Operation Full Moon

From Nashville, Natchez, New Orleans, Mobile to Pensacola and back

I left Nashville on Thanksgiving morning. I intended to take the Natchez Trace parkway, but in my haste to get on the road, I realized I did not have time to make my destination in Natchez before the required holiday check-in time. So I opted for the expressway via I-40. I was greeted by a continuous host of road-kills for hundreds of miles. I guess deer hunting season had started, and it was obvious by the carnage along the roadway. It’s fortunate I did not decide to leave at night, which I often do to avoid heavy traffic, but I figured T-day would be easy travel’n.

About an hour into my journey I pulled off the exit along the way looking for a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich. After a few stops, I realized that they were all closed for the holiday – and everyone else. Was this going to be a day of hunger on the most sacred American holiday? 

6 hours later, I arrived just in time for check-in, but Google sent me to the house on the opposite corner of the intersection. Gates being locked, I scaled the fence only to alarm the resident at their back door. He was convinced that it was one of his fathers friends playing a practical joke on him.

About 15 minutes after the appointed check-in time I found the stately Choctaw Hall B&B empty and locked. In my haste to pack for the trip, I had forgotten my car charger adaptor. At this point my iPad mini and iPhone were completely out of juice. Rummaging thru the trunk of my car, I found another one I had forgotten about, and called the proprietor of my temporary home. I was certain I would be feasting on a can of Polish sardines, nuts and rice cakes that night.

Choctaw Hall

My hosts were astonished to learn that I had not received their text. They had walked down the street to briefly attend a party. The couple raced back to greet me. The husband Lee grabbed my bags and carried them down to the lower level were the B&B rooms were located. He asked me if I would join them for Thanksgiving dinner upstairs at 6 PM. YES SIR!

I was seated with Lee, his wife, the elderly property owner David and four Texans staying for the night. We were seated at a large round table in the foyer between the library and dining room of this opulent four-story 1846 mansion. The grand dining room had a static display set for a 12 course meal. This exhibit is for daily tours of Choctaw Hall, except today there were none.

Twelve Course Dinner Static Display at Choctaw Hall, Natchez, Mississippi

Everyone was quite pleasant and we had a wonderful conversation over several delicious courses of turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, ham, biscuits and much more. There were five or six dessert options. I chose the chess pie and minced meat pie (a British specialty). The owner David asked me how I liked the latter. “It kind of reminds me of a sweet fruit cake. I think it would pair well with brandy”. “Right you are sir!” and he raced to the kitchen for a bottle and poured everyone a small glass in the Sherry Glasses that were already pre-positioned on the dinner table. 

The Choctaw Hall B&B – Special Thanksgiving Dinner with host Lee

We enjoyed each others company for over two hours. Towards the end I spoke for about 20 minutes about the The First World Flight that I am currently researching. To my astonishment, the entire group of seven listed attentively during my entire dissertation. 

At the end, one of the Texas ladies asked me if I was a writer or movie producer. No I said, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night, with a smile. I do have a  cousin that has six or seven Emmys. What’s his name she fired back, seemingly thinking I was telling tall tales. Billy Pittard I responded. You can look it up. You can also reference these adventures on my blog: bnabucketlist.com.

The next morning I got a VIP tour of all four levels of the house. I thought the Cedar Grove Mansion in Vicksburg was the pinnacle, but Choctaw Hall set the bar even higher. I’m not sure how far back David’s family owned this place, but I observed at least three generations on the wall in the music room. The three story cantilever stairwell is simply amazing. The Hermitage has nothing on this one.

David and Lee suggested I stop and see the Catholic Grand Cathedral down the street before I leave. It is the only one in the state of Mississippi, and took about 20 years to build. I had the place to myself the day after Thanksgiving.

Looking south towards my route to New Orleans, I selected a B&B near Port Hudson where my great-great grandfather was positioned at one point during the American Civil War. I think it is the last place on my bucket-list of his locations during that awful conflict. Captain Bearden and his twin brother Edwin narrowly escaped capture there during the Vicksburg Campaign, only to be taken down in the battles of Atlanta and Chickamauga respectively. They survived the war, but carried the scars for the rest of their lives.

It occurred to me that one of the 8 fliers in The First World Flight of 1924 was from Mississippi: Henry “Hank” Ogden. Referencing the original 1925 edition of the book I purchased on eBay a few weeks before, I learned that he was from the very small town of Woodville near the Louisiana state line. This was right on my path. Fueling up there I decided to check out the antique store across the street. The local elderly lady that owned it said she had never heard of Ogden and suggested I inform the local paper: The Woodville Republican. It is the oldest newspaper, as well as the oldest business, in continuous incorporated operation in Mississippi.

After touring the battlefield, I decided to hit one more antebellum mansion before I left the state. A road sign directed me to Rosemont. It’s easy to miss, but I found the back entrance and made it up the twisty gravel road. There was one car in the parking lot and they were wrapping up their tour. A polite black man named Jerome greeted me and I paid him the $20 admission fee. He said they use to get bus loads of people there, but I was the second visitor he had seen in two weeks! He had never heard about Hank Ogden either.

The house was not grand by the standards of Natchez or Vicksburg, but I could tell it had some age to it. To my amazement, he took me on a 30 minute tour of the former home of Jefferson Davis. He lived there from age 2 until he went off to Washington to be a Senator, Secretary of War and then on to the Presidency of the Confederate States of America.

Did the bus tour companies red-line Rosemont because of Black Lives Matter? If so, it certainly is at the expense of Jerome. What a shame. There is no way he can live on what ever he gets for the tours. I regretted not giving him a large tip.

I stopped in St. Francisville, Louisiana for the evening at a quaint old antique roadside cottage complex. The covered carports between each one have been converted to a sitting area with a courtyard between two rows of six little tiny-homes.

Magnolia Bed & Breakfast – Saint Francisville, Louisiana

I guess my B&B host went to high school in the 1970’s because the outdoor speakers played non-stop classic rock from the period. Most people seem to like the memories evoked by that sensory experience. I am not one of them. It was not loud enough to keep me up, put I could hear them clearly as I drifted off to sleep listening to Reelin’ In the Years. A few songs were soothing, but memories of my old Hillwood High School are not from my favorite chapter of life.

I arrived in New Orleans Saturday afternoon about 4 PM. The instructions on parking were very vague and I waited for over two hours for the mobile valet to arrive. Fortunately, like most Air B&B’s you check yourself in with a computer lock that has a code. The apartment was a few blocks from the Museum, so I could go back and forth.

The destination in The Big Easy was the National World War II museum on Magazine Street. I hadn’t been there in 23 years (it was The D-Day Museum then) with my two sons when they were little.  

Lest We Forget: The Mission & Ann Frank Statues – National World War II Museum

They have added five more buildings since then, and the sixth had just been dedicated by Tom Hanks a few weeks before. The Liberty Pavilion’s theme are the events following Germany & Japan’s surrender, including the Holocaust, the War Trials of Germany & Japan, the rise of the Cold War and beyond.

A sweet retired psychologist named Karen working at the information desk, said that they were given special training on how to deal with grieving people affected by the Holocaust theater movie. It is a powerful 30 minutes of interviews with survivors, filmed by USC Shoah Foundation in the 1990’s, when many were still living.

Everyone said it would take three days to cover the grounds. I did it in two. This was accomplished by taking my Disney World play book procedures: start at the back, and work your way forward. For the first two hours I had the place to myself starting in the middle of The Road to Tokyo. I made it all the way thru The Road to Berlin practically alone.

I was struck by the number of Japanese visitors both days. I wonder if they have to come here to get the full story?

Part of the new building included women of World War II. It is called Our War Too. I went over it closely, and watched both  videos. There is one big problem here: not a word about Cornelia Fort, the Nashville native, Ward-Belmont Alumni, WASP which was the first female pilot to lose her life in flight, on active duty. I think that the suggestion box will respond to this soon Karen assured me. Cornelia was also at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked – in the air, training another pilot!

WASP Cornelia Fort

Cornelia was the daughter of Dr. Rufus Fort, one of the founders of the National Life Insurance Company in Nashville. Their farm was adjacent to my great uncles in East Nashville near the present day Shelby Park. My uncle J.B. Henderson flew a Beech Bonanza off his farm pasture. His two sons, and even his daughter Ceacy were pilots too. Dr. Fort considered this a much too dangerous hobby and required his two sons to plague an oath not to take to the air. He failed to think of including his daughter in this agreement. The rest is prophetic history.

Monday morning I headed out early to see the U.S.S. Alabama in Mobile Bay. My Infinity computer said I had enough gas for the trip, but entering the expressway tunnel under the bay it went down to five miles – and abruptly dropped to ZERO. White knuckles all the way out of the tunnel. 

U.S.S. Alabama Floating Museum

Admission was $15 dollars with my $5 military discount. I was surprised by the large aircraft collection they had. I decided to see The Mighty Mo first.

Entering the hatch at deck level, I was reminded of the NAVY smell. Weather it’s an old airplane, ship or even operational buildings, they all have the same odor. I have yet to figure out why. 

By Monday, the tourists were tournée en force. Dodging all the screaming children running around, I sped through the compartments at a brisk pace, in order to make my final objective at the National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola. I had a 2-4 PM check in window for my B&B on Pensacola Bay too (I found out these windows are usually very flexible, this one included).

It had been 23 years since I had last seen the museum, and 41 years since I was a young Ensign in pursuit of my Wings of Gold at NPA. This place is hallowed ground for me.

I was greeted by a Marine 2nd Lieutenant and a Navy Ensign at the bag-search table. This was the first new addition to the facility I noticed. At the help desk I was greeted by a guy about my age with miniature Naval Flight Officer wings like mine. He had been thru the Officer & a Gentleman School (AOCS) just like I had, two years after me. We were having a great chat until interrupted by an older couple looking for something.

My main objective was to find a curator at the museum. I had emailed the general email address about a rare photograph I had discovered in the Nashville Archives, but had received no reply. Sometimes it’s better to just show up in person when this happens. I definitely learned that one from my Dad. He was known to push the limits with this tactic.

In the administrative office, the only one there was in the far back office. It was the deputy director of the Museum. He was very cordial, even though I had blown in unannounced. Ironically his last name was Godspeed.

I told him I had something he might want to get a copy of. It’s a photograph of the U.S.S. Shenandoah, a rigid airship about the size of the Hindenburg. It was designated the ZR-1. I knew that this was one of the oldest negatives in our collection of aerial images from the 105th Observation Squadron in Nashville, because the ZR-1 was lost in a violent thunderstorm in 1924.

I also flew military planes with the Air National Guard after my Naval Air Reserve service in Millington, Tennessee. By then, the 105th were in C-130’s. They now fly drones from the comfort of Berry Field Nashville (BNA).

I told him I would email him the best copy I had, and if we can ever get funding to have it restored (it buckled with age), I would send a better reproduction.

As I looped around the first floor, there she was: the T-2 Buckeye Navy jet trainer. This was the intermediate trainer for me at Training Squadron VT-10 there. It almost brought tears to my eyes, and as I read this to my mother last night, I could barely choke the words out:

T-2 Buckeye Navy Jet Trainer

Letter to Parents after B-4 Check-flight – 23 March 83

I flew my B–4 flight yesterday afternoon and did pretty well. I got an above average grade in my navigation hitting most all my turn points right on course. The only significant problem I had in the whole flight were my time estimates which were off due to a math error on my part (go figure). My pilot told me that the “hop” was above average and that I had good potential. I think this was the first flight so far that I really felt in control of everything and got a chance to call all the shots.

It was really something to bring that plane down. We started a decent from a cruising altitude of 25,000 feet, which was well above the cloud layer obscuring most of the Gulf Coast. That was really beautiful. It was just about sunset and the cloud layer looked like a huge amber quilt. 

Penetrating into the clouds was kind of creepy however. It seemed that instantly the clouds engulfed us and it got very dark immediately. I groped for the reo-stat control to my side and adjusted the instrument lights. It got bumpy and I felt my insides groan, but I kept my instrument scan checking airspeed, altitude, course, airspeed, altitude, course. 

Keying my helmet mic: “Approach Control Zero Foxtrot 27 leaving one-six thousand”. To instructor pilot: “Sir descend to 1200 feet…passing one 5000 feet… “Sir mark right heading zero niner zero… passing ten thousand…Sir mark right heading zero five zero” 

Approach: “Foxtrot 27 contact Sherman tower at the final approach fix with the gear” “Zero Fox 27 Roger, switching to the tower” “Sir slow to gear speed, standby for the landing checklist: fuel transfer-off, speed breaks-out, wheels-three down and locked, etc. “Tower Zero Foxtrot 27 final approach fix with the gear”. 

Tower: “Zero Foxtrot 27 is cleared to land on seven right, winds one two zero at twenty, altimeter 29.96”. “Zero Foxtrot 27 cleared on the right 29.96”.

Just about that time, we descended from 1200 feet and broke through the clouds, and there it was right on course – the beautiful blue approach lights of Sherman Field! “On glideslope… above glideslope… on speed… slightly fast… on glideslope… on speed… on glideslope… on speed etc. – touchdown”.

I never would have thought it possible. I’ll never forget thinking as we approached Denver International last May, how anyone could break through a layer of clouds just 1000 feet above the ground and land. We were also “crabbing” about 20 degrees to the right of the runway, due to the high wind speed. We’re on short-final looking over our left shoulder to look down the runway approach. It just didn’t seem possible – but it happened and it was great!

Well, let’s hope I can pull it off again tomorrow when I am sure I will probably fly my B-5 check flight.

Love, Bob

VT-10 NAS Pensacola

The last nostalgia stop was the legendary McQuire’s Irish Pub and Restaurant for a pint and Shepards Pie. When one of my buddies got his wings he was witnessed standing on the table drinking them down with a pitcher of beer there.

McQuire’s
My B&B in Pensacola

Thus ended my full-moon voyage into the past

As I headed out at the crack of dawn, with the full moon above me, I sang: “Up in the morning with the rising sun, Class 29 on a little run. I don’t know but I’ve been told, Navy wings are made of gold. I don’t know but it’s been, said Air Force wings are made of lead. Low, right left, lefty right left. Love to double time!”

Lt. Cdr. Bob Henderson, VP-67 & Captain 105th ALS

Free Public School Lunch for Impoverished Children

The genesis of free public school lunch for impoverished children in Nashville, TN

Teacher Cornelia Barksdale and her amazing works.

When my grandmother passed in 1978, it was a devastating loss to the family. She was the rock of our world and the most influential person in my young life. I was astonished to read in the paper a few days after her death, of the early works of her as a school-girl in about the 5th grade.

Some students in her class were chronically hungry at school. Her father owned a grocery store on Carroll Street just a block from the old Howard School, and on the same block as their residence. She persuaded him to donate food supplies that she then prepared, and brought to school for those in need.

1978
Margaret Daisy Kerr far left circa 1912

There are no newspaper accounts of my grandmother’s activities at the time, other than the amazing amount of social media coverage of the day: children’s birthday party attendees, trips to the country, illnesses, you name it.

In Nashville, Julia Green (the elementary school in Nashville on Hobbs Road is named for her) is credited with the free school lunch program (on the historical marker in front of the school). 

However, there is no mention of the free lunch program in the news relating to her, or in her obituary. This is not to say that she does not deserve some credit for it. After all, she was the newly appointed first supervisor of Davidson County elementary schools in 1911. 

Julia Green’s Passing in 1961

The first mention in the media of the free lunch for students appears in 1912. It is likely that this would have to had to been approved by Miss Green.

January 13, 1912. Cornelia Barksdale and two other Head School teachers launched a ground breaking social experiment that may have been to first of its kind in the South.

“Not many years ago the public schools of this country – especially in the factory districts – were trying to educate under-grown, poorly clothed and half-starved children, and could not understand why they failed to get the expected results. The children were backward and apparently stupid and some declared that it was hopeless to deal with them.”

Genesis of the free public school lunches for poor children

Whether my grandmother got the idea from Cornelia Barksdale, or she from her, we will probably never know for sure.

After the Head School experiment, Cornelia goes on to spear-head health care for low income students, launch the first “Special School” for advanced placement students, entertained children at the Carnegie Library with weekly story-telling and many, many more events, boards and committees.

She was one of the top lieutenants of the Suffragette movement and volunteered with the YMCA to serve in France during World War I.

suffrage association

newspapers.com captures 314 mentions of “Cornelia Barksdale” between 1900 and 1977 in Nashville,TN with 303 between 1910 and 1919. I have compiled about 70 of them that are noteworthy in this attached PDF:

Download the news articles on Cornelia Barksdale here.

Compiled by Bob Henderson during May – July 2023

@belmontguy

Brown’s Diner Part II

Car #2 Revealed

Last week 90% of historic Brown’s Diner Street Car #2 was demolished to make way for a larger diner kitchen. I observed the entire project and salvaged what I could, but very little of the original car was left, probably due to decades of updates, and at least two fires. They were fortunate that Ladder 16 was across the street for most, if not all of their 96 year old history.

The 4″x4″‘s underneath the floor were severely charred (I have several in my possession). Leaking grease from the grill is probably the accelerant for the fire below. I believe these are part of the original car, but what I found attached to them underneath, is another mystery.

Both cars have chassis that are clearly not from any known street cars, even mule drawn. A local expert surmises that the massive original Street Car iron wheels were salvaged and these were used to move the cars to their final resting place at Brown’s in 1927. The Car #1 wheels closely resemble those I found at the Ellington Agricultural Museum on farm equipment. The Car #2 wheels and chassis look very similar to old Circus Wagons. I would date both car chassis at around 150 years old.

Here is a 3D model of the documented components of Car #2. Note the pivot rings on the front end of the car. The video below illustrates their function.

This 3D image shows the remains of Car #2, about 7 feet of the original car length. The wheels and chassis are under the framing.

Nashville Inter Urban Railway

note: the term Trolley Car was never used for these vehicles

More on Nashville Street Car history

Brown’s Diner Part I

#streetcars

Nashville Street Cars

Brown’s Diner Investigation

Most people call it a Trolley Car, but the actual terminology in “the day” was Road Railway or Street Car. Shortly after the American Civil War in 1866, Memphis and Nashville adopted these public road transportation vehicles. Initially they were horse and mule drawn vehicles. Then they were powered by small locomotives called dummy railroads, and around 1889 they began the conversion to electric power.

In 1927 Brown’s Diner was opened using two former street cars as the restaurant in the form of a “T”. Brown’s is the second oldest restaurant in Nashville and holds the oldest beer permit: #0007.

From the recent renovation, these images suggest that Brown’s Diner’s cars may have been powered by mules or horses. But the wheels don’t match the car, and the 38 foot car is too large to be animal powered. One expert thinks these wheels are not original to the car and were only used to move it from the rail line to its current location. Car #1 which is perpendicular to Blair Blvd, and has two blocks of wheel trucks intact which have flat iron wheels 26 inches in diameter. They are not cast-iron like typical street cars. They also lack the sprung and equalized mechanism (suspension system) designed into a four-wheel truck system.

These iron spoked wheels resemble ones I observed the other day at the Tennessee Agricultural Museum at the Ellington Center, mostly used on 19th century farm equipment.

Axle assembly 16 feet from the west end of the car.

How the cars got to this location is speculative, but about 6 months before Brown’s opened in 1927, Nashville hosted the “Parade of Road Railways”, which is featured in Ralcon Wagners book Nashville’s Streetcars and Interurban Railways. Brown’s Diner is located at the terminus of the Nashville Street Railways line at Blair Boulevard and 21st Avenue.

Road and Road Railway Map

The rafters of Car #1 are covered back up with insulation, but here is what it looks like above the new ceiling:

21 rafters spaced about 21 inches apart, except for the ones next to the flue.

Car #1 measures 38 feet long in the interior, 8 feet wide and 7.5 feet tall. Two sets of wheel assemblies are located 41″ from the south end of the original car, and 16 feet from the west end of the car. They certainly had more wheels than just four to move the car. Probably eight wheels on two four set groups.

View 3D Wheel

Car #2 is yet to be examined, but one wheel was discovered near the intersection of Car #1. The mystery is the origin of that car because the wheel does not match any know street cars. It’s more like a wagon wheel consisting of wooden spokes and rim. It measures 32 inches in diameter.

Car #2 is either not a street car, or modified with these wheels to roll it into place. Examination will continue during the second phase of the renovation to begin sometime later this year.

From what has been examined so far, this 3D model represents the known structural elements of Car #1. I will make updates to it as more information is discovered.

View 3D Model of Car #1

Most desirable, are any pictures of Browns Diner before 1982 when the main dining area was added. Please leave a comment if you have anything to add.

This is the oldest known picture of Brown’s, probably from the 1940’s.

Brown’s Diner circa 1940’s

Address: 2102 Blair Blvd, Nashville, TN 37212

https://www.thebrownsdiner.com

https://www.facebook.com/brownsdinernashville/

Brown’s Diner Part II

A Virtual Native Village

My moments of stupidity are well documented, but my strokes of genius may have been under reported…

I was going round and round about the best use of the long abandoned playing field at Brookmeade Park in West Nashville: open space, dog park, soccer field? Native American Living History Village!? After all, it was the site of one of the largest archeological digs in Middle Tennessee.1 Artifacts were dated back to the Paleo-Indian period after the last ice-age. The Woodlands and Mississippian graves revealed an amazing amount of information about the tribes health, diet and mortality.

First of all, I don’t think the general public cares (or is even aware of) the indigenous people we all but wiped off the face of this country. All the more reason to tell the story and pay homage to them here: in a wooded area, on the edge of the capitol city of the state of Tennessee (Cherokee for Tanasi).

Practically speaking, a Living History Village would be expensive to build, and even more challenging to maintain and protect, especially at this location. Vandalism would be expected from the get-go.

Enter A/R. Augmented Reality is in insanely inexpensive compared to brick and mortar construction. In this case, the imagery is readily at hand.2 All the user needs is a smart phone, tablet or special glasses. Scan a QR Code and Bingo! Augmented Reality 3D imagery appears right before your peepers. And best of all, its bullet proof from vandals.

Check out this model in 3D and virtual reality on Sketchfab:

Brookmeade Park Greenway at Kelley’s Point by belmontguy

A/R Image Displayed on iPhone 13

American Battlefield Trust Tours:

Native American Monument at Fort Nashborough

Footnotes

  1. https://bnabucketlist.com/2022/01/31/native-american-graves-shrugged/↩︎
  2. Pro Bono construction by Bob Henderson. Nominal hosting service fees.↩︎

Log Cabin Shrugged

220 Year Old Homestead

John Phillips

1768-1846

Founding Father of Round Lick, Tennessee

2016

In 17971 brothers John (29) and Benjamin Phillips (31) migrated from western Pennsylvania to what was then called Round Lick in Wilson County, Tennessee. It was renamed Watertown in the mid-1800’s in honor of Wilson T. Waters, the grandson of one of it’s founders.

In 2021 one of the oldest Middle Tennessee frontier log cabins was removed from its 220 year old site. It may have been the oldest two-story log cabin in Wilson County. Parts of it were salvaged by a family descendant that hopes to one day restore a one-story version of the Phillips family homestead. A digital  reconstruction of the original cabin can be viewed here. Images of the second floor in 2016 can be viewed here.

2016

“Dr. J. M. Phillips, in an article on the Phillips family in the Watertown Sentinel, January  19, 1906, state: that the brothers and their families em-barked southward on a flat-boat on the Ohio River at Pittsburg, thence down the Ohio to the mouth of the Cumberland; that they disembarked there and struck out across the wilderness of Kentucky and Tennessee in wagons until they reached the headwaters of the Round Lick Creek at the present site of Watertown. The settlers followed the West fork of the creek until they came to a big spring in the canebrake, and it was there that they made their final halt. John Philips built his home only a short distance from the spring.” 2

Spring

On December 20, 1801, William Phillips sold 200 acres to John Phillips far $400 in cash. “Beginning at a hackberry on Lytle’s 2.5 west boundary, six poles 3 [33 yards] north of the creek running thence west one hundred and forty-nine poles [820 yards] and three-fourths to a stake; thence south two hundred and nineteen [1205 yards] and a half poles to a stake; thence east one hundred and forty-nine [820 yards] and three-fourths poles to three lynns; thence to the beginning; the whole containing two hundred acres be the same more or less with all its appurtenances.” 4

In the preceding years, John’s land increased to 365 acres. “The Wilson County Court Records of 1803 show that John Philips owned 200 acres of land on the Round Lick Creek and Benjamin 120 on Round Lick and 100 on the Hickman Creek. Both brothers acquired more land as they prospered. John bought fourteen acres from William Philips (of Davidson county) for $40 cash on December 14, 1808; ninety-five acres from William Campbell, for $750 cash on September 27, 1819; 21 acres from Richard Cartwright for $78 cash on December 10, 1829; and 35 acres from Joseph Philips for $350 cash. Both John and Benjamin received grants from the State of Tennessee, John’s on July 20, 1813, and Benjamin’s on May 24,1814. Both grants were signed by Willie Blount, governor.”5

John was a respected member of the community, but did not unite with any church, although his wife Mary was a member of the Baptist church. They had 11 children; six sons and five daughters. All eleven lived to raise families of their own.

“John Philips died July 30, 1846, at the age of 78; his wife, Mary pre-deceased him on November 20,1844, aged 71. Benjamin died only 28 days before his brother, on July 2,1846. Lydia Philips died August 19, 1851. The report of Sion Bass, administrator of Benjamin’s estate, was confirmed by the County Court December 14, 1848.

David Phillips, son of John, was appointed administrator of his father’s estate. However, David died September 30, 1846, only two months after John’s death, before he had completed his administrative duties. Rev. Henry Bass, who married John’s daughter, Francina, was appointed administrator de bonis non, and proceeded to wind up the estate.

John Philips accumulated more than a modest amount of wealth for a farmer of his day. When he died, he owned 350 acres of fertile land, and possessed $1,436.75 in gold and silver, $40 in bank notes and about three dozen promissory notes of various amounts. After the payment of all debts, his personal estate totaled $7,039.69. Each of his ten distributees received $703.96 and thirty-five acres of land.

Among the expenses itemized were: $1.00 to Doke Young for crying sale and $6.00 to W. L. Waters for coffin. The total funeral expenses, including clothing, were $15.75. A tomb stone was erected many years later.

The list of articles itemized among  John Philips’ personal property gives the reader a conception of the self-sufficiency of the pioneer home. Among the articles listed were the following: One yoke of oxen [2], 38 hogs, 36 geese, 548 pounds of bacon, 163 barrels of corn, 4,480 bundles of oats, 3,000 pounds of fodder, 1,910 pounds of pork, 12 plows, 3 singletrees, 1 doubletree, 1 wagon, 1 cart, 36 bushels of wheat, 3 washing tubs, 1 brass kettle, 2 teakettles, 2 fat skillets, 5 pots, 2 fire shovels, 2 cotton wheels, 2 wooden buckets, 4 bedsteads,140 pounds of seed cotton, 1 cross-cut saw, 2 coffee mills, 1 deer skin, 1 wash pan, 1 frying pan, 3 bread trays, 1 candle stick, 2 shot guns, 2 rifles, 1 candle stand, 1 handsaw, 2 clocks, 1 pair of sheep shears, 3 pecks of dried apples, 4 bee hives, 3 pairs of weavers looms, 4 bee gums, 7 saddles, 2 sickles, 1 umbrella, 17 ducks, 100 chickens, 13 bushels of Irish potatoes, 2 pickling stands, 1 grindstone, 1 work bench, 814 pounds of picked cotton, 67 pounds of lard, 19 horses, 39 sheep, 18 cattle, and dozens of other items.

There is a two-year discrepancy in the records as to the date of John Philips’ birth. The family Bible of his son, Benjamin, gives it as April 16, 1768. His tombstone records that he was in his eighty-first year when he died in 1846, which would place his birth in the year 1766. Since the Bible gives Benjamin’s birth as April 18, 1766, and was a contemporaneous record, while the tombstone was erected many years after John’s death, the author is inclined to accept the date given in the Bible.

Benjamin Philips’ estate was wound up in 1848. His coffin, too, was bought from W. L. Waters for $6.00. Among the interesting items of his settlement was an allotment of $26.90 to his widow, Lydia Philips, for a year’s support.

The brothers and their wives are buried on a little knoll which was formerly a part of John Philips’ farm, only a short distance southwest of Watertown. A handsome tombrock marks John’s grave, bearing this inscription: “John Philips died July 30, 1846, in the 81st year of his age.Mr. Philips was one of the first settlers on Round Lick, being the father of six sons and five daughters.”  6


  • 1. Phillips Family History – p. 10  Harry Phillips 1935↩︎
  • 2. Phillips Family History – p. 10  Harry Phillips 1935↩︎
  • 2.5 “The area around Watertown was first settled by Captain William Thompson of North Carolina in 1780. He built a fort in the area to protect settlers and provide a safe haven for travelers on the nearby Holstein Trail. After Thompson left, the land became a revolutionary war grant given to Colonel Archibald Lytle, who received 1,000 acres, and his brother, Captain William Lytle, who received 500 acres.” – – https://watertowntn.com/about/history/↩︎
  • 3. a pole is 5.5 yards↩︎
  • 4. Phillips Family History – Harry Phillips 1935↩︎
  • 5. Phillips Family History – p. 14 Harry Phillips 1935↩︎
  • 6. Phillips Family History – p. 16 Harry Phillips 1935↩︎

The Civil War: 1957-1971


The Integration of Nashville Public Schools

By Bob Henderson

The 3rd phase the American Civil War

I remember my father pointing out historical landmarks around the Nashville area, such as the famous U.S.C.T. charge on Peach Orchard Hill, but never, can I recall a word about it in my 16 years of education. The American Civil War Battle of Nashville was one of the most decisive of the war, and it was literally fought in my own back yard.

Battle of Nashville Statues

Somehow I sensed the significance of that turning point in history, and felt I had some kind of connection to it. After all, 7 of my 8 great-great grandfathers fought in it. Ironically, the eighth one was the only one of them to lose his life in it. The Preachers death is a mystery.

I was very aware of slavery however, and felt the after-effects of it growing up in the turbulent Southern 1960’s. I consider that period the third phase of the American Civil War, and hopefully it’s final chapter. That war did not start out as a war against slavery, but it ended up transforming into a fight for human rights.

Growing up in south-west Nashville, I would say at least half the homes had African-American housekeepers, nannies and gardeners up through the 1960’s. We had a dear lady named Ruby that spent at least as much time raising us, as my parents. My brother had autism, and my poor mother needed all the help she could get. Miss Ruby was more like family than a domestic. She even came with us on family vacations to Florida, and I am still friends with her nephew today. Ironically, he and I would play “Army” in my back yard as kids, and unbeknownst to us at the time, we both ended up in similar roles in the military.

My parents helped Ruby out financially the rest of her life, including nursing care in her final years. It was so sad to hear stories of another lady at that facility that has been cast aside by her white family. Ruby remained close to us for the rest of her life.

Horsing around with Ruby

Hillwood High School

I was on the front line of desegregation. In 1971 my all-white high school received about a third of the student population from the considerably less affluent North Nashville part of town. This was not done in a gradual transition, as originally proposed in 1954, but all at once September 7, 1971. Not only was there 100+ years of pent up racial tension, the economic class divide was even more palpable. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for these black students to catch the bus at 6 AM, ride an hour, and end up in “Beaver Cleaverville” where some may have had family that worked as domestics. They were not happy when they got off the bus. 

First Day of Busing

Technically, the 11 year old Hillwood High had been integrated by a local family a few years before. But in 1970, there was only one student, and she was the only African-American student in the school. It was essentially a white high school. Ironically, the family lived in the area because her ancestors had been given a tract of land from their former slave masters on the Belle Meade Plantation. Her address in 1970 is listed as 6204 Harding Road, the location of the West Meade Mansion. There were still former slave cabins there at the time. Presumably that is were she lived.

West Meade Mansion – Wikipedia

Unfortunately, my class was the youngest in the school that very tumultuous year. The class of 1976 was the last to see a segregated Hillwood in 1970 the year before. In 1971, for the second year in a row, we were the youngest class on campus. The new 7th grade were sent to Wharton Junior High, and Hillwood became 8 -12th grade. And what in the world were 8th graders doing in the same school as 17 & 18 year olds in the first place? That led to at least one pregnant 8th grader by a Junior that I know of. At least most of our classes were in the former H.G. Hill Elementary building and we had our own cafeteria.

H.G. Hill

The former Horace Greeley Hill school was next door to the high school. It was opened as the lower school in 1971. H.G. Hill made a fortune in grocery stores and real estate around the turn of the 19th century. Hillwood derives it’s name from his vast estate. His name sake, Horace Greeley was a notable abolitionist leading up to the Civil War. H. G. Hill was born in White County, TN in 1873. White county was a bitterly divided community during the war. There were a lot of Tennessee Unionist in Middle Tennessee. Even Shelbyville, southeast of Nashville, was dubbed “Little Boston” by local secessionist.

I was actually naively looking forward to the social experiment we were cast in. After all, every black person that I had met in my young life had always been nice to me. But these new students were not required to be nice to me, and the first day of school was a real eye-opener.

A few days before busing started, someone vandalized our next door neighbors mailbox. Judge William Miller sat on the 6th Federal Circuit Court of appeals. He was the United States authority that had been tasked with carrying out the 1954 Supreme Court decision to desegregate public schools. He had actively been involved in the case since 1955. 1957 saw the first small steps to integrate a hand full of first graders, but it took another 15 years of foot-dragging before the law would be fully enforced.

The mast top of the Judges mailbox had a statue of an eagle with outstretched wings. One night in 1971 the wings were broken off and a white stripe painted down its backside.

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

As I recall, that first day was just loud. The rules for indoor voices flew out the window that morning. Lunch was a game changer at 4th period in Mrs. Van Buren’s class. Although the teachers all intermingled at their tables, the students separated into black and white on both sides of the cafeteria. Minutes into the first meal, a ruckus erupted on the far side of the lunchroom. A tall black girl from our social studies (ironically) class locked it up with another black girl, screaming and pulling hair. Our white 8th grade administrative aid, Mr. Warfield, rushed over to break it up. She then turned on him, and to everyones disbelief, picked up her lunch tray and smashed it into pieces over his head. I will never forget his dazed look, peas and carrots clumped over his flat-top hair-cut. I never saw the assailant in school after that.

A distinct visible change was the new dress code, or lack there of. Up until 1970-71, the rules required short hair for boys, collared shirts and dress trousers. Girls had to have dresses that could not go much above the knee. Juxtaposed 3 months latter: long hair, t-shirts, bluejeans and pants replaced dresses for most girls.

Cigarette smoking was tolerated in tucked away areas outside the buildings. Pot smoke was common in the parking lots, and at least one student that I knew of dealt “lids” out of his locker.  To make matters even worse, the drinking age was lowered to 18, mostly to allow Vietnam soldiers across the country to legally buy beer. The sensible thing to have done, would have been to lower it for anyone with an active duty military I.D. 

From age 16 on, I had no problem buying beer. Even if they did, the drivers licenses didn’t have photos, so you could just borrow one. There was a beer store on 8th Avenue North, that would sell just about anyone a 16 gallon keg of beer for $38.

From 8th grade on, at Hillwood alone, there were six students killed in five years from a variety of accidental deaths, mostly alcohol related. I was a pall-bearer twice in one year. One of them was killed by a drunk driver on my motorcycle. After the death of my 3rd buddy in late 1976, my father told me I had lost more young friends than he had in World War II.

Another student was killed speeding to Burger Chef for lunch. Leaving the school grounds without permission was a very common occurrence. It was a free-for-all over all. Skipping school was epidemic. Some teachers would rather have disruptive students stay away, and pass them with a D-. I have a report card that shows 72 days absent with a passing grade.

Although most people from this time won’t acknowledge it, there was a high degree of racial tension and violence between the North Nashville students and those of the Hillwood, West Meade, Brook Meade, Charlotte Park and Belle Meade* neighborhoods those first few years.  

*Half of upper-crust Belle Meade was zoned to Hillwood, but few attended. The other half of Belle Meade was zoned to Hillsboro High.

Don’t Take Me Alive

I was in several pretty severe fights in high school. Most were confined to the outdoor “smoking lounge” and gym. I recall defusing the last one with a bluff. I did pick up some tactics in street-smarts while I was there. “Don’t take me alive” was my bark.

In addition to the North-South Nashville divide for the Bicentennial class of 76, there was still some blue-collar and white-collar rivalry between Charlotte Park and West Meade. I was singled out in 1973 by a group of them for some reason. They terrorized me for months, until I recruited some friends from Hillsboro High to even things up. I think it was actually a case of mistaken identity. The reason I mention it, is the response my mother got from the black assistant principal Mr. Hill over the ordeal. He told her it was all he could do to keep the boys from killing each other, and that things were way out of control there.

In my opinion race was an element, but I believe the larger ingredient was the socio-economic disparity. At Hillwood High, you had the poorest part of town being bused into the wealthiest part of Nashville. As an example, there was a black friend of mine who probably got picked on the worst that first year. His parents were both doctors, and they lived in our neighborhood. They might have been the first African-American homeowners in West Meade. Some of the North Nashville kids wore him out. He also got an earful from his white neighbor, when his daughter was seen with him talking one afternoon on the front porch. The last time I saw him was around Christmas 1976. He hasn’t made any of the reunions.

That first year of busing ended in tragedy with a so-called “accident”. In an altercation over a yearbook on the last day of school, a boy scout was left dead in the hallway from a fist to the throat. Not much was made about it in the news. The initial charge of murder was reduced to manslaughter. The assailant was sent to a youth correctional facility. I’m not sure how long the sentence was for.

Many Hillwood area families had already started the white-flight to private schools the year before. By the 1972 school year, pretty much every one of them were full, and new ones were opening in Churches all over Nashville. 

  • Nashville Christian Academy: Founded 1971
  • Franklin Road Academy: Founded 1971
  • Harding Academy: Founded 1971
  • Donelson Christian Academy: Founded 1971
  • Goodpasture Christian School: Founded 1971
  • St. Paul Christian Academy: Founded 1971

At last count in 2019, I believe there are around 40 private schools in Davidson County. Pre 1971, I can only think of 7 high schools then.

BGA

MBA

Father Ryan

Harpeth Hall

Peabody Demonstration School

Saint Bernard

Saint Cecilia

According to this 2014 data, Green Hills/Forrest Hills ranks #9 in the country for the highest private school enrollment: 72%

From 1969 to 2007 the white student population in Nashville Metro public schools dropped from 74,000 to 23,000 despite a population growth of over 200,000.

  • 1957: 60,000 students, 48,000 white, 12,000 black (80-20)
  • 1963: 85,000 students 67,000 white 19,000 black, 1000 other
  • 1969: 96,000 students 74,000 white, 21,000 black, 1,000 other
  • 1970: 85,000 students 62,000 whites 21,000 blacks 2,000 other
  • 1971: 74,000 students 50,000 white 24,000 black
  • 1980: 66,000 students 40,000 white 22,000 black 2000 other
  • 1990: 67,000 students 35,000 white 24,000 black 8000 other
  • 2000: 68,000 students 30,000 white 28,000 black 11,000 other
  • 2007: 75,000 students 23,000 white 37,000 black 15,000 other (30-49-20)

My parents were able to get my brothers and sister into private schools in 1972, but things had deteriorated academically at Hillwood so bad, that Battle Ground Academy (BGA) required Hillwood boys to repeat a grade for the few slots left. I pleaded with my parents to let me remain were I was. I would later question my decision to stay.

Even the blue collar workers from the Ford Glass Plant neighborhood were doing all they could to get, at least their daughters, in private schools. There were many empty kitchens and second jobs all the sudden in that working class neighborhood.

Most of us loved these black people that had helped raise us. It was very confusing to be so at odds with such a large group of people that seemed to hate us for no reason. What did we do? It seemed we were caught in the cross-fire of history and the sins of our forefathers.

The Help

 My parents provided an automobile for Miss Ruby to commute in, but most of the domestics rode public transportation. About the time we came home from school you could see scores of negro ladies (dressed in white uniforms) standing on the suburban street corners waiting for the long bus ride home. On the drive home one day my friend Clinton made an interesting observation that afternoon: “You know Bob, the black folks today are not much better off than they were in slavery times. They just have to commute to work now”.

Clinton died August 26, 1974 in an accidental death. He was a child prodigy, taking trigonometry in 8th grade. He inspired many of us to read and learn. His influence on my education would be profound.

Everett Walker Assistant Principal

I would say that the chaos was the worst that first year, but it took another year or two to stabilize the mayhem. The best fix was hiring a new assistant principal. He was a rather tall African-American former Marine Corp drill instructor. Mr. Walker ran a tight ship, and everyone respected him for brining order to the school in 1975. It was finally beginning to feel safe, and now we were upperclassmen.

However, the damage had been done. The drain-off of quality teachers to the private schools, incentivized by tuition-free education for their children, took its toll. Worse than that, the most influential families didn’t have a dog in the fight anymore. They left public education and were not coming back. It was the perfect storm – neighborhood schools gone with the wind.

There were at least a dozen really good educators that withstood the fire-storm, and I commend them for their brave work:

“Mr. Walker, Mr. Whitmon, Coach Graves, Coach West, Albert Gaines, Frank Cirincione and Roy Carter were instrumental in the ‘tough love’ side of that, while Ivey Nixon and Shirley Luckett and even dear old Herschel Hardaway brought the tenderness and love a teenage kid needs so desperately.” – Howie K. Class of 1978

Don’t blow it!

I would bet that today, that not one in ten households in Hillwood Estates are in public schools – if that many. In fact, there are so few, they are talking about moving the school to another part of town on the outskirts of Nashville.

Before 1972, I’d bet at least 90% of neighborhoods went to school together.  Neighbors knew each other, parents were involved in PTA’s and children were supervised. In general, people were not so politically polarized, that I trace back to a breakdown in community cohesion, and the retreat to isolated, insular communities, Churches and schools.

The Nashville magnet schools are some of the best in the country, but that only provides for a small percentage of the population. I’m not saying that you could not get a proper education in public schools here, but you really had to work for it. The disciplinary problems were so wide spread that it seemed many teachers just gave up, concentrating on a dedicated few. In 10th grade, my English teacher separated our class in two: college bound on one side of the room, the rest on the other. She ignored half the class for the remainder of the year.

If you were a marginal student with, maybe a dose of self esteem deficiency, or ADHD, it was real easy to give up and just do the minimum, which was not much. There was too little adult supervision and inspiration. Our world consisted of a series of social catastrophes: assassinations, Vietnam, Water Gate, a multitude of corrupt Tennessee politicians from the governor on down, and the 60’s hit town about 1972. Drugs were everywhere and blindsided families, schools and law enforcement.

Another development that divided the school even more, was the back-lash against the perceived drug culture with the “long-hairs”, or “freaks” targeted. The jocks against the freaks soon became the new turf war, as even prep school boys joined in the pursuit of anyone looking like a hippie around town. For me, this climaxed the summer of graduation in a convenience store parking lot. I snapped, after a prep school boy called me a long haired fagot. I hurled my Icee in his face, followed up my a right hook to his jaw. My buddy and I barley got out of there in one piece. Bill would be gone a few months later from an apparent drug overdose.

Bob and Bill

In the fall of 1975 I decided to try another high school and got permission to transfer to McGavock on the other side of Nashville. I was hoping to get a fresh start, as I was beginning to take school a little more seriously. But the hour bus ride to school everyday made for an early day, and after a semester of sleep deprivation, I decided to go back to Hillwood to finish my senior year. I got an appreciation for what the kids from North Nashville had to go thru on their daily commute.

McGavock High 1975

By 1976, the educational deficiency was so extreme that some colleges were adopting 090 level remedial classes to try to catch us all up: mostly math and english. The then, Belmont College, accepted a lot of under-educated high school graduates such as myself.

After I lost my 3rd friend in December 1976. I unceremonious cut my hair, poured into academics, and my grades improved. I sold books door to door two summers of college, totally transforming my appearance and self confidence. With some great teachers, small classes, and lot of tutoring, I was able to go from a 1.6 GPA my first semester, to a 3.0, over six years of co-op education.

In 1982 I graduated  with a business degree and went to Navy officer candidate school, wanting to get as far away from my past as possible. Maybe I was longing for the order and discipline that was so lacking in my youth. Maybe I was revolting against the revolt. I don’t know, but it fit me like a glove. The highlight of my basic training was on the rifle range, scoring expert in my class. Afterwords Gunnery Sergeant Campos commented: “Henderson, I think we finally found something you know how to do well”. Years later, I almost fell out of my theater seat, when I heard that line about Private Pyle in the movie Full Medal Jacket.

The vast majority of my friends did not survive college academics. Most of them flunked out their first year. My saving grace was there wasn’t much of a social life at the time on Belmont’s campus, I was broke and I worked out of state during the summers. Most importantly, I was told I could not do it.

Shine on You Crazy Diamond

Another wave of tragedy struck in the early 80’s with the cocaine surge. Fortunately, I was long-gone off to the military by then. That one claimed four more high school friends, from Hillwood, Hillsboro and Bellevue.

It was easy to feel bitter, resentful and contemptuous of those that made this weather we had to stand in. Our initial targets of ridicule were the teachers, administration and the Board of Education, but that was not fair. The more insidious element was the 1960’s counter-culture, and the drugs that came with it. Controlled substances poured into the power-vacuum of 1972, 73 and 74.

The most common side-effect of this teen-age wasteland was substance abuse. The cases are too numerous to quantify, including two super-star senior athletes that were our role models in 7th grade. As I write this, I anticipate yet another casualty.

In a larger sense, I believe the American Civil War took 111 years to run it’s course. Some would say it’s still being fought. More can be done, but I have seen substantial racial progress in my lifetime: financially, academically and socially. Having been at ground-zero of act #3, I feel I own a part of it.

Prologue

A few years ago I took a girlfriend to a Rose Park teacher retirement party that was held in North Nashville. We were the only white couple at a very large backyard BBQ, and very warmly received. Almost everyone in attendance had gone to Hillwood High School. Ironically it was the largest social function I have ever been to with alumni of my high school, outside of a class reunion!

Walking into History: The Beginning of School Desegregation in Nashville

John Egerton

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

ARTICLE

PUBLISHED MAY 4, 2009

Excerpts from:

“Nashville was almost 180 years old in 1957 (its founding had coincided with that of the American nation), and it wore its age with a certain patrician pride. Early in its frontier history, an admiring local citizen had dubbed it “the Athens of the West” (later remapped to the South by the Civil War and other changes of geography and perspective). Its leaders liked that image; it called to mind a place of reasonable and civic-minded people, of moderately progressive conservatives. In the war of rebellion, Nashville had spread its sympathies in both directions, sending hundreds of its own residents, white and black, to fight and die for the Union Blue as well as the Confederate Gray. It was not a place of extremes, but of the center. Had they been left to their own devices, some Nashvillians apparently believed, they could have worked out their racial problems amicably and equitably.

Such an opportunity for compromise and reconciliation never blossomed in the Nashville of that war-wracked era, and in the postwar Reconstruction era and beyond, the dream of full citizenship for former slaves soon turned to dust. Slavery was gone, but so was the promise of economic and political freedom; every southern state passed laws mandating racial segregation in a “separate but equal” society that assured Caucasians of perpetual advantage in every station of life—in political parties, civic agencies, hotels, theaters, trolleys and trains, from hospital rooms to schoolrooms to the workplace and even the graveyard.

But decades later, in the fall of 1957, a new opportunity was at hand. The elusive ideal of racial equality, often glimpsed but rarely grasped in the United States, was once again coming into focus for Nashvillians—and this time, it was going to be reflected in the quietly serious faces of a few brown-skinned six-year-olds. Powerful forces were rallying to one side or the other, for the children or against them. A fundamental principle of American democracy, as interpreted by the nation’s highest court, was about to be applied, and Nashville would be an early testing ground—one of the first of the South’s cities to put into motion a comprehensive plan for the desegregation of its public schools, and the only one to that date with a strategy of building from the bottom up, one grade at a time.”

“Nashville was learning that recovery from trauma, followed by limited success and a predictable normality, was not news and not history—it was just the way things were supposed to be. And so it happened that the little trailblazers of desegregation, along with their white classmates, eventually slipped quietly back into the anonymity of childhood.” –John Egerton

Statistics

Student Population 1957-2007

1957: 60,000 students, 48,000 white, 12,000 black (80-20)

1963: 85,000 students 67,000 white 19,000 black, 1000 other

1969: 96,000 students 74,000 white, 21,000 black, 1,000 other

1970: 85,000 students 62,000 whites 21,000 blacks 2,000 other

1971: 74,000 students 50,000 white 24,000 black

1980: 66,000 students 40,000 white 22,000 black 2000 other

1990: 67,000 students 35,000 white 24,000 black 8000 other

2000: 68,000 students 30,000 white 28,000 black 11,000 other

2007: 75,000 students 23,000 white 37,000 black 15,000 other (30-49-20)

New Private Schools in 1971

Nashville Christian Academy: Founded 1971

Franklin Road Academy: Founded 1971

Harding Academy: Founded 1971

Donelson Christian Academy: Founded 1971

Goodpasture Christian School: Founded 1971

St. Paul Christian Academy: Founded 1971

Hillwood Class of 1976 (photographed)

1971: 370 Students – 100% White

1972: 383 Students – 280 White 102 Black

1976: 189 Students – 170 White 19 Black

In memory of Hillwood students lost:

Joe Robinson School Year 1971-72

Sharon Arkovitz School Year 1972-73

Bob Kendall School Year 1973-74

Terry Miller School Year 1973-74

Clinton Elrod School Year 1974-75

David Miller School Year 1975-76

Vol. XI
From my fathers scape book. June 18, 1957, the day I was born.
Like most families, my parents read both sides of politics. The Banner was the more conservative of the two.

#busing #civilrights

Circa 1977

Tim Graves and Allen Diehl kept us in stitches with their cartoons. Allen’s impressions of some of the teachers were worthy of Saturday Night Live.

by Tim Graves

by Allen Diehl
Allen’s Comedic Impersonation Genius

Hillwood High School

Hundred Days Offensive

Henderson,-William-Eugene.jpgWilliams Eugene Henderson, Sr. of Walter Hill, Tennessee enlisted in the United States Army September 17, 1917 as a Private #1907256. At the age of 22 he had been a sales manager for the Southwestern Publishing Company. Seven months later he was headed for The Great War with the 82nd Infantry Division (in WWII, this became the 82nd Airborne).

“W.E.” was assigned to the Toul Sector of France July 8th – 29th, and then to Argonne on September 5th, 1918. The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest in U.S. military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers. It was one of a series of Allied attacks known as the Hundred Days Offensive, which brought the war to an end.

“He was drafted into the 82nd, became a Sergeant and then went to OSC while in France, sometime in the summer of 1918. He was then assigned as a 2nd Lt. to the 308th 77th Division. Oct 9 he went over the top with others to rescue the Lost Battalion. The Meuse-Argonne offense was already on. He caught the flu in the next couple of days after returng to his trench works. Someone there had stolen his rain gear and books. Going to OSC, he missed the St. Mihiel offense and the begining of the Argonne offense, as well as missing the rest of the Argonne offensive due to the flu* probably saved his life. From there, he went to Nice France to recover. He was a Town Major of two small French villages from about Jan to April of 1919.” – Blake Henderson

The Lost Battalion

This mostly New York City division, must have been an interesting leadership experience for this former farm boy from Tennessee.

“The Lost Battalion is the name given to nine companies of the United States 77th Division, roughly 554 men, isolated by German forces during World War I after an American attack in the Argonne Forest in October 1918. Roughly 197 were killed in action and approximately 150 missing or taken prisoner before 194 remaining men were rescued.” – wikipedia

* 2nd Lt. Henderson contracted the “Spanish Flu” just prior to this offensive, possibly saving his life. Germans called it the French Flu, French called it the German Flu. It’s origin is  likely have been from America.

 

WWITranscription of letter dated August 18, 1918

Eugene Henderson to mother:

“I certainly do wish I could at least spend my Sundays with you home folks, but of course that is impossible – but still I want you to know that I think of you and the dear home folks often – more than I ever did before, and home means more to me now than it could have ever meant if I had not [sic] France. Now you said something about me being home by Christmas well of course mother we could get back by xmas – but while we are over here, and to keep from ever having to do the thing once over again, we are going not only to run the beastly Huns out of France, but we are going to give them such a beating that what few are left will be only too glad to stay in Germany and let the rest of the world alone – that is if we decide to leave any of Germany – we haven’t quite decided about that yet. But one thing we are decided on is not only to run the Germans out of here, but to give them the biggest beating in history. I doubt if we can whip them as much as we want to between now and xmas. We whip them now every day, but we enjoy it so well and know we are doing the world such a good turn we are going to keep on whipping them until Germany as a whole is on her knees ready to accept peace terms the allies offer. Germany doubtless will be giving out peace terms pretty soon, we don’t care for them – they started the war, we are going to end it. Peace terms will be made by us, not by Germany.

Mother I am well as can be, and doing 2 [sic] very well ended at school, am working really harder than I ever have in my life, they schedule calls for work from 5:45 o’clock in the morning until 10 at night. Of course this is allowances for meals, but we have to keep our [sic] all the time, and everything fixed in first class order, so all of our spare moments are spent doing these little things that really amount to work. The discipline is very rigid. Everything exactly so. I’ll have lot of interesting things to tell you about it when I get back. Am sorry mother that you did not get the first letters wrote you. Maybe you have before now – no I did not get very seasick – was a little sick one day. With words of love, and good wishes and [sic]. Your devoted son Gene”

A month later, he was awarded a battlefield commission. On September 29th, 1918 Sergeant Henderson was promoted to Second Lieutenant. He was transferred to the 77th Infantry Division.

My grandfather “Pop Pop” convalesced at the family farm for some time after the war.  I asked him once, if he was ever scared. He recalled a story that he apparently never shared with my father, or anyone else for that mater. One night, under the cover of darkness, Sgt. Henderson infiltrated enemy lines leading a small squad. I’s possible that’s what earned him a battlefield promotion to 2nd Lieutenant.

He later rejoined his older brothers business and became the general sales manager of the Southwestern Company. He held that position until his death in 1965. He was also a Mason and Rotarian.

308th.jpg

The Movie:

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THE WATERS HOME

Shelah Waters
b. 8 Jul 1769, Charles County, Maryland
d. 29 Mar 1860, Wilson Co., TN
m. 1 Nov 1789, Charles, Maryland

By VIRGINIA and DICK LAWLOR

The tall, square, two-story dwelling at the end of Waters Street in Water­town, sits like an ancient matriarch, fanned and sheltered by the waving branches of majestic trees. It watches with calm eyes as you approach as though it were wondering which of its children were returning for a visit. It is a house which has been filling up with memories for the pioneer Waters family since it was built in 1844 by Wilson Lawrence Waters.

One of the more beautiful memories was the 50th Wedding Anniversary of its builder and his wife on Dec. 17, 1894, when the mansion was ablaze with light and old-fashioned bouquets from Mrs. Waters’ garden supplied every room with wild and beautiful color.

A faded little booklet, a cherished possession of great-granddaughter, Christine Teasley, includes a nostalgic poem written for the occasion by Mr. Waters’ brother, the Reverend James Waters, which gives an intimate and endearing word­ picture of the family and festivities in connection with that memorable wedding day. James was only 8 years old when his brother married but he recalls in fine detail the meat and dessert portions of that wedding feast, which consisted of turkeys, chicken pies, cherry cobblers, custard pies, and cakes with icing!

Little wonder that the neighbors turned out to honor Mr. Wilson Lawrence Waters on this important occasion; he was virtually and admittedly “Mr. Water­town.” In its earliest days the whole town was on his 400 acre farm. His store supplied the needs of the community and from it he sold the first turning plow in Wilson County. In 1845 the Post Office was moved to his store and the Three Forks designation was dropped in favor of Waters’ Town, later combined into one word, Watertown, in honor of Mr. Waters.

He also built and operated a water-powered grist mill and saw mill. He was the leading spirit in getting the old stagecoach road (Walden Ridge Road) replaced by the Lebanon-Sparta turnpike, and acted as President. But perhaps his greatest accomplishment for Watertown was his securing a route through the town for the Nashville and Knoxville Railroad (later, a part of the Tennessee Central system). This proved a heady tonic for the community and occasioned a spurt of economic and population growth. He lifted the first shovel of dirt before a large gathering of citizens in 1887. He was also the man who drove the last spike at Smithville.

This listing of accomplishments, however, gives only one view of the man. A yellowed and age-mutilated clipping describes Mr. Waters as “up to his eyes in business.” And that was true; but Mr. Waters was also the possessor of psychic powers. He was aware of his gift of prophesying the future of his dreams, so he kept a Dream Book wherein happenings and events were recounted which eventually took place in the manner he had foreseen in his dreams. A Peabody student used the book as a basis for what must have been a most interesting thesis.

The Wilson County History reports that while Mr. Waters was in the legisla­ture in 1865, he made a stirring appeal requesting that colored persons be tried in the same way that whites were. His ability to project into the future was not limited to dreams; his appeal was rejected but his idea was sound and prophetic, and even though its time had not yet arrived-arrive it most assuredly would, as Waters full well knew.

Like grandmother, like granddaughter! An equally festive and beautiful occasion was the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Wilson Lawrence Waters’ grand­daughter, the charming Christine Phillips Forrester and her husband, Robert L. Forrester, which was celebrated at a brilliant reception given by the Forrester children. In a newspaper interview Christine said that her life had been “so full and wonderful” that it was hard to believe that so many years had rolled by; and when she read the invitations being sent out, she said, “a little pepper got in my eyes.”

This time the reception rooms of the ancestral home were decorated with arrangements of gold flowers and the banquet table in the dining room was centered with jonquils and forsythia in an antique cut-glass punch bowl, a wedding gift of 50 years ago. Christine’s lovely bridal gown was worn by her eldest grandson’s wife. All the family—tall, handsome people beautifully gowned and groomed-were assisting in greeting and serving guests. All of them happy to be together.

But all the memories were not so joyous; the old home and its occupants were not strangers to sorrow. Only a handful of months after their Golden Anniversary festivities in 1964, Robert L. Forrester lay dying. For over a half century he had practiced law at the Tennessee bar; he had been honored with the State Presi­dency of the Exchange Club; had served 18 years on the State Board of Educa­tion; and was a faithful member of the Masonic Lodge. He was an old-school gallant, a lover-husband who was a shield and protector for his bride for all the brief 50 years, supporting and encouraging her activities whether it was directing the First Baptist Church choir, becoming Department President of the American Legion Auxiliary, or Board Member of the National Federation of Music Clubs. And all the family felt a deep pride when Christine was elected Tennessee Mother of the Year in I 962.

Christine and Bob had given four sons to serve in World War II. That fateful day when the heart-reaking news that one of these, Robert L. Forrester, Jr., a Captain in the, Air Force, had ben killed in a plane crash in the Galapagos Islands (1942), the old house started filling up with neighbors and friends and loved ones and the branches of the tall trees swept the ground as though they, too, were bowed in grief.

Recent happy news (July, 1975) concerns another son of the house, Eugene, a West Point graduate, who is now Major General Forrester, Commander of Army Recruiting Command at Ft. Sheridan, Illinois.

With Bob’s passing, Christine set about dividing her things, moving to Nash­ville to be nearer to all of her children, and of necessity selling the old home. As the key was turned in the lock for the last time by the hand of a Waters’ descend­ant, the house stood square and silent with its windows looking wistfully down Waters Street – it had caught the character of its occupants-like them, it, too, would endure with quiet dignity whatever came its way.

Cousin Dick

Richard Henderson (jurist)

Richard Henderson is the cousin of my GGGGG Grandfather Samuel Henderson (1737-1820). Samuel was my first Henderson to live and die in Tennessee.

“Richard Henderson (1734–1785) was an American pioneer and merchant who attempted to create a colony called Transylvania just as the American Revolutionary War was starting. 

In 1775, a treaty was held between the Cherokee and a delegation of the Transylvania Company, headed by Richard Henderson. Under the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals (or the Treaty of Watauga) at present day Elizabethton, Tennessee, the Transylvania Company purchased a vast amount of land from the Cherokees, including most of present-day Kentucky and part of Tennessee.

The treaty was technically illegal since the purchase of land from Native Americans was reserved by the government in the Proclamation of 1763 (the British, the governments of Virginia and North Carolina, and, later, the United States, all forbade private purchase of land from Indians).

After the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the organization of the state government in North Carolina, he was re-elected judge, but was prevented from accepting that position by his participation in a scheme organized under the name of the Transylvania Compact.” Wikipedia

Hendersonville, Tennessee is not named for Richard, it was Captain William Henderson, no known relation.

– Bob Henderson