Biographical sketches of selected individuals important in the history of Nashville and Tennessee.
Author: Ophelia Paine, Nashville Historical Commission
Date: January 1996
BOYD, DR. R.H. (1843-1922)
Richard Henry Boyd was born a slave in Noxumber County, Mississippi, and given the name Dick Gray by his master. After the Civil War, he moved to Texas, changed his name and trained for the ministry. He attended Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, and then moved to Nashville in 1896 to establish a religious publishing house. Boyd believed that African Americans should operate their own businesses and that black churches should publish their own religious materials. His religious publishing business, the first black business of its kind, later became known as the National Baptist Publishing Board. Still in family hands, the NBPB prints over fourteen million books and periodicals a year. A leader in Nashville's African American community, Boyd also co-founded the One-Cent Savings Bank, now Citizens Bank, and established the Nashville Globe, a prominent newspaper in Nashville's African American community until 1960.
CARMACK, EDWARD WARD (1858-1908)
Newspaperman, U. S. congressman, senator, and editor of the Nashville TENNESSEAN, Edward Ward Carmack was a charismatic and eloquent journalist and politician who was shot to death on Seventh Avenue, North, by opponents in the battle over Prohibition. Born in Sumner County near Castalian Springs, Carmack grew up poor, without a father, and never finished school. As a young man he trained to be a lawyer and discovered a talent for both writing and speaking. After working as editor of newspapers in both Nashville and Memphis and serving terms in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, Carmack returned to Nashville and took a position with the TENNESSEAN, then a prohibitionist newspaper. Carmack's former friend and sponsor Duncan Cooper was aligned with Governor Patterson and the anti-prohibitionist forces. Carmack repeatedly attacked his former mentor in the TENNESSEAN, and, after a particularly critical reference, Cooper and his son Robin shot Carmack on the street. Both were convicted of second-degree murder and later pardoned by Governor Patterson.
A young French Canadian, Charleville came to this area to assist a French fur trader who had established a trading post before 1700 to trade with the Shawnee. In the early 1700s, the Cherokee began to drive out the Shawnee tribe, and by 1714 the post was abandoned. Because of this trading post, however, and then in the 1760s the arrival of another French Canadian fur trader, Timothy Demonbreun, the large salt lick north of the downtown area became known as the French Lick. (See Demonbreun.)
CHEEK, JOEL OWSLEY (1852-1935)
Joel Owsley Cheek was the inventor of Maxwell House Coffee, the blend that became so popular that it made Nashville the center of the nation's coffee business in the early twentieth century. Cheek began his career as a salesman for a wholesale grocery concern. He traveled by horseback throughout the mid-South and witnessed firsthand the growing popularity of coffee. When he became a partner in the grocery business, he began experimenting with coffee blends and was the first person to come up with the idea of blending top quality coffee beans. In 1892, he developed a recipe for a blend of premium beans and convinced the manager of the Maxwell House Hotel to try the coffee and then to serve it exclusively. The coffee was so well received by the hotel's guests that the owner gave Cheek permission to use the Maxwell House name for the coffee. In part because of the reputation of the Maxwell House Hotel, known for its elegance and famous visitors, sales skyrocketed. Maxwell House Coffee was eventually sold all over the world, and Cheek later sold the business to General Foods. Joel Cheek's cousin Leslie Owen Cheek was in business with him and was the builder of Cheekwood Mansion.
DAVIS, SAM (1842-1863)
Known as the Boy Hero of the Confederacy, twenty-one-year-old Sam Davis was sentenced by Union troops to death by hanging when he refused to divulge information about one of his fellow captives. Davis was born and raised in Smyrna, Tennessee, where his boyhood home still stands today. When the Civil War began, he enlisted immediately and was made a private. When captured by Union soldiers, he was on a mission for the Confederate army and had in his saddle bags a package containing Union Army battle plans. He denied any personal knowledge of the contents. When asked from whom he obtained the information, Davis refused to name the source and was consequently sentenced to death as a spy. Just before he was hung, a Union scout tried to give him one last chance to save his life, but Davis responded, "I'd rather die a thousand deaths than betray a friend." The monument to Davis on Capitol Hill was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy with help from the state legislature and is one of four in Tennessee commemorating his heroism.
DEMONBREUN, TIMOTHY (1747-1826)
Known as the "first citizen" of Nashville, Jacques Timothy Demonbreun was a French Canadian hunter and fur trader who began coming to the French Lick in the 1760s and built a cabin here. Demonbreun's grandfather was the first Canadian to be raised to the rank of nobility, but Demonbreun preferred life as a hunter. He settled in the Illinois Territory where he served as lieutenant governor from 1783-1786. Described as "tall, athletic, and dark-skinned, with a large head and an eagle eye," Demonbreun was a striking figure who wore a foxskin cap with a tail down the back.. He moved to Nashville in 1788 and lived here until his death in 1826. A historical marker at the northwest corner of Third Avenue, North, and Broadway marks the site of his home.
DONELSON, COL. JOHN (1718? - 1786)
One of the two founders of Nashville, John Donelson joined with James Robertson to lead the first settlers to begin a new settlement on the Cumberland River at the French Lick. A land speculator and surveyor, Donelson served in the Virginia House of Burgesses before moving to the Watauga settlements on the Holston and Watauga rivers in East Tennessee. There he met James Robertson, and while Robertson led a group or mostly men and boys overland with pack horses and livestock, Donelson organized and led a flotilla of approximately thirty boats from the Holston River to the Tennessee, up the Ohio, and then up the Cumberland to the present site of Nashville, approximately 1000 miles. Most of Donelson's passengers were the wives and children of the men who went with Robertson. Because of repeated attacks by Indians, Donelson later moved his family north to Kentucky; but he continued to own and farm land in the Cumberland settlements. Donelson was mysteriously killed on the trail between Kentucky and Nashville in 1786. The tenth of Donelson's eleven children was Rachel Donelson Jackson, the wife of Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States.
DOUGHERTY, EDWARD (1876-1943)
Edward Dougherty was a Nashville architect who worked as an associate with McKim Mead and White of New York on the design for the War Memorial Building (1925). Born in Atlanta, Dougherty attended the University of Georgia, Cornell University in New York, and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, France. He returned to the United States and practiced briefly in Atlanta before coming to Nashville in 1916. In 1917, Dougherty formed a partnership with Thomas W. Gardner which lasted until 1930. In addition to the War Memorial Building, Dougherty worked on the design for the Belle Meade Country Club (1914-1916) and designed the stone entrance to Edwin Warner Park (1930). When he died, he was staff architect for the Baptist Sunday School Board.
DRIVER, WILLIAM (1803-1886)
A New England sea captain who moved to Nashville in his thirties, Captain William Driver is given credit for naming the American flag "Old Glory." Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Driver was apprenticed to a blacksmith at age thirteen. He ran away to become a cabin boy at age fourteen and by age twenty-one had earned his masters papers and the right to command a ship. For his twenty-first birthday Driver's mother gave him a flag made by her and friends which, as the story goes, he ran up the rig of his very first vessel and exclaimed, "We'll call her 'Old Glory,' boys!" During his career as a sea captain, Driver sailed to Tahiti and discovered the descendants of the Bounty mutineers, whom he returned to Pitcairn Island. When his wife died in 1837, Driver decided to move with his three children to Nashville to be near his brother's family. During the Civil War, the Union Army occupied Nashville, and Driver, who had remained a Unionist, asked the Union soldiers to raise "Old Glory" over the State Capitol where it flew for approximately a month. The name has been popular ever since. Driver's family later gave the flag to President Harding. Today it can be seen in the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Captain Driver is buried in the Old Nashville City Cemetery. His grave and that of Francis Scott Key are the only two places in the United States where the American flag is permitted to fly twenty-four hours a day.
DUDLEY, ANNE DALLAS (1876-1955)
Suffragist and civic leader Anne Dallas Dudley was a leader in the movement to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution that gave American women the right to vote. A socially prominent wife and mother in Nashville, Anne Dudley organized the Nashville Equal Suffrage League in 1911, became president of the Tennessee League and a vice-president of the national organization. A woman of great charm and political skill, she and her organization spear-headed the successful campaign to make Tennessee the "perfect 36", the state to cast the deciding vote for the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Following the ratification, Mrs. Dudley was the first woman delegate-at-large to the National Democratic Convention. In both World Wars, she served on the National Board of Relief committees.
FORT, CORNELIA CLARK (1919-1943)
Cornelia Fort was the first woman pilot to die on active duty, the first Tennessee service woman to die in World War II and Nashville's first woman flight instructor. Born the fourth child in a wealthy and prominent family in Nashville, Cornelia Fort graduated fro Sarah Lawrence College at the age of twenty. She became enthralled with flying and earned both her pilot and instructor licenses. While teaching flying in Hawaii, Cornelia Fort witnessed the japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. When war was declared, she becoame part of the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. Cornelia Fort had logged more than 1.100 hours of flying time when another plane crashed into her, killing her instantly. Her epitaph proudly reads "Killed in the Service of Her Country."
HATCH, WILL T. (1886-1952)
Son and nephew of the founders of Hatch Show Print, Will Hatch has been called an "innovator." As manager of Hatch Show Print from the 1920s to the 1980s, he elevated the medium of show posters into an art form. Hatch grew up watching his father and uncle craft the posters from hand-carved woodblocks. He took over management of the business in the early 1920s and was responsible for the design and production of many of the entertainment posters posted on buildings throughout the South to promote pre- and post-war era traveling shows, including carnivals, circuses, actors and opera singers, blues and jazz performers, fairs, movies, and then the Grand Ole Opry.
JACKSON, ANDREW (1767-1845)
Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States and a champion of the "common man." Born in the Waxhaw settlements of South Carolina, Jackson was an orphan by the age of fourteen. His father died before he was born; his mother and two brothers died in the Revolutionary War. After the war, Jackson went to live with relatives. As a young man he studied law and came to Nashville in 1788 as the public prosecutor. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1796, to the U.S. Senate in 1797, and to the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1798. During the War of 1812, he rose to national fame as hero of the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. Although the Treaty of Ghent had been signed two weeks before, Jackson's remarkable victory signified the end of the war and the defeat of the British. In 1828, he was elected president of the United States and served two terms. He returned to Nashville in 1837 and died at his home, The Hermitage, twelve miles northeast of Nashville.
JACKSON, RACHEL DONELSON (1767-1828)
The tenth child of Colonel John Donelson, one of the founders of Nashville, Rachel Jackson was the beloved wife of Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States. Rachel Jackson came to Nashville with her father's flotilla at the age of twelve years on their boat THE ADVENTURE. She met her future husband when he was boarding at her mother's house. At the time she was married but separated from her husband Lewis Robards of Kentucky. Robards eventually asked for a divorce and Rachel and Andrew were married in 1791. Two years later, they discovered that they had married before the divorce was final, and they remarried. The charge of adultery, however,--the problem of marrying before the divorce was final -- was used against Jackson in his campaigns for the presidency. A quiet, gentle person, Rachel was known for her warm hospitality, her love of flowers, and her religious devotion. She and Andrew had no children of their own but adopted one of her nephews, who became Andrew Jackson, Jr. Rachel Jackson died in December just after her husband won his campaign for the presidency.
JONES, THE REVEREND SAM (1847-1906)
Born in Alabama, The Rev. Sam Jones was a Southern Methodist itinerant minister and revival leader whose passionate sermons at a meeting in Nashville in 1885 inspired Captain Tom Ryman to raise money for an all-faith meeting hall -- the Union Gospel Tabernacle, now Ryman Auditorium. Jones initially trained as a lawyer and worked with his father. He developed problems with alcohol, but as his father was dying, promised him that he would abstain from drinking for the rest of his life. After his father's death, Jones joined the Southern Methodist Church and became an itinerant minister in northern Georgia. He was a powerful speaker who spoke against selfishness, alcoholism, and greed. His message and forceful delivery brought him invitations to speak throughout the South. When he came to Nashville and spoke under a tent at the corner of Eighth Avenue, South, and Broadway, thousands came to hear him, among them Tom Ryman. When Captain Ryman died in 1904, his funeral was held in the building he helped to erect. Jones came to Nashville to lead the funeral service, and it was he who suggested that the tabernacle's name be changed to Ryman Auditorium.
KINNEY, BELLE (1890-1959)
Belle Kinney was the sculptor for the monument to the Women of the Confederacy on the southwest corner of Legislative Plaza, and she and her husband, sculptor Leopold Scholz, collaborated on the Victory Statue in the War Memorial Building court. Born in Nashville, Kinney won first place in a youth competition at the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition for a bust she had sculpted of her father when she was only seven years old. At age 15, she received a scholarship to study sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her first commission at the age of seventeen was for the statue of Jere Baxter, organizer of the Tennessee Central Railroad. The bronze statue now stands on Gallatin Road in front of Jere Baxter School. The monument to the Women of the Confederacy was one of ten such monuments proposed for erection throughout the South. Kinney won a competition for this commission, the first ever given for the erection of a monument to a group of women. Kinney also sculpted statues of Andrew Jackson and Tennessee's first governor, John Sevier, which stand in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., and she and her husband created the figures of the east and west pediments of The Parthenon.
LAFAYETTE, THE MARQUIS DE (1757-1834)
The Marquis de Lafayette was a French soldier and statesman who aided our country in its fight for independence. He was also a prominent leader in the early stages of the French Revolution. Lafayette's liberal ideas cost him his fortune and his social position, but his bold actions in support of his beliefs won him the respect of Americans and French alike. During the Revolutionary War, Lafayette served without pay, joining the staff of General George Washington. After the war, he made two trips to the U.S. in 1784 and 1824. During the second visit, he came to Nashville in 1825 where he was met by a crowd of thousands, including Revolutionary War veterans from all over the state. A dinner and ball were held in his honor and he went to The Hermitage to spend a day with Andrew Jackson.
MCKISSACK, MOSES (1879-1952)
Moses McKissack was an outstanding architect, responsible for the design of the Morris Memorial Building (1924), Pearl High School (1936), and several buildings on Tennessee State University's campus. Born in Pulaski, Tennessee, McKissack began his career in that city working for an architect and serving as a construction superintendent, building houses in Pulaski, Mount Pleasant, and Columbia. He came to Nashville in 1905 to construct a home for the dean of the school of architecture and engineering at Vanderbilt University. His first major commission was the Carnegie Library on the Fisk University Campus, one of the first major structures in the United States designed by an African American architect. In 1909, he began to advertise as an architect in the City Directory, and in 1922 his brother Calvin joined him to form the architectural firm McKissack and McKissack. Still operating today, McKissack and McKissack is one of the oldest firms owned and staffed by African American architects in the U.S.
MILES, RICHARD PIUS (1791-1860)
Richard Pius Miles was the first Catholic bishop of Nashville and is largely responsible for the establishment of the diocese of Tennessee and the building of St. Mary's Church. Raised and educated in Kentucky, Miles was consecrated bishop in 1838 in Bardstown, then the capital of a diocese covering six states. When Miles came to Nashville, the Catholic congregation met at Holy Rosary Cathedral on Capitol Hill. In 1844, the congregation under his leadership bought the lot at the corner of Fifth Avenue, North, and Charlotte. St. Mary's was completed in 1847, the first permanent Roman Catholic church in Tennessee. Six feet tall and big-boned, Miles was described as magnetic, musical, and as having a beautiful voice. At his death, he was buried beneath the church in a large brick vault. In 1972, in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the church, the Bishop's cast iron casket was removed to a small chapel in the northwest corner of the church.
NAPIER, JAMES C (1845-1940)
James C. Napier was a prominent lawyer, a co-founder of Citizens Bank, and Register of the United States Treasury under President William Howard Taft. A native Nashvillian, Napier was born to free parents before the Civil War. His father was a hack driver. When he was still a young boy, the family moved to Ohio so that their children could receive a better education. Napier received a law degree from Howard University and returned to Nashville in 1872. One of the outstanding post-Civil War leaders of Nashville's African American community, Napier served on the Nashville city council three times and was the first African American to preside over the council. While on the council, he encouraged the hiring of black teachers for black schools and helped in the establishment of Pearl and Meigs schools. In 1905, Napier, Boyd, and Taylor, co-founders of One-Cent Savings Bank, led a well-organized but unsuccessful boycott of Nashville's electric streetcars in response to the passage of a streetcar segregation law. From 1911 to 1913, he served as Register of the U.S. Treasury. Napier was a close personal friend of Booker T. Washington and served as president of the National Negro Business League which Washington had founded. The Napier Homes, a public housing development, was named in his honor.
NASH, GENERAL FRANCIS (1742-1777)
Francis Nash was the Revolutionary War general and hero for whom Nashville is named. Born and raised in Virginia, Nash spent most of his adult life in Hillsborough, North Carolina, where he was a popular and successful lawyer. He also served as a clerk in the Superior Court of Orange County under Richard Henderson, the man who first enticed James Robertson to move to the Cumberland Bluffs. When the American Revolution began, Nash was appointed a lieutenant in the North Carolina regiment of the Continental Army. He became a brigadier general in 1777 and was a favorite of General George Washington. In the spring of 1777, Nash was ordered to go north to help push the British back in New Jersey and later in Philadelphia. He was killed just outside the latter in Germantown, Pennsylvania. At his death, one of his friends described Nash as "one of the most enlightened, liberal, and magnanimous gentlemen that ever sacrificed his life for his country." Because of Nash's popularity and because of their friendship, Henderson suggested that the new settlement at the Cumberland River bluffs be named in Nash's honor.
POLK, JAMES K. (1795-1849)
The second of Tennessee's three presidents, James K. Polk oversaw the annexation of Texas, California, Washington, and Oregon, as well as the war with Mexico. Efficient and capable, he accomplished in a single term in office all the goals he set for himself during his election campaign. Born in North Carolina, Polk moved with his family to Columbia, Tennessee, at age eleven. As a young man, he practiced law in Columbia before serving in the state legislature. He was elected to the U.S. Congress where he served for fourteen years, four of them as Speaker of the House. He also served one term as governor of Tennessee but was defeated for reelection. Andrew Jackson pushed Polk's surprise nomination for the presidency in the 1844 election, and Polk later became known as "Young Hickory." In 1849, at the end of his term in office, Polk returned to Nashville to live at Polk Place which stood where the Ben West Public Library is today. His tomb, which originally stood on the same lot, was moved to Capitol Hill after Mrs. Polk's death.
POLK, SARAH CHILDRESS (1803-1891)
The wife of James K. Polk, eleventh president of the United States, Sarah Childress Polk grew up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and met her future husband when he attended school there. She was a well-educated woman and astute politician. Her husband is said to have sought her advice on legal matters and her assistance in writing his speeches. Mrs. Polk was a very religious person who forbade drinking and dancing in the White House during her husband's term. She survived her husband by forty years, living at Polk Place until her own death at age 88. During the Civil War, both Union and Confederate soldiers came to pay their respects to her, and it was to her house that the first telephone call in Nashville was made September 1, 1877.
TAYLOR, PRESTON (1849-1931)
Preston Taylor was a successful businessman and minister, a co-founder of Citizens Bank (1904), and the founder of Greenwood Cemetery (1888), Nashville's second oldest cemetery established for African Americans. Like R. H. Boyd, Taylor was born to slave parents. During the Civil War, he left his home in Shreveport, Louisiana, to serve as a drummer boy in the Union Army at the siege of Richmond. Taylor came to Nashville in 1884 and by the turn of the century had become one of Nashville's most influential black business and religious leaders. In addition to Greenwood Cemetery, Taylor developed Greenwood Park, the first recreation park for African Americans in Nashville, and founded the Taylor Funeral Company. He was also a minister for the Gay Street Colored Christian Church and was involved in the creation of Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial College, the forerunner of Tennessee State University. Taylor's wife Georgia Gordon Taylor was one of the original Jubilee singers. In 1951, a public housing development was named in Taylor's honor.
ROBERTSON, JAMES (1742-1814)
Known as the "Father of Tennessee," James Robertson was one of the founders of Nashville and largely responsible for its early success and development. Born in Virginia, Robertson was a farmer, explorer and surveyor, and agent to the Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes. He was one of the leaders of the Watauga settlements in what is now East Tennessee before he and John Donelson were engaged by Richard Henderson to lead the first group of settlers to this area in 1779. When Davidson County was established in 1783, Robertson became its representative to the North Carolina legislature. In that capacity, he pushed through legislation in 1784 to incorporate Nashville as a town, to provide 640 acres to each of the original inhabitants or their heirs, and then to establish Davidson Academy, the first school. His respect for and ability to work with Native American tribes was instrumental in the establishment of peace treaties; he died while working with the Chickasaw near Memphis. Robertson's wife, Charlotte Reeves, was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. It was she who taught him how to read and write, and Charlotte Avenue is named for her.
RYMAN, CAPTAIN THOMAS GREEN (1841-1904)
A steamboat captain and owner of one of the largest steamboat lines in the South, Captain Tom Ryman is best known as the man responsible for the building of Ryman Auditorium and for whom that famous building is named. A native Nashvillian, Ryman bought his first steamboat in New Orleans at age twenty-four. The Civil War had just ended, railroads were in bad repair, and steamboats were the primary means of transporting goods over long distances. Ryman first went into the commercial fishing business and later formed a steamboat line with James A. Tyner. The business became known as Ryman Lines, which operated about thirty boats between Kentucky, Indiana, and Nashville. In May 1885, Ryman attended a revival meeting led by the Reverend Sam Jones. He was converted to Christianity and decided to sponsor the construction of a permanent building for religious meetings. He contributed some of the money himself and raised the rest from the community. When Ryman died in 1904, four thousand people attended the service led by Rev. Jones, and all four thousand rose to endorse Jones' suggestion that the building be named Ryman Auditorium in his memory.
SEVIER, JOHN (1745-1815)
John Sevier was an outstanding pioneer leader and the first governor of the state of Tennessee. Born and educated in Virginia, Sevier moved his family to the Watauga settlements in East Tennessee in the 1770s. Known for his sound judgment and commitment to public service, he was a charismatic and courageous figure. He and James Robertson are given credit for the success of the Watauga community. During the Revolutionary War, Sevier led a Tennessee contingent of 240 men to fight successfully at the Battle of King's Mountain, a pivotal battle in the Revolutionary War. After the war, he returned to Tennessee and resumed a leadership role in defending the Watauga settlement from attack by Cherokee Indians, then allied with the British. From 1785-1788, he served as governor of the independent State of Franklin. In 1796, he became the first governor of Tennessee, serving three terms. He was later elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served from 1811-1815.
STRICKLAND, WILLIAM (1788-1854)
Perhaps the premier architect in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century, William Strickland was the architect for the State Capitol and Downtown Presbyterian Church, formerly First Presbyterian Church. Born in New Jersey, Strickland was the son of a carpenter. He moved with his family to Philadelphia and at age fourteen became an apprentice to Benjamin Latrobe, architect for the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D. C. Among the buildings Strickland designed in Philadelphia were the Second Bank of the United States and the U.S. Mint. He was one of the organizers and first presidents of the American Institute of Architects and was one of the first architects to use a central heating system and indoor plumbing in his buildings. Strickland came to Nashville in 1845 to design the capitol building. While here, he was commissioned to design Downtown Presbyterian Church and James K. Polk's tomb, but the Greek Revival state capitol building is considered his finest work. Strickland died before the capitol was completed and is buried, according to his wishes, in the building's northeast corner.
STRITCH, CARDINAL SAMUEL A. (1887-1958)
Samuel Alphonsus Stritch was the first American to be elected to the Roman Curia. Born in Nashville, Stritch attended Assumption School in the Germantown area of North Nashville, then St. Gregory's Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the North American College in Rome. He was ordained in Rome in 1909 and served as a priest in Nashville from 1921-1930. In 1940. he was appointed Archbishop of Chicago and in 1946, cardinal. He was called to Rome in 1958 to head Catholic missions as a member of the Roman Curia.
YORK, ALVIN C. (1887-1964)
A World War I hero, Alvin York was awarded both the French "Croix de Guerre" and the Congressional Medal of Honor for service to his country during the war. Born in Pall Mall in East Tennessee, York grew up hunting wild turkeys in the mountains. He developed a reputation as a young man for his extraordinary marksmanship and religious zeal. When World War I began, York did not enlist because of his religious convictions. His pastor convinced him, however, that it was his duty to fight to defend the cause of freedom. On October 8, 1918, York single-handedly captured 122 Germans and shot 25 during a battle in France. His feat was described by Allied Commander in Chief Marshall Foch as the "greatest thing accomplished by any private soldier of all the armies of Europe." After the war, York, who had received very little formal education, raised money to fund the Alvin C. York Institute in Jamestown to educate local children. A statue in his honor stands on the southeastern slope of Capitol Hill.
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Ayers, Edward L. The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
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Davis, Louise Littleton. Frontier Tales of Tennessee. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company, 1983.
"Good Since the First Drop." The Tennessean. January 4, 1976.
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St. Mary's Catholic Church. Pamphlet published by the church, July 24, 1981.
Selected profiles of African American leaders and institutions published for the Afro- American Culture and History Conference between 1981 and 1995 by the Metropolitan Historical Commission and Tennessee State University.