Thursday, January 29, 2015

Meridian Street Neighbors

This is about the neighbors around our house at 1017 Meridian Street in the 50's and 60's.  My parents, Ernest and Lola Mae Steele Oeser, moved there with my brother Ernest and sister Ann in 1951 or early '52.  I was born in June of 1952 and lived in that house until I was married in May of 1969.  My parents moved from the house in 1972 and it was torn down soon after.

I don't remember when I wrote this or where it was posted originally on the internet.  Maybe it was a facebook post on the North Edgfield page.  I rediscovered the story recently because it was used by a student as part of a school paper and posted online.  She didn't say who wrote it or where she found it.  The address, 1017 Meridian was where I lived and all of the neighbors mentioned lived on our street.  Also Ruth Oeser Massey is my aunt, Margaret Oeser Allen is my aunt and both are my Daddy's younger sisters.  I figure if the student could "borrow" this from me without giving credit, it's OK for me to copy and post it here.  

We lived at 1017 Meridian and at 1015 was the Hurt family. He was Wilson and her name was Ladye. They were both profoundly deaf and used sign language to communicate and both could read lips. I loved them so much and called them other Mama and other Daddy. I don’t know how that got started. Mrs. Hurt's mother Ophelia Primm lived with them. The Hurts' had two daughters, Donna and Lucy. Both were older than me, probably born in the early to mid 1940's. Robert and Hattie White family lived at 1013. Their children were Joanne, Bobbye, John, Mary Sue and Martin (Marty). Marty was the youngest and only a couple of years older than me so he was in my group of playmates. I don't remember much about who lived at 1011, except when the Cunninghams lived there. 1009 was a little duplex and Miss Hargis lived there. It was a mistake to ever hit a ball across her fence. If it landed in her yard it was hers.

Next was a big brick house at 1007, where the Banniza family lived. I think Mr. Banniza owned a liquor store downtown and they had a lot of children. Later the Oakes family lived in that house. They had a big family too. There was a cute little brick duplex at 1005 and the house at 1003 must have been a rental, with no one living in either very long. The corner house 1001 was where Mrs. Sharpe lived. She had cats and a wrought iron fence around her house. Her son, Dallas Sharpe, was killed in WWII. Later, when I was going to East, a family with several boys around my age lived there. Maybe their name was Knight. Across the street at 1000 was the Beazley's, I think, or maybe there were at 1002. A Raymer family lived on that side of street. I don't remember much about that side until 1008. The Morrisey family lived there. Their daughter Martha Jane was my first grade teacher. She has a brother named Jimmy. Martha Jane married Don Petty, who also grew up in the neighborhood.

At 1010, was a duplex where Mrs. Wimberly and her daughter Ruth lived for a long time. At 1012, were Lem and Wilma Newby, and their children Mike, Sue, Dianne, and Cindy. Mrs. Newby, who was the daughter of Mrs. Wimberly, also had a son from a previous marriage named Jimmy Davenport. At 1014, was the Fitts family and Jerome and Daisey Tunstall lived at 1016, and owned a little duplex at 1018. Back across the street the McKinney family lived at 1021. Robert and Roberta McKinney, and their children were Bobby and Patsy.

The house at 1019 was a duplex and lots of people lived there. Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe Williams are the ones I remember most. Other neighbors that I remember are Mrs. Cavender, who had a grocery store at the corner of Meridian and Evanston.

Mrs. Frey lived in the 1100 block of Meridian and she had room in the back of her house, where she cut and styled ladies hair. A family named Marks lived in the 1100 block, as did the McNeese and the McKnight families.

My aunt Ruth Oeser married Prentice Massey who lived on Meridian in the 800 block. My aunt Margaret Oeser married Russell Allen. His father Asa Jeff Allen was a photographer and so was Russell. My cousin Russell Allen, Jr. was also a commercial photographer until he retired a few years ago. Butch Richardson lived in a little house on Evanston, on the left as you go up the hill from Pennock to Stainback. Toby Waller and his family lived there. Tom Teasley lived on Meridian near Richardson and he was killed when he only about 20 in an industrial accident, about 1959 or so.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Archway Bakery in Northeast Nashville

Archway Cookies, on right, at corner of Meridian and Douglas - 1950's. North Edgefield Remembered Collection MNA

 One of the first things to check when researching a property are city directories.  Beginning in 1910 Nashville City Directories list properties by address as well as by occupant.  If there is no street number for a particular property then it indicates there is no building on the property.

It was in 1926, that street numbers 1224 and 1222, on Meridian Street first appear in a city directory.  The 1925 directory is missing but the buildings were likely being constructed that year and would not have have been listed.  

Edwin Young purchased lot 137 of the Benedict Land Co. sub of the Lindsley tract, fronting 86 feet on Meridian Street at the corner of Ligon Lane, now Douglas, in Feb. 1925.  By 1926, Young was living on part of the lot, at 1222 and operated a grocery, on the other part, at 1224 Meridian Street.  In 1934, Young requested a zoning variance to add a storage building to his store.  In 1939 Young once again requested a variance for an extension to his store building.  An historical architect would be able to determine if the existing building contains both the original structure from the mid 20's and the addition in 1939. 

In March of 1944 Edwin Young sold, to Wm. Boyers the southerly 50 feet of lot 137, designated as 1222 Meridian Street. Young kept the other 36 feet of lot 137 where his store building was located.  In 1942 Edwin Young changed the name of his stores (there were several location by then) from Young Grocery to Market Basket.  In 1949 the Meridian Street location was vacant.  From 1950 until 1954, Buford Holt Billiards were located in the building at 1224.  I did not locate a deed for the sale of 1224 Meridian by Edwin Young.

In 1955 Warstler-Egly Bakery was listed at the address of 1224. In the late 40's Myron Warstler and Omar Egly bought a franchise from Swanson Cookies, a company started by Harold and Ruth Swanson in 1939.  The partners started to grow and expand their business in the 50's.  Under an agreement with Swanson, Warstler-Egly baked and distributed cookies under the Swanson name   In 1954 Swanson Cookies was sued by Swanson foods and the baked goods were then sold under the brand, Archway Cookies.  It was about this time that Warstler-Egly opened a bakery, distribution center in Nashville at 1224 Meridian Street.  Over time the company other bakeries, including F&L and Merit were associated with the business, marketing continued the Archway brand.  

In 1965 the company was transferred from Archway Cookies Inc., successors of Warstler-Egly Bakery to F&L Bakery.  The mailing address for F&L was in care of Archway Cookies, Battle Creek, Michigan so F&L was in someway connected to Archway.  The next transfer was from Merit Bakery, also headquartered in Battle Creek Michigan, to Charles Head in 1978.   A 1970 charter filed with the Tennessee Secretary of State shows a merger of F&L Bakery into Merit Bakery. The charter states that all outstanding shares in the companies is owned by Archway Cookies, Inc.  In spite of name changes, the bakeries located at 1224 Meridian, were all under the Archway umbrella.

Charles Head sold the property in 1986 to Michael Evans.  Evans quit claimed the property to Pauline Evans in 1995.  

It will take more research to determine when Archway Bakery closed and the names and types of later business at 1224 Meridian.  In recent years Meridian Street Cafe was located there.  

Meridian Cafe, courtesy Metro Tax Assessor

In 2015 Mark Schottland plans to open a new business, Madeline, at 1224.  Madeline will be a combination laundromat, cafe and bar.  You can read more about Madeline at

Timeline for 1224 Meridian Street 

1925, Edwin Young purchased property at 1224 Meridian Street.
1926, 1224 Meridian Street first listed in Nashville City Directory
1926-1941, Edwin Young,  grocer
1942-1948, Market Basket, owned by Edwin Young
1949, vacant
1950-54, Buford Holt Billiards.
1955, Archway Bakery opened.
1978, property sold by Merit Bakery a subsidiary of Archway Cookies to Charles Head
1986, property sold by Charles Head to Michael Evans
1995, property quit claimed by Michael Evans to Pauline Evans

Friday, January 9, 2015

Statement of the disposition

 of some of the bodies of deceased Union soldiers and prisoners of war whose remains have been removed to national cemeteries in the southern and western states.

A few years ago I came across a book, a report actually, from the United States Army Quartermaster's Department, published in 1868.  Not of interest to just everyone, the report detailed the removal of graves of Union soldiers in Southern states to National Cemeteries.  I was excited to find Nashville's National Cemetery in the book and a listing of almost 16,000 graves that had been moved there.  The graves were found in locales all over middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky.  On Mrs. Goodall's farm, near Carthage, Tenn, 17 graves were discovered and moved. There were 26 graves on Mr. McGavock's farm in Edgefield.  Eighty-five hundred graves were moved from United States burial grounds, near Nashville's City Cemetery and other locations around the city.  More than 3,000 graves were moved from within Nashville's City Cemetery.  I have been through the list many times and seem to discover some new bit of information each time.  

Click below to view the database.  

Database of removals to Nashville National Cemetery - Oct. 1867 to Jan. 1868 

 I created the database by taking information from a book but I limited it to Nashville National Cemetery. You can find the book online -
You can also search for the book title to find other editions of the book online.

Do you know about google books and other online book sources?  I have been able to increase the size of my personal library tenfold with these books.  The only cost was a little time and some creative searching.  Many are available for download.  Some are rare, some very old, and some are illustrated.  The books that are available to read online, are usually old enough to have become public domain.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Five and Dimes - Nashville

Most native Nashville residents over 50, have memories of shopping at a five and ten cent store, in downtown Nashville. These variety stores were called, the five and ten, the nickel or dime, the five and dime, five and ten cent store or simply the dime store.  Kress, Woolworth and McClellan are the stores, I remember.  These stores were located on 5th Avenue North, between Church Street and Union Street. 

Morris Frank and guide dog crossing 5th Ave. North, ca 1930, Ralph Mitchell

When this above photo of 5th Avenue North, was made around 1930, the block was already home to several five and dime stores.  The S. H. Kress store, located at 237-39 5th Avenue North opened about 1900, when the name of the street was North Summer. Kress had been previously located on Union Street. The Woolworth's store opened at 221-223 5th Avenue North in 1913.  McLellan's was a newcomer when the photo was made, having opened at 229-33 5th Avenue North in 1927. In the early years of the five and dime, all merchandise in the store could be bought for 5, 10 or 15 cents.  I remember buying Christmas gifts for my parents, at these stores when I was young.  A bottle of cologne for Mama might have cost 15 cents while a package of handkerchiefs for Daddy could be had for a dime.  Most dime stores had lunch counters, where ladies in white or pastel uniform dresses sold hamburgers, blue plate specials and ice cream sundaes and banana splits. 

In 1935 the old buildings that Kress occupied were razed, and a new store built on the same site.  Foster and Creighton were the contractors on the job.  According to an article written by George Zepp, in May of 2002 for his Learn Nashville column, the new store opened on, "Tuesday, Feb. 18, 1936." 

Creighton Collection, Nov. 28, 1935, Metro Nashville Archives.

                                               McLellan's Grand Reopening, May 18, 1942. Image courtesy of Vickey Setters.                                                
This photo of McLellan's is from the collection of Vickey Setters. The photo was shared by George Zepp.  McLellan's had originally opened in 1927.  The short curly hair styles, the shorter skirts and the black and white saddle oxford that some of the young women are wearing, fit right in with McLellan's grand re-opening on May 18, 1942. The stoe had undergone extensive remodeling.

A 2013 view of 5th Avenue North. Both the McLellan and Kress buildings are visible.
Not a five and ten cent store to be found on 5th Avenue North today.  The old buildings remain, some with a mix of retail, office and residential space. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Edgefield Station

The Depot at Edgefield.

The railroad bridge across the Cumberland River at Nashville opened in October of 1859.  A depot, along the railroad line, was established in Edgefield, just across the river from Nashville.  Information about the depot at Edgefield Station, seems to be scarce.  The depot is noted on a few historical maps.  It is mentioned in a few newspaper accounts.  Perhaps there is something to be found in old railroad records. I don't have a lot of resources at hand and must rely on my small home library, a file cabinet stuffed with years of research, a few online record sources that I subscribe to and the ever wonderful google search engine. When I have time, I venture out to one of the local facilities that house records for the area.  For the purpose of this post I relied entirely on what could be found online and it is lacking.  I would love to hear from anyone who has additional information on Edgefield Station.  

The earliest mention found of the depot, was of it being destroyed, in November of 1862 after a skirmish between Confederate and Federal troops in Lower Edgefield. The following report appeared in the Nashville Dispatch.
NASHVILLE DISPATCH, November 6, 1862, p. 3, c. 1
Yesterday's excitement.—Our people were awakened early yesterday morning by the firing of cannon in the neighborhood of South Nashville, which commenced about 4 a.m. and continued at intervals until afternoon.  We are informed that the attack was made by the Confederates, driving in the Federal pickets on the pikes leading South and East from town, about 3 a.m.  How many were engaged on either side, or what casualties befell the contending parties, we are unable to say.  About 6 a.m. the citizens of Lower Edgefield were surprised to see about 1500 cavalry enter the town, driving the Federal pickets before them to their entrenchments, each firing as they ran, killing and wounding about fourteen in all—seven on each side, and a loss of four Confederate horses killed.  The Edgefield R. R. depot was destroyed by the Confederates, as also were the machine shop and eight cars, when they left the town for parts unknown...  We shall, probably, be able to furnish further particulars in to-morrow's paper.

In December the New York Times reported what had been left of the depot.

New York Times, Dec. 15, 1862.

The next notice found, was twelve years later, in 1874.  An article concerning the need for a depot at Edgefield was published in the Nashville union and American. (Nashville, Tenn.), on April 23, 1874.  At a meeting between railroad officials and Mayor Brooks and the Board of Aldermen of Edgefield, the desire of the citizens to have a depot was discussed. 

In August of 1875, Edgefield residents were still waiting for a depot.  Edgefield Alderman Williams reported that Edgefield should soon have a railroad station.  The alderman had been able to raise most of the money required by the railroad, and was hopeful the railroad would keep a promise to erect the depot. 

Nashville Union and American, Aug. 3, 1875.

We know that a depot had been built in Edgefield by the time the 1889 Atlas of Nashville was published.  The map shows the location of Edgefield Station at the point of a triangle created by North First Street, Oldham Street and the tracks of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. 

1889 Atlas of Nashville, Collection of Carol Norton

The Edgefield Station is shown on the 1908 Hopkins Atlas of Nashville, still at the point of the triangle near Oldham Street.

1908 Hopkins Atlas of Nashville, NPL

The depot may have fallen into disuse by the early teens.  A 1914 directory shows the Oldham Street location to be offices for the L&N Railroad. 

Carol Norton related to me that the station building remained until urban renewal took a toll on East Nashville.  Carol stated that the building was moved by the railroad company and used for storage.(Update: Carol asked that I change this to “what Carol Norton remembers being told by the RR."  It was a long time ago.)

The historical location of the Edgefield Station depot is easily spotted in an aerial view of the North First Street, Oldham Street area today.  

2014, Google Maps