Sunday, January 29, 2012


My friend Mike Slate created the Nashville Historical Newsletter fifteen years ago this month. For many years he published a hard copy. Now the newsletter is available on-line. Mike's wife, Kathy Lauder, serves as editor. There are more than 100 essays to be enjoyed on the website. Mike and Kathy published two books composed of essays from the Nashville Historic Newsletter. The Confederate Twenty-Dollar Irony: And Other Essays from the Nashville Historical Newsletter was published in 2004 and From Knickers to Body Stockings and Other Essays from the Nashville Historical Newsletter in 2006. Click on the Table of Contents to begin reading.

For information on availability of the books pictured below contact Mike Slate.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Northeast Nashville in the 1924 Nashville City Driectory

These links are to a website that has the 1924 Nashville City Directory pages scanned and online. This is not my site. I have posted the links to Northeast Nashville Streets. If your family lived there way back then, you can look for them. My grandfather, Ernest Oeser, is listed at 1022 Pennock. If you find your street, but no street number, it means that nothing has been built on that lot. In a case where a house spans two lots, occasionally the street number will change from one lot to the other. As an example, in the 900, 1000 and 1100 blocks of Stockell Street there are only a few street numbers listed. The houses in these blocks were just starting to be built and only a few lots had houses on them. The same is true for the east side of Meridian Street. There are only four houses in the 900 and 1000 block on the east side, while most of the lots on the west side have houses on them. If you see a street missing I will find it and post the link. If you are interested in a street outside of the area, I will find it and send you the link. Click the name of the street to view the page. If the street is not clickable, it means there were no house numbers listed on the street or that it was outside the city limits.
Northeast Nashville Streets 1924 –
Childers (no numbers listed)
Douglas (see Ligon and Mile End) (Outside City Limits)
Evanston (see Childers)
Ligon (now Douglas) (outside city limits)
Lischey (see North 4th)
Mile End – (outside city limits)
North 1st (listed as First N)
North 1st(2) (listed as First N)
North 2nd (listed as Second N)
North 3rd (listed as Third N)
North 3rd(2) (listed as Third N)
North 4th (listed as Fourth N) (see Lischey)
North 4th(2) (listed as Fourth N) (see Lischey)
North 5th (listed as Fifth N)
North 6th (listed as Sixth N)
Richardson (no numbers listed)

A usual, I learned some new things about the neighborhood while researching this week.

Berry Street was supposedly named for John Berry McFerrin, who owned property adjacent to the street. However deeds show that the street was already named Berry when he bought the land.

Truetlen was the maiden name of the property developer's wife Cornelia Bryan.   John W. Bryan made a deed of gift to his wife and gave her maiden name in the deed.

Grace was named for Grace Scales and had previously been named Kent and Josephine.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

McFerrin Park and The Bryan-McFerrin-Scales house

McFerrin Park Comuunity Center ca 1955

The land where McFerrin Park is situated, was granted to Evan Baker in 1781 and transferred by Baker to David McGavock in 1785. McGavock's grant was 640 acres, covering most of what is now Northeast Nashville.  In 1816 he divided the tract between his two sons, James and John. McFerrin Park is located on the portion of land that went to James. The original 640 acres ran from Foster St. on the south to Douglas Ave/Mile End to the north. North 1st St. [now called Dickerson Road] was the west boundary and the east boundary was McFerrin Ave. After the division James owned the land west of Lischey Ave. and John, the land east of Lischey Ave. James McGavock built a house on a hill overlooking the river, near the middle of his land. About 1840 a second house was built adjacent to his first house. It is believed this house was built for his daughter Lucinda McGavock Harris. This house is still standing at 908 Meridian Street.

Another of James McGavock's daughters, Margaret, married Hardy Bryan in 1833. James H. Bryan, their only child, was born March 17, 1835. Margaret died four days later. A home was built, on the southern portion of James McGavock's property, for the Bryan family. When James McGavock died in 1841, James H. Bryan was allotted his mother's portion of the James McGavock land. He was only six years old at the time. The Bryan's spent much of their time in Louisiana and Mississippi, and young James died in Concordia Parish, LA on September 1, 1845. Hardy Bryan remarried, to his cousin Mary Bryan and they were parents to three children. One, a son named John W. Bryan, inherited from his brother's estate the land that had been left to James by his grandfather McGavock.

In the 1860's, John W. Bryan subdivided his land and began to sell lots, the first few on Foster Street.  John was married to Cornelia Treutlen on January 9, 1866 on Barbour Co., Alabama.  Though John continued to sell lots in Edgefield, he moved his family to Mississippi for awhile and their first child, Annie was born there in 1867.  Soon after Annie was born, the Bryan's moved to Davidson County and built a house on the south side of Treutlen Street, named to honor Cornelia and her family.  In 1869 a second child, Hardy William Bryan was born. 

In 1866, John B. McFerrin purchased from John W. Bryan, a house and lot, of two and a half acres, for twelve thousand dollars, at the corner of Berry and Meridian Streets. The deed stated that a brick house, "the residence of the late Hardy Bryan," stood on the lot. In the biography of John B. McFerrin, is a mention of McFerrin preaching Hardy Bryan's funeral , saying that Bryan "died at the house in which I now live." It has been reported that Berry Street was named for McFerrin but the name may have another origin. The street was already named Berry when McFerrin bought property there. John Berry McFerrin was a well-known and popular Methodist minister. He was for many years, editor of the Methodist "Christian Advocate" publication. As book agent, he managed the operations of the Methodist Publishing House in Nashville for 18 years.

John Berry McFerrin

In 1849, McFerrin, and his first wife Almyra, bought land and a house near Main Street on McFerrin Avenue. Almyra died in 1854 and McFerrin was married a second time, in 1855, to Miss Cynthia Tennessee McGavock. Cynthia's father, John McGavock, owned the adjoining farm to the McFerrins. When the U. S. Civil War reached Nashville, John B. McFerrin, a Southern sympathizer and slave owner, went south. He had been told that he might be arrested, by U. S. government officials, if he remained in Nashville. During the war, he traveled as a missionary with the Confederate Army. McFerrin returned to Nashville after the war. His house in Nashville had been used as a hospital during the war and was, on his return, held by the Federal Government as abandoned property. Soon after McFerrin returned, the house on McFerrin Avenue was destroyed by fire. He began to look for a new home and in 1866 purchased the Hardy Bryan house on Berry Street.

The David C. and Grace Hillman Scales family purchased the property, including the McFerrin home, in 1887, from Cynthia McGavock McFerrin, widow of John Berry McFerrin. Grace Street was named for Mrs. Grace Scales. Grace Street had earlier been known as McGavock Avenue and then Josephine Street. A daughter, Anne, married Andrew Bell Benedict, Sr. her childhood friend and Meridian Street neighbor. The Scales and Benedict families were prominent citizens of Nashville.

The Bryan, MeFerrin, Scales House.

McFerrin Park was named in honor of John Berry McFerrin. The park began as a playground in 1909, when the Park Board purchased two lots on Meridian on the opposite side of the street from today's McFerrin Park. In 1920, the Park Board purchased the Scales property, across Meridian Street from the playground, for $17,065. The property, about two and one half acres, was bound by Meridian Street on the west, Grace Street on the north, Stewart Street/North 3rd Street to the east and Berry Street to the south. The Greek Revival style home on the property had been lived in by the Hardy Bryan family, the McFerrin family and the Scales family. The Park Board used the house as the first McFerrin Park Community Center. By the early 1950's the house had been demolished and a Quonset hut was in use as a community center.

The Quonset hut community center building ca 1950.

McFerrin Park served a neighborhood full of children who spent their summers out of doors and looking for something to do.  The park swimming pool was full of youngsters every day.

The pool was at the back of the park at North Third near Grace St.
That's Grace Avenue Church of Christ in the background. 

By the mid 1960's the pool had been closed, the old Quonset hut was gone and a new brick building had been erected for a community center. 

McFerrin Park Community Center ca 1980.

Metro Nashville Government purchased additional acreage, in 1977, from Grace Avenue Church of Christ. Grace Avenue Church of Christ was built in the 1920's and was designed to hold one thousand worshipers. The church was disbanded in 1977 and the property sold to Metro Nashville Government.

Grace Avenue Church of Christ 
was on the site of the present community center.

The church building was demolished, and the size of the park was increased to 11 and one half acres, extending the east boundary to Lischey Avenue. Today a modern community center has been built, about where the church building stood. North 3rd street that once ran between the park property and the church has been closed and now serves as a drive into the park. There are new tennis courts in the at the corner of Meridian and Grace. There's a playground with brightly painted equipment. The area behind the old church, now the new community center is empty. Fifty years ago both Grace and Berry Streets were lined with houses on the park side of the street, between Grace Avenue Church of Christ and Lischey Avenue. There were houses along Lischey as well, on what is now park property. Lots of changes in the old neighborhood, this one for the good.

McFerrin Park Community Center, 2011

See the The McGavock House for more history of the surrounding land and the McGavock family in Northeast Nashville.

All photos courtesy of Metro Nashville Archives, with the exception of the portrait of John B. McFerrin which belongs to the author.

Creative Commons License
McFerrin Park and The Bryan-McFerrin-Scales house by Debie Oeser Cox is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Madison Station

In 1997 Guy Bockmon published a history of the Madison Community in Davidson County, Tennessee called Madison Station. Bockmon had begun his research on the Madison area in 1992. Madison Station is available for purchase online at Alibris and AbeBooks. The book may also be available for loan from you local public library.

After publication, Guy Bockmon created a website to share the material gathered, but not used, for the book Madison Station. Bockmon wrote: "While gathering research material for publication, one always finds much more information than can be included in the final book. The leftovers are too valuable not to share, hence this website. The book Madison Station details in text, maps and black-and-white pictures the development of Madison from her pioneer days through the beginnings of her explosive growth in the 1950's. Madison Station is available for loan or for in-house research at the Metro Nashville Archives, the Nashville Public Library and the Tennessee State Library and Archives. "

Click on the book title to view the website.

Madison Station.

Bockmon passed away on December 12, 2005. This obituary appeared in the Nashville Tennessean on Wednesday, 14 December 2005:
Dr. Guy Alan BOCKMON

December 12, 2005. Born in Paducah KY, December 7, 1926. Preceded in death
by his parents, William Henry and Ruth McChesney Bockmon; brother, William E.
Bockmon; and daughter, Carol Callis Bockmon. Survived by Sue Callis Bockmon,
wife; and son, David. Dr. Bockmon was graduated from Paducah's Tilghman High
School and Murray State University. A veteran of the US Army, he then received
his Masters and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the Eastman School of
Music of the University of Rochester. Dr. Bockmon served as Professor of Music
for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville from 1955 - 1974. During his career,
Dr. Bockmon co-authored Scored for Listening, Perceiving Music Problems in
Sight and Sound, and also edited several texts for Harcourt-Brace Publishing.
During his tenure in Knoxville, he performed with the Knoxville Symphony
Orchestra, served as Associate Choir Director for St. John's Episcopal Church,
and as Choir Director for St. Michael's and All Angels Chapel. In 1974, he
established an adult music songwriting program for the University of Tennessee at
Nashville, which later merged with Tennessee State University. Upon
retirement, Dr. Bockmon authored Madison Station, an historical work depicting the
development of Madison, TN, included in the Tennessee Heritage Library's
Bicentennial collection. A memorial service will be held at St. Philips Episcopal
Church, Donelson, TN on Saturday, December 17, at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers,
contributions may be made to Alive Hospice of Nashville, the
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, or the St. Philips Endowment Fund

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Edward Ward Carmack

Ever noticed the statue front and center of the State Capitol Building on Charlotte?

Edward Ward Carmack - By Ilikecheese (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tennessee State Capitol - Image, Metro Nashville Archives, Nashville Public Library digital collection

The likeness of Edward Ward Carmack keeps watch over Legislative Plaza, and just beyond, the corner of Union and 7th, where he was shot and killed in 1908. My grandfather, Ernest Oeser, was 13 year old newsboy, selling papers at the corner of 6th and Church on November 10, 1908 when shots rang out.  He ran in the direction of the shots along with many others.  He saw Mr. Carmack lying in the street.  He had been shot.  Duncan Cooper was also shot.  Carmack and Cooper were enemies.  Their feud was both personal and political. The tale did not end with the death of Carmack.  Bill Carey told the story in the Nashville City Paper a few years ago, in the Nashville City Paper.  Click here to read Carey's story - A century later, no one really knows Nashville’s most famous murder

Edward Ward Carmack

Click on the several links below to read more about Carmack and the Coopers.

Edward Ward Carmack
Duncan Brown Cooper
Cooper v. State

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Daddy


My Daddy, Ernest Oeser and and his brother Robert, lived on Pond Creek near River Road, in Cheatham County, TN for a few years around 1930, along with their parents and other siblings. They also spent many summers at Pond Creek, visiting with grandparents George Koen "G. K." Davis and Virginia "Jennie" Olinger Davis. Daddy was kin to just about all of the families that lived around there, either by blood or marriage.

When Daddy was a little fellow, his father bought a raffle chance, on a pony. To his children's delight, he won. My uncle, Robert Oeser, told me about the day Papa Oeser (my grandfather) brought the pony home. It was around 1922 or 1923.  Papa called home and told his wife, Mama Oeser, to have the little boys out front at noon and that he was bringing a surprise.  A truck pulled up at noon and Papa got out and unloaded a pony from the back.  Papa put my Daddy up on the pony's back.  They all very excited.  Suddenly Mama Oeser realized that Robert was missing.  Papa looked around outside and Mama went to the house.  She found the door was locked and Robert inside, looking out a front window.  He was afraid of the pony and had locked everyone out.

Ernest Oeser, Jr. and Ruth Oeser ca 1925

The family lived in Nashville at the time they got the pony, so it was carried to Grandpap (G. K.) and Granny Davis's place on Pond Creek. Some years later they sold the pony to someone in Nashville. They had no way to get it to town other than to ride it. Papa Oeser went down in his car with Daddy and Robert riding along. He decided the boys would take turns riding the pony while Papa Oeser followed along in his car. The pony didn't want to walk so Grandpap insisted on walking along side to lead the pony and to watch out for whichever boy was riding. G. K. Davis was about 70 years old at the time. He didn't drive a car and walked many miles each week to get to wherever he needed to go. He walked beside that pony from Pond Creek all the way up River Road to Charlotte Pike, then in Charlotte Pike and over to Centennial Blvd. They continued into Nashville on Centennial and Jefferson Street. Only after they crossed the Jefferson Street Bridge to North First Street did Grandpap get into the car to ride the few blocks left to the Oeser home on Pennock Avenue. Grandpap walked about 20 miles that day. He was born on Pond Creek in 1858 and lived his life there until he died in 1932.

After Grandpap died, Granny Davis moved to Nashville to live with her daughter Ruth (Mama Oeser). Granny was born in Alabama in 1862, and died at her daughter's home on Pennock Avenue in Nashville in 1955. Granny Davis was a midwife and she delivered many Pond Creek area babies and doctored lots of folks and a few animals with her home remedies. I remember being told that she delivered twins that weighed more than 16 pounds together. She had "receipts" (do you remember that word being used instead of recipe?) for cures and poultices and plasters. She used teas made from sassafras and other roots and tree bark to treat various ailments from fevers to high blood pressure. I don't know what catnip tea was supposed to cure but Granny made it for some problem my Mama had once. She used coal oil, vinegar, and turpentine. Paregoric, camphor, Epsom salt, suphur and alum were commonly used as medicines. She could also make warts disappear.

One time a neighbor asked Granny to treat a sick mule. The mule was down and couldn't get up. Granny made up some kind of elixir and told the neighbor to pour the mixture down the mule's throat. She said the mule would either "get up or die." After forcing the mule to drink, the owner stood back. The mule started moving and managed to get up on his legs. He started out slow then begun to run and went around the yard in a circle about a dozen times and then fell over dead.

Granny said that the seventh son of a seventh son could cure warts, stop bleeding, relieve burns and had other healing powers. The healer would whisper a secret phrase and touch or rub the affected area. A seventh son would pass on his secrets for cures to his seventh son. If he did not have a seventh son, he could pass his secrets to a woman of his choosing. Maybe that is how Granny learned to cure warts.

I don't know if Granny used all of these but here are some remedies I have heard of. I'm not suggesting anyone should use these old cures. Some of them might kill you instead of curing you. Don't forget about the mule! Consult your doctor when you are ill and follow his advice.

Snuff or tobacco juice on a wasp or bee sting would draw out the poison and stop the pain. Mud plasters also were used for stings. Clove oil was used to ease a toothache. For an ear ache a drop or two of warm mineral oil or garlic oil was used to stop the pain. A piece of raw pork fat was used to draw out a splinter from under the skin. Dirt daubers nest, crushed into a powder, was used for diaper rash. A poultice made from the same was a cure for boils. Fuller's Earth, a powdery clay like substance was used on diaper rash and also for acne. Cob webs were used to stop bleeding. For a sprained ankle, a paper bag soaked in vinegar and wrapped around the ankle, was supposed to ease the pain and speed healing. A hot toddy made with whiskey, lemon juice and a little honey or sugar mixed together and added to hot water was supposed to cure colds. It certainly made a person feel better. For a chest cold, camphorated oil was rubbed on the chest and covered with a warm cloth. I seem to remember that you would be in dire circumstances, if you let your oiled chest get cold.

I found this cure for sore throat on the internet; Mix one cup vodka, one tablespoon of oil and the juice of one lemon. Gargle with it and then drink. Your sore throat may not be cured but it will be forgotten about for awhile.


Boyhood recollections in a letter from F. Charles Uthman to Ernest Oeser - 1980

Nov. 21, 80
Dear Ernest

Ruth called and told me about your situation and that you were thinking about the Uthmans'. Thank you for that. I, too, think about the Oesers very often.

I think about the old days when we were kids and played and shot marbles and all those other things we did in and around 1022 and 1017 Pennock Ave. Then, too, I remember the great times we had at Grannys place on Pond Creek. Winter nights when we warmed our fannies before the fireplace and then jumped in the bed in a cold room and shivered until the feather beds (ticks) got warm. Feeding the hogs, eating green apples in the summertime. Going to the spring with the milk buckets. The sink holes and the slate in back of Granny's. Swimming in the nude. Riding the mule bare back. Eating fried chicken and fried apples. And always that covered dish of blackberry jam and cold bisquits on the table for inbetween snacks. The snake you put in your pocket and scared the hell out of Thetus White. Paul & Gladys. Hell, there is nothing I don't remember about the old place in the country. Oh, yes, the ash hopper where Granny made the lye soap. The churn we dashed for butter, the big iron pot your mother washed - boiled clothes in. The chickens and dogs under the house. Those were the greatest days of my life and I cherish all the memories. Your Mother and Father were great people and with all the kids of their own they always seemed to find room for me. I am sure you also have some fond memories.

May God bless you and help you get well and live a ripe old age.

Love Chas Uthman


[Note - The letter writer, Frederick Charles Uthman (24 Oct 1915 - 30 May 1996) as a young boy, was a neighbor of the Ernest Oeser, Sr. family in Northeast Nashville. The Oeser's lived at 1022 Pennock Ave. and the Uthman family at 1017 Pennock Ave. The Uthman's moved to Russell Street in East Nashville about 1927, but the boys remained lifelong friends. The father, Otto Uthman, was a furniture builder, trained in his native Germany, His two sons, Charles and Gert, under their father's watchful eye, learned to build and restore furniture and became accomplished craftsmen.

Ernest G. Oeser, Jr. the recipient of the letter was, at the time, a patient at Vanderbilt Hospital and was very ill. He was a son of Ruth Ann Davis and Ernest G. Oeser, Sr. His grandmother, "Granny" Virginia Olinger Davis, lived with her husband, George Koen Davis, on Pond Creek. "Paul and Gladys" Hicks were first cousins to Ernest Oeser, Jr. They were children of Bennie Rebecca Vick (daughter of Virginia Olinger Davis by her first husband Collier Vick) and Will Hicks. Bennie died when they were small and they lived with and were raised by their grandmother Virginia Olinger Davis.

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