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Our History - 1850-1899

Timeline of Nashville / Davidson County

Prepared with information from the website of the Nashville Public Library and from research conducted at the Metropolitan Archives of Nashville and Davidson County.

Special thanks to members of the staff and management of the Metro Archives for their professionalism in helping to gather this information.

Year Events and Milestones
1850 The first steam engine, the No. 1, ordered by the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, arrives in Nashville.
1851 The first gas street lamp is lighted on 2nd Avenue North at the public square.
1852 A public school system is authorized by the City Aldermen.
1852 Littlebury W. Fussell is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1854 E. B. Bigley is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1855 Mount Olivet Cemetery is created.
1855 Nashville’s first public school opens on the northeast corner of the intersection of 8th Avenue North and Broad Street.
1857 John K. Edmundson is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1858 James Hinton is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1859 Construction begins on the Maxwell House Hotel.
1859 Robert Campbell is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1859 The Tennessee State Capitol building is completed.
1860 John K. Edmundson is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1861 The Civil War begins.
1862 Federal troops occupy Nashville, which becomes the first southern capitol city to fall to the Union Army.
1862 James M. Hinton is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1865 The Civil War ends.
1865 The first mule-drawn streetcars appear in Nashville.
1866 E. E. Patterson is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1866 Fisk University is founded.
1867 John Berrien Lindsley founds Montgomery Bell Academy, using funds left to the University of Nashville by Montgomery Bell at his death in 1855.
1868 C. M. Donelson is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1869 Mount Ararat Cemetery is established.
1871 The Fisk Jubilee Singers begin a series of singing tours to raise money for their struggling school.
1872 E. D. Whitworth is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1873 Sampson Keeble becomes the first black man to serve in the Tennessee General Assembly.
1873 Vanderbilt University is founded.
1876 Francis M. Woodall is Sheriff of Davidson County. Prior to his election as Sheriff, he was a Constable for six years and a Deputy Sheriff for four years.
1876 Jubilee Hall is built, becoming the first building in the United States constructed for the higher education of African-Americans.
1876 Meharry Medical College is founded.
1877 Nashville’s first telephone call is placed.
1877 The world’s first air mail is flow from Nashville to nearby Gallatin…via balloon.
1878 John L. Price is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1880 Nashville celebrates the centennial year of its founding (the signing of the Cumberland Compact).
1881 Tim Johnson is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1882 Nashville’s first electric lights appear.
1883 T. E. Moore is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1885 The first professional baseball game in Nashville is played in Athletic Park near the Sulphur Spring Bottom, north of downtown.
1887 R. D. Marshall is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1889 Electric trolleys replace the mule-drawn streetcars.
1889 The Tennessee legislature passes a poll tax as a prerequisite for voting.
1890 General Hospital opens with 60 beds.
1890 Vanderbilt plays Peabody in Nashville’s first football game.  (Who won?  Anyone know?)
1891 David Lipscomb College begins as the Nashville Bible School.
1891 W. J. Hill is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1892 The Union Gospel Tabernacle, later known as the Ryman Auditorium, is completed.
1895 J. D. Sharp is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1896 The first automobile is driven in Nashville.
1897 The Centennial Exposition opens, with the Parthenon as its showpiece.
1899 Lewis Hurt is Sheriff of Davidson County.