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

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

Hospital N0. 8

 

Nashville Civil War Hospital

 Virtual Tour of the Church

The Downtown Presbyterian Church

Revised: 13 JAN 2016

1st-church

154 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219

This Church was one of many buildings used in Nashville as a hospital, during the Union occupation of the city in the American Civil War. It was designated Hospital No. 8 and housed 206 beds. The basement was used to board horses for the U.S. Army.  As Old First Presbyterian Church it is designated a National Historic Landmark. The current building was built in 1848, but the instittution dates back to 1816 with two prior structures that burned.

A very unique Egyptian Revival Architecture style Church. – wikipedia

“Presbyterians have worshiped in Nashville since 1814. In that year, the First Presbyterian Church of Nashville built their first structure. After the Battle of New Orleans, the State of Tennessee presented General Andrew Jackson with a ceremonial sword on the front steps of the church. It survived until a fire destroyed it in 1832.

Rebuilding in that year, on the same site, the second building hosted the Inauguration of James K. Polk as Governor of Tennessee. That building burned down in 1848. The congregation then hired the Philadelphia architect William Strickland, who was in Tennessee to design and supervise the construction of the Tennessee State Capitol building, to design the present building.

During the Civil War, the building was seized by the United States government, and used as a hospital. Receiving reparations after the war”… read more

A great book about the Church history is First Church: A History of Nashville First Presbyterian Church – Three-volume Set available on Amazon. First Church – A History of Nashville First Presbyterian Church, Volume 3: 1955-2000

See a 360 virtual tour of Hospital No. 8 in panorama. The Nashville Church is available for private tours. Check their website for more information.

Virtual Tour of the Church

#battleofnashville #church #hospital

D-Day Disaster

D-Day heros:

LST-523.jpg
Bill and Ed

It’s not often you get a chance to interview a World War II hero, especially one from the Allied invasion at Normandy, France. Bill Allen and his wife Idalee were gracious enough to spend a few hours with me today. This was particularly poignant, because my paternal uncle was with him on that fateful day.

Bill and Uncle Ed were new recruits to the Navy, and among ten’s of thousands of young Navy Corpsmen for the D-Day invasion June 6, 1944 – a mass medical mobilization for a predicted massacre.

After 6 weeks of basic training and another 6 weeks of corpsman school, they headed for Europe via Nova Scotia. Easter Sunday 1944, they left Halifax for Great Britan. Rough waters along the way were so intense, they needed bunk straps to keep from falling out of their racks. One Sunday morning they noticed it odd that there were no worship services. Since the ship had no Chaplain, Bill and Ed organized a group of 12 sailors that formed a fellowship on Coast Guard LST 523.

Shortly after arriving at Plymouth, England they hit the ground with a two week course in chemical weapons defense (the allies were unsure of Hitlers intentions, as the war intensified on two fronts for the Germans). The corpsmen drilled on Seabee boats practicing loading and unloading of the combat vehicles and supplies: (LST’s – Landing Ship, Tank*). One day they were instructed not to unload the heavy equipment after the daily exercise. They knew what was coming next.

LST 523 made four runs to the Normandy beach heaving over 15 foot ocean swells along the way. On the fourth and final sortie, off Pointe du Hoc, they came straight down on a German mine amid-ship.

Bill had just come top-side from the galley. On the bow, he began conversing with two Army soldiers. One of them suggested they grab a seat in an armored truck close by. Shortly after they sat down, the catastrophic mine explosion sent slices of metal and men in all directions. According to Bill, the truck sheltered him from the raining debris that were shredding men into pieces all around him. Gaining his senses, he jumped ship just as the end of the 328′ long boat disappeared below the water. It had been sliced in half by the explosion. A fellow sailor Jack Hamlin, was close by in a small raft. They made their way to an anchored Liberty Ship and taken aboard to relative safety.

At zero hour, my uncle Ed was on the other end of the vessel. Bill said Ed never talked about his experience, and Bill never asked. All Bill knows is Ed somehow made it to shore and to an aid station. That was 2.5 miles from where they were hit. At the end of the day, 117 soldiers and sailors were dead of the 145 aboard LST 523: 28 survivors. Of those, all twelve of the prayer group were in one piece.

After spending a month or two in Foy, England they shipped out via Scotland on the HMS Queen Mary, to New York and then to Norfolk. They were instructed to expect assignment to fleet Marines in the South Pacific, and were given 30 days leave. A month latter they boarded a train thinking they were headed west, for the far east. To their surprise, they ended up at the the Great Lakes Naval Base Hospital. They were both assigned state-side hospital detail for the rest of the war. Apparently, one of the detailing officers decided they had seen enough combat, after (4) D-Day landings, and one ship blown out from underneath them.

Uncle Ed went back to Murfreesboro and made a professional life in the funeral business establishing Roselawn Cemetery and Funeral Home. For the next 45 years, he cared for families all over Middle Tennessee with the same compassion, respect and reverence as his fallen comrades on the Normandy beach. In 1990, Ed died of a heart attack at his Church deacon’s meeting. Bill Allen was seated next to him and received his last goodby. The funeral was one of the largest in local memory.

Bill Allen is happily married, working part-time at Ed’s former funeral home, and doing God’s good work. He is a very healthy age 90.

corpman-insignia.jpg

Pharmacists Mate 3rd Class

More details of the mission can be found below. The Nova video can also be found on YouTube.

Location of the ship wreck off Pointe du Hoc

D-Day Sunken Secrets: Buy the video of the PBS documentary for $2.99 on iTunes (the LST portion of the video starts at 1 hour and five minutes).

Tennessean Article May 25, 2014

Murfreesboro Post August 13, 2013

300th Combat Engineers

* Landing Ship, Tank (LST), or tank landing ship, is the naval designation for vessels created during World War II to support amphibious operations by carrying vehicles, cargo, and landing troops directly onto an unimproved shore. – wikipedia

LST 325 was part of the invasion with 523 at Normandy, France. It is docked here in Nashville, Tennessee 4 September 2017. It is owned and operated by the LST Memorial.

Virtual 360 Tour

USS LST Ship Memorial, Inc. 840 LST Drive, Evansville, IN  47713 325office@lstmemorial.org.

#navyheros #ddayheros #tennesseeheros #murfreesboroheros #lst523 #wwiicorpmen

Belmont’s Female WW II Pilot

Cornelia Clark Fort (WAFS)

by Bob Henderson, Jr. | Belmont Alumni Board | Class of 1982

Reviewing ‘From Here to Anywhere’ by Joy Jordan-Lake, at the Belmont 125th anniversary book-signing tonight, I have a story to add. Thumbing through the photos, the CornCorneliaPT19elia Fort picture caught my eye. I have a little known family story about her, told to my brother and me by our cousin Dick Henderson a few years ago.

Dick’s father (my great uncle) John Bond Henderson, Sr. of The Southwestern Company owned the farm adjacent to the Fort’s, which is now known as Shelby Bottoms. They called it Wild Acres. Dick vividly described to us the “old-growth” forrest he explored there as a child.

The Henderson’s were close neighbors with the family of Dr. Rufus Elijah Fort, founder of the National Life and Accident Insurance Company. They had many stories. Dick once described his brother racing past Cornelia’s chauffeured commute to Ward-Belmont one day, nearly ending in calamity around Shelby Park.

Dicks father (uncle “J.B.” to us) was a sport pilot, as well as his boys: J.B. Jr., Bruce, Dick and even daughter Ceacy. Dr. Fort was so concerned about this hobby of his neighbors, he made his own son promise that he would never learn to fly. Not anticipating that his daughter Cornelia would consider this vocation, he failed to make her pledge this oath. The rest is history.

Cornelia was the first U.S. pilot to encounter the Japanese air fleet during the Attack on Pearl Harbor. After her tragic death in 1943 ferrying a BT-13 out of Texas, J.B. donated the land they used as a grass runway to the Civilian Air Patrol. It was named Cornelia Fort Airpark. Cornelia was truly a pioneer for women in the armed forces, and military aviation in particular. Another Belmont legend.

Cornelia Airpark in 3D

Book:  Daughter of the Air: Brief Soaring Life of Cornelia Fort

#belmont125 #corneliafortairpark #womenmilitarypilots