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Historical Markers - Notable People

Reverend Bill Barnes

Reverend William L. “Bill” Barnes, a pastor, civil rights leader and teacher, was often called the “conscience of Nashville.” Rev. Barnes passionately agitated for legislation that would help those marginalized by race, social class, sexual orientation, incarceration or homelessness. He also founded many organizations to bring attention to those issues including MANNA (1975), Project Return (1979) and the Organized Neighbors of Edgehill (O.N.E.) Barnes Scholarship (1995). (side 1)

In 1966 Rev. Barnes founded Edgehill United Methodist Church, one of Nashville’s first intentionally integrated churches. His work, addressing issues like affordable housing, often centered in the Edgehill community. Barnes wanted his work to be carried into the future, believing, much like Saint Óscar Romero, that, “The temple shall remain unfinished until all are housed in dignity.” In 2013 The Barnes Housing Trust, the city’s affordable housing fund, was named in his honor. (side 2)

Donated by friends and family of Bill Barnes

Location: 1502 Edgehill Ave. (number 203)

Erected 2019

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Dorothy Lavinia Brown, M.D. 1919-2004

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Dorothy Brown was born in 1919 in Philadelphia, Penn. She attended Meharry Medical College and studied under Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr., who admitted her as the first black woman to the surgery program. She was the first female African-American surgeon in the South, and the first to be made a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. She was chief of surgery at Riverside Hospital from 1957-1983. In 1966, she became the first African-American woman to serve in the Tenn. Gen. Assembly.

Location: 800 Youngs Ln. (number 167)

Erected 2018

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Neill S. Brown 1810-1886

Located 125 yards north is the site of Idlewild, home of Neill S. Brown, governor of Tennessee, 1848-1850. The only governor to live in East Nashville, he is credited with naming the city of Edgefield. Appointed United States Minister to Russia in 1850, and in 1870 was a member of the State Constitutional Convention.

Location: currently down (damaged on March 2020 tornado)

Erected: 1971

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Penny Campbell 1953-2014

An activist for LGBT rights and advocate for people with mental health and housing issues, Campbell co-organized Tennessee’s delegation to the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian & Gay Rights and Nashville's 1988 Pride parade at a time when many feared discrimination and violence. Daughter of civil rights activist Will Campbell, she was the lead plaintiff in Campbell v. Sundquist (1996), which overturned a law criminalizing private, consensual, sexual acts between same-sex adults.

Location: 1615 McEwen Ave

Erected: 2017

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Timothy Demonbreun

Jacques-Timothe’ De Montbrun, born on Mar. 23, 1747, in Boucherville, Quebec, was the first white man to live in the Nashville area. Beginning in 1769, he spent several winters here trading for furs. He served as Lieut. Gov. of Illinois country, 1783-86. He became permanent resident of Nashville in 1790, operating store & tavern. Died at home on this site, Oct. 30, 1826.

Location: Broadway & 3rd Av N, wall marker

Erected: 1971

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Mrs. John Donelson

After Col. John Donelson was killed in 1785, his widow and family continued to live here in a log house. In 1789 lawyers Andrew Jackson and John Overton boarded with the Donelsons. Here Jackson met Rachel, the Donelson’s youngest daughter. They married in 1791 and lived here until they acquired there own home across the Cumberland in 1792.

Location:1787 Gallatin Pike N.

Erected: 1969

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Elizabeth Atchison Eakin 1858-1936

Elizabeth Rhodes Atchison, born in Nashville on Feb. 26, 1858, married prominent banker John H. Eakin in 1882. Active in many civic causes, in 1917 she became the first woman to join the Nashville City School Board. After her death in 1936, a new school on Fairfax Ave., built with funds from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), was named in her honor. In 2006, Eakin School moved to the adjacent Cavert School. The Eakin Building became the Martin Center for teacher training.

Location: 2500 Fairfax Ave. (number 191)

Erected 2019

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Captain Alexander "Devil Alex" Ewing

Lt. Alexander Ewing was commissioned in the Continental Army in Sept. 1777 and promoted to Capt. in 1781. That year, while serving as aide-de-camp to Maj. Gen. Greene, he was wounded at Guilford Courthouse. Ewing moved to Davidson Co. c. 1786 and married Sarah Smith c. 1788. Initially granted 2,666 acres, by 1798 Ewing had increased his land holding across Middle Tenn. and owned 13 enslaved persons. This early Federal-style house was completed just before his death in 1822.

Location: 5101 Buena Vista Pike

Erected 1995, replaced 2019

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Tolbert Fanning, 1810-1874

In 1844, noted educator, evangelist, and agriculturalist Tolbert Fanning started Franklin College, a liberal arts school near this site where boys farmed to cover tuition. In 1855 he co-founded the Gospel Advocate, a religious journal. Fanning’s wife, Charlotte Fall, began Fanning Orphan School for girls here in 1884. Their aim was to put education within the “reach of every youth.”

Location: Briley Parkway and Vultee Boulevard

Erected: 2003

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Major Wilbur Fisk Foster 1834-1922

Chief Engr. army of Tenn. C. S. A.; Construction Engineer on first R.R. Bridge in Nashville; City Engineer of Nashville and member of American Society of Civil Engineers; Director of Works at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition and Co-Founder of Foster & Creighton Co.; Elder, First Presbyterian Church; 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason.

Location: Centennial Park by Lake Wautauga

Erected: 1975

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William Gower

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On April 24, 1780, William Gower, age 3½, arrived with his family at the Bluffs settlements, now Nashville. In 1800 he settled near Overall Creek and in 1802 married Charlotte Garland. They had fifteen children, many of whom became prominent community leaders. A Methodist minister for over a half century, William founded Gower’s Chapel on his own farmland. Gower Cemetery was established in 1816, with the burial of William’s mother, Obedience Blakeley Gower.

Location: 6811 Gower Rd. (number 178)

Erected 2019

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Alex Little Page Green

In 1829, The Rev. Alex Green joined the Methodist Episcopal Church’s Nashville Conference. Elected vice-president of the TN Conference’s Temperance Society in 1835, Green was instrumental in the Southern Methodist Publishing House’s move to Nashville in 1854, and helped establish Shelby Medical College (1857) and Vanderbilt University (1875). By private venture, he opened Union St. from College St. to Market St. c. 1870. This area’s first school was renamed Alex Green Academy in 1887.

Location: 3921 Lloyd Rd. (number 169)

Erected 2018

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Julia McClung Green 1873-1961

Dedicated educator who served Davidson County public schools 57 years as a teacher, the first Supervisor of Elementary Education 1911-1944 and Director of Character Education, Miss Julia oversaw schools countywide. A progressive, she pioneered school hot lunch and health programs for children, local affiliation with national education organizations, and the local PTA movement.

Location: 3500 Hobbs Road

Erected: 1999

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Adolphus Heiman 1809-1862

Born in Potsdam, Prussia. Came to Nashville 1838. Lived in home on this site, Architect, Engineer & Builder. Designed Univ. of Nash. Main Bldg., Central State Hosp. Main Bldg., Suspension Bridge over Cumberland River Masonic Leader; Adj. U.S. Army Mexican War,; Col. 10th Tenn. Inf. Reg.
C.S.A. Civil War. Buried in Confederate Circle, Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Location: 900 Jefferson Street

Erected: 1976

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Josephine Groves Holloway

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Josephine Holloway graduated from Fisk Univ. with a degree in sociology in 1923. She worked at Bethlehem Center as a case worker, where she began organizing the first African-American Girl Scouts troops in Middle Tenn. In 1924 Holloway trained with Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low. From 1944-63 she worked as the GS Council’s first black professional. In 1951 her efforts were central to establishing Camp Holloway, in Millersville, Tenn., for African-American girls.

Location: Battery Ln. at Granny White Pike (number 200)

Erected 2019

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Randall Jarrell, 1914-1965

Distinguished poet, critic, novelist, and teacher. Born in Nashville; Hume-Fogg graduate 1931; Vanderbilt bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Served in U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II. Wrote about losses of war and childhood innocence. Poet Laureate at Library of Congress, 1956-58. Winner of National Book Award for poetry, 1960.

Location: Hume-Fogg High School, 700 Broadway

Erected: 2005

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Alfred Z. Kelley

Nashville barber Alfred Z. Kelley was lead plaintiff in Kelley v. Board of Education, a federal lawsuit filed Sept. 23, 1955, on behalf of his son Robert and 20 other African American children. In December, the suit was amended to include two white children turned away from city schools. They lived in majority African American neighborhoods. Kelley sought compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown ruling. Tenn.’s longest desegregation case, it was settled in April 1998.

Location: 5834 Pettus Rd. (number 207)

Erected 2019

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Albertine Maxwell

Regarded as the symbol of dance in her adopted hometown of Nashville, Ellen Albertine Chaiser Maxwell (1902-96) operated the Albertine School of the Dance (1936-80). She had danced with Chicago Opera, Adolf Baum Dance Co., and Ruth St. Denis Dance Co. Founder and director of the Les Ballets Intimes with Nashville Ballet Society (1945-80), Maxwell was also a founding member of the Southeastern Regional Ballet Assn. (1955). Her studio in her home, 3307 West End, no longer stands.

Location: 3307 West End Avenue

Erected: 2005

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Reverend Nelson G. Merry

The Reverend Nelson G. Merry, born enslaved in 1824 in Kentucky, was brought to Tennessee by his master. At age 16, his widowed mistress willed him to the First Baptist Church. He was freed in 1845. Merry preached to the “colored” mission of First Baptist, which was established in 1843. When it became “First Colored Baptist Church” (now First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill) in 1865, Merry, an ordained minister, was named pastor. The Rev. Merry is buried in Mt. Ararat Cemetery.

Location: Frankie Pierce Park, Nelson Merry St. between 10th Ave N and 10th Cir N (number 210)

Erected 2019

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John Trotwood Moore 1858-1929

Tennessee novelist, poet, co-author, four-volume history, “Tennessee, the Volunteer State”; publisher, “Trotwood monthly”; author of short stories; breeder and judge of livestock: teacher, lecturer; beloved companion & raconteur; President, Tennessee Historical Society; State Librarian & Archivist, 1919-1929; lived in his home Arden Place on this site.

Location: 4425 Granny White Pike

Erected: 1971

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James Carroll Napier

James C. Napier (1845-1940), Nashville Negro lawyer, educator, member of the city council, delegate to four Republican conventions, Register of U.S. Treasury, 1911-1915, was a trustee of Fisk, Howard, and Meharry, advocate of the public schools, and founder of the One-cent Savings Bank, later the Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Co.
Correction: Napier resigned as Register of the U.S. Treasury in 1913.

Location: 648 Claiborne Street

Erected: 1971

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Betty Chiles Nixon

Betty Nixon was a trailblazing woman in Nashville politics, an ardent preservationist, and a relentless advocate for the city’s people and neighborhoods. She served on the Metro Council from 1975 to 1987, was the first woman to chair its Budget and Finance Committee, and ran for mayor in 1987 and 1991. Nixon and her first husband, U.S. District Judge John T. Nixon, purchased this 1925 Colonial Revival house in 1971. It was the setting for her campaigns and community activism.

Location: 1607 18th Ave S (number 212)

Erected 2020 (to be determined)

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General Thomas Overton 1753-1825

Gen. Thomas Overton served in the Revolutionary War and as Inspector of Revenue in N.C., the same position held by his brother Judge John Overton in Tenn. He was one of Gen. Jackson’s seconds in duel with Chas. Dickinson. This grave plot was a part of his homeplace, “Soldier’s Rest,” where he lived from 1804 until his death in 1825.
Location: Old Hickory, Donelson Avenue
Thomas Overton died in 1824. His will was recorded on September 3, 1824.

Location: Donelson Avenue in Old Hickory

Erected: 1976

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Captian John Rains

On Christmas 1779 he led his family and livestock across the frozen Cumberland and settled in this vicinity. In 1784 he built a fort that enclosed the spring 75 yards east. At James Robertson’s orders he often led a company of scouts against Indians. His home was on this hill until he died in 1834, age 91.

Location: SW corner of Rains Ave and Merritt St.

Erected: 1968

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W.R. Rochelle

A graduate of Peabody College, William Rayburn Rochelle served as principal of Cohn High School from 1939 until his retirement in 1965. An innovative educator, he led Cohn in developing student government and was responsible for a state of the art music education program. Rochelle devoted his life to education and community service, especially to adults with intellectual disabilities. In 1968, he founded the Rochelle Center for disabled adults and their families.

Location: Cohn School, 4805 Park Avenue

Erected: 2012

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Cardinal Stritch

Samuel Stritch, born Aug. 17, 1887, southwest corner Fifth and Madison, entered Assumption School at age 7. Ordained when 22, he sang his first Mass here, was priest in Memphis and Nashville, Bishop of Toledo, Archbishop of Milwaukee, Archbishop of Chicago. Named Cardinal in 1946, he was called to Rome in 1958 to head Catholic missions, thus became first American member of the Roman Curia.

Location: 1227 Seventh Ave N

Erected: 1981

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Frederick Stump 1724-1820

Frederick Stump was born in Lancaster Co., Pa.  He married Ana c. 1757, Ann Snavely c. 1766, and Catherine Gingery in 1816.  He had at least 8 children. In 1761 he founded Stumpstown, Pa. In 1768 he was jailed in Carlisle, Pa. for killing several Native Americans. Freed by a sympathetic mob, he fled to Ga.  He served in the Revolutionary War under Col. Francis Marion, was jailed and escaped from Ft. Marion, Fla. He returned to Ga. to find his mills burned and property confiscated. (side 1)

The Stump family moved west, joined the Amos Heaton party, and arrived at French Lick Dec. 1779. Frederick and son Jacob of White’s Creek signed the 1780 Cumberland Compact. By 1789 Stump built this 2-story log tavern-inn, a 2-story log home to the southeast, grist and saw mills, a cotton gin and distillery.  He served as Capt. in the War of 1812 and died in Davidson County with an estate of nearly 1,500 acres of land and 60 enslaved persons. His exact burial location is unknown. (side 2)

Location: 4949 Buena Vista Pike (number 53)

Erected 1975, replaced 2020

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Dr. Matthew Walker SR. 1906-1978

Matthew Walker was born December 7, 1906 in Waterproof, La. After attending school in New Orleans, he graduated from Meharry Medical College in 1934 and began teaching at Hubbard Hospital. Walker served as Chairman of the Department of Surgery from 1945-73 and was instrumental in securing a 1968 federal grant to start the Meharry Neighborhood Health Center. In 1970 the community-based clinic’s name was changed to the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center in his honor.

Location: 1035 14th Ave. N (number 189)

Erected 2019

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William Walker “Grey-Eyed Man of Destiny”

Born May 8, 1824, Walker moved to this site from 6th Ave. N. in 1840. In early life he was doctor, lawyer, & journalist. He invaded Mexico in 1853 with 46 men & proclaimed himself Pres., Republic of Lower Calif. Led force into Nicaragua in 1855; was elected its Pres. in 1856. In attempt to wage war on Honduras was captured & executed Sept. 12, 1860.

Location: Commerce St. and 4th Ave N (number 35)

Erected 1970

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Samuel Watkins 1794-1880

Brick manufacturer and builder, who at the age of 15 fought under Gen. Jackson in the Creek campaigns and at the Battle of New Orleans, left at his death in 1880 this site and $100,000 as an endowment for a school later called Watkins Institute. A pioneer school for adult education, it has been in continuous operation since 1885.

Moved in 2011: 2298 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. (number 11)

Erected 1968

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