Clarksville’s Historic Cemetery Trails
By Irene Griffey and Rubye Patch
LEADERSHIP CLARKSVILLE ‘99, HISTORIC TRAILS COMMITTEE is deeply indebted
to IRENE M. GRIFFEY for her invaluable research in behalf of this project.
Mrs. Griffey, a certified genealogist (one of only four in Tennessee) is
descended from several of our county’s original pioneers—when we were yet
known as “Tennessee county”. A lifelong denizen of Montgomery County, -Mrs.
Griffey knows our historic figures well, for the has studied them long.
Welcome to HISTORIC TRAILS’ Cemetery Tour. We call this tour “Cemetery Lore” for we hope our facts wind their way story-ward. Clarksville is rich in history. We have had two hundred years of colorful figures—rich and poor—who merely by living their daily lives, have left a fascinating trail. Although they rest in peace, with a little bit of nudging, we hope, for you, they will come alive.
In our present Clarksville, the largest of our city cemeteries is Greenwood, on the grounds of which a first public sale of lots was held 21 of June 1873. After these maiden sales, numerous families began moving their loved ones from City (now called Riverview) and Trinity Cemeteries. Why? Because these older cemeteries did not have perpetual care.
The HON. DAVID NEWTON KENNEDY (1820-1904) was the first Clarksvillian to recognize the need for perpetual-care cemetery. As an initial effort, he called upon his wife’s first cousin—the HON. JAMES EDMUND BAILEY (1822-1885)—to help him purchase eight acres on Charlotte Street. Together they soon realized that neither this location nor the acreage was adequate. Subsequently forty acres beyond the town limits were acquired. After the establishment of Greenwood Cemetery, the street was straightened and a link of it re-routed to accommodate a streetcar line and renamed Greenwood Avenue.
In 1840 Trinity Episcopal Church was granted one acre of land by JOHN HAMILL POSTON (1786-1848) for the purpose of establishing a churchyard. This gift, which gradually the church swelled to four acres, explains why the churchyard was so far removed from the church edifice. The location, between Franklin and Main Streets, approximately where Burt-Cobb Community Center now stands, was then considered countryside and was about half a mile from the church, the original site being the same as the present. The cemetery, except for the square Poston set aside for his family (who, then were mainly Methodists) was completely under the control of the church. Fenced and in good condition, the lots were sold to perpetuate the upkeep. When all the lots were sold, there was no more money for the upkeep. Alas, there was no more room to expand either, for both sides by then were bounded by buildings. Vandalism during the Civil War had left many of the headstones defaced or broken and the, fence in sad repair. So after Greenwood opened in 1873, the Episcopal Church gave to Mr. George Cook (a parishioner) the plot of land in exchange for his removal of the remainder of the bodies to Greenwood (the ones not already moved by their families). Don’t you bet that before Mr. Cook got through digging, these four acres looked mighty big and the price for his labor looked mighty small.
It seems odd to this writer that Mr. Poston would have chosen NOT to sleep in City Cemetery, as his sturdy Federal-style brick home sat atop Poston Street, then bordering the cemetery, now amalgamated among the grave sites, the house and the street existing no longer.
On July 20, 1872, the Board of Directors of the newly chartered Greenwood Cemetery hired a landscape artist and engineer from Louisville by the name of Benjamin Grove, Esq. to lay out avenues and cross ally ways for spacious lots. The avenues were macadamized and graveled. White stones marked the lot corners. Beds of flowers, shrubs and evergreens were planted. Twenty percent of subscribed stock ($50.00 per share) was used at once to erect a superintendent's home besides the ornamentation funding mentioned. The superintendent's home was built INSIDE the gates to the left. The Rev. Samuel Scott, known as a practical man was hired and stayed a few years followed by Mr. Hatcher Neblett. In 1897 an English-born Kentuckian, Mr. Herbert Roake came and stayed thirty years. His son, Herbert Dickson Roake (1909-1997) once stated that he bet he would be the first man in Clarksville to be buried in the same cemetery in which he was born. He was!
But it is Jean Batey Drake who states she bets she and her siblings are the only living people ANYWHERE who have spent the night in a house straddling a cemetery fence. Mr. Sam Batey, Jean's father, followed Mr. Roake in 1927 as superintendent. Early in his forty-year plus tenure, sometime in 1933, the super's house was moved from inside the cemetery gates across the left wall to the other side of the road on Greenwood. The hydraulic jacks operating the move went awry just as the house got half way over the fence. Night fell. Nothing could be done until daylight. So Mr. and Mrs. Bates and all five of the little Bateys had the thrill or the dread of seesawing through the night straddling the fence. Actually, Jean, who was a preschooler at the time, remembers sleeping soundly. She reports that no dishes had to be removed from the cabinets or furniture rearranged. It was, indeed, a smooth ride with a bonus overnight stay.
Now, let's visit some of the gravesites. Just inside the gates, in Section 5, let's turn to your right. Looming in front of you on your left, you will notice a tall obelisk (resembling the Washington Monument) which is dedicated to the HENRY family. The most famous Henry buried here is NOT Patrick ( although there is a Patrick).The famous one, GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS HENRY, born in 1804 in Scott County, KY. Eleventh child of William and Elizabeth Julia Flournoy Henry, he was educated at Transylvania University, a classmate of Jefferson Davis. Gustavus finished first in his class. Gustavus was known all up and down the eastern coastline as "The Eagle Orator of Tennessee". Like his famous kinsman, Patrick Henry of Virginia, Gustavus could hold his audiences spellbound, inciting them to resolve. In 1833 Gustavus had given up his political promise in Kentucky and moved his law practice to Clarksville. Why? He wanted to marry the lovely Marion McClure, the "belle of Clarksville". A versatile man, he was a Whig in Kentucky and eventually became a Democrat in Tennessee. A staunch Unionist before the Civil War, he became a rabit Confederate. (Fort Henry was named for him). He sent all four of his sons to fight for the Confederacy. One, Thomas Flournoy, did not come home alive from Shiloh. Gustavus was appointed the first Confederate senator from Tennessee and served all four years in Richmond. His wife, Marion, supported his public service. They lived and died in their beloved "Emerald Hill" off North Second Street.
Joining the Henry plot is that of the DRANE family, all of whom were active members in Clarksville's social, economic and political life. DR. WALTER HARDING DRANE, Kentucky born and Translvania educated, came to Clarksville in 1823. Setting up a successful medical practice on Franklin Street, he still found time (and money_ to support worthy causes. Not only did he aid Clarksville's Male Academy (which, under a succession of names and jurisdictions finally became Austin Peay State University), but he also contributed $10,000 to help construct the Memphis, Clarksville, Louisville railroad lines. When he was told his stock was worthless, he shrugged and said, "Well, we have the railroad, don't we?" In 1850 as president of the bridge company which oversaw the Red River covered bridge construction going toward Providence, he conveyed to the city the ownership of the bridge.
Dr. Drane was married to Eliza Jane McClure, sister of Marion "the belle" McClure, both daughters of Hugh McClure, native of Armagh, Ireland, and early Montogmery Co. settler. In 1843 Dr. Drance and Eliza with their children moved into the McClure country homeplace off Hopkinsville Hwy called Fairfield Farms. Eventually the couple had eleven children. Before Dr. Drane died in 1865, he changed his occupation from doctoring to tobacco-ing, as he opened a tobacco stemmery business. Wasn't he energetic and smart (and rich!). After his death, Eliza Jane came back into town and built on land already owned by her late husband, a handsome Italianate house off College Street.
The BELLFIELD KEESEE marker attracts attention next. Mr. Keesee, born on the south side of Cumberland River, was a successful, self-made man. He came into Clarksville and opened his own grocery store at age twenty. He became president of Montgomery Savings Institute which became Bank of Clarksville, then Clarksville National Bank, then First National Bank. Today it is First Union on the Square.
Mr. Keesee - called "Bell", married Cornelia Peacher, daughter of Peter Peacher, who established Peacher's Mill on Big West Fork Creek. In 1859 Bell opened a tobacco stemmery and showed the natural bent for good business when during the Civil War, he ordered his tobacco held in Liverpool until the value should double.
Although Mr. Keesee made lots of money in his lifetime, he was happiest when sharing. He reportedly helped all his family members financially. Unfortunately he suffered with cancer, a fact unknown to many until one week before his untimely death when he was confined to his bed. As a banker, we know he rests in peace, for his fine house which he built on Madison Street is today the home of Union Planters Bank.
Now we come around to the NORTHINGTON plot. MICHAEL CARR NORTHINGTON was born in Montgomery Co., in 1850. His grandfather came from North Carolina in 1808 and settled at Port Royal. His father, Samuel came to Clarksville and distinguished himself as Clarksville's first cabinet maker; later he launched himself as landlord of The Northington House, an early inn. Michael Carr, called "Mike" set up partnership with J. S. Keesee in the grocery business.
In 1873 Northington married Miss Nannie Neblett. They had six children: Mrs. Norman Smith, Mrs. Arch Rollow, Misses Mary and Nan Northington and three sons: Sterling, Samuel and Mike, Jr.
Descendants of this couple are active in two current insurance businesses in Clarksville.
The Michael C. Northington home is currently "The Rose Garden", a tea room restaurant, a pleasant place to pass the time in repasts: breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea.
A little farther down in Section 5 is JOHN FORD HOUSE. Mr. House - called Colonel- was a Williamson Co., native and graduate of Kentucky's Transylvania and Tennessee's Cumberland Law School. He was married on January 7, 1851 to Miss Julia Franklin Beech of Franklin. One child, Mattie, died in infancy.
Col. House was a member of Gen. George Maney's staff during the Civil War and was called to the War Office in Richmond to report for duty as judge advocate with rank of Capt. of Cavalry. After the War he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, serving Washington from 1875 to 1883.
He died in 1904. Too bad Col. House leaves no house and no descendants.
DAVID NEWTON KENNEDY, buried in Section 5 was a most influential citizen. Founder of the Northern Bank, so named because of its northern border locale, Mr. Kennedy showed his sagacity when he rode horseback through the backroads carrying the bank's assets simultaneously as the Yankees were arriving to occupy Clarksville after the fall of Ft. Donelson. He was fast on his way to New Orleans to ship the funds to England to the family of Gilliat (an acquaintance there in the banking business) for safekeeping. After the War, the funds were returned, making the Northern Bank the oldest in Tennessee, as all the former banks were now insolvent. The bank, first situated on the Square, moved later to the corner of Franklin and Second, then finally to the corner of Main and Second. Today it is known as First American.
Mr. Kennedy built an attractive two-story brick on South Second Street, the current site of Stone, Randolph and Henry Accountants. It was in the caves of his brick that prudent Mr. Kennedy hid the bank's funds, readying to abscond with them for safekeeping.
Mr. Kennedy was married in 1843 to Miss Sarah Bailey and became the father of six children. He is thought to have at least one descendant living in Clarksville today.
He represented Montgomery Co. in the General Assembly of the Confederate Congress and thereafter was called the "Hon." D. N. Kennedy.
Now we come to the grave site of the HON. JAMES EDMUND BAILEY, also known as Colonel James Bailey of the Forty-ninth Tennessee Infantry. A successful lawyer, a Unionist and a Whig before the War, Bailey served in Tennessee's General Assembly. On occasion he was appointed to sit as judge on the state's Supreme Court. After the War, Bailey was elected as a Democrat to fill the unexpired term in the U. S. Senate of former President Andrew Johnson (Johnson is the only U. S. president to afterwards serve in the Senate).
Mr. Bailey allegedly built the Carriage House (on 4th and Main) for relatives but never lived there. The home which he built for his immediate family was at the corner of Union and Madison, a handsome red brick with Italianate features- arched windows and wrought iron bowers, the site today of the downtown post office. Of Scottish ancestry, he was born in Clarksville in 1822, studied at the University of Nashville and married a Nashville girl, Miss Elizabeth Lusk in 1849. Five children grew to adulthood. There are numerous descendants, some who are active in law, education and business in Clarksville.
The SAMUEL STACKER family plot comes around next. SAMUEL and JOHN STACKER came to Nashville from Radnor Township, Philadelphia, PA to build a bridge across the Cumberland. The bridge proved to be gold in their pockets, for when they got in this next of the woods, they learned of the iron industry in Montgomery, Stewart and Dickson Counties. Samuel and John built the Washington Furnace in Montgomery County in 1830; the LaGrange Furnace in Stewart County in 1833 as well as the Cumberland Iron Works.
Iron ore preceded and then ran simultaneously with tobacco as the big money crops prior to the Civil War. Iron had early been discovered on the ridge between the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. James Robertson, "Father of Middle Tennessee" was the first in the Cumberland region to open a furnace in 1793, which, in 1804, he sold to Montgomery bell in the newly-formed Dickson County.
The Stacker family members, through the years, have contributed significantly to the benefit of our area. It was MARIA, buried here in 1900 (widow of Marinus), who along with Mrs. G. A Henry successfully worked for the purchase of a home for confederate orphans whose lives had been shattered during the war. it is she also who forewent a new carpet for her charlotte street home in lieu of an added contribution to the construction of the second Trinity Church edifice.
A cunning anecdote found in Douglas Southall Freeman's Pulitzer prize winning biography of Robert E. Lee involves GRACE PRATT STACKER, buried here in 1931 and who lived with her husband, Major Clay Stacker on Madison Street catty-cornered across from Greenwood Avenue. Dr. Pratt, Grace's father, was Presbyterian minister in Lexington, VA, home of Washington and Lee University. The Episcopal rector there complained to Gen. Lee that "all the boys" (Washington and Lee students) were frequenting the Presbyterian Church rather than the Episcopal because "of the eloquence of Dr. Pratt". General Lee thoughtfully answered, "I rather think that the attraction is not so much Dr. Pratt's eloquence as it is Dr. Pratt's Grace". This GRACE charmed Clarksville for many years.
The MORRIS K. CLARK family is buried in Section 5. Clark, son of Dr. Micajah Clark of Richmond, BA, was brother to Micajah Clark of Clarksville and last treasurer of the Confederacy.
Micajah, a tobacconist here before and after the War is said to have been the first person to have suggested the erection of the Tobacco Exchange Building. He and his brothers owned Elephant Warehouse which was on Riverside Drive.
When Micajah was the Confederate Treasurer, President Jefferson Davis visited him on two occasions in his Madison Street home, which was directly across from Hiter Street. On one of these occasions, Mr. and Mrs. Clark held a large reception for him.
At least one Clarksville resident remembers attending kindergarten in this house in the 1930's and playing a huge vault in the home. This vault may have been used for Mr. Clark's tobacco business and possible during his term as Confederate Treasurer.
The story is told that through accident, a pair of jeans came into Micajah's possession, jeans which President Davis wore during the evacuation of Richmond. These jeans, as well as the president's signature on Mr. Clark's commission as acting treasurer of the Confederacy were carried to the Davis family by Mr. Clark when he attended President Davis funeral in 1889.
MRS. MICAJAH HENRY CLARK, nee Elizabeth Kerr of Clarksville was first buried here in Greenwood in 1907, but when Micajah died in 1912, her body was moved to Richmond to the family burial plot there.
On the west side of Section 5 lie two renown Clarksvillians - ROBERT WEST HUMPHREYS and HORACE HARMON LURTON. Mr. Humphreys was born in Montgomery County, April 14, 1824 to Mary West and Judge Parry Wayne Humphreys, the man for whom Humphreys County is named. Robert West, a graduate of University of Tennessee and Harvard Law School was a hero of the Mexican War. A First Lieutenant in infantry when Stonewall Jackson was First Lieutenant in artillery in the same brigade. Humphreys was commander of his company uner Colonel William Trousdale (the later governor). Humphreys helped lead a field battery in the successful assault on the main fortress in Mexico City- Chapultepec- which was in effect, the turning poing of the war despite the fact that Santa Anna refused to sign a peace treaty. Robert married Miss Mary Walton Meriwether, daughter of Charles Nicholas and Caroline Barker Meriwether. They had seven surviving children, but no Clarksville heirs. The Humphreys home was a Federal brick on a hill once used as a city park, now the site of Austin Peay University's Dunn Center.
HORACE HARMON LURTON, born in Newport, Kentucky on February 26, 1844 became a Clarksvillian as a young man. His family who sympathized with state's rights moved just prior to the Civil War. As a Confederate soldier Lurton was captured twice by the Union army, the last time taking a loyalty oath to the Union to secure his early release. A graduate of Cumberland Law School, Lurton practice law here and at the same time became first president of Farmers and Merchants National Bank. He was elected to the Tennessee Supreme Court becoming chief justice, then nominated by President Cleveland to the U. S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and finally appointed by President Taft to the U. S. Supreme Court. At one time he was dean of Vanderbilt's Law School. Married to Mary Frances Owen of Lebanon, he had among other children, Miss Carrie Lurton who married Thomas Dickson Johnson, son of Clarksville's Cave Johnson who was U. S. Postmaster General under President Polk. Mr. Lurton's house was at the top of the hill at Madison and Second Streets. While vacationing with his family in Atlantic City, Lurton died suddenly of a hear attack, July 12, 1913. All his fellow members of the U. S. Supreme Court came here to his funeral including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. His grave site here in Section 5 borders that of Robert West Humphreys.
Crossing over to Section 7, we find the cemetery plot of WILLIAM M. STEWART, born in Philadelphia in 1803. The iron industry had lured Mr. Stewart to Clarksville in 1832. While making money iron business he was asked to hold a professorship in science at Masonic College. Back in Philadelphia Mr. Stewart and associates had founded the Academy of Science.
An avid Presbyterian, Professor Stewart looked to the Presbyterian Synod for financial backing for the college. In 1855 the Synod was induced to purchase the financially-strained institution. Because of Stewart’s generous aid, in both time and money, it was decided by the Synod that the school should be renamed in his honor. It was then the Princeton-educated Stewart endeavored to make the college a “Princeton of the South”.
On the back side of Section 11 is found in the shape of a Corinthian column, the obelisk of GOVERNOR AUSTIN PEAY, for whom Clarksville’s current university is named. Mr. Peay (1876-1927) was a popular governor for four and one-half years. When he took office the state was over three -million dollars in debt and when he died in office, the state had a surplus of 1.2 million. In 1923 he pushed through the legislature the Administrative Reorganization Act which gave him greater control over the state budget, as well as revenue. He developed administrative departments replacing the antiquated committee system. His political skill and his reputation for fairness and integrity made Governor Austin Peay an effective chief executive.
Mr. Peay was a peoples’ governor. When he died, the people—rich and poor—paid their respects. It is said his funeral procession measured nearly three miles.
Let’s return to Section 1 which is directly in front of the entrance gates. Bear left between Section 1 and 2 and on the right in Section 1 is a marker for J. J. HAMLETT.
You will want to stop here, for next to his marker are two plaques laid evenly with the ground. On these plaques, CLARA HAMLETT ROBERTS has engraved the Hamlett family history (at the cost of $1.00 per letter). Miss Clara was a genealogist. Genealogists collect mountains of material. Genealogists’ families oftentimes do not share the genealogist’s enthusiasm for compiling a family tree.
After these plaques were laid, Mrs. Roberts stated she was sure her family would throw away her notes after she was dead and gone, but she surely would like to see them chisel these off.
Next to the Hamlett plot in Section 1 is a large Scottish marble stone for HUGH DUNLOP. Clarksville was and is known the world over for its tobacco. Hugh Dunlop, born in Ayrshire, Scotland, was a tobacconist. Born in 1811, he died at age 67 in 1878 in Clarksville. Other than owning warehouses and stemmeries, he was a giant landowner. Some of that land is bordering GOVERNORS’ SQUARE MALL.
His first wife, Rebecca Talley, died early. They had one son, William Barrett Dunlop. Today William Barrett Dunlop IV is a Clarksville banker.
His second wife, daughter of his tobacco contemporary, Joseph Phillip Williams, was thirty years his junior. She, Martha (Mattie) Williams was born in 1841. They were married immediately after the Civil War in 1865 and lived in the home Williams had built, called Tip Top, all their married lives.
Their two sons, Joseph Phillip Dunlop and Hugh Matthew Dunlop, built Dunlop Milling. Joseph built Ayshire, the lovely estate on Madison which is now occupied by the Red Cross.
Then there is WILLIAM SPENCER POINDEXTER, born in Russellville, KY in 1830. He died here 24 January 1890. He came to Clarksville in 1853 and worked as bookkeeper for the W. S. McClure Warehouse which was called “The Rat Proof Warehouse”. Mr. McClure gave his warehouse this name because another warehouseman had advertised his warehouse as fire proof. Mr. McClure stated that when he figured the hogsheads of tobacco his warehouse would receive for the year, the hogsheads filled the house. So, for additional room, he just figured the rats out of their holes. The name stuck.
Mr. Poindexter was also cashier for the Franklin Bank, which was first begun in New Providence, then moved to Clarksville. Mr. Poindexter and his first wife, Emily Everett had one daughter, Lula. Lula married W. B. Anderson, another tobacconist. They built the neoGreek revival mansion on North Second which later was sold to be the Clarksville Hospital. Today the site of the old home is the new Clarksville Academy.
Driving between Sections 3 and 11, look to your right. In Section 3 lies SIDNEY G00CH SWENKER who died in 1902. Mrs. Swenker’s husband, FRED SWENKER was a well known blacksmith and wagon maker. During his era, a blacksmith was a most important person both to the city and country dweller.
Near the Swenker plot is DR. W. B. SCOTT. Mr. Scott died 19 September 1880 in Bolivar County, Mississippi, at the age of twenty-nine. His wife, EVA MAY SCOTT died the month before in 1880 at the age of twenty-two. They had been married the year before on 8 April 1879 in New Orleans. Ten days after Mrs. Scott died and about a month before Mr. Scott died, their only daughter, GEORGIA Y. SCOTT died.
Wrapping around Section 3 you will find the REV. JOHN NEWTON WADDELL, who died in 1895. He came to Clarksville in 1879 as Chancellor of Southwestern Presbyterian University. Dr. Waddell was South Carolinian by birth, Georgia educated and once was employed by the University of Mississippi. He stayed at Southwestern (which proceeded Austin Peay University) for nine years. He is credited with bringing Dr. Joseph R. Wilson to Clarksville. Dr. Wilson was father to Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the U. S.
Near him in Section 3 is GOVERNOR WILLIE (Wylie) Blount), who was born in North Carolina in 1768 and died in Montgomery County in 1835. He moved to Tennessee county in 1790 to serve as private secretary to his brother, Governor William Blount. For these services, he was granted land in eastern Montgomery County and moved here in 1802. A well educated man for his wilderness, he was one of the incorporators in 1806 of Rural Academy, the first school of higher learning in Clarksville. He set up a law practice here and in 1807 was elected to the Tennessee legislature to represent Montgomery and Stewart Counties. In 1809 he was elected governor of the state and served three terms until 1815. He resumed farming in Montgomery Co. and then ran again for governor in 1827 but was defeated by Sam Houston.
He died at the Robertson Co. home of his kinsman, Wylie Blount Johnson, and was buried in the family plot on his Montgomery Co. farm. In 1877 his body, along with those of his family, was moved to Greenwood. Clarksville's stone and marble master, Samuel Hodgson carved his stone.
NATHANIEL V. GERHART is in Section 3. Mr. Gerhart was born in Dauphin County, PA in 1827, son of. a minister in the German Reform Church; Nathaniel was educated in Gettysburg, then located himself in Louisville. There he found himself a wife and in 1852, he came to Clarksville. He was an enterprising merchant for many years on Franklin Street. His son, Isaac P., continued in the dry goods business.
SAMUEL HODOSON has a large stone in Section 3 and well that he should, for he was Clarksville’s foremost marble worker for decades. A versatile. man, he was born in England and came with his widowed mother to the Illinois and Indiana country in 1842 where he apprenticed himself to marble sculptors..
He came to Clarksville in 1852. He imported marble from Italy and granite from Glasgow and Aberdeen. He worked in native marbles and granites as well.
After the devastating downtown fire of 1878, Hodgson built several of the late Victorian buildings you see today on Franklin Street. Father of five sons, he has at least one descendant in Clarksville today who is a successful educator.
In the curve at the east end of Seciton 3 is the grave of CHRISTIAN KROPP, who was born in Germany and came to America at age 18. He was involved with Samuel B. Seat in several enterprises, the last of which was the milling business. His home was a grey brick which across Trinity Church on Franklin Street. This home was chosen by Ulyssus S.Grant’s officers when Clarksville was occupied. Grant allegedly visited his officers there. Mr. Kropp died in 1876. No “Kropp” (that we know of) did he plant in our county, .
Near Mr. Kropp is an impressive stone for the REV. ACHILLES De GRASSE SEARS, born in Fairfax, VA in 1804 and settled in Bourbon County, KY where studied law at age 19 and also taught school. He joined the Baptist church in 1838 and began his ministerial labor and study. In 1842 he took charge of the First Baptist Church in Louisville where he stayed for twelve years.. He gave up that post to minister to the Confederate Army through the Southern Board of Missions. After having been away from home for over two years, the opportunity arose for him to meet his wife, the former Annie Bowie of Maryland ancestry, at Tennessee Iron Works, south of the Cumberland in Montgomery County. When Mrs. Sears appeared at the river to cross the ferry, she carried a bundle of clothes and other personal article for her husband. The Federal guards would have refused to allow her cross but for the timely interception of Mr. Hugh Dunlop who came to her rescue. She spent a month with her husband.
After the War, Dr. and Mrs. Sears came to Clarksville's First Baptist and stayed for twenty years.
The Rev. Sears died on 15 June 1891 as a result of a fall. Mrs. Sears survived her husband by two years, dying on Christmas day, 1893 at the age of 97. Their epitaph reads, "They were lovely in life and in death they are not divided."
Looking to the left in Sections 15 and 17 you can see relatively new graves. In Section 15 is PAOLI MERIWETHER, a wealthy farmer who died in 1971 and his winsome wife, NORMA MACCOY MERIWETHER who died in 1982. In 1925 Mr. and Mrs. Meriwether learned "quite by accident" from a kinsman of a seed crop known as Korean Lespedeze- a soil restoring legume and forage crop. They secured the seed from the Agricultural Experiment Station in Beltsville, Maryland. First, they planted a small patch, then a larger one at their farm on Trenton Road called Eupedon, Perkins & Miller, a farm implement supply house on Commerce Street saw the advantages and demonstrated at Eupedon a machine which would clean the seed. Soon over 2500 acres in Montgomery Co. were sown in this wonder crop. Perkins & Miller became the world’s largest cleaner of the seed, Montgomery Co. farmers found a new money crop and Mrs. Norma Meriwether was crowned “Queen of Lespedeza”.
Still in Section 15 is the grave of MAJOR WOODROW WILSON VADEN who was an Air Force liaison officer at Ft. Campbell. On November 4, 1964, Major Vaden said “Goodbye” to his family in Clarksville and thirty days later on December 4, he was in the biggest air disaster of the Viet Nam War. He was the first locally born Viet Nam victim. Because of the secrecy of his mission, his family has yet to learn very little of the circumstances surrounding the disaster.
In Section 9 is GEORGE NEWTON BYERS who died in 1904. Mr. Byers was a Confederate soldier who served under the command of General Stonewall Jackson. He first owned a drugstore but later went into the insurance business. Although he has no descendants living today iñ Clarksville, his name is still connected with Byers and Harvey Real Estate.
Near the northeast end of Section 9 is the stone of WILLIAM RUFUS BRINGHURST, JR. He served as a soldier in Co. A, Woodward’s 2nd KY Cavalry. It was he who leased. the National Hotel and gave it the name, “The Franklin House”. He was a son of William Rufus, Sr. and Julia H. Bringhurst. W. R. Bringhurst, Sr. opened the first carriage factory in Clarksville in 1829 introducing the Old Prince Albert style with the wooden dashboard made high and elaborately curved.
Mr. Bringhurst, Sr. was born in 1804 in Germantown, PA, stopping by Clarksville in 1828. When his boat landed at the wharf, his dog jumped off and ran up a hill. After chasing the dog for some distance and having retrieved him, Bringhurst got back to the wharf just in time to discover his boat was gone. While waiting around town for later passage, he met the lovely Miss Julia Huling who was from Harrisburg, PA. Miss Huling, no doubt had come to Clarksville because her brother Judge Huling lived here. Miss Huling, known for her beauty and charm, taught music. After the meeting of the couple, Bringhurst seemed to forget about his resolve to return to Pennsylvania. The two were soon married and together they had six children.
On the southside of Section 9 can be found BENJAMIN KNOX GOLD who was born in 1837 and died at the age of 85. He was a tobacconist and believed to have been the last surviving member of the original Tobacco Board of Trade.
Clarksville was the third largest tobacco market in the U.S. and the largest export market, exporting more tobacco than all the other markets put together.
Our, tobacco was shipped down the Cumberland to the Ohio, then down the Mississippi to New Orleans and there to Europe where it was recognized as “Clarksville Tobacco” from its special sheen. The Tobacco Board of Trade built a magnificent four-story building containing nineteen rooms. Set upon the site of the current Riverview Inn, it was completed in 1879. The building is described as warmed by steam with water and gas in every room. The top floor was often used for fancy balls. The entire cost of the building was $75,000, a substantial amount for the time.
Traveling on in Section 9 is the GRACEY family plot containing FRANK POSTON GRACEY, who died in 1895. Born in Eddyville, KY he was clerk on The steamer, “America”, which operated from Nashville to New Orleans. He married Miss Irene Cobb, daughter of Dr. Joshua Cobb; she died in 1906. Gracey was energetic and enterprising. He and his brother, Matt owned the Gracey Warehouse, the Gracey-Woodard Iron Furnace and the Grange Warehouse, considered the largest warehouse in the World. Buried here also is his brother, MATTHEW GRACEY who died in 1907.
Near the Gracey plot is a formidable stone engraved STEWART, set in a 24- grave lot. BRYCE STEWART, who was born in Rothesay Isle of Bute, Scotland, April 24, 1811, came to the U. S. as a lad of eleven with his brothers, John and Daniel K. They first located in Richmond, VA but in 1923 Bryce moved to New Orleans where he accumulated considerable wealth in the cotton business. In 1834 Bryce and John came to Clarksville and conducted an extensive stemmery and re-handling tobacco business. John Stewart returned to Richmond but Bryce remained in Clarksville and extended his stemmery business into Missouri and Kentucky. He bad property not only in Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri, but his holdings reached into Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida and Virginia. When he died, January 23, 1894, the “Leaf Chronicle” listed him as the richest man ever to have lived in Clarksville.
His first wife was Miss Eliza McClure, daughter of Alexander McClure who died in 1866 and is buried in Riverview Cemetery, along with his two infant children. It was for Eliza that Stewart built the castle which faced North Second Street and sat upon eleven acres of a rolling knoll. When Eliza died, Bryce had not the heart to finish the castle, although it only lacked windows, porticos and interior detail. When in 1873, he allegedly asked his new bride - Miss Sallie West Cobb- to choose between finishing the castle or a tour of Europe, who chose the latter, an unfortunate move for Clarksville. The castle stood until the early 1900's when it was razed and the lots were sold at public auction. Today forty-four lots cover the property, some of them comprising what is today known as Castle Heights.
Source: The Leaf-Chronicle, Cumberland Lore, September 1999