The Civil War: 1957-1972


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, despite that fact that the Civil War Battle of Nashville was one of the most decisive of the war. It was literally fought in our 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 sad to hear stories of another former domestic at that facility that has been cast aside by their former employers families. Ruby was always visited by our family. When I was going through a divorce in thirties, I remember crying on her shoulders.

Horsing around with Ruby

Hillwood High School

I was also on the front line of desegregation. In 1972 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, 1972. 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 there. 

First Day of Busing

Technically, the 11 year old Hillwood High had been integrated by a local family a few years before. But in 1971, they had only one daughter enrolled, 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.

West Meade Mansion – Wikipedia

Unfortunately, my class was the youngest in the school that very tumultuous year. The class of 76’ was the last to see a segregated Hillwood in 1971 the year before. In 1972, 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 for 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 1972 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 4th period after that.

A distinct visible change was the new dress code, or lack there of. Up until 1971-72′, 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 finding someplace that would not card me for alcohol. 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 get a burger off campus. 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 the rest of Hillwood. 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.

J.J. Phillips

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 richest part of Nashville. As an example, there was a black friend of mine named J.J., who probably got picked on the worst. 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, and he took it real hard. He also got an earful from his white neighbor, when his daughter was seen with J.J. talking one afternoon on the front porch. The last time I saw him was over Christmas 1976. There was something wrong, but he didn’t want to talk about it. No one in our class has heard from him since. 

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 1973 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 1973, 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 in Charlotte Park 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, the rest on the right. 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 (K,K&K), 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 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 could be done, but I have seen substantial racial progress in my lifetime: financially, academically and socially. Having been at the 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:

MV5BMTY1NzQ3OTczNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzQ5MzEyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_.jpg

 


The Battle of West Nashville

Meuse-Argonne:

Henderson,-William-Eugene.jpgWilliams Eugene Henderson, Sr. of Walter Hill, Tennessee enlisted in the United States Army September 17, 1917 as a Sergeant #1907256. At the age of 22 he had been a sales manger for the Southwestern Publishing Company. Seven months later he was headed for The Great War with Company H, 308th Infantry – 77th Division.

“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.

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…

View original post 532 more words

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

Washington Oaks Gardens

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park – Palm Coast, Florida. Located on A1A just south of Marineland.

I have driven by this hundreds of times. I finally paid the $4 admission, and it was well worth it. This is the real Florida. Check out the 360º’s below:

https://roundme.com/embed/169162/430476

“The heart of the Park consists of a coastal scrub community that transitions into lush hammock where towering live oaks, hickory and magnolia trees offer their welcome shade.  Bordering the hammock are the scenic tidal marshes of the Matanzas River.”read more

“In 1818, Jose Mariano Hernandez, a St. Augustine native, bought and owned the property and named it “Bella Vista.”  He was a citizen of a Spanish colony owning land granted by Spain.”  more history

Sugar Mill Ruins

The Oldest Sugar Mill Plantation in the United States

Bulow Plantation Historic Park

Part of the Seminole War History, burned in 1836.

3501 Old Kings Road • Flagler Beach, Florida 32136

© Bob Henderson

SOUTH PARK & BACK – PART 3

Fort Delaware to Chancelorsville

Continued from SOUTH PARK & BACK – PART 2

Day 4: Fredericksburg, Virginia. The visitor center was very helpful finding David’s position on the battlefield. I learned that they fought hard, standing their ground when two regiments to their immediate left broke and ran away. This opened up a huge hole in the line which filled with (ironically) Pennsylvania troops. The 7th held firm, despite fire coming in from 3 sides.

This is the precise position of Archer’s 7th Tennessee on December, 13 1862. It’s listed as Prospect Hill on the driving tour.

David Phillips was promoted to 3rd Lieutenant two months after Fredericksburg, probably because of his actions in that victory. A few months later, during the Battle of Chancellorsville, he would make 2nd Lieutenant. In that daring battle, Robert E. Lee’s finest hour, the 7th was sent straight up the middle towards a key primary objective: Fairfax. They were the tip of the spear here:

David Phillips went on to fight in many more battles. At Gettysburg he went straight up the center in Pickets Charge, captured at the Stone Wall. The 7th Tennessee lost 43% of their men in the assault. Out of the original 800+ men, they surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse with only about 50 of them.

My itinerary from Chancellorsville, was to Gen. Johnston’s surrender site in North Carolina, and then to Kings Mountain, SC where my 5th great grandfather, Captain James Maxwell fought with is son William, my 4th great grandfather. Based on the run of luck I was having, I decided to cut the trip short.

Later that rainy night, a semi blew a tire as I was passing it. It sounded like a cannon blast –  that loud. Cousin Billy said that the yankee ghosts were after me. #3 out of the way. 😉

The End

South Park & Back – Part 2

Cheat Mountain to Fort Delaware

From South Park & Back – Part 1

David Phillips trail through Virginia

Just west of Cheat Mountain was the second prong of Lee’s attack at Elkwater, WV. The Union defensive position is an interesting remote site. It was originally an 18th century frontier fort against the Indians. By 1861, the strategic ground had become a cemetery. It’s the only fort I have seen built around a graveyard. Lee was unsuccessful here too. It was know as Camp Elkwater.

Heading due North, I drove through a very quaint small town in Beverly, West Virginia. The town visitor center has a great interpretive area housed in a former courthouse, circa 1801. There are numerous other historic buildings in town. The Battle of Rich Mountain is literally right up the road.

Rolling north into western Pennsylvania, I stopped in Washington, PA for the night. I like to plan my visits for Sunday traffic at the highest congestion points, if at all possible. So it was essential to get Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C. in my rearview mirror by the end of the next day.

Day 4: Southpark Township, PA was a short drive. I arrived early Sunday morning at the cemetery of David Philips, my 5th great grandfather. Reverend Philips, served the Lord here at Peters Creek Baptist Church for 43 years. Prior to that, he was a Captain in the 7th Chester County Battalion, during the American Revolutionary War.

Note: for some reason, the family Tennessee branch changed the name to Phillips with two L’s.

Things were on track for getting to Fort Delaware before the last ferry at 4 pm. This changed at a turnstile on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The unexpected self-service cash receptacle required closer parking. I had to open the door to reach the cash slot. 100 miles later, I realized my wallet probably dropped out there (it was later found and turned over to police). Fortunately, I had a back up credit card, photo I.D. and cash stashed away.

The delay cost me about an hour, stopping to cancel cards and contact the authorities. If I made good time, I could still get to Chester County, on the other side of the state, and the last ferry to Fort Delaware.

I arrived in the beautiful upscale suburb of West Chester, PA about noon. The secluded Vincent Baptist Church was located on the edge of a wooded park. It was established in 1736, and the Church building is from 1812. The cemetery contained the remains of my 6th great grandfather: Joesph Philips. He is the first generation emigrant from Pembrokeshire, Wales. There were at least 30 more Philips buried around him in a long line. Most of the headstones had new metal tablets, with the inscriptions from 200+ year old, fading headstones.

Shooting four photospheres took about an hour (with a neighbors inquiry about what I was doing there). I was close to the go-no-go point of making it on time to the ferry.

I arrived at 10 minutes to 4 PM at Fort Delaware State Park. The park didn’t take Discover for the $14 fee, but waived the rules to let me write a check (I was hoarding my cash for the unknown remaining tolls).

Fort Delaware was one of the POW prisons my second great uncle David Phillips occupied. He was captured twice during the war, so he got two tours of the fort.

I had a little under an hour and a half to shoot as many 360º’s as I could. During the robot’s fourth gyration, I was talking with some young park rangers about my great uncle. An older park ranger inside heard me mention David Phillips. He came out with a photo of the young lieutenant, which he only received days before. My guess is their social media director caught a few tweets I have done recently about David and the fort.

Heading south from Delaware, I used up my last $3 on the final toll booth of my journey near Baltimore. I hate turnpikes! Arrived late at The Hampton Inn near Fredericksburg, Virginia.

…continued on South Park & Back – Part 3

South Park & Back – Part 1

Emory & Henry to Cheat Mountain:

I knew that a massive tire failure, one hour into the 2000 mile trip, was a bad omen. Two cans of fix-a-flat were ineffective on the defective one year old Continental rear tire. The $100 transport to the nearest Discount Tire store was performed by the best wrecker operator I have ever used*. We had lots of stories to share. It was an entertaining two hour diversion.

*Patrick, with Ron’s Towing of Sparta, even knew were the hidden towing eyelet was for the wench on my 530i. He educated me, NEVER let a tower use the wench as the only front secure-point. Each wheel should be tied to the bed rails.

$35 new Michelin Pilot Road 2, courtesy of the Discount Tire Road Hazard plan. Thank you Discount Tire!

Stoped for a short visit with high school buddy Scott Michael Sefsik on Center Hill Lake.  Calculated a re-route, destination Kingsport for the night @ 3 hours.

Great sundown at Sunset Rock just past Sparta! (site of my first Rock Repel with Camp Widjiwagan). Got the last bracketed 100 image photosphere, just as the sun hit the horizon.

Day 2: Left Kingsport for Emory & Henry. Beautiful campus! Toured the 1836 Wiley Hall building, where my Great-Great Grandfather Walter Scott Bearden attended, before and after, the American Civil War. Beautiful campus! Wiley Hall is the site of the original college building, also used as a Confederate Hospital. In 1864 it was the location of a famous murder: a wounded U.S. Army officer shot in bed by Confederate Guerrilla raider Champ Ferguson.

Heading north, I stopped at Saltville, Virginia just up the road. “The Salt Capital of the South” was a Southern strategic resource. Salt was the primary means of preserving meat for the Civil War armies. A large battle was fought here in October 1864. The wounded were taken to Emory & Henry College not far away.

Pressing north into Western Virginia, I drove through the most scenic part of the Appalachian Mountains I have ever traversed. This is home to the George Washington and Jefferson National Parks. It reminded me of the Smoky Mountains, without all the tourists.

Warm Springs Virginia was home to David Phillips and the 7th Tennessee for the month of December in 1861.

Camp sites were plentiful at Hidden Valley Campground (no online reservations) just west of Warm Springs. I was pleasantly surprised to get a private Friday night camp site with vacancies on both sides. Firewood was plentiful not far from the site. New Bucket List Addition: Beautiful old Bed & Breakfast Mansion in this scenic valley: Hidden Valley B&B. Wish I had taken a pano here.

Day 3: I followed the 7th Tennessee’s trail north-west to Cheat Mountain, WV, site of Robert E. Lee’s first offensive of the Civil War. At 4000′ above sea level, it is the highest known Civil War fort in the country.

….to be continued on South Park & Back Part 2

Tennessean v.s. The Banner

A driveway for both: 

nashville-banner.gif

AND
tennesean.png

When I was in high school, people use to have these rolled up layers of pulp delivered to their residence twice a day. They were called “newspapers.” Prior to the internet, this is how most people got their daily dispatch. I was one of many teenagers in 1972 that delivered them in Nashville, rain, sleet or snow.

In the 70’s there were two primary newspapers in middle Tennessee. The Tennessean was delivered early in the morning, The Nashville Banner in the late afternoon. The Tennessean was considered a more Democratic news source* (I remember: Pravda on The Cumberland by some), The Banner was decidedly more Republican by nature. They debated everything, political and non. In the 1950’s when the state legislature debated the approval of daylight savings time: “The Nashville Banner and The Nashville Tennessean rarely agree on anything but the time of day — and last week they couldn’t agree on that.”

What separates news consumers from now and then?

MOST PEOPLE USE TO READ BOTH

Aside from the physical dexterity of not landing it in the creek, or worse yet, hitting your “Mr. Wilson” in the head, one had to memorize the homes that were on the paper route. This was very important, because at that time, we were independent news delivery contractors. This meant that you (the paperboy/girl) paid for any mis-deliveries out of your own pocket – and you didn’t want to have to go back for homes you forgot.

But, it wasn’t actually that hard to remember. So many households received both papers (at least in my middle-class market). All you had to think of was who didn’t get the paper. This was a very small percentage. Maybe 10% in my case.

Can you imagine this on your street today? A CNN morning paper, Fox at night? Processed news, like processed food is our collective contemporary diet – and it shows.

These guys keep screaming in my ears:

“If everyone is thinking alike – nobody’s thinking” – Benjamin Franklin

“A house divided against itself cannot stand” – Abraham Lincoln

From Heather Richardson, professor of History at Boston College:

“I don’t like to talk about politics on Facebook– political history is my job, after all, and you are my friends– but there is an important non-partisan point to make today.

What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries– is creating what is known as a “shock event.”

Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order.

When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.

Last night’s Executive Order has all the hallmarks of a shock event. It was not reviewed by any governmental agencies or lawyers before it was released, and counterterrorism experts insist they did not ask for it. People charged with enforcing it got no instructions about how to do so. Courts immediately have declared parts of it unconstitutional, but border police in some airports are refusing to stop enforcing it.

Predictably, chaos has followed and tempers are hot.

My point today is this: unless you are the person setting it up, it is in no one’s interest to play the shock event game. It is designed explicitly to divide people who might otherwise come together so they cannot stand against something its authors think they won’t like.

I don’t know what Bannon is up to– although I have some guesses– but because I know Bannon’s ideas well, I am positive that there is not a single person whom I consider a friend on either side of the aisle– and my friends range pretty widely– who will benefit from whatever it is.

If the shock event strategy works, though, many of you will blame each other, rather than Bannon, for the fallout. And the country will have been tricked into accepting their real goal.

But because shock events destabilize a society, they can also be used positively. We do not have to respond along old fault lines. We could just as easily reorganize into a different pattern that threatens the people who sparked the event.

A successful shock event depends on speed and chaos because it requires knee-jerk reactions so that people divide along established lines. This, for example, is how Confederate leaders railroaded the initial southern states out of the Union.

If people realize they are being played, though, they can reach across old lines and reorganize to challenge the leaders who are pulling the strings. This was Lincoln’s strategy when he joined together Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, anti-Nebraska voters, and nativists into the new Republican Party to stand against the Slave Power.

Five years before, such a coalition would have been unimaginable. Members of those groups agreed on very little other than that they wanted all Americans to have equal economic opportunity. Once they began to work together to promote a fair economic system, though, they found much common ground. They ended up rededicating the nation to a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Confederate leaders and Lincoln both knew about the political potential of a shock event. As we are in the midst of one, it seems worth noting that Lincoln seemed to have the better idea about how to use it.”

COPY AND PASTE. DON”T “SHARE”

#polarpolitics #nashvillebanner #tennessean

Wikipedia:

The Tennessean | The Nashville Banner

* Historian E. Thomas Wood says that “without question” Seigenthaler ran the newspaper as a liberal one.[4] 

“Lea launched The Tennessean as a paper editorially committed to the temperance movement, against the political influence of the whiskey industry.” – The Tennessean: 108 years and counting

Deep Roots in Solid Ground

History in my DNA

“I can hardly turn a page of Tennessee history without finding my relatives fingerprints on them.”

cart-kerr

From Tennessee founding father Richard Henderson (Hendersonville namesake) to the long line of Phillips military heroes, to the Grand Ole Opry, I can’t turn a page of Tennessee history without connecting a relative to it. My great-great grandfather William Washington Kerr, ran a grocery on Carroll Street in Nashville. My grandmother started a free school meal program at Howard school, food provided by her fathers Grocery. At the time of her death, the Tennessean reported it to be a first of it’s kind.

Notable Kin:free-lunch

Captain / Reverend David Phillips – Revolutionary War Pennsylvania Militia

Captain James Maxwell* (1725–1806) – Revolutionary War

William Maxwell (1756–1838) – Revolutionary War – King’s Mtn.

David Phillips II – War of 1812 – Battle of New Orleans

Richard Henderson – Land Developer of Tennessee

Wilson L. Waters – Industrialist, Whig Party leader, Watertown namesake

Captain Walter Scott Bearden – 41st Tennessee CSA –  Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Fort Donelson, etc. Wounded 3 times Battle of Atlanta (his twin brother Edwin Bearden was an officer in the same regiment). Chancellor Circuit Judge Shelbyville, Tennessee.

2n Lt. David L. Phillips – 7th Tennessee CSA – Pickets Charge, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Seven Pines, etc.

Major Shelah Waters – 5th Tennessee Cavalry USA, Presidential nominee as Minister to Ecuador and IRS assessor.

Edwin Bearden – Judge Shelbyville, Tennessee

Water Scott Bearden, Jr. – Founder of National Life & Accident Insurance Company

old-hickory-singersJoseph Macpherson – New York Metropolitan Opera. First vocalist on WSM radio. Old Hickory Singers.

Uncle Dave Macon – founding member Grand Ole Opry

Margaret Kerr Bearden – first free school lunch program Nashville

J.B. Henderson, Sr. – owner Southwestern Publishing Company

W.E. Henderson – 2nd Lt. 77th New York Regiment, 82nd Infantry – Arden Forrest Champaign- Sales Manager Southwestern Company

Harry Phillips – author of The Phillips Family History, Lt. Cdr. U.S. Navy WWII, Tennessee House of Representative, Assistant Tennessee Attorney General, Federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

Bruce D. Henderson – founder The Boston Consulting Group

2nd Lt. David Kerr – 301st Bomb Group B-17 pilot KIA Wiener-Neudorf raid July 1944

Navy Corpsman Edwin Phillips – wounded Normandy landing WWII

J.B. Henderson, Jr. – Navy test pilot

Bobby and Carol Henderson – founders Westminster School (Currey-Ingram Academy)

more notables are in development…

* Father of James Maxwell: Alexander 2nd Baronet of Monreith Maxwell was born in 1682 in Monreith, Wigtownshire, Scotland, to Elizabeth Heiress of Park Hay, age 28, and William 1st Baronet of Monreith Maxwell, age 47.

Birth: 1682 • Monreith, Wigtownshire, Scotland

Books:

Phillips Family History: A Brief History of the Phillips Family, Beginning with the Emigration From Wales, and a Detailed Genealogy of the Descendants … Pioneer Citizens of Wilson County, Tenn.