A Short History of Nashville
The first known settlers in the area of modern Nashville were Native Americans of the Mississippian culture, who lived in the area from about 1000 to 1400 AD. They grew corn and painted richly decorated pottery. They then mysteriously disappeared. Other Native Americans, the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Shawnee, followed and used the area as a hunting ground.
The Spaniard Hernando DeSoto was the first European to come through the area on his explorations in the 16th century but made no settlement. French fur traders were the earliest tradesmen in Middle Tennessee, the first of these fur traders to appear was Charles Charleville who, in 1714, built his post on a mound near the present site of Nashville. Extensive trade was carried on with Native American tribes frequenting the hunting ground. However, Charleville's station did not remain, and by 1740, Middle Tennessee was again without a single white resident. The establishment of this and subsequent posts by men of French descent gave the locality around Nashville the name "French Lick", by which it was known to early historians.The first permanent community of pioneers, however, was not established until 1779. A group of about 200 settlers, led by James Robertson, left northwestern North Carolina, traveled overland for two months and arrived on the banks of the Cumberland River near the center of present downtown Nashville on Christmas Day in 1779. They cleared the land and built a log stockade they called Fort Nashborough in honor of Revolutionary war hero General Francis Nash. Robertson's friend and fellow Watauga settler John Donelson, along with some 60 families, including women and children, came in 30 flatboats up the Cumberland River, arriving April 23, 1780. They founded a new community that was then a part of the state of North Carolina. It was renamed Nashville in 1784 when it was incorporated as a town by the North Carolina legislature. As the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace, the town developed early as a cotton center and river port and later as a railroad hub.
After the disastrous secession attempt of the State of Franklin, North Carolina ceded its land from the Allegheny Mountains to the Mississippi River to the federal government. In 1796, that area was admitted to the union as the state of Tennessee. Nashville at that time was still a tiny settlement in a vast wilderness, but soon, one of its citizens emerged as a national hero. In 1814, at the close of the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson, a Nashville lawyer and son-in-law to John Donelson, led a contingent of Tennessee militiamen in the Battle of New Orleans. The British were soundly defeated, and Jackson became a national hero. A political career soon followed, and in 1829, Jackson was elected the seventh President of the United States.In 1806, Nashville was chartered as a city, and it was selected as the permanent capital of Tennessee in 1843 by only one vote. The Tennessee State Capitol building was constructed over a period of ten years from 1845 to 1855.
Tennessee was the last state to join the Confederacy on June 24, 1861, when Governor Isham G. Harris proclaimed “all connections by the State of Tennessee with the Federal Union dissolved, and that Tennessee is a free, independent government, free from all obligations to or connection with the Federal Government of the United States of America.” Nashville was an immediate target of Union forces. The city's significance as a shipping port and its symbolic importance as the capital of Tennessee made it a desirable prize.
The General Assembly was in session at Nashville when Fort Donelson fell on February 16, 1862, and Federal occupation of Nashville soon followed, the first Confederate state capital to fall to the Union troops. Governor Harris moved the state government to Memphis (which was captured by Union forces less then four months later). In the meantime President Abraham Lincoln appointed future President Andrew Johnson Military Governor of Tennessee and he set up offices in the capitol at Nashville and ruled with strict control. Confederate uprisings and guerrilla attacks continued in the city sporadically.
On December 2, 1864, the Confederate Army of Tennessee arrived south of the city and set up fortifications facing the Union Army. After a lengthy stand-off, the Union forces attacked on December 15, starting the Battle of Nashville. The outnumbered Confederate forces were badly defeated and retreated south to the Tennessee River. This effectively ended large-scale fighting in the Western Theater of the war.After the Civil War, Nashville quickly grew into an important trade center. Steamships unloaded their cargo on the banks of the Cumberland (postcard at right). Its population rose from 16,988 in 1860 to 80,865 by 1900. In 1897, Nashville hosted the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition, a World's Fair celebrating the 100th anniversary of Tennessee's entry into the Union. A replica of the Parthanon was built for the event. The Parthanon replica is now the centerpiece of Centennial Park.
The Great train wreck of 1918 occurred on July 9, 1918, in Nashville when an inbound local train collided with an outbound express, killing 101 people. This was one of the most deadly rail accidents in U.S. history. Tennessee was the state that put the 19th Amendment (allowing women to vote) over the top in 1920.
On March 1, 1941, W47NV (now known as WSM-FM the Wolf) began
in Nashville, becoming the first commercial FM radio station to be
granted an FCC license in the U.S. WSM-AM
started back to 1925 and is primarily associated with the
popularization of country music through its weekly Saturday
program the Grand Ole Opry, the longest-running radio program in
Nashville played a prominent role in the U.S. civil rights movement. On February 13, 1960, hundreds of college students launched a sit-in campaign to desegregate lunch counters throughout the city. Although initially met with violence and arrests, the protesters were eventually successful in pressuring local businesses to end the practice of racial segregation. Many of the activists involved in the Nashville sit-ins went on to organize the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which emerged as one of the most influential organizations of the civil rights movement.
The Nashville Tornado of 1998 struck the downtown area on April 16,
at around 3:30 pm, causing serious damage and blowing out hundreds of
windows from skyscrapers, raining shattered glass on the streets and
closing the business district for nearly four days. Over 300 homes were
damaged, and three cranes at the then-incomplete Adelphia Coliseum were
toppled. Though only one person was killed, it was one of the most
serious urban tornados on record in the United States.
Today, Nashville has a population of 607,413 making it the 21st largest city in the United States and the 5th largest state capital (if you were wondering, Phoenix is the largest). The 2005 population of the entire 13-county Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area was 1,498,836, making it the largest and fastest-growing metropolitan area in the state.
The State Flag of Tennessee
The flag of Tennessee consists of three stars in a circle on a field of
red, with a strip of blue on the edge. The flag was designed by a
soldier named LeRoy Reeves of the 3rd Regiment of Tennessee Infantry
and was officially adopted the state flag on April 17, 1905.
The Battle of Nashville
Late in the Civil War, after Sherman captured Atlanta, the Confederate
Army of Tennessee, led by General John Bell Hood (pictured below at
attempted to march
north through Tennessee to capture Nashville. The Army of Tennessee, at
39,000 men, constituted the second-largest remaining army of the
Confederacy, ranking in strength only after Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army
of Northern Virginia. The army consisted of the three infantry corps of
Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham, Gen. Stephen D. Lee and Gen. Alexander P.
Stewart and cavalry forces under Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Nashville has several professional sports
teams, most notably the
Nashville Predators of the N.H.L. and the Tennessee Titans of the
N.F.L. Several other pro sports teams also call Nashville home, as does
the NCAA college football Music City Bowl. The Vanderbilt Commodores
are members of the Southeastern Conference. The football team of
Tennessee State University plays its home games at LP Field.
Nashville Predators joined the N.H.L. in 1998 and currently play in the
Sommet Center (formerly Nashville Arena). The team was named after the
fossil skull of a saber-toothed cat, a species extinct for at least
10,000 years, that was found in August 1971, in a cave during the
excavation for the AmSouth Center in downtown Nashville. Fans of the
Nashville Predators have modified a tradition of the Detroit Red Wings
to show their support: on occasion, a fan will throw a catfish onto the
ice. The Predators
have advanced to the Conference Quarterfinals before being eliminated
they did not qualify in their first five seasons). The last two seasons
the San Jose Sharks have ended their season. In 2006-07, the set a
francise record with 51 wins. There all-time leading scorer, Finish
defenseman Kimmo Timonen, was passed by American center David Legwand
in 2008. In the 2007-08 season, the Predators met the eventual Stanley
Cup champion Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs, and
were defeated in six games - their fourth straight first round
knockout. There was discussion of a new owner buying the
team and relocating them to Hamilton, Ontario by the 2008-09 season,
however, it appears that a local group interested in keeping them in
Nashville has bought the team instead.
In 1997, the Houston Oilers left Texas for Tennessee.
After a year
of playing in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis (which turned
out to be a disaster due in part to the unwillingness of many Nashville
fans to make the 210-mile trip to Memphis and many Memphis fans not
wanting to support a team they would lose in a year) until a new
stadium could be built, the Tennessee Oilers opened their season in
Nashville in 1998. Originally they did not want to play in 41,000 seat
Vanderbilt Stadium, but after the Memphis deal did not work out, they
were forced to. In 1999, Adelphia Coliseum, now known as LP Field, was
completed and the newly christened Tennessee Titans had their best
season ever, finishing with a 13-3 record, the best season in franchise
history. They finished one game behind the Jacksonville Jaguars for the
AFC Central title. Tennessee then won their first round playoff game
over the Buffalo Bills on a controversial play that became known as the
"Music City Miracle." They next beat the Indianapolis Colts and
Jacksonville Jaguars to advance to Super Bowl XXXIV where they
ultimately lost to the St. Louis Rams, 23-16.
Since their incredible 1999 season, the Titans have
advanced to the
playoffs in 2000, 2002 and 2003, but won only two playoff games in
those three years. Since then they have finished out of the playoffs
for the last three years until 2007.
The name Titans comes from Nashville's history as the
"Athens of the
South" and the fact that they have a full-scale replica of the
Parthanon. In Greek mythology, the Titans were a race of powerful
deities that ruled during the legendary Golden Age. The Titans were
overthrown by the gods called the Twelve Olympians, led by Zeus.
Nashville never had a Major League Baseball team, but it’s
professional baseball team was organized back in 1885 in the
newly-formed Southern League and the park was referred to as Athletic
Park. That same year, Cap Anson brought the Chicago Cubs to Nashville
for three weeks of spring training. From 1901 to 1963, the Double-A
Nashville Vols baseball team of the Southern Association (folded in 1961) played
in Sulphur Dell (a notorious hitter's park often called "Suffer Hell"
by pitchers and outfielders). It was the old Athletic Park until
Grantland Rice, sports editor of the Tennessean,
renamed it Sulphur Dell. In 1901, Nashville opened it's season with a
three game sweep over the Chattanooga Lookouts. Since 1934, the Vols
were affiliated with six major league teams (Giants, Dodgers, Cubs,
Reds, Twins and Angels). Their team featured two Hall of Fame players
through the years. New York Yankee pitcher Wait Hoyt played for them in
1918 and outfielder Kiki Cuyler (who played for the Pirates, Cubs, Reds
and Brooklyn Dodgers) played for them in 1923. In 1961, Vice-president
Lyndon Johnson threw out the first pitch in the opening game. The
Nashville Vols, along with the rest of the Southern Association, kept
to the Jim Crow segregation laws of the time and never permitted an
African-American to play in the league, even after Jackie Robinson
broke the color barrier in 1948.
Also playing in Sulpher Dell were the semi-pro Nashville Standard
Giants of the Negro
League. The Standard Giants, later known as the Elite Giants, played in
Nashville from 1921 until they moved to Cleveland and became the
Cleveland Cubs and joined the first Negro National League. After the
league folded, they returned to Nashville, changed the name back to the
Elite Giants and joined the Negro Southern League. When the second
incarnation of the Negro National League was formed in 1932, the Giants
joined it for the following two seasons. In 1935, the team left
Nashville for good and moved to Columbus, Ohio and became the Columbus
Elite Giants. After moves a short stay in Washington D.C., they played
in Baltimore from 1938 to 1950 as the Baltimore Elite Giants (they disbanded after the 1950 season).
Professional baseball was absent from
1964 to 1977.
But in 1978, Vanderbilt University baseball coach Larry Schmittou led a
group of local owners and founded the Nashville Sounds. Currently the Nashville Sounds, a
Triple-A of the Pacific Coast League, an affiliate of
Brewers, plays in 10,700 seat Herschel Greer Stadium (on the site of
Fort Negley). When The Sounds began back in 1978, they were an
expansion franchise team in the Double-A Southern League (they became
Triple-A in 1985). Their most famous player, whose number they retired,
was New York Yankee first baseman Don Mattingly (back in the 1980's
when the Sounds were a Yankee affiliate). In their almost 30-year
history they have won eight division titles, including 2006, and three
league championships in 1979, 1982 (both Double-A Southern League) and 2005. The Sounds won their
Championship in 2005, sweeping the Tacoma Rainiers in three games in
the final series. In 2007, Manny Parra pitched the club's second
perfect game, only the third nine-inning perfect game in PCL history,
against the Round Rock Express. The Sounds captured the North Division
title for the third straight year and finished the season with a league
best .618 winning percentage. In the conference championship series,
they were defeated by the New Orleans Zephyrs, three games to one.
Rest Historic House Museum, Inc. 1921. He devoted himself to the breeding and racing
of horses and the management of Traveler's Rest. In 1951, the nearby
railroad purchased Traveler's Rest with the intention of tearing it
down to build more tracks. Luckily this didn't happen. It was purchased
in 1954 and is run by the
1921. He devoted himself to the breeding and racing of horses and the management of Traveler's Rest. In 1951, the nearby railroad purchased Traveler's Rest with the intention of tearing it down to build more tracks. Luckily this didn't happen. It was purchased in 1954 and is run by the
The Battle of Franklin
Army of Tennessee, led by General John Bell Hood, marched
north through Tennessee towards Nashville in late 1864 with the goal of
capturing Nashville. The army consisted of 38,000 men divided into the
three infantry corps of
Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham, Gen. Stephen D. Lee and Gen. Alexander P.
Stewart and cavalry forces under Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.
This website was created
in July of 2007