At the end of the 19th century City Cemetery was in crisis. Once a burial place for all Nashvillians, it had been supplanted by the newer and more beautiful Mt. Olivet, Mt. Ararat, and Calvary cemeteries. The Union Civil War dead had been transported to National; the Confederates, to Mt. Olivet. Neglected and ignored, City was described by the Banner on June 21, 1868, as a ruin: “robbery, murder and lust have held their horrid orgies in it and even now nightly desecrated by being the rendezvous of lascivious love.” No wonder the cemetery was promptly declared a “public nuisance” and burials were suspended the following month. A plan quickly came together within city government to remove all the graves and make the land a public park.
“Not so fast! Absolutely not!” Nashville’s women spoke out forcefully against such an idea. This was “sacred ground and should never be called a park,” protested Felicia Steger, a granddaughter of Felix Grundy. Women had found a new freedom of expression with the advent of the 20th century. In 1897 their Woman’s Building at the Tennessee Centennial had been a triumph. Now they found that, although not yet allowed to vote, they could nonetheless organize and engage in “civic housekeeping” with positive results. “We shall never have clean cities until the women undertake the job” was the credo of these busy ladies. Their noble efforts notwithstanding, a Banner reporter of 1900 expressed indignation that “women were boldly wearing ankle-length skirts on clear days because they were helpful in getting on and off streetcars.”
Saving and caring for City Cemetery became the focus of several groups. In 1903 the Tennessee Women’s Historical Association was organized, its specific purpose to preserve the cemetery. Sumner A. Cunningham, editor of the Confederate Veteran, claimed credit for suggesting its formation. He was the only male member of an industrious group that included Louise Lindsley and Carnegie librarian Mary Hannah Johnson. Other civic and patriotic organizations were asked to join them “to assist in improving and preserving the old city cemetery, to dispel the spirit of vandalism and promote civic pride. The Ladies’ Hermitage Association, DAR, UDC, and Colonial Dames all cooperated under this umbrella. One of their successful projects was the construction of a Memorial Gate at the 5th Avenue entrance. Dedicated in 1909, the gate exists only in pictures now, having been destroyed in an automobile accident during the 1930s. Wishing to do their part, Cumberland Chapter, DAR, erected a sundial to mark the path leading to the James Robertson family plot.
The South Nashville Federation of Women was another group that worked to care for the City Cemetery grounds. The guidebook All About Nashville reported in 1912 that “with the cooperation of 400 members, they have cleared away the rubbish, pruned trees, graveled the walks, and planted a line of memorial elms and lastly, are in the process of erecting a handsome memorial gateway to the heroes of another day.” These gateposts, on 4th Avenue, still stand. May Winston Caldwell, whose parents and siblings are buried at City, remembered the pre-Civil War days when her mother and Peter, the gardener, came to care for the family plot. Now May, as a member of the South Nashville Women, was proudly carrying on that tradition.
These hard-working women began a program of stewardship and restoration that has resumed in recent years after a period of neglect. Today the Nashville City Cemetery Association (composed of both men and women!) is ten* years old, making it the longest-lived and most professional volunteer organization ever to protect and renovate the grounds and markers: an endowment established at the Community Foundation will support the continuing restoration of the City Cemetery in the years to come. Thanks to the $3 million allocated by the Metro Council, and with the cooperation of the Metro Historical Commission and such citizen organizations as Master Gardeners of Davidson County, the cemetery is once again prepared to maintain its status as a historically valuable resting place of our pioneer heritage. (2008)
Previously published in Monuments and Milestones, the Nashville City Cemetery Newsletter.
* Note: This article was written in 2008. The NCCA began its work in 1998. By this time (late 2021) the organization is more than 23 years old.
Jacob McGavock Dickinson was a distinguished attorney, Tennessee Supreme Court Justice, Assistant U.S. Attorney General, and U. S. Secretary of War. A grandson of Jacob McGavock and great-grandson of Felix Grundy, Dickinson was born January 30, 1851, in Mississippi. He enlisted at fourteen in the Confederate cavalry,1 just as the Civil War ended, and soon thereafter earned A.B. and M.A. degrees from the University of Nashville. He studied law at Columbia University and in Europe2 before being admitted to the Tennessee Bar (1874).3 He and his wife, née Martha Overton, reared three sons.4
Dickinson, an early law partner of Judge Claude Waller,5 accepted four temporary appointments to the Tennessee Supreme Court (1891-1893) 6 before becoming Assistant U.S. Attorney General (1895-1897), as well as General Attorney for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad7 and law professor at Vanderbilt University (1897-1899).8
He moved to Chicago to serve as Solicitor General (1899-1901) and General Counsel (1901-1909) for the Illinois Central Railroad.9 One of three attorneys representing the United States before the Alaskan Boundary Tribunal (1903),10 Dickinson delivered the successful closing argument in an emotionally charged case.11 He helped organize the American Society of International Law (1906) and became president of the American Bar Association a year later.12 Between 1905 and 1909 he received honorary doctorates from Columbia,13 Yale,14 and the University of Illinois.15
In March 1909, President William H. Taft, a long-time friend,16 appointed him Secretary of War, a post he occupied until May 1911.17 Secretary Dickinson proposed two pieces of legislation: providing an annuity retirement system for civil service employees and admitting foreign students to West Point.18
Much in demand as a dinner guest, Dickinson preferred the company of friends and family to the Washington social scene. Once, having refused a persistent hostess’s dinner invitations for each night from Monday through the weekend, he finally growled, “Dammit, madam, I’ll just come Monday!”19
Before 1890 Dickinson owned several large estates, including the Henry Hayes mansion, Ensworth, which he sold in 1898 to the Sisters of Charity as the future site of St. Thomas Hospital.20 Around the same time, he infuriated Nashville residents with his decision to sell another historic property, Polk Place (the former residence of not only U.S. Congressman, Senator, and Attorney General Felix Grundy, but also President James K. Polk) to a developer, who razed the presidential home (1900) to build apartments.21 Dickinson bought Belle Meade in 1906 as a place to entertain guests22; his son Overton lived there year-round with his family.23 When Overton died of heart disease in 1910, a year after his wife’s death, Jacob Dickinson sold Belle Meade and never returned.24
From 1913-1917 he served as Special Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the federal prosecution of the U.S. Steel Corporation, acting also as receiver for the Rock Island Line, which he restored to solvency.25 In later years Dickinson was president of the Izaak Walton League, an early conservation group.26
After his death on December 13, 1928, his body lay in state in the Tennessee Capitol27 before being transported to Mt. Olivet Cemetery for burial.28
The Dickinson papers at the Tennessee State Library and Archives include his correspondence with, among others, William Jennings Bryan, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, George W. Goethals, and presidents Cleveland, Coolidge, Hoover, Taft, Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt.29 (2015)
1 Nashville Families and Homes: Selected Paragraphs from Nashville History. Nashville: Nashville Room, Nashville Public Library, 1983, 33.
2Nashville, A Family Town: 1975-76 Paragraphs from Nashville History. Nashville: The Nashville Room, Nashville Public Library, 1978, 85.
3 Dickinson, Jacob McGavock (1851-1928) Family Papers, 1812-1946. Microfilm #836. Tennessee State Library and Archives (finding aid).
4 Sobel, Robert. Biographical Directory of the United States Executive Branch, 1774-1989. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishing Group (ABC-CLIO), 1990.
5Nashville, A Family Town, 85. Waller was the first judge appointed to the Second Circuit Court after its creation in 1895.
Eighteen-year-old Private Willis L. McWhirter of Adamsville in McNairy County was mustered into the 27th Tennessee Infantry, CSA, in September 1861. He would not survive the war. A little over three years after his enlistment he was hit by artillery fire at the Battle of Franklin. The missile caused severe damage to his right hip joint, and it is remarkable that McWhirter, by then a corporal, survived as long as he did.
When Hood retreated after the Battle of Nashville, McWhirter remained behind with the rest of those too seriously wounded to be moved. Taken prisoner on December 17, 1864, he was left in the care of Union Army surgeons at the U.S. Army General Hospital #1, on the hill near where Third and Lindsley now meet. McWhirter died of his wounds on January 31, 1865, and was buried the next day at Nashville City Cemetery.
According to his military records, the corporal was assigned two numbers, a hospital patient number and a grave number, the latter also appearing in Nashville mortician W. R. Cornelius‘s burial ledger. The letters “GSW” next to his name there represent the cause of death: “gunshot wound.” Cornelius had contracted with the Union military authorities to bury both the Union dead and their Confederate counterparts. His ledger contains over 15,000 entries, many of them unknown soldiers.
In 1869 a movement developed to honor fallen Confederates by re-interring them at Mount Olivet Cemetery, in existence then for nearly 15 years. Twenty years later, in 1889, the monument at Confederate Circle was dedicated in a ceremony commemorated by photos in Confederate Veteran Magazine. In the early 1970s, owing largely to the work of the Reverend Florence Redelsheimer of the Mount Olivet staff, markers provided by the United States Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs) were placed around the circle. Flat stones were chosen rather than the more typical vertical stones (which were pointed, allegedly to prevent disrespectful persons from sitting on them). Walking the northern face of the Circle, a visitor can see rows of markers for Alabama soldiers along with Corporal McWhirter’s, one of half a dozen Tennesseans whose markers lie on that side.
Not far from Corporal McWhirter lies the grave of one of only three women buried here. Mary Kate Patterson Davis Hill Kyle was an active member of a Confederate unit known as Coleman’s Scouts. It was this company to which Sam Davis belonged at the time of his 1863 capture. The story of Davis’s hanging by the Federals is well-known to Middle Tennesseans. Mary Kate, whose first marriage was to Sam’s brother John, died in 1931 at age 97.
In at least one case, a husband and wife were buried together in Confederate Circle: William and Catharine Palmer rest together under upright stones. We see from the inscriptions that William lived to be one hundred years old, and Catharine survived until 1952. Behind an evergreen tree in the outer rows lies J.A. Hankin, a nurse who died in 1863.
It should be noted that Corporal McWhirter is buried under the name William, rather than Willis, as his service records identify him. Many of the old records are difficult to read, particularly since styles of penmanship have changed; to complicate matters further, some of Mount Olivet’s microfilm records are almost illegible. Not so the records of Mr. W. R. Cornelius, the mortician, whose hand was quite elegant.
Missing are the pre-1875 records for Mount Olivet, later supplemented by the discovery of some interment books in a building on the cemetery grounds. Also lost was a pre-1952 map, without which it was difficult for the staff to locate the known Confederate graves. Add to that the apparent indifference to standardized name spellings during the Civil War and the high illiteracy rate among rural soldiers, and one can begin to understand why so many names on the markers are oddly spelled.
Close to 1,500 Confederate soldiers are buried in thirteen rows, the overwhelming majority of the soldiers unknown. Those who died in hospitals and prison camps left records of their names, and these can be found on the inner row markers. Unknown soldiers were buried in a trench running completely around the Circle. In the outer rows lie men who died after the war, their names etched in stone for all to read. On the left side of the 45-foot-tall monument is a touching verse, which reads in part, “The muster roll of our dauntless dead is lost and their dust dispersed on many fields.” At least a part of that muster roll has finally been recovered.
The author would like to thank Tim Burgess, researcher into Confederate deaths and burials, who has been instrumental in having markers placed at Confederate Circle in recent years. This essay was composed using material supplied by Mr. Burgess, along with microfilm records at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Notes from readers:
1. Mary Kate Patterson Davis Hill Kyle had a brother, Everard Meade Patterson, who was also a Coleman Scout. He, too, is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Three other Coleman Scouts are also buried there. Everard died in 1932, being the last of the Scouts. My relative Joshua Brown was a Scout, and he, Mary Kate, and Everard are profiled in our new Civil War book, Shadow Soldiers of the Confederacy. (Talley Bailey)
2. I am named for John F. Wheless, First Tennessee Rock City Guard, who is buried in the Circle, He was a friend and business partner of my great-grandfather, Henry Wade, and godfather to my grandfather, Harry Wheless Wade Sr. (Harry Wheless Wade III, Nashville)
Born October 24, 1822, John Berrien Lindsley came to Nashville in 1824, when his father, Philip, became president of the University of Nashville. Young Lindsley was educated at home by his parents and a neighbor, Septima Sexta Rutledge.1 At 14 he entered the University of Nashville, earning a B.A. at 17 and an M.A. two years later.2 In 1842 he entered the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, receiving his M.D. in March 1843.3 Here Lindsley began a lifelong friendship with adventurer William Walker.4
Lindsley’s next pursuit was theology: in December 1843 the Nashville Presbytery accepted him as a candidate for the ministry.5 He was licensed to preach in April 1845,6 shortly before attending to Andrew Jackson at his deathbed.7 Lindsley ministered to churches at the Hermitage and in Smyrna and, beginning in 1847, preached to slaves and the poor.8 An 1849 cholera epidemic9 kindled his interest in public health.
When Philip Lindsley left the University of Nashville in 1850, his son John Berrien became Chancellor. He proposed to rescue the faltering university by merging with the Western Military Institute of Georgetown, Kentucky,10 and by establishing the long-awaited medical school. Though apprehensive, Board members permitted the merger. Lindsley spearheaded the development of the medical school in 1851, became its first dean, and taught there until 1873.11 [Note: the following year the University of Nashville Medical School was incorporated into Vanderbilt University, which had been founded in 1873 by virtue of a grant from Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. From that point on, it would be known as the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.]
In 1857 Lindsley married Felix Grundy’s granddaughter Sarah “Sallie” McGavock, with whom he had six children. He served on the Nashville Board of Education and was secretary of the State Board of Education, administering the Peabody Education Fund and overseeing the transition of the University of Nashville into Peabody College.12 Having received a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from Princeton (1858), he lectured in the Cumberland University Theological Department in Lebanon.13
Following the capture of Fort Donelson (February 1862), Lindsley became post surgeon of Nashville hospitals. His valiant efforts to protect university property during federal occupation saved the library, laboratory equipment, and the valuable Troost mineral collection.14
After the war, Lindsley served on the Nashville Board of Education and was superintendent of Nashville public schools. He helped establish Montgomery Bell Academy (1867) and the Tennessee College of Pharmacy (1870),15 and in 1875 presided over the State Teachers Association. Having promoted the passage of an 1877 law establishing the State Board of Health, he served as its first executive secretary.16 As Nashville Public Health Officer from 1876-1880, he supervised all health efforts in Tennessee during the 1878 yellow fever epidemic.17 He taught Sanitary Science and Preventative Medicine at the University of Tennessee from 1880-1897.18
Distressed by wartime divisions within the Presbyterian Church, Lindsley became a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1874.19 He authored History of the Law School of Cumberland University at Lebanon,Confederate Military Annals of Tennessee, and many works on medicine and public health. He was an early member of the Tennessee Historical Society and a fellow of the American Academy of Medicine.20 His many talents led Alfred Leland Crabb to call him the “Benjamin Franklin of Nashville.”21
John Berrien Lindsley died December 7, 1897, in Nashville. He is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. (2014)
1 Windrow, John Edwin. John Berrien Lindsley, Educator, Physician, Social Philosopher. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1938, 8.
2 Lindsley, John Berrien. Diary, Volume 4, 1849-1856. Lindsley Family Papers, ca. 1812 – [1840-1940] – 1953, Box 1, Folder 21. Tennessee State Library and Archives.
3 Windrow, 11.
4 Lindsley, John Berrien. Letter to Adrian Van Sinderen Lindsley, April 8, 1843. Lindsley Family Papers, ca. 1812 – [1840-1940] – 1953. Oversize folder (49). Tennessee State Library and Archives.
5 Lindsley, John Berrien. Diary, Volume 4, 1849-1856.
6 Windrow, 12.
7 Lindsley, Philip. Journal. Lindsley Family Papers, ca. 1812 – [1840-1940] – 1953, Box 2, Folder 33. Tennessee State Library and Archives.
8 Lindsley, John Berrien. Diary, Volume 4, 1849-1856.
In 1865 the South lay in ruins. Thousands of sick and wounded Confederate soldiers filled the hospitals or remained in prisons. But out of the ashes of defeat would also come great success stories.
Among the ragged, half-starved men who made the long trek home that spring was 23-year-old Edward L. Buford. Born in Williamson County in 1842 to William Wirt Buford and Eleanor Pointer Buford, he was barely 19 when war broke out. The Pointers, his mother’s family, came from Virginia – Ed’s great-grandfather fought there during the Revolution. The family had spread as far west as Arkansas and Louisiana during the decades leading up to the terrible conflict that would destroy the lives and fortunes of so many.
Ed Buford joined the 3rd Tennessee Infantry in May 1861, in the company of neighbors and relatives. Within a year many of them would be among the 9,500 cold, weary, and deeply shocked Confederate prisoners shipped north by steamboat and rail after Fort Donelson fell in February 1862.
Ed’s imprisonment at Camp Douglas, Illinois, ended in September 1862, when his regiment was exchanged at Vicksburg. However, in May 1864 his luck ran out again: he was recaptured in some forgotten skirmish or unrecorded clash of picket posts. Sent to Rock Island, Illinois, he was exchanged again, at City Point, Virginia, in March 1865, and paroled in May.
Young Buford, who had been educated at Spring Hill Academy, launched his post-war career on the banks of the Cumberland River, its wharf stacked high with dry goods, cotton bales, guns, ammunition, foodstuffs, and spirits. In King’s 1866Nashville City Directory we find him listed as a clerk at Stratton, Pointer & Co., Wholesale Grocers and Cotton Factors, at 9&11 Broad. The eponymous Pointer was Ed’s uncle, Thomas G. Pointer of Spring Hill.
Ed’s situation changed in 1867 when his uncle sold his interest in the business and moved back to his Spring Hill farm. Ed took a job as a clerk for O. Ewing & Co., Importers and Dealers in Hardware, Guns and Cutlery. By 1871 he was a salesman for Ewing, located in the old John Nichol House at 18 Public Square. He had also moved to the Maxwell House Hotel at the corner of today’s 4th and Church. If Ed had been content to remain there for the next 30 years, we might never have heard of him. The 1870 census listed as clerks many ex-Confederate officers from the wealthy land-owning clans of 1860. It was this leveling of social distinction in the post-war South that permitted Ed’s upward mobility. Although small towns and backwaters would cling to the old ways, cities like Nashville were filled with men like Ed who knew themselves to be as valuable as the officers they had obeyed in the late conflict. Moreover, in November of 1875 Ed had made a very good marriage.
William R. Elliston, the son of Joseph Thorpe Elliston, silversmith and former Nashville mayor, owned $235,000 in real estate and $58,500 in personal property, according to the 1860 census. When he died in 1870, he was even wealthier. He left his daughter Lizinka considerable property downtown, as well as the proceeds from the sale of others. When Ed married Lizinka Elliston, they moved into her mother’s house at 32 N High, today’s 6th Ave N. In 1881 Ed built a house on Elliston Street, today’s Elliston Place, where he and his family would live for the remainder of their lives.
During the 1880s and 1890s Ed became a partner in several business ventures, by 1889 operating a company known as Buford Brothers Wholesale Hardware. His brother Charles was a partner until his death, at which time Ed’s brother Brown joined the firm. Edward L. Buford, ex-Confederate POW and former dry goods clerk, had finally arrived.
Along the way Ed and Lizinka had four daughters, one of whom died in infancy, and one son, Ed Jr., who would return from France a celebrated WWI flying ace. The hero’s welcome given to young Ed in March 1919 was marred by sadness when his mother died of pneumonia soon afterwards. Lizinka’s obituary stressed her community work with the YWCA and portrayed her as cultured, sensitive, and tactful – a natural leader. She was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, near her parents, her daughter Louise, and her brother Elijah. In June 1928, after a long illness and confinement, Ed Buford died at age 86 and was buried next to his beloved Lizinka.
I first visited them there one gray, damp, overcast January day. That scene needed only heavy fog or howling winds to conjure up the dim past of their saga. By my second visit a month later, I was among friends, not demigods, and felt more than welcome. We become who we are through the sacrifices, choices, and missed opportunities of the people who passed this way before us. Ed Buford could have come home in 1865 to brood about defeat and the Lost Cause. Instead, he chose the future.
1) I would like to acknowledge the genealogical research of my distant cousins Zee Porter, Linda Pointer, Fred Rowe, and Brian Bivona, who generously shared their files with me. I would never have been able to sort out this huge family without their help. Other data comes from the US Census, Nashville City Directories, Civil War Soldiers’ Records, Widows’ Pension Claims, Mount Olivet Cemetery Records, the Will of W.R. Elliston, and the Nashville Banner.
2) The figure of 9500 prisoners from Fort Donelson may be too low. This was the estimate of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s biographers Jordan and Pryor in 1867, and I accepted it, since it was so close in time to the actual events. Modern historians estimate the number to have been between 12,500 and 13, 500 prisoners. I have also since determined that Ed Buford’s second capture took place at McKernan’s Island near Muscle Shoals, Alabama, according to an account written by Ed’s future brother-in-law Norman Farrell. Farrell wrote of a small cavalry skirmish that took place there within a few days of Ed’s capture. Ed wasn’t alone when he tried to cross the Tennessee River while on leave: with him was William Jackman of Carter’s Tennessee Cavalry, also on leave.
3) Ed Buford fell off a moving train in North Carolina after his exchange in 1865. His injuries were severe enough to delay his return home until July 7, 1865, weeks after the surrenders of Lee in Virginia and Johnston in North Carolina. His second stint as a POW probably saved his life, and his fall from the train, although painful, kept him out of the final battles in North Carolina.
On February 15, 1862, E.G. “Eb” Buford of Giles County, Tennessee, received what later generations of soldiers would call “a million-dollar wound.” Not serious enough to kill or badly disfigure him, it nonetheless earned him a permanent discharge from the Army of Tennessee. While thousands of men from the captured garrison at Fort Donelson were being sent north to POW camps, Eb was sent to the rear. He had been shot through the left lung, the one-ounce lead ball reportedly taking part of his ramrod* with it as it exited his body.
In 1869 Eb married Belinda D. Miller in Williamson County; their only child, a son named John, was born the following July. Belinda died in 1874 at age 30, and Eb remained single for ten years. The 1880 Giles County census lists him as a widower, engaged in the hardware business and living on his mother’s farm.
On Christmas Day 1884 Eb married 35-year-old Mary Elizabeth Burgess, a prominent educator who already had quite an impressive resume. Although her tombstone lists her birth year as 1857 and says she started teaching at 16, she was in fact born in 1849, as the 1850 and 1860 census enumerations clearly show.
Her academic career, including a year at Dr. Price’s Nashville College for Young Ladies, culminated in her 1886 founding of the earliest Buford College at Clarksville. Meanwhile, Eb continued in the hardware trade, in a Clarksville firm called Buford and Bowling. For reasons the college publications do not explain, the campus was relocated to Nashville in 1901. School brochures tell us far more about Mrs. Buford, known as Elizabeth, than Eb, whose title at Buford College was Regent.
Contemporary photos show the Bufords as a dignified couple in their 60s. Confederate Veteran Magazine ran ads for the college and even published one of Elizabeth’s poems in 1910. As President of Buford College, she no doubt wrote the advertising copy, as well as yearbooks and other college publications.
In addition to being an ardent devotee of Shakespeare, Elizabeth was also fond of mottoes, which abounded at Buford, often called “Beaufort” in the literature. This Norman spelling of her husband’s name allowed her to convey the twin virtues of the school: Beauty and Strength. It is no surprise that many of her favorite mottoes and Bible verses found their way onto her impressive tombstone.
While Eb was certainly aware of his lineage, Elizabeth was very much the genealogy buff. She traced her Burgess line back to the Mayflower and was fond of saying that she and her staff were “to the manner born.” She seemed to believe that any post-Civil War Southern aristocracy should be based on literacy. Her ad for the Clarksville campus in an 1894 issue of Confederate Veteran stressed that she was the wife of a Confederate veteran.
Today nothing remains of Buford College except the name. West of Franklin Road, near the intersection of Caldwell Lane and General Bate Drive, is a short street named Buford Place. Although the last of the college buildings were torn down in 1946, surviving photos and a drive through the Buford Place vicinity can provide a good mental picture of the campus, which was situated just beyond the popular Glendale Park. The college yearbooks were a bit hazy as to how far from downtown the campus was, one saying it was a mere twenty minutes away by trolley, another saying thirty-five. The line ended at the campus, in an area that became known as Buford Station.
The 1903 Nashville City Directory showed Elizabeth Buford living at Buford Station. Eb, not listed, could still have been in Clarksville taking care of business. College publications are almost totally silent on his role as Regent, which might have been a figurehead title, although he may in fact have been the school liaison to the Nashville business community. It is revealing that his pension application described the school as a business.
The yearbooks describe the campus as “a magnificent highland park of 25 acres, surrounded by an 85-acre woodland, with springs, wells, and a cistern, upon a fine electric car line.” Croquet and tennis courts were set among the magnolias, while gardens, a dairy, and a hennery provided a healthy diet for campus residents.
The land was originally donated by wealthy businessman O. F. Noel, who also constructed the buildings. However, this partnership would last only during Noel’s lifetime and placed the college on precarious financial footing from the outset. College publications included some rather shrill pleas for assistance, and, although “Beaufort” had an impressive list of benefactors, it was not able to survive the deaths of Noel and the Bufords.
The enrollment at Buford, which was referred to as “select,” was limited to 100 girls between the ages of 16 and 20. The school offered the standard four-year college course, modified somewhat by Elizabeth’s (and perhaps Eb’s) personal tastes. The curriculum included English, Latin, the Bible, painting, music, and even business and journalism. Annoyed by literary portrayals of “frail Southern womanhood,” Elizabeth also stressed health and exercise.
The modern reader may scoff at the unabashedly Victorian ideals promoted at Buford, although graduates looked back on their college days with a fond nostalgia we can only envy. The presence of chaperones was a salient feature of all social outings and field trips taken by the girls, dressed in their forty-dollar gray uniforms. However, this is not to say that men were a forbidden item at Buford. Eligible young men were welcome as visitors at the college after they sent a letter of introduction to Elizabeth – only a certain gentility would do at Buford. More than one of the college yearbooks boasted that there had been no “elopement, death or casualty” in the history of the school, including the Clarksville years.
In contrast to the 19th century values and ideals taught at Buford, Elizabeth tenaciously prepared her charges for the 20th century. For example, she saw journalism as a way for women to find careers outside the home, allowing them to compete with men for jobs. Others, inspired by Elizabeth’s love of the English language, became teachers who inspired a generation of students to disdain slang and trendy speech in keeping with lofty Buford ideals.
The 1914 death of O. F. Noel, Buford’s principal benefactor, generated a flood of changes in the life of Buford College. In 1915 the Glendale campus welcomed its last class before the land devolved to Noel’s heirs. The girls who made the transition lamented that it was the last year of the “real Buford,” the idyllic picture-postcard school surrounded by oaks and magnolias.
How Eb fared in those lean years we have only a hint. In 1917 he was forced to file a Confederate pension claim, stating that he and his wife had been “engaged in School business at Nashville” the previous year, “but have been deprived of this, and are now without means,” and unable “to make any provision for the future.”
The year 1916 had seen the college relocate, according to their ad in Confederate Veteran, to the area between 21st and 22nd avenues, near the corner of 22nd and Church, in what was the old Sam Murphy Place. By 1918, the year before Eb died, it had again moved: near Gallatin Pike, on N 12th and Eastland, the Bransford Mansion was Buford’s final location.
Elizabeth would not long survive Eb. The strain of running the college and worrying over finances proved too much for the aging administrator. At 71 she suffered a breakdown from which she would not recover. She died on February 12th, 1920, and was buried next to her husband on Valentine’s Day. Looking at their grand tombstone at Mount Olivet – covered with mottos, Bible verses, a timeline of her career, the love showered on her by her girls – one realizes that, even in death, she remains the president of Buford College.
*According to the author, what actually went through Eb’s lung was not part of his ramrod, but what was known as a musket pick. A Civil War reenactor has explained that this item was a wire brush used to clean the outer parts of the gun lock, such as the percussion cap nipple.
Additional author’s note: A book recently located at TSLA “showed what Eb was doing after he married Mary Elizabeth Burgess. He was a traveling salesman for a Clarksville hardware firm. That might explain why his name is missing from the 1903 City Directory mentioned in the essay.”
Frank Goodman, an expert accountant and one of Nashville’s hardest-working educators, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on Christmas day 18541 to blacksmith Vincent L. Goodman and his wife, née Jane Lewis, whose Welsh Quaker ancestors had followed William Penn to Philadelphia.2 Jane died shortly after Vincent’s return from the Civil War, and young Frank worked his way through Bryant & Stratton’s Business College, where he and Platt Rogers Spencer Jr., son of the developer of Spencerian script, became lifelong friends.3
Around 1874 Goodman arrived in Nashville to teach penmanship4 and was soon employed by Ward’s Seminary5 and by Toney’s Nashville Business College, which then served as the business department of Cumberland University.6 In 1878 the college’s board of directors removed the Rev. Thomas Toney as principal, appointing 24-year-old Frank Goodman to reorganize the failing establishment.7 Incorporated in 1881 as Goodman’s Business College (sometimes called “Goodman & Eastman”), it was a respected Southern institution for over twenty years, with a branch college in Knoxville.8Goodman’s Book-keeping Simplified became a widely used textbook,9 and author Frank Goodman was credited with introducing bookkeeping as a course of study in the Nashville public schools.10 In the margin of his personal copy of Goodman’s Book-keeping Simplified, William Alexander Provine, renowned Cumberland Presbyterian minister and official of the Tennessee Historical Society, noted that many of the names used in the book’s exercises were those of fellow Nashvillians, including the ten-year-old boys Frank had taught in Sunday school . . . one of whom was the young Provine himself!
A member of the State Board of Education from 1880-1903, Frank Goodman replaced John Berrien Lindsley as secretary after 188711 and served on the committee which named Peabody Normal College.12 He represented an Edgefield district on the Nashville City Council from 1894-190013 and served as auditor of the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition.14 Secretary-treasurer of the State Teachers Association for seventeen years,15 he also chaired the finance committee for Nashville’s first Labor Day observance in 1894.16
In July 1880 Frank Goodman married Pattie Sims,17 daughter of Edgefield insurance agent Leonard Swepson Sims. All four of their sons would eventually become successful businessmen. Active in the Masons and the Knights Templar,18 Frank was treasurer of the United Order of the Golden Cross,19 a temperance-based insurance fraternity, and taught Sunday school in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.20
By the end of the 1890s, his hearing failing, Goodman closed the college and worked as an expert accountant, appearing as a witness in court cases across the country. His testimony resulted in, among others, the conviction of the Mississippi State Treasurer for embezzling $315,000 from the state coffers.21 He audited the Tennessee State Comptroller’s and Treasurer’s records at least seven times,22 helped the city of Chattanooga reorganize its financial records,23 and reportedly audited the books of the U. S. Treasury in Washington, D.C.24
When the Reverend John B. Morris of St. Mary’s Church in Nashville was selected Bishop of Little Rock in 1906, he took Frank Goodman with him as diocesan auditor.25 Pattie, quite ill by then, received medical treatment in Hot Springs but died in 1909.26 Her body was brought back to Nashville for burial. Eight months later Frank himself died mysteriously on July 28, 1910, following an excessively hot mineral bath at Hot Springs.27 On July 30 the body of the man St. Louis Magazine had described as “the rising young businessman of the South”28 was brought home to Nashville by his young sons and laid to rest beside Pattie in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.29
Frank Goodman’s pallbearers included Tennessee Secretary of State Hallum W. Goodloe; George W. Stainback, Chairman of the Nashville Board of Public Works; Nashville City Assessor Roger Eastman, a longtime business partner; John W. Paulett, newsman and Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction; Dr. William H. Bumpus, President of the American Local Freight Agents Association, renowned orator, and past Grand Master of the Tennessee Masons; Dr. William E. McCampbell, the Edgefield physician who had delivered the Goodman children; Marcus B. Toney, Civil War veteran and author; and Sumner Cunningham, fractious editor of theConfederate Veteran, who wrote his friend a tender eulogy in “The Last Roll,” despite the fact that, at the outbreak of the Civil War, his subject had been a seven-year-old Yankee boy! (2014)
NOTES AND SOURCES:
1 Richard, James Daniel. Tennessee Templars: A Register of Names with Biographical Sketchesof the Knights Templar of Tennessee. Nashville: Robert H. Howell & Co., 1883, 78.
2 Glenn, Thomas Allen. Merion in the Welsh Tract: With Sketches of the Townships ofHaverford and Radnor. Herald Press, 1896, 236 ff.
3 Goodman’s son Leonard owned a photograph of the Goodman and Spencer families taken during a Nashville visit in the 1890s, according to an interview with Leonard’s daughter, Kathleen Goodman Bowman about 1995.
4Catalog of Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tennessee, 1874-75. Lebanon, TN: R. L. C. White, University Printers, 1875.
5 Nashville City Directory, 1877 and 1878.
6Annual Report of the Department of the Interior, 1875, 605, footnote.
7 Clayton, W. W. History of Davidson County, Tennessee. Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis & Co., 1880, 270-271.
8 Nashville City Directory, 1883, advertisement opposite p. 568.
10 “Frank Goodman, Sr., Dead.” Nashville American, July 29, 1910.
11State Board of Education Minute Book #56, page 27, May 24, 1887. Tennessee State Library and Archives, Record Group #91, Vol. 56.
12State Board of Education Minute Book #56, page 53, February 15, 1888, and page 57, May 31, 1888.
13 Nashville City Directories.
14 Justi, Herman, ed. Official History of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Press of the Brandon Printing Co., 1898, 31.
15 “Tennessee Teachers: How the Association Feels About Prof. Goodman’s Resignation as Secretary.” Nashville American, August 1, 1897, 6.
16 “Prof. Frank Goodman: Labor Day Committee Thanks Him for His Efforts.” Daily American, September 7, 1894, 3.17 “The Nuptial Knot,” Daily American, July 21, 1880.
17A There were no wedding attendants (bridesmaids or best man), but the ushers were an interesting cross-section of friends:
Charles B. Glenn was listed in the 1880 Nashville City Directory as a bookkeeper for the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway. He lived at 357 Broadway. By 1906 he was paymaster for the NC&StL. One wonders whether he might have been a Goodman graduate.
Robert T. Creighton was a surveyor at this time, but he later became city engineer and was a partner with Wilbur F. Foster in Foster & Creighton, civil engineers and contractors, #3 Berry Block.
Robert A. Fraley Jr. was a clerk at Collier, Fraley & Co., cotton factors and commission merchants, a business owned by his father. He was later bookkeeper for the National Manufacturing Company and may also have been a Goodman student.
Henry C. Jameson, originally from Hickman, Kentucky, was listed in the 1880 Census, along with Herbert W. Grannis, as one of Frank’s housemates at #7 Summer St. (5th Ave.). [Other residents in what was apparently a men’s hotel or boarding house included the brothers George and Robert Cowan (who owned Cowan & Co., wholesale notions & white goods at 36-37 Public Square), Van Buren Dixon (a dentist, with an office at 93½ Church), Porter Rankin (William Porter Rankin, with his brother David P., owned Rankin & Co., wholesale clothing at 57 Public Square.), W. S. Duckworth (who owned WS Duckworth & Co., books, stationery, cigars, tobacco, and railroad tickets, at 4 S. Cherry and also the corner of N. Cherry and Union), Samuel N. Warren (a bookkeeper who worked at 43 N. College), and Robert Fletcher (a salesman).] Goodman, Jameson, and Grannis all listed their occupation as “teacher,” and we know from Clayton’s History of Davidson County that all three were faculty members in Goodman’s Business College. Jameson was listed in the 1876 Cumberland University catalog as a student at the Business College there. The 1878, 1879, and 1880 Nashville City Directories say he was a professor at the business college in Nashville. The 1878 book terms it “F. Goodman & Co’s College”; 1879 lists it as “Goodman’s Nashville Business College”; and in 1880 it is simply “Nashville Business College.” In 1878 he boarded at 95 Church St., and in 1879-1880, at 24 S. Summer. In 1887 the City Directory describes him as a teacher at Goodman & Eastman’s Business College, living two miles from Nashville on Chicken Pike (today’s Elm Hill Pike).
17B The Goodman-Sims wedding in the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church was somewhat unusual, in that it took place at 7:00 a.m. According to the news item in the American, many of the couple’s friends – including the youngsters in Frank’s Sunday school class, accompanied them to the train station to give them a rousing send-off as they left on their honeymoon trip to Louisville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Chicago.
18 Richard, James Daniel. Tennessee Templars: A Register of Names with Biographical Sketchesof the Knights Templar of Tennessee. Nashville: Robert H. Howell & Co., 1883, 78.19 Nashville City Directories.
20 “Obituary: Funeral of Prof. Frank Goodman,” Nashville American, July 31, 1910; also mentioned in July 29, 1910, story; see footnote 21.
21 “Frank Goodman, Sr., Dead.” Nashville American, July 29, 1910.
22 “Prof. Goodman’s Reappointment,” Nashville American, January 23, 1903, 1. At least two of his audit reports are reproduced in their entirety in Senate Records: Tennessee Senate Journal 1895, pages 89-100, and Tennessee Senate Journal 1903, pages 755-805.
23 “Chattanooga City Books to be Overhauled by an Expert.” Daily Journal and Journal andTribune (Knoxville), January 7, 1890.
24 “Frank Goodman, Sr., Dead.” Nashville American, July 29, 1910. This is also mentioned in Cunningham, Sumner. “Frank Goodman,” Confederate Veteran, Vol. 18: 1910, 382.25 “Former Citizen of Nashville: Prof. Frank Goodman Passes Away in Little Rock – Interment Here Saturday,” Nashville Banner, July 29, 1910.26 “Mrs. Frank Goodman Dies in Arkansas,” Nashville Banner, November 1, 1909.
27 Special dispatch to the American, July 29, 1910. This follows the article, “Frank Goodman, Sr., Dead.” Nashville American, on the same date. Similar information appears in the article “Goodman Funeral Saturday Morning,” Nashville Banner, July 29, 1910.
28 Nashville City Directory, 1883, advertisement opposite p. 568.
29 Participants in Frank’s funeral, most (if not all) of whom were fellow Masons/Knights Templar:
Rev. George W. Shelton was the pastor of the Russell Street Presbyterian Church at the time of the laying of its cornerstone in 1904. The Cumberland Presbyterian described him as “a young man of energy and enthusiasm.”
Rev. William A. Provine (1867-1935) (who as a boy had been a member of the Sunday school class taught by Frank Goodman) assisted in the funeral. He had attended Vanderbilt and earned a Bachelor of Divinity from Cumberland University, which later awarded him an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. A widely respected minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, he served as Superintendent of the Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath School Work and Treasurer of Mission Work for the Synod of Tennessee. He was for many years corresponding secretary of the Tennessee Historical Society and editor of its journal.
Sumner Cunningham (1843-1913) was a sergeant in Company B, 41st Tennessee Infantry. He was the editor and publisher of The Confederate Veteran and lived at the Maxwell House. He was instrumental in fundraising for the monument to Confederate hero Sam Davis that was unveiled near the Tennessee Capitol in June 1909.
Attorney Hallum W. Goodloe (1869-1956) was Tennessee’s Secretary of State at the time of Frank Goodman’s funeral. He was Clerk and Master of Crockett County Chancery Court (1891-1901); Chief Clerk to the TN Secretary of State (1901-1907); Secretary of State (1909-1913); Private Secretary to Gov. Tom C. Rye (1915-1918); Assistant to the Superintendent of Banks (1918-1929); Chief Clerk to State Treasurer (1929-1931); and Deputy Superintendent of State Banks (1931-1949).
George W. Stainback (1842-1918) was the chairman of the Nashville Board of Public Works and Affairs, a very powerful three-man group. Members were required to abstain from other active employment – they received a salary for their work – and were ex officio members of the City Council. They hired city laborers and department heads; oversaw streets, sewers, and public property; supervised the laying and removal of railroad tracks on city streets; and prepared an annual operating budget. Stainback was a lodge brother of Frank Goodman in the UOGC. He was honored by having a portrait of his face displayed in fireworks at the 1897 Tennessee Centennial.
Roger Eastman (1858-1938), youngest son of Elbridge Gerry Eastman and Lucy Ann Carr, was a banker, rising to the position of assistant cashier [in those days a cashier was a bank manager] with the First National Bank. He was Frank Goodman’s business partner in both the college and the accounting business. He was probably Frank’s closest friend – Frank named two children after him (Frank Eastman Goodman, 17 July 1881 – 29 December 1882, and Roger Eastman Goodman, 14 April 1895 – 29 April 1953). He served several terms as Nashville Tax Assessor, beginning in 1898. He was an active Mason (elected worshipful master of Phoenix lodge at the age of 23), a member and auditor of the Baptist Sunday-school board, treasurer of the First Baptist church, and vice-president of the Nashville Athletic Club. His biography was included in John Allison’s Notable Men of Tennessee (1905).
Dr. William E. McCampbell (1854-1924) had a medical office at 523 Woodland Street in East Nashville. He was the physician who had reported Roger Goodman’s birth in 1895 so had probably delivered him. He served on the Nashville City Board of Health for many years and was elected its chairman in 1911.
Captain Marcus Breckenridge Toney (1840-1929) was a convinced Methodist, Confederate, and slavery partisan who became an early volunteer for Confederate service. He served with the 1st Tennessee Volunteer regiment in campaigns in West Virginia and at Shiloh, Chickamauga, and the Wilderness, where he was captured. He was the author of The Privations of a Private (1905), which described his experiences as a Federal P.O.W. in the Union prison camp at Elmira, New York, as well as the war’s immediate aftermath and the growth and appeal of the Ku Klux Klan, which he had joined after the war. He was an active member of the Masonic fraternity and worked with W. H. Bumpus to found the Masonic Widows’ and Orphans’ Home, which was incorporated in 1886.
John W. Paulett, who was a Knoxville textbook salesman when he first met Frank Goodman in the early years of Goodman’s Business College, was Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction around the turn of the century, and later worked as a newspaper correspondent. He was appointed by the governor to serve on the Board of Visitors of the University of Tennessee.
Dr. William Hill Bumpus (1843-1926) one of Frank Goodman’s closest friends, is actually buried in the Sims-Goodman plot at Mt. Olivet. Trained as a physician and a lawyer, he was the local agent for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad for 52 years, serving for a time as the president of the National Association of Local Freight Agents’ Associations. An active Mason, he was the editor and publisher of the Tennessee Mason and a sometime-writer for the Nashville American. He and Marcus Toney were the driving force behind the Masonic Widows’ and Orphans’ Home. He was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, Free & Accepted Masons, on January 26, 1898.
[Note: Bumpus, Eastman, McCampbell, Paulett, and Stainback had also served as pall bearers for Pattie Goodman in November 1909.]
Clayton, W. W. History of Davidson County, Tennessee. Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis, 1880.
Goodman, Frank. Goodman’s Book-keeping Simplified. A Work Thoroughly Explaining theTheory of Single and Double Entry. Nashville: Wheeler & Osborn, 1882. (A copy is available in the Tennessee State Library and Archives.)