Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Tax List 1787 - Davidson County, Tennessee

Tax List 1787 - Davidson County, Tennessee

History of Davidson County, Tennessee, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers, by Prof. W. W. Clayton, J. W. Lewis & Co., Philadelphia, 1880, Reproduced by Higginson book Company, 1996, p. 58

Names of persons who were in Davidson county, in 1787, being the first year in which the tax on land and polls was taken, being (white) males over twenty-one years, three hundred and seventy-two and blacks one hundred and five between twelve and sixty years old.

Name Number of Taxables Name Number of Taxables
Armstrong, William 1 Anderson, Henry 1
Allard, Hardy 1 Armstrong, Francis 2
Bradshaw, H. 1 Boyles, H. 1
Boyers, H. 1 Berry, William 1
Baker, Nicholas 1 Baker, Reuben 1
Baker, A. 1 Borin, B. 1
Borin, William 1 Boyd, James 1
Bell, Hugh 2 Bushnell, __ 2
Baker, Joshua 1 Boyd, John 2
Bosley, James 17 Bell, John 2
Brown, Thomas 3 Butcher, G. 1
Barrow, John 1 Brown, William 1
Blair, Thomas 1 Buchanan, Samuel 1
Byrnes, James 1 Buchanan, John 1
Bowan, Thomas 1 Bradford, Henry 2
Buchanan, Archibald 2 Barnett, Robert 1
Blackamore, John 8 Blackamore, William 2
Blackamore, Thomas 2 Blackamore, George 1
Boyd, Andrew 1 Bodey, William 1
Boyd, John 1 Cartwright, J. 1
Crow, D. 1 Coonrod, N. 3
Cooper, James 1 Crane, John 1
Crawford, George 1 Carr, Robert 1
Contes, C. 1 Cain, Jesse 1
Comstock, Thomas 1 Crutcher, Thomas 1
Crutcher, William 1 Castleman, Jacob 1
Casselman, Andrew 1 Clark, Lardner 1
Casselman, John 1 Casselman, Benjamin 1
Cox, Thomas 1 Cockrill, John 1
Cox, John 1 Cox, Phenix 1
Carnahan, A. 1 Connor, William 1
Canyer, William 1 Cartwright, Robert 5
Cochran, John 1 Craighead, Thomas B. 2
Donaldson, Jacob 1 Duncan, M. 1
Duncan, John 1 Delaney, James 1
Dodge, Richard 1 Duncan, William 1
Duncan, Samuel and John 2 Donaldson, James 1
Duncan, D. 1 Drake, Benjamin 2
Drake, John 1 Drake, Benjamin, Jr. 1
Donaldson, William 12 Donaldson, John 3
Dennings, Robert 1 Exheart, D. 1
Ewing, Andrew 1 Ewing, Alexander 3
Euman, E. 1 Evan, Jesse 1
Edmonston, William, John, Robert, and Robert (2d) 4 Evans, John 1
Espy, James 1 Elliot, Falkner 1
Elliot, __ 1 Frazer John 1
Flancy, Daniel 1 Ford, Issac, Lewis, John 3
Freeland, Samuel 1 Foster, James 1
Frazer, Daniel 2 French, Thomas 1
Gilliland, Hugh 2 Guise, Charles and John 5
Gibson, John 1 Gramer, John 1
Grant, Squire 4 Gallaspy, William 1
Gentry, John 1 Geter, Argolas 1
Glaves, Michael 1 Guffy, Alexander and Henry 2
Hogan, Daniel 1 Harrod, Barnard 1
Hardin, M. 1 Hooper, William 1
Hooper, Absalom 7 Hall, James 1
Handley, S. 1 Huston, Ben 1
Hardin, B. 1 Hogan, H. 1
Henry, Hugh and Isaac 2 Hay, David 3
Hodge, F. 1 Harmand, Anthony 1
Hampton, A. 3 Howard, John 1
Hollis, James, John, Joshua
4 Heaton, Robert and Amos 5
Hinds, William, Hamilton
James and Thomas
3 Harrold, Robert 1
Hays, Robert 4 Hope, John 1
Hannah, Jos. 2 Hornberger, Phil. 1
Harris, James 1 Ilor, M. 1
Jones, James and John 2 James, Daniel and Edward 2
James, Thomas 7 Joslin, Ben 1
Johns, Richard 1 Johnston, William 1
Kirkpatrick, John 3 Kennedy, Robert 1
Love, Joseph 1 Loggans, William 1
Lewis, Thomas and Hugh 2 Lenier, James and Henry 4
Lucas, Andrew 1 Lyles, Hugh 1
Long, William 1 Lancaster, Jno., 2 and Wm., 1 3
Lynn, Adam 1 Lindsay, James 1
Luper, John 1 Martin, Joseph 1
Marshall, William 1 McAllister, James 1
Mears, William 1 McNight, William 1
McFarland, John 1 Motheral, John 1
Mitchell, William 2 Mayfield, Isaac 1
Marshall, John 1 McGowen, Samuel 1
McDowell, John 1 McNight, Robert 1
Moore, William 1 Marlin, Archibald 1
McCarty, Jacob 1 McAntosh, Ben 1
Miller, Isaac 1 McAntosh, Thos. And Chas. 2
Murdoch, John 1 Martin, Samuel 2
McCain, Thomas 1 McFarland, Thomas 1
Maclin, William 7 McGough, John 1
Molloy, Thomas 3 Miniss, Ben 1
Moore, Alexanderv 1 McWhister, William 1
Martin, Archibald 1 McCutchen, Patrick, Samuel,
And James
McSpadden, __ 1 Murry, Thomas 1
McLane, Ephraim 1 McLane, Ephraim, (2d) 1
McFadden, Jas. 2, David 1, 3 McFarlin, James 2
McSea, John 1 Nobles, Mark 1
Neal, Thomas 1 Nash, William 1
Nusam, Jonas 2 Neely, Isaac 2
Nevilles, George 4 Owens, Charles and Arthur 2
Oglesby, John 1 O’Neall, Jonathan 2
Overall, Nathaniel and Wm. 2 Prince, Francis 10
Phillips, John 1 Pennington, Jacob 4
Pirtle, George 1 Payne, Matthew, George and
Peterson, Isaac 1 Pollock, William B. 1
Pennington, Isaac 3 Prochman, Phil. 1
Ruland, Lewis 1 Ray, Stephen 1
Rounsevall, David, Isaac and
3 Robertson, Alex 2
Robertson, M. and Mark 2 Ralston, David 1
Ramsey, William 1 Reckner, Coonrod 1
Roberts, Isaac 1 Reed, Alexander 1
Robertson, Elijah 6 Robertson, Richard 1
Robertson, James 8 Ramsey, Josiah 2
Ross, James 1 Stuart, William 1
Shaw, Joseph, William and
3 Shannon, Samuel, William
and David
Shoat, Isaac 1 Standley, David, Joseph and
Smothers, A. 1 Spiles, W. 1
Singleton, St. John 1 Smith, Jesse and Ezekial 2
Stump, Frederick 4 Stump, Frederick, Jr. 1
Shannon, John 1 Steel, Andrew 1
Sutton, M. 1 Stull, Zachariah 1
Scott, James 1 Swanson, Edward 1
Sides, P. 2 Shelby, Evan 4
Thompson, Azariah 4 Thompson, Thomas,Laurence and Andrew 3
Taylor, Thomas 1 Thomas, John, William, Isaac, John 4
Tillsforth, Isaac 3 Thompson, Charles, James, Robert 3
Taitt, William 1 Titus, Ebenezer 1
Todd, James 1 Tennin, H. and James 2
Walker, Samuel, John, Phil. 3 Walker, John 2
Wells, H. 1 Winters, C. and M. 2
Wallace, Samuel 1 Willis, James 1
Williamson, James 3 Williams, Dan and Daniel 2
Williams, Sampson 1 Williams, William 2
Woolard, Isaac 1 White, Solomon 1
Wilcocks, Samuel 6

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Early Ethnic Restaurants in Nashville

Nick Fielder asked on a Facebook page, I Remember Nashville When, about the first pizza, and Mexican restaurants in Nashville. I did some searching in old newspapers and was surprised at how early ethnic restaurants were operating in Nashville. And of course, that made me want to know more. People came from all over the world to Nashville. Naturalization records at Metro Nashville Archives include persons from Italy, Germany, Russia, Bavaria, Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, Greece, France, Scotland, Canada, and many other countries.

I am going to start with Faucon's, an early French restaurant in Nashville.

The Tennessean June 15, 1910

Union Street and Faucons about 1918.  TSLA

Xavier Faucon opened his business at 419 Union Street in February of 1896. Faucon was born in France and came to the U.S. when he was 14 years old. He settled in New Orleans where he married Marie Pons. In 1896 he opened a restaurant on Union Street. In 1904, Faucon turned management of the restaurant over to his son Leon and moved to Biloxi, Mississippi. Leon operated Faucon's until his death in 1926. Xavier closed the restaurant soon after saying he was tired and needed to be in Biloxi with his wife. The restaurant was known for it's famous Faucon Salad. My mother told me Faucon's Salad had a Roquefort Cheese dressing. Jimmy Kelly's has the Faucon Salad and what is said to be an authentic recipe on their menu today. Click here for Jimmy Kelly's Steakhouse Menu.


Italian restaurants seemed to have been on almost every corner. Some were chili parlors or cafes and others were full-scale restaurants with varied menus. In the early 20th century there were many Italian families living in Nashville. A good number of them were musicians from the city of Viggiano. After living in Nashville a few years most of them gave up music for the grocery business or opened a restaurant or cafe. Varallo is a name that most every native Nashvillian knows, Frank Varallo, Sr. started out peddling chile from a cart downtown. In 1907 he opened his first restaurant or chili parlor.

 Tony Petrucelli and Frank Varallo Sr. Subway Chili Parlor, operated by Frank Varallo, Sr. TSLA

Nick Melfi had a chili parlor of Church Street. By the 1930's had moved to 21st Avenue and were serving American, Italian, and Chinese fare. Antonio Petrucelli opened his chili parlor on Deaderick Street in 1921 and declared himself Tony the Chili King. Tony's brother Dominick Petrucelli had a cafe on Church Street where he served breakfast lunch and dinner American style but ravioli chili and spaghetti were always on the menu.

Tony's Chili Parlor, 317 Deaderick. Nashville Banner 1956

Various members of the Petrone family was in the restaurant business for many years. There was a restaurant on West End, another on 21st and one in Inglewood on Gallatin road.

Corsini's was the first to advertise the sale of pizza.

The Tennessean, January 28, 1950


Nashville had a Greek community in the early 20th century and some of those citizens were in the restaurant business. Thomas Velaski, John Katsoulis, George Pasayan, George Callis, George Condras, James Douglas (Dubros) and George Douglas (Dubros) were all listed in the 1920 census for Nashville as proprietors of restaurants. Very little mention of these restaurants appeared in newspapers. The best know Greek restaurateurs were the owners and operators of Candyland in downtown Nashville. Angelo Anderson and his brother Sam were born in Greece with the name Theodoropoulous. The brothers along with their nephew Louis Belios founded Candyland in 1923.

Candyland, Church Street. Nashville Public Library.


Though ethnic in name only the first Chinese food served by a Nashville Restaurant may have been at the Midway Grill on 6th Avenue North.

In 1931 Melfi's was serving up Chinese cooking along side Italian cooking.


There was a restaurant on Church Street selling both Mexican and Chinese in 1944, but it does not seem to have been around very long.

The Tennessean, April 14, 1944. 

The first Mexican Restaurant opened in Nashville seems to be El Taco which opened in Nashville in September of 1963. In 1970 Vincente and Ernie Chaires opened an El Taco restaurant on Gallatin Road in Inglewood.

The Tennessean, September 8, 1963.

In 1984 the Charies opened Es Fernando at the same location where he had earlier operated the El Taco franchise.

In 1905 there was a Hungarian restaurant on Union Street.

There were hoards of Germans and Swiss in Nashville but I have not identified an early German restaurant. The famous Gerst House restaurant was opened in Nashville on 2nd Avenue North, in 1955 by W. M. Gerst. His daughter and her husband Gene Ritter later took over the restaurant. They operated the business until it was forced to move in 1970. The Ritters hauled all of the memorabilia across the river to 228 Woodland Street. Patrons followed and it became a favorite watering hole for lawyers and judges after a long day at the courthouse. In 1988 the restaurant was purchased by purchased by Jim and Jerry Chandler. The name was changed from Gerst House to Gerst Haus. When plans were announced to build a stadium for our Tennessee Titans, it was learned that the Gerst Haus would be relocated once again. The restaurant reopened in the summer of 2000. It was across Woodland Street from the old location on Interstate Drive. Sadly in February of 2018, the Gerst Haus was closed after more than 60 years of business.

Gerst House, 2nd Avenue North, Metro Nashville Archives.

Gerst Haus, 2017

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Grubbs Cracker Company, Second Avenue.

Corner of Market and Clark Street, 1887. The Comet, Yearbook of Vanderbilt University.
This is H. B. Grubbs Cracker Company in 1887. At the time this etching was made it was Market Street and Clark Street, Second Avenue North and Bank Street. The building was a part of the Morris-Stratton block. It was on a part of lot 10 and lot 11 of the original plan of the town of Nashville. Both lots were owned by Lardner Clark, an early pioneer who came to Nashville in 1784.  He is credited with opening the first dry goods store in Nashville. Clarks store is believed to have been on the same lot where the H. B. Grubbs Company was located.

Corner of Market and Clark Street, (2nd Avenue North and Bank Street) 2018. Loop
The image of the building caught my attention and brought forth all sorts of questions. The building or at least what remains of it is at the corner of 2nd Avenue North and Bank Street. I did some searching and did not find much information online.  Part of a complex of buildings known as Washington Square and as described by the website 511/Washington Square is "owned by an offshore high net worth individual."

A new building was erected on the site in 1870 and 71 by the Morris & Stratton Company. The company had owned the entire block along Market for some time. A four-story building that housed the companies grocery business was on Market Street, just north of and adjoining the newly proposed building. "The building will front 67 feet, 9 inches on Market and run back 85 feet on Clark. It will be four stories high including a mansard roof...The corner piers will be of cut stone and the front embellished with iron columns."

Article mentions new building at Market and Clark. Nashville Union and American, June 25, 1870
I don't know if this is the same building that exists today, but I have not found any information that the building was destroyed between 1870 and 1887. Nor have I found evidence that a newer building was erected there. 1887 was the year an image of the building appears in several publications. There is no mansard roof and there may have never been one. The architecture is Italian, the number of stories is the same and cut stone was used in the piers. A large fire in 1890 apparently caused more damage to equipment and supplies than to the building. The front facade appears much the same as it did in an 1887 image. The building in 1887 is longer than the one standing now.

In 1881 Kindred J. Morris (one-time mayor of Nashville) and his partner, Thomas E Stratton partitioned the property that they owned on Market Street between an alley near the public square and Clark Street into eight lots. Lot one and two were at the corner of Market and Clark Streets and it is on these lots that the building at 214-216 Market Street is located today. As shown on the plat of the two lots

The portion of the plat in book 57, page 18, Morris & Stratton Partition, 1881, showing lots one and two.
Soon after the partition was made Thomas E. Stratton died. Lots one and two went to his children, Carrie Stratton Burnet and her brother Mosely T. Stratton. As shown on the plat above lots one and two fronted on Market Street, running north 68 feet, two and three-quarters inches. On the south side of the lot, the line ran east 210 feet, seven inches, then south along Front Street 69 feet, nine and one-quarter inches. Then back along Clark Street to the beginning. Excluded was the property of John Carper that was located in the middle of the lot and fronted on Clark Street.  In 1885 the two lots were sold to Samuel J. Keith for 15,000 dollars.

Plat book 57, page 18, Morris & Stratton Partition, 1881.

After S. J. Kieth purchased the property he leased the building to Grubbs Cracker Company from about 1885 through 1891. H. B. Grubbs moved to St. Louis and Dr. Heighway, one of the principals of the company retired in 1892.  The company was dissolved. In 1892 American Biscuit Company signed a five-year lease with Kieth for the building. American Biscuit was in business at Clark and Market Street until 1898 when National Biscuit Company bought out American. In 1901 National Biscuit built a new building farther south on Market Street. Mr. Kieth sold the property in the summer of 1903 to Spurlock-Neal Wholesale Drug Company. After some renovations, Spurlock-Neal moved into the building. That company eventually evolved into McKesson-Berry-Martin and later became McKesson & Robbins. More than seventy years later, the successor business Foremost-McKesson sold the lots and building to Comer Realty. Comer Realty had become by First National Company by 1983 when the property was sold to Washington Square Associates.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Meridian Street Mystery Solved

Researching buildings presents a challenge. Finding deeds and other records to compile a history of a building can be difficult. Records for houses built before the mid 20th century often are found lacking. During my time at Metro Nashville Archives, I developed along with another staff person and presented, workshops on house genealogy. The finding aids are many, maps, directories, tax records, deeds, plats, estate records, photographs and manuscript collections at local libraries and archives. Some records are limited to buildings inside a defined area or time period.

The following is a result of research for two Queen Anne houses in East Nashville on Meridian Street. They were likely constructed at the same time by a local builder. The project would have been under the direction of James H. Williams who owned the property. Williams was a native of Davidson County born in Antioch in 1857. His parents were Elmore W. Williams and Susan Hamilton Williams. James H. Williams was married to Fannie M. Bridges in 1885. Fannie was born in the Goodlettsville community of Davidson County in 1859. She was a daughter of Frances Patrick Bridges and Margaret Bowers Bridges. The family genealogy is given here to dispel the myth that the houses were built by members of the McGavock family or McGavock descendants.

Meridian Street, Lots 59 and 60, Lindsley's Addition. Google Image Feb 2016.

In 1889 James H. Williams purchased lots 59 and 60 from C. O. Jackson as a single tract of land. The deed recorded in book 137, page 147, stated that the parcel had originally been the North Edgefield Street Railroad lot. An atlas of Nashville in 1889, shows that there were no buildings on the lots. Williams purchased several lots on the north side of Grace Avenue, then Josephine Avenue around that same time. One of the lots, at 305 Grace Avenue became the home of James H. Williams and his wife Fannie Bridges Williams. James and Fannie were parents of three children, Nellie, Clifton, and Corrine.  The Williams family never lived in the houses on Meridian Street. The family rented the houses for all of the years that they owned them.

Atlas of Nashville 1889, showing part of Lindsley's addition. 
Williams briefly transferred the lots on Meridian Street to A. T. Armstrong in 1890. Within a few months, the property was deeded back to Williams.  In May of 1891, James H. Williams transferred to his wife Fannie, for love and affections, several parcels of land including lots 59 and 60 on Meridian Street. Fannie owned the property for many years. In 1917 she was cited in a local newspaper as being delinquent on the property tax for 708 and 710 Meridian Street. At that time she also owned properties on Grace Avenue at 301, 303, 305, 307 and 311.

The_Tennessean_Thu__May_31__1917_delinquent taxes

Finding out exactly when a house was built is not an easy task. Pinning the construction date down to ten years is an accomplishment. Some building permits were published in newspapers and in Nashville Annual Reports. Building permits for these houses have not been located. The style of the twin houses in Queen Anne, popular between 1880 and 1910. We know these were built after December of 1890 and before early 1903 (see update below). Sidney Caldwell is listed as residing at 710 Meridian in the Nashville City Directory for 1903.

In summary, the houses at 708 and 710 Meridian were built between 1891 and 1902. The owners of the property at the time the houses were built were James H. and Fannie M. Bridges Williams. The Williams family did not build the houses to live in, but instead as rental property. There is no apparent connection of this family to that of James McGavock who owned the land from 1816 until his death in 1841. The tract was called Fountain Blue and at his death consisted of 352 acres. His daughter Lucinda McGavock Harris inherited the home place.  Lucinda's daughter Lucie Harris Lindsley became the sole heir to the section of land that was later divided to contain lot 59 and 60 of the Lindsley addition. In 1908 the houses are shown on a map of Nashville.

Hopkins Atlas of Nashville, 1908.

An advertisement by a realtor offering to sell the house in 2007, stated that the house at 708 Meridian was built by the McGavocks for one of their twin daughters. The myth may have originated in an attempt to add a bit of colorful but untruthful history.

Update - An 1897 Sanborn maps shows the houses have already been constructed.

1897 Sanborn map LOC

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Neely Harwell & Co.

When the public square was still intact, a bus trip from town to East Nashville over the Woodland Street bridge took one past the Neely Harwell building. No one around today can remember before it was there. It has been gone for about 40 years, a victim of urban renewal. This was a wholesale company with a sales team that spread out across Middle Tennessee and several states selling their dry goods and notions to retail stores. The business began in 1910 with a merger of two companies, Warren, Neely & Co. and Harwell, Park & Co. George M. Neely and Samuel K. Harwell became principals in the new firm.

Both Neely and Harwell had been in the dry goods business for some years. Neely had partnered with A. S. Warren in 1893. Warren & Neely reorganized in 1895 and brought in S. K. Harwell. Harwell went out with his own business for a while but came back in 1910.

The Tennessean, June 25, 1916

The business was on the southeast corner of the public square at the Woodland Street Bridge. The building was constructed after 1884.  A photo showing the east side of the square was made during the building of the Woodland Street bridge and the Neely Harwell Co. structure is not present.

East side Public Square, 1884, Metro Nashville Archives, Creighton Collection

By the early 1960's the company had expanded into the adjacent building to the north. That building can be seen in the 1884 photo.

The Tennessean, March 31, 1962
In 1976, the buildings on the east side of the public square were demolished for an urban renewal project. Neely Harwell and Co. moved across the river to Russell Street in East Nashville. In 1993 the company closed after almost one hundred years in business. The Gay Street Connector now runs through the property where these building stood.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Pennington Bend

Pennington Bend and the Briley Parkway Bridge in the mid-1960's. Photo from Metro Nashville Archives.

Pennington Bend is probably most known today for the Opry Mills Shopping Center. From 1972 until 1997 it was home to the Opryland Amusement Park. Before Opryland came to the bend, it was mostly farmland. From the mid-1940's until 1990, Rudy's Farm Sausage Company operated in the bend. It was a community where everyone knew each other.

McSpadden's Bend. Foster's 1871 map of Davidson County

Some of the first landowners were Lardner Clark, James Mulherrin, John Graves, and Thomas Craighead.  Thomas McSpadden was an early resident, buying land there in 1797. The early deeds referred to the property as being in "as the first large bend above Nashville." The area came to be known as McSpadden's Bend.

In 1814, Graves Pennington came to the bend. He purchased his first tract of land from Thomas McSpadden. Over the next 50 years, the Pennington family bought many tracts of land and eventually had a large farm there. Sometime after 1880, the area began to be called Pennington's Bend.  It is called by that name today. 

Pennington Bend, 1907

Following is the obituary for John W. Pennington, son of Graves Pennington. He died in McSpadden's Bend. 

The Tennessean, August 26, 1877

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Nashville Businesses

This is a listing of Nashville area businesses (excluding restaurants) that were around in 1950 or before and are still in operation in Nashville/Davidson County. If the business has a website, click the company name to go to the site. If there is an online history, the link will be provided. If there is no history, I will do some research and add it as time permits. Many were suggested to me by facebook readers. I have a lot more businesses to include and will do so in a later post. The businesses are not in any particular order. Just scroll through to read.

Floral Companies.

Emma’s Flowers. Emma Schneider was employed by Harrison Bros. Florist in Nashville in 1933 as a bookkeeper. During her years at Harrison Bros., Emma was a member of several on groups. These included the Retail Credit Association and the Business and Professional Women's Club. When these group held meetings, Emma was often in charge of decorations and flowers.  In May of 1940, Emma opened her own flower shop at 6th and Union on the ground floor of the Hermitage Hotel. When Emma died in December of 1947, Nashville businessman, J. H. Tidman, purchased Emma's Flowers and moved the business to 2410 West End.  Mr. Tidman passed away in 1987, and the operation of the flower shop was continued by his son, J. H. Tidman Jr.  Rebecca Tidman, granddaughter of Tidman, Sr. eventually took over management of the shop. Emma's is still in business today at 2410 West End. 

Emmas Flower Shop, Tennessean, May 11, 1940.

Joy's Flowers. The Joy family came to Nashville in 1877. Thomas Joy leased five acres of land and planted a garden. He sold his flowers at the Nashville Market House on the public square. It was in 1882, that Thomas S. Joy and Thomas C. Joy bought land on what is now Lischey Avenue. The Joy family lived on this property and grew their business here. They acquired additional land as the company expanded. The company, though no longer owned by the Joy family, has continued in business in Nashville.  Click for a more complete history of Joy's Flowers. 

Geny's Flowers and Bridal Geny's may be the oldest floral company to survive. Brothers Leon and John B. Geny came to the U.S. from France and settled in Nashville. John B. Geny was married in Nashville in 1869 and Leon was married here in 1877. The Geny brothers were listed as gardeners and were members of the Tennessee Horticulture Association in the late 1860's. At semi-annual fairs, the Geny's exhibited both vegetables and flowers. John B. Geny was first listed in a city directory in 1874 as a florist. For a few years, the brothers had stalls in the market house on the public square where they sold vegetables and flowers. John B. died in 1887 and Leon in 1878. Their widows continued selling at the market house. Leon has only been married a few months when he died and had no children. By the time of John B. death, his sons were old enough to help their mother in her business. Geny's is still in business in Nashville and is operated by John Geny. 
Hody's Florist   Flowers by Louis Hody was opened for business in 1950 by Robbie Hody. Louis Hody was a nurseryman for Joy Flowers and for Harrison Bros. Florist. The business was located on West Hamilton Road. In 1978, John Ingram became a co-owner. The business is now owned by Bill Hitt who was selected by Mrs. Hody and John Ingram to take over the business. Click for a more complete history of Hody's Florist.  

Other businesses in operation 1950 or before and are still in operation in Nashville/Davidson County.


Hosse & Hosse Lock and Safe Company.  Click here to read a history of Hosse & Hosse 

Warren Paint & Color Co.  The Warren Paint and Color Company was incorporated in 1909 by Joseph M. Warren, Sr. and Joseph M. Warren, Jr.  Joseph Sr. had previously been associated with Warren Bros. in partnership with his brother Jesse Warren. The company operated a large factory in Nashville.  In 1925 Warren Paint could manufacture 6500 gallons of paint and 1,100 gallons of varnish a day. The family sold the business in 1965. Today it is owned by the Smythe family and Jeff Smythe is president.

Warren Paint and Color Company. Tennessean, June 7, 1925
Warren Bros. Sash & Door started as a  business in 1853. Brothers and partners Jesse Warren and Joseph M. Warren were the founders.   Click here for a history of Warren Bros. Sash and Door.

Dury's. The Dury name has been known in Nashville since about 1850. George Dury came from Bavaria and settled in Nashville about 1850. He taught art at the Nashville Female Academy and was well known as a landscape and portrait painter. His son opened the well known Dury's Photographic Supply and Camera stores in Nashville in 1882. The Dury family sold the business in 1968 to Mr. Warren T. York, who retained the historic business name. Click here for more history of Dury's.

Duke Signs - The Sign Shop was opened in 1917 by Charlie Black. Elmer Duke went to work for Mr. Black around 1918 and in 1923 Duke purchased the business. The shop is located today at 932 So. Douglas Ave. David Duke, a grandson of Elmer, operates the business today.


Cummings Signs was opened in Nashville in 1943 by founder Thomas L. Cummings, Jr. The company is still located in Nashville, as well as Knoxville, Dothan Alabama and Colton California. Click here for more history of Cummings Signs. 


Davis Cabinet Company. This furniture maker, dating back to 1929,  is known in Nashville and around the country for creating quality and beautiful wood furniture. Click to read about the history Davis Cabinet Company.


Purity Dairies products have been a favorite for Nashvillians for over 90 years. Now owned by Dean Foods the company is still headquartered in Nashville.  Click to read about the history of Purity Dairies.

Purity Milk Truck, from the company website.


Standard Candy Company is best known for Goo Goo Clusters. King Leo stick candy is another well-loved product. From 1901 through 2017 Standard Candy has been headquartered in Nashville. Known today as the Standard Functional Foods Group the company is owned by the Spradley family. Click here for a great history Standard Candy Company.


Ambrose Printing Company traces its roots to 1865 in Nashville.  In 2017 the company is still owned by the Ambrose family. Click here to read a brief history of Ambrose Printing. 


Methodist Publishing House. In 1854 Nashville was chosen as the site to build a new publishing house for the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Methodist Publishing has had a presence in Nashville since it opened in 1855.  Click here to see photos and read a history of the Methodist Publishing House.

Methodist Publishing House, 1957.


Mack Pest Control. C.C. (Mack) McKelvey started his business in 1944. The company was incorporated in 1952. Click here to read a history of Mack Pest Control. 


Lipman Brothers is the oldest wholesale liquor distributor in Tennessee. Brothers Harry and Meyer Lipman started the business at 206  2nd Ave. South, in 1939. Click to read a history of Lipman Brothers. 


Vietti Foods. The company's website indicates that Vietti chili started out in Nashville in 1898. The research did not place the Vietti family in Nashville until about 1935.  In 1936, Vietti Foods was incorporated in Nashville. Peter C. Vietti headed up the company, which was formed to can food, which included chili. In 2017, Vietti Foods had a canning plant on Southgate Ave. in Nashville.


George P. Howell, realtor, and auctioneer in Madison, Tennessee, went into business under his own name in 1945. In 1946, he added, "And Son." The son was William "Billy" Hugh Howell. Mr. Howell died in September of 1958 and his son Billy took over operation of the company. Billy brought his sons Hugh and Gwynn into the company, in the 1970's.

George P. Howell and Sons Realty. Image from Google, 2011.


Draper Jewelry has been in Nashville since 1944. In that year Robert Draper became a partner in Reale Jewelers, located on Church Street in downtown Nashville. Click here to read more about Draper Jewelry. 


The Cedar Place. This company started in 1944 with a different purpose. It was the V. A. Tayntor Company in the beginning. By 1952, Mr. Tayntor was offering for sale, chests, picnic tables, lawn chairs and mailbox stands all built of cedar wood. Click here to read the history of The Cedar Place.


Nashville Trunk and Bag has a long history in Nashville. Charles Weakley opened the business in 1908, under the name Nashville Trunk and Manufacturing Company. He did very well until the Great Depression. In 1932, Mr. Weakley filed for bankruptcy. Emanuel "Manny" Feldman bought the company from bankruptcy court for 500, according to his grandson, Ted. In 1934, the Feldman family chartered a company under the same name, Nashville Trunk and Manufacturing Company. Financially backed by Emanuel Feldman, the incorporators were Daisy Feldman wife of Emanuel, Buford Feldman son of Emanuel, and Roselind Feldman wife of Buford. The company was called Nashville Trunk and Bag and Daisy was listed as President. Eventually, Buford and his brother Albert Feldman headed the company. In 1956, Buford left the company to start his own business. Albert continued to operate Nashville Trunk and Bag. Albert died in 1979 and his son Tim took over.  Tim was killed just two years later in a car accident. In 1981 Ted Feldman, twin brother of Tim became president of the company.  Ted stayed with the business until 1992, when he sold to Robert Scruggs and Robert Whisenant. In 2017 Nashville Trunk and Bag are still operating on a smaller scale. The store is located in Green Hills and is owned by Susan Cavender. Ms. Cavender worked for the Feldman family. She continued with the business after it was sold to Scruggs and Whisenant. About ten years ago Ms. Cavender purchased the company from the owners and operates the remaining location in Green Hills.


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Hadley Park

The question of the hour is who is Hadley Park named for? That question has gone unanswered for more 100 years. I am not sure it can be determined. I have my own ideas about how it was named. In the end, though, my opinion is just more conjecture. However, you can be certain the park was not named for John L. Hadley. He owned no land there. I don't know how his name ever got in the mix. The historical marker at the park gives John L. Hadley's name. In 1984 Hadley Park Tennis Center sponsored the John L. Hadley Tennis Classic. I cannot find any explanation as to why they did this. In 1991, a Tennessean writer stated that the park was named for John L. Hadley who donated the land for the park from his plantation. There is no earlier association with the name John L. Hadley and Hadley Park to be found. I can only guess that some person, curious about who the park was named for found the name of John L. Hadley and it stuck.

Hadley Park, image from

The property where Hadley Park is located was purchased in January 1837 by William Hadley. Hadley was at one time, Mayor of Gallatin, Tennessee. Around 1836, William Hadley moved to Nashville, having been recently widowed. In 1837 he purchased from John Nichol, 178 acres of land situated where Hadley Park is located today. His neighbors, mentioned in the deed were Matthew Barrow, Beal Bosley, and Boyd McNairy. In 1838, Hadley married for a second time to Mary Hull Barry. In 1840, Mary gave birth to a daughter, who was also named Mary. While little Mary was just a toddler, her father died in 1842. William Hadley left his all of his property to his wife and his daughter. He made a provision for his slaves to be emancipated if his daughter should not attain the age of 15.

Mary lived to adulthood and 1860 census records show that she owned 15 slaves. In 1860 she was living on the farm she had inherited from her father, with her mother Mary Barry Brown and stepfather John Lucien Brown. In 1864 Mary married to William Clare. Before her marriage, she had a prenuptial contract drawn up to keep her property separate from her husband. In the contract, she estimated the property left to her by her father William Hadley had a value of $100,000. She and her husband lived together in the house that Mary had inherited. It was near and south of Jefferson Street. An 1871 map shows the location of the Clare family and a footprint of their house.

Location of Mary Hadley Clare property in 1871.  Library of Congress

After the death of her husband, William Clare in 1870, Mary attempted to rent the house. Eventually, she moved into town. In 1887 Mary Hadley Clare and her mother, Mary Brown sold the house and property to Walter Stokes. The language used in the deed mirrored that of the deed from 1837 of her father's purchase from John Nichol. The house changed hand several times and in 1904 Mrs. Roberta Harding, wife of John Harding, Jr. bought the house and 34 acres. The Hardings placed the property in the hands of a trustee, P. D. Houston in 1911. Houston transferred the tract to Realty Savings Bank and Trust who in turn sold the property to the Board of Parks on June 11, 1912. Hadley Park was dedicated on July 4, 1912.

Nashville Globe, July 12, 1912, shared with me by Sherrie Davids

William Hadley had been dead for seventy years when Hadley Park was created. It would have not made sense to name the park for a person that few people living could remember. Mary Hadley Clare had died a few years before and would have had no input on the naming of the park. Dr. W. A. Hadley may have well been a slave of Mary Hadley Clare, but he was born 10 years after William Hadley died. Dr. Hadley's father, Charles Hadley was born in 1830. He could have been one of William Hadley's slaves and if so he would have known him. I found one instance that stated the park was named for "Mr. Hadley" the original owner of the land. The article continues with biographical information of Dr. W. A. Hadley with this statement, "and while the park was not primarily named for him..."  This indicates that the park was named for an ancient landowner who had been dead for seventy years and also for Dr. W. A. Hadley. It was controversial that the city had purchased land for a park for the exclusive use of African-American citizens. It was believed that it was the first municipal park in the country to be dedicated as such. If the intention had been to name the park for Dr. Hadley, the fact would have been hidden to prevent further dispute.

Dr. William Abrums Hadley was born in Davidson County. He had lived near the park and had raised his family in the area. His father and mother Charles and Sarah Hadley lived in the neighborhood. His brothers Jordon and Crump lived there as well. In 1870 Dr. Hadley married Jennie Martin. They were parents of five children. Dr. Hadley graduated from Meharry Medical College and practiced medicine for a time. He left the medical field to teach. He was principal for many years at Knowles School. When he died in 1901, he was the principal of Carter School. He was the founder in 1872, of one of the early African-American fraternal societies in Tennessee, The Independent Order of the Immaculates. A son, Charles O. Hadley, served in the Army, Company G, in the first world war. He was, like his father, a graduate of Meharry Medical College. In addition to practicing medicine, Charles O. Hadley was a professor at Meharry.

Dr. Charles O. Hadley, son of Dr. W. A. Hadley, Nashville Globe

Much credit was given to Ben J. Carr for the park. It was reported that without Carr's effort, in persistently contacting Mayor Howse, the park would not have been created.

To sum it all up, we may never know who the park was named for. We just know it was not named for John L. Hadley. We do know that Hadley Park has a long history in the community near TSU. Many people have lifelong memories of the park, and memories handed down by their elders. A ceremony honoring W. A. Hadley and dedicating the park in his honor might go a long way to remove any bitter taste that the name of the park has caused.

Sources -
The Nashville Globe.
The Tennessean.
Davidson County Register of Deeds.
Davidson County Court Rule Number 4289.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Tennessee Centennial Exposition, 1897

There is a goldmine of information online about the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897. It took so much money and time to prepare that it happened a year after the official birthday of the state of Tennessee. 

The Fine Arts Building. Official History of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.

There was an Official History of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, published in 1898. The book of almost 500 pages it full of photos, drawings, and history. You can read the book online or download to read at your leisure. A link will be included at the bottom of the page for the book and other sources. The photos of the exposition were found at the Tennessee State Library and Archives website, at the Tennessee Virtual Archives website and at Pinterest of all places. Probably the photos on Pinterest also came from TSLA but they are not credited. The news clips were found at and the name of the paper and date will be in the caption.  Enjoy looking, and then click on the links to learn more.

Tennessee State Libary and Archives.

Pinterest - Donald Harris, 1897 Centennial Exposition.

Official History of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.

Pinterest - Donald Harris, 1897 Centennial Exposition. Sheet Music.

Photos of the buildings on the Centennial grounds are easy to locate. There were building with named for states and for cities. There were buildings representing agriculture, transportation, women, and children. There were specials days for farmers, local universities, and religious groups. 

Children's Building. TEVA
The links below will take you to more photos and information about the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897.

Official History of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. 

Tennessee State Libary and Archives. 

TEVA Tennessee Centennial Exposition Collection