the home.
Mother went frequently, to see her, and sent small gifts several times each year. When the matron found that I was a member of the party on tour, she called mother’s friend and said, "Miss John Ella, here is Mr. Litton Hickman, the son of our dear Mrs. Hickman". "He has been running around with all those fast, flip society girls, and I’d just like for you to sit down and talk with him so that he may know what a fine sensible girl you are". Miss John Ella sat down, giggled nervously, and said, "Well, Mr. Hickman, I guess if I hadn’t been blind, I’d sort of like to of been fast and flip myself."
Christ Church Episcopal was located on Church St. at the present site of Harvey’s Department Store.
The Lutheran Church was on 5th Avenue between Union and Deaderick Streets.
McKendree Methodist Church occupied its present site on Church Street.
Once when Emma Abbot, the celebrated actress, was appearing in a play at the Vendome Theater, she attended eleven o’clock service at McKendree.
As it happened, that was the Sunday that Bishop Candler occupied the pulpit and delivered a tirade on the evils of the theater, and the immorality of all those who were connected with it.
When he finished the sermon, Miss Abbot stood up and said that she was a member of the wicked group which he had described, that she was a member of the Methodist Church, that she always made every effort possible to attend church service, wherever she happened to be on the Sabbath, and that she thought it was a very great pity that she could not be allowed to worship without being publicly insulted. When she sat down, Bishop Candler dismissed the congregation without a benediction. This is the story as I heard it many years ago.
The First Presbyterian, on the corner of 5th Avenue and Church Street, was built by the well known architect, Strickland. He drew a beautiful design for the church but the Board of Elders was critical and could not agree as to its artistic merit.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Strickland had a rather poor opinion of their ability to judge artistic merit, so he went right along and designed another building and decorated the interior in the style of an Egyptian Temple. It was rumored, at that time, that he did it in order to see if the elders would know that it was inappropriate.
The First Baptist Church on Broad Street has been there for many years.
The Episcopal Church of the Advent was on the corner of 7th Avenue and Commerce Street. The same edifice is now occupied by a Christian Science Group.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church has been at its present site, 5th Avenue and Cedar Street for many years.
The Nashville Banner was published in a building in Church Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues.
The Nashville American’s location was the corner of Church Street and 4th Avenue.
The Tennessee Centennial
The Tennessee Centennial celebration was held in Nashville in 1897. The one hundredth anniversary of statehood was the year 1896. But owing to the magnitude of the task of preparation, it could not be gotten ready until the following year.
The grounds were laid out and the building erected in the area, which is now Centennial Park.
The Centennial Celebration was a great event for Nashville. Foreign nations were represented by buildings and exhibits. There were exhibits of Agriculture, Labor, Commerce, Transportation, Education, Horticulture and dozens of others of great interest and beauty. The hundreds of incandescent lights that, as an old timer remarked, "Lit up the Heaven" were awe inspiring, in comparison to the flickering gas lights of the previous years.
The greatest orchestras and bands of America appeared in turn, for afternoon and evening concerts. Victor Herbert was booked for an engagement, and at each performance he not only conducted, but obliged the huge audiences with beautiful cello solos.
Gaiety reigned from May until September. There was a section called, "The Streets of Cairo," with Hoochy Koochy dancers, wild barbaric music, camel and elephant rides with attendants in native dress.
This was denounced as a den of iniquity by the ministers and the uplift organizations. Their adverse criticism caused a great up surge in the gate receipts.
There was a Shoot the Chute. This was a long inclined run way with a canoe tethered at its highest point of elevation. When the canoe was filled with its quota of intrepid voyagers, it was unleashed, and plunging and careening madly down the slide, shot off across the lake. It was a Thriller. Shrieks rent the air, and many reached the shore in a state of collapse. It must have been patronized by a good many elderly people. When the lake drained, several sets of dentures were recovered from its muddy bottom.
Immediately following the close of the Centennial, plans were formulated for retaining the area for park purposes. The beautiful Parthenon was reinforced and strengthened for permanence. Centennial Park is today one of the public parks belonging to the City of Nashville.
Shelby Park, a large wooded area in the eastern section of the city was added a few years later to the Municipal Parks.
Glendale Park, on the Glendale Street car line was owned and operated by the Nashville Railway and Light Company. It was a very popular resort during the summer months. Open street cars carried passengers with picnic baskets, who enjoyed the beautiful trees and restful atmosphere for which it was noted.
Several years later a Zoo was added.
Hotels, Restaurants and Bars
The hotels of the period were, The Waggoner on the corner of the Public Square and Deaderick St., the Duncan, on the corner of 4th Avenue and Cedar St., Linck’s Hotel at Linck’s Depot on 3rd Ave. at the L & N Railroad. The Commercial Hotel on the corner of 4th Avenue and Cedar St. (diagonally across from the Duncan) Mayers and Underwood Hotel on the Public Square and the Maxwell House on the corner of 4th Avenue and Church Street. The interior of the Maxwell House was very beautiful, with magnificent bronze and crystal chandeliers, handsome red velvet carpets. It had massive, carved rosewood furniture and imported lace curtains of great beauty in the parlors and bedrooms.
It had excellent cuisine.
The price of a sumptuous six course lunch, complete with sherbert served with the meat course was fifty cents.
The Broadway Hotel was between 4th and 5th Avenues on Broad St.
The Tulane Hotel and the Maxwell House were political headquarters during sessions of the Tennessee Legislature.
The Utopia Hotel on 4th Avenue directly across the street from the Maxwell House was a small hotel with a large restaurant clientele. It was operated by Bill Polston. The Utopia chef was an artist in his field. On display in one of the front bay windows of the restaurant were venison and bear in season, sea food and wild and domestic fowl. Guests could choose any delicacy they preferred and have it cooked to order.
Frequently, a large sea turtle was chained to the telephone pole on the pavement in front of the restaurant. This was a bit of advertising designed to inform the public that fresh turtle soup was on the menu.
Those were not the days of the Quick Lunch nor the Blue Plate Special. People who recognized an appreciated fine food, had the time to wait for its preparation and service.
For many years, the most famous restaurant in Nashville was Faucon’s on Union Street.
When its proprietor, Xavier Faucon, his financial resources were at a very low ebb, was not able to afford a cook, he would take a customer’s order, walk to the swinging door in the rear of the dining room shout – for example, "One Sirloin steak, rare, one Faucon salad, Julienne potatoes, coffee". he would then retire to the kitchen and cook it himself.
The Faucon salad (Mr. Faucon always pronounced it salad’) was a gourmet’s delight. The secret of its mixture was never divulged. When customers asked for a recipe, Mr. Faucon, with a merry twinkle in his eyes, would escort them back to the pantry to watch him make it. He would select a few leaves from a convenient basket of fresh lettuce and tear them gently with his hands, with an admonition that lettuce should never under any circumstances be cut with a knife or scissors. Then he would dice some celery and dice a hard boiled egg. After arranging there three items in a bowl he turned his back on the spectator, reached to an overhead shelf, took down several bottles with illegible labels, shook them one by one, over the bowl, tossed the mixture a few times, and remarked "Very simple". Of course the secret lay entirely in the dressing.
Mr. Faucon had a very poor opinion of a person who chose to spoil one of his excellent dinners by finishing his repast with dessert. His menu included no sweets, but if a guest insisted, he produced a large thick wedge of apple pie, sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.
For his own breakfast, Mr. Faucon placed two slices of very brown toast in a soup plate and filled the plate with port wine. He then drank a cup of strong black coffee, and we ready for the duties of the day.
One of the stories that I remember was about the young man who lived in Gallatin and was very much in love with one of the Nashville debutantes.
He had an impressive and elegant buggy and horse, but very little money to spend.
One day he drove down to Nashville and invited the young lady to Faucons for lunch. He handed her the menu, and perused one himself.
After a period of deliberation his guest said that she would have a woodcock. He glanced at his menu and found, to his horror, that the price of woodcock was two dollars and fifty cents.
He did not have that much money, but he did have rare presence of mind. With an indulgent smile, he said, "My dear girl, have you ever seen a wood cock?" She replied that she had not.
"In that case," said he "Of course you did not know that a wood cock is much larger than a turkey".
This ability to think quickly, was, no doubt a very great asset when he came to Nashville to reside, and eventually to become one of the city’s most prominent lawyers.
Mr. Luigart had two wonderful restaurants on Church Street.
One was directly across the street from the side entrance of the Maxwell House, the other was opposite the Tulane Hotel. The food and service in both restaurants were excellent.
The Luigart’s on Church Street at 8th Avenue had a beautiful bar where many fine imported beers, wines and liquors were served. a magnificent free lunch or smorgasbord was always present on a nearby buffet.
The Hermitage Hotel In the later years of this period, the beautiful Hermitage Hotel was erected. For many years, find food was served there, both in the main dining room and the downstairs grill.
The advent of Prohibition in Tennessee was a death blow to restaurants of this type which I have described.
Their financial status had depended largely on the revenue derived from the fine wines and liquors which they served with their food.
It was a sad day for gourmets, when the Eateries, The Beaneries, The Mugge Shoppe, and the Quickie Lunchies, complete with the stool and counter moved in. This includes all paper napkins of every texture and hue.
Mrs. Fitzhugh had a large upstairs dining room on Union Street.
The home style cooking was superb. It was not a stylish establishment, but there were real tablecloths and napkins.
If I should say that Mrs. Fitzhugh served food in abundance it would not be an adequate description of her amazing performance. More and more abundantly would still be inadequate, so I shall try to reconstruct the daily menu which was served at the long, boarding house style tables, which extended the full length of the dinging room.
On the tables were sliced white bread, crackers, several platters of butter, pickles of several kinds, preserves, great bowls of sweet slaw, great bowls of sour slaw, platters of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers in season, celery, stewed rhubarb, stewed peaches, apple sauce and a possible half dozen other things that I have forgotten.
There were always three or four varieties of meat. I do not mean that a diner could choose one of the three or four.
Great platters of hot sliced roast beef, ham, lamb, pork, sausage, spareribs, baked hen and stuffing and turkey and stuffing were some of the entrees.
The platters containing the three or four varieties served on any day were passed along the tables. The customers helped themselves to as large portions as they desired, from each platter. I do not believe that there were ever fewer than a dozen vegetables on any day. These were served in the same manner as the meat. Delicious hot corn pones and biscuits, tall pitchers of sweet milk and buttermilk, all the coffee or tea that you cared to Drink and your choice of desserts completed the list.
For many years, the price charged for one of these meals was twenty-five cents. Mrs. Fitzhugh was quite apologetic when she finally had to increase her charge to thirty-five cents.
The Climax, The Southern Turf and the Utopia were all located directly across Fourth Avenue, opposite the front entrance of the Maxwell House.
The Southern Turf had the most beautiful and bountiful array of free lunch in town. Many customers bought a five cent glass of beer and helped themselves to everything edible on display. These were tolerated, but not encouraged.
Alex Longinette was the proprietor of a very quiet, orderly bar on Church Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenues.
It was patronized by a great many dignified, elderly gentlemen who dropped in for a drink, in the afternoon before going home.
Esq. John Archibalds bar was on Union Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue. His manner was very courtly and deferential. He specialized in the making of Country Toddies and Mint Juleps.
Phil Mayers - Langham
Phil Mayer’s bar was on the Public Square, and Esq. John Langham was the proprietor of a bar on the corner of the Public Square and 3rd Avenue.
Mr. Langham is still living and is one hundred and one years old.
The Vendome (Now Loews) on Church Street between 6th and 7th Avenue was by far the handsomest and most fashionable of the Nashville Theaters.
It was at this theater that the best plays and musicals were presented. Many of the wealthier families rented and occupied the same boxes for years.
Occupants of boxes always appeared in evening dress, and many who sat in the pit were also formerly attired. Very often the array of beautiful women so exquisitely dressed was nearly as attractive as the stage.
One night when Richard Mansfield was playing Monsieur Beaucaire, a plump dowager seated in a lower front box plied her fan vigorously and without cease. Owing to the forward position of the box she was practically leaning over the foot lights.
Suddenly, in the middle of a scene, the curtain lowered, and an usher was sent to the box for the purpose of notifying the lady that Mr. Mansfield was so nervous from the constant motion of the fan, that he refused to finish the performance. The fan was furled and the show went on.
The Masonic theater was located on Church Street at the present site of Burk and Company.
The Princess, a vaudeville house, was also on Church Street.
The Bijou, which had the largest stage in Nashville was situated on 4th Avenue between Cedar Street and Jo Johnston Avenue.
During this period, many Nashville men were interested in racing and race horses. Oiseau, a horse owned by the late John Greener, won the Kentucky Derby.
So magnificent and perfect was the bone structure of this horse, that at his death, his skeleton was preserved, and is now in a museum.
Wm. Jackson, owner of Belle Meade had the most famous breeding farm in the United States.
Wm. Gerst, of the Gerst Brewing Co. owned a large stable of horses.
Walter O. Parmer and many others were race enthusiasts.
There was originally a race track near the Centennial Park area.
It was later moved to Cumberland Park (the present site of the Tennessee State Fair).
For many years, each Spring and Fall, race meets were held at Cumberland Park.