Nashville History

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Early marriages in the Cumberland Settlements.

Civil law was put in place in the Cumberland Settlements very soon after the first settlers arrived. A constitution, the Cumberland Compact, was signed by many of the settlers.  Justices were appointed from the established stations or forts to oversee legal matters. The first marriage known to have taken place in what is now Davidson County was the union of James Lieper and Susan Drake in 1780. The ceremony was performed by James Robertson, as head of the "government of the Notables." Robertson likely issued a license to the couple. There was no regular minister in the settlement until the arrival of Thomas B. Craighead, a Presbyterian minister, in 1785.

Marriage bonds were probably issued by the court in Davidson Co., beginning with the county's formation in 1783. The earliest date of an extant bond for Davidson County is December 13, 1788.
The bond was a guarantee or promise that the couple had a legal right to be married. That is to say, the couple was of age, that neither was already married to someone else and that there was no other reason why they could not be married according to law. In the early days, the bride was required to be a resident of the county in which the marriage license was applied for.

The bond was usually signed by the groom and by another person who had obligated themselves to pay the bond if it became necessary to do so. This person, often a relative of the bride or groom, sometimes a friend, has been commonly referred to as the bondsman. There is sometimes, more than one bondsman and there are instances in which the groom did not sign the bond, only the bondsman. The bond was not to be paid unless the couple's marriage was in violation of law. There was most likely a fee for the license but the amount is unknown.

In the early marriage records for Davidson County, there is often only a bond and no license, as the person performing the marriage was not compelled by law to return the license to the court. In about 1816, the licenses began to be returned to the court with regularity. Davidson County marriage bonds and licenses do not give names of parents of the couple. There is sometimes a letter of consent attached that was signed by a parent but this is a rare find. Birthdates are not given on the records. Beginning in 1838, TN law required each County Clerk to record the issuance of a marriage license and the return of the license, in an official "marriage book." In the early 1900's the ages of the couple and a place of residence began to be recorded in the marriage books.

Below is a transcription of a marriage bond for my ancestors George Sugg Allen and Ferebe Pharaba Russell from Davidson County records from the year 1803. The bondsman, Andrew Lucas, was married to Pharaba aunt, Nancy Gower. The language sometimes varied but the substance was the same.

Know all ye men that the I Andrew Lucas of the county of Davidson and state of Tennessee, are held and firmly bound unto the governor of the said state, for the time being, in the sum of 1250 dollars, to be paid to his said excellency, his successors in office, or assigns. To which payment well and truly to be made, we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators, each and every one of us and them, both jointly and severally, firmly by these presents.

Witness our hands and seals this 21 day of Nov 1803

The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas George Allen has this day prayed and obtained a License to Marry Ferebe Russell now if the said Ferebe Russell be an actual resident of the aforesaid county, and there shall not hereafter appear any lawful cause why the said Geo Allen & Ferebe Russell should not be joined together in holy Matrimony, as husband and wife, then this obligation to be void and of non effect, otherwise to remain in full force and virtue.
Andrew Lucas (Seal)

Below is a scan of a Davidson County marriage license from 1789. The original marriage bonds and licenses are in the holdings of Metro Nashville Archives. The marriage book are also in the archives collections.
Marriage bond issued to Joshua Harbin to marry Mary Smith, 1789

Monday, June 4, 2018

They Have Served Their Time In Hell.

Awhile back I found a poem about soldiers in the 25th Division serving in Korea. It was in some papers that had belonged to my parents. I googled and found that it is one of many variations of a poem that dates back to at least WWI. The original title was Our Hitch in Hell. It was published in 1916, in a book titled American Soldier Ballads. There are men who fought in later wars who sincerely believe that they wrote the poem. The poem was revised many times and used from WWI to Vietnam and likely after. Sometimes it is about Marine's, sometimes all soldiers are included. Daddy had two brothers who served in Korea. Perhaps one of them sent it to him. Corky served in the 25th Division but I don't know about Peanut.

This is the version that I came across. It is quite different from the original but follows the theme.

The_Tennessean_Wed__Jun_18__1952_oeser brothers

Herbert D. "Corky" Oeser

John Paul "Peanut" Oeser

My uncle Corky Oeser is in the back center in uniform. This was 1950.
I believe Daddy and others were delivering Corky to camp.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Ollie Cox - Robertson County

Ollie Cox was my husband's grandfather. He died in 1970, not long after we were married. The photo was made a tobacco barn in Robertson County.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Robert Davis Oeser April 28, 1919 -June 16, 1999

I think I may have dreamed about my Uncle Robert and my Daddy last night, because I woke up thinking about them. I sure miss both of them. Robert would turn 99 this year and Daddy 101.

Robert and I were phone buddies. We talked often and had long conversations. We laughed and we argued and we shared a lot of good stories. Robert was born before Daddy turned two and they were close all of their lives. All ten of the siblings were close but the two oldest brothers had a special bond. Two little growing up together with three little sisters. It was not until 1928 that another boy was born it the family.

Robert Oeser and Ernest Oeser.

Robert Davis Oeser was a self admitted Mama's boy. He spent time with his grandmother learning to crochet when the others were out playing. He was a good student and the only of one of the ten children to have graduated from high school. He was in the East Nashville High School class of 1939. He was a veteran of World War II, serving in the U. S. Army in Italy and Africa.

Robert Oeser and his little brother Ronnie Oeser.

Robert got married in 1951 to a beautiful young woman named Millie Marshall. He was a hard worker and enjoyed working outdoors. Robert built a beautiful home, from the ground up, for his family in the new Bellshire subdivision in the 1950's. He and Millie were parents to two daughters, Janice and Cheryl. He loved his family, and doted on his grandchildren.

He was a smart man, a proud man, stubborn and opinionated. I loved him and I miss him.

Papa Oeser, and nine of his ten children. Front Row, Robert, Papa and Ernest. Middle, Peanut, Ruth, Margaret and Corky. Back,  Jimmy, Orville and Ronnie. Dorothy is the child that was not present.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ghosts in the house

Mama was a great storyteller but she was also truthful. Her ghost story was something she remembered and also something that was told to her many times. In the late summer of 1926, when Mama was seven years old, two birds got into their house. The same week her mother saw two shooting stars. Old wives tales said these were both signs of upcoming death in the family. 

On Sept. 15, Mama's fourteen-month-old baby sister died. Three days later on Sept. 18, Mama's grandmother, who lived in the same house with them, died. Soon after the family hired a live-in housekeeper and cook to help Mama's very pregnant mother with her chores. One morning at breakfast the housekeeper said she could not sleep the night before because of a blue-eyed baby girl who kept looking in the door at her. But when she got up to check the baby was gone. The little baby that had died had bright blue eyes. The next youngest child had brown eyes so it could not have been her looking through the door. A few days later the housekeeper said that when she was sleeping the night before an old woman came to her bed. The old woman said, "This is my bed and my feet are cold and you need to move over." The old woman disappeared. 

The housekeeper announced she was quitting and would not be back. The bed had belonged to the grandmother who had recently died. And she always complained of cold feet and would warm bricks by the fire to put at the bottom of her bed. Wish Mama was here to tell me that story one more time.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Frank Bolles of Nashville

This is information on the family of Frank Bolles of Nashville, Davidson County, Tenn. I am not related to the Bolles family and I have no additional information. 

Abstract from “Davidson County, Tennessee Naturalizations 1803-1906”, Mary Sue Smith, 1997 - Criminal Court Div. 1, MB W p292 Bolles, Frank – {Naturalized}a native of Oldenburg, Germany; born in the city of Damina on 2 Feb 1848; immigrated to the United States in 1866, landing in New York, being then 18 years of age; has been his intenetion for more than three years to become a citizen;  renounces his allegiance to the Prince of Herseg.  –upon the foregoing petition and the fact that he came to this country prior to being 18 years old…decree he be admitted to citizenship, 12 June 1878.

1880 Census for Tennessee, Davidson County page 225A
Bolles, Frank  age 32
Bolles, Sophia age 22
Bolles, Minnie age 1
Bolles, Sophia age 3

Frank Bolles and Sophia Boehler were married May 25, 1875, bondsman was Fred Hosse and ceremony was performed by Joseph Uphause, M.G.  Davidson County original marriage licenses and bonds – Metro Archives

Junius Ruth and Wilhelmina Bolles were married August 14, 1911.  The ceremony was performed by J. Francis McCloud, rector of St. Andrews Episcopal Church Davidson County original marriage licenses and bonds – Metro Archives
 (1911 Nasvhille city directory – St Andrews listed at  49th Ave SE corner of Michigan Ave.)

Junius Ruth was not listed in the 1911 city directory.  Minnie Bolles was living with her mother Sophia at 1216 3rd Ave. N.  This address was between Madison and Monroe Streets. 

Annual Report of the Public Schools of Nashville, Tennessee 1896-1897
page 15,  Annual Commencement of the Fogg High School at Theater Vendome, Wednesday Evening, June 2, 1897.

List of Graduates

Wilhelmine Bolles – Graduated with high scholarship. 

Annual Report of the Public Schools of Nashville, Tennessee 1893-1894
page 83,  Grammar Department Graduates.  Fogg School, January. Bolles, Wilhelmina.

Annual Report of the Public Schools of Nashville, Tennessee 1901-1902

page 5, List of Teachers, Miss Wilhelmine Bolles.

page 51, Elliott School, Miss Wilhelmine Bolles, Assistant, Fourth-A Grade.

Annual Report of the Public Schools of Nashville, Tennessee 1902-1903

page 5, List of Teachers, Miss Wilhelmine Bolles.

page 47, Elliott School, Miss Wilhelmine Bolles, Assistant, First Floor, Fourth-B Grade.

Annual Report of the Public Schools of Nashville, Tennessee 1903-1904

page 5, List of Teachers, Miss Wilhelmine Bolles.

page 60, Elliott School, Miss Minnie Bolles, Assistant, Fourth Grade.

Annual Report of the Public Schools of Nashville, Tennessee 1904-1905

page 5, List of Teachers, Miss Wilhelmine Bolles.

page 46, Elliott School, Miss Minnie Bolles, Third-A Grade.

Annual Report of the Public Schools of Nashville, Tennessee 1905-1906

page 5, List of Teachers, Miss Wilhelmine Bolles.

page 59, Elliott School, Miss Minnie Bolles, Fourth-B Grade.

Annual Report of the Public Schools of Nashville, Tennessee 1906-1907

page 5, List of Teachers, Miss Wilhelmine Bolles.

page 51, Elliott School, Miss Minnie Bolles, Fourth-A Grade.

Annual Report of the Public Schools of Nashville, Tennessee 1907-1908

page 5, List of Teachers, Miss Wilhelmine Bolles.

page 35, Elliott School, Miss Minnie Bolles, Fourth-B Grade.

Annual Report of the Public Schools of Nashville, Tennessee 1908-1909

page 5, List of Teachers, Miss Wilhelmine Bolles.

page 51, Elliott School, Miss Minnie Bolles, Fourth-A Grade, Organist.

Annual Report of the Public Schools of Nashville, Tennessee 1909-1910

same as 1908-1909

Annual Report of the Public Schools of Nashville, Tennessee 1910-1911

same as 1908-1909

Annual Report of the Public Schools of Nashville, Tennessee 1911-191

page 6, List of Teachers, Miss Wilhelmine Bolles.  Resigned.

The original Ninth Ward School was established in 1865 and was located at the corner of Madison and N Cherry streets.  The building The Ninth Ward School was built in 1873 at the corner of Jefferson and Norht High Streets.  The name of the school was changed  to Elliott School at the beginning of the 1890-91 school-year.  The name change was in honor of George B. Elliott who died in April of 1890.  Mr. Elliott was the Principal of Tarbox School at the time of his death.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Russell Family of Pond Creek

Betty Sellars and Jimmy Allen contributed to this report.

James Russell was born ca 1747. (I don't know where the year birth is from, may just be a guesstimate.  I think he may have been born as late as 1760.) Many genealogies say he was born in Wake County, NC, however Wake County was not created until 1771. He died in Davidson County, Tennessee on July 27, 1819 and is said to be buried at Gower's Chapel in the Gower family cemetery off River Road and Charlotte Pike in Davidson Co, TN.  He has a tomb stone in that cemetery that was placed in the 1930's by a DAR group. James Russell was a Revolutionary War soldier and enlisted in North Carolina, where he served as a private. It is from his final pension payment voucher that we get his date of death.

He was one of the pioneer settlers of Davidson County, Tennessee.  He was a dispatch carrier for General Robertson and Governor Blount and he also worked as a surveyor. In 1780, James Russell was a member of the party that went by land to the present site of Nashville, Tennessee. His signed the Cumberland Compact on May 1, 1780.   Also, on the expedition was James' father-in-law Abel Gower and brother-in-law Abel Gower Jr. Both Gower's were killed by Indians in the fall of 1780 at Clover Bottom.

We don't know why James Russell did not receive a preemptors grant. He was here to sign the Cumberland Compact and should have been eligible for a preemptors grant.  He may have sold his preemptors right to someone else, and it was recorded in another person's name.  He may have returned to North Carolina for a few years.  He must have returned by April of 1784 as his son William was born in Davidson County at that time.  He does not appear in the records again until October of 1785.
In December of 1789, James Russell purchased 100 acres of land on Pond Creek, in Davidson County,  as assignee of Martin Armstrong.  In January of 1793, Thomas Russell purchased 100 acres of land on Pond Creek, in Davidson County, as assignee of Martin Armstrong.  There were many other land transactions for James Russell. He was an early owner of what is called Gower's Island in the Cumberland River.

On the 4th of February 1794, James Russell, Robert Shannon and William Con, on their way from Nashville to Knoxville, were ambushed in the Cumberland Mountain, eighteen (18) miles from South West Point, by a party of Indians consisting of about 25, who fired on them and wounded Russell thru the body and arm.  He suffered with this would for the rest of his life. James was a chain bearer for Colonel Rutherford in laying out the veterans claims for land grants in Davidson Co, TN which was issued for service in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

James Russell married Elizabeth Gower the daughter of Abel Gower, Sr.  We do not know the marriage date. They could have married in North Carolina.  The marriage could have taken place in Davidson County, Tennessee, prior to 1789.  Marriage records for the county are lost before that time.

The following have been named as children of James and Elizabeth Gower Russell.  Others have been named in various sources but with no documentation.   It is highly possible that some of these are the children of Thomas Russell and Angley Gower Russell.  Thomas is believed to be the brother of James Russell.  There are may be other children of James and Thomas. 

        William RUSSELL b April 11, 1784; married Mary Ann Polly Kellum, September 13, 1805; died February 20, 1856, Madison Co., MO while visiting family.  Lived on Pond Creek; moved to Calloway Co., KY; He was a Justice of the Peace and performed many marriages in Davidson County. This is the William Russell who gave land for Bethel Church in 1825, on Pond Creek in Davidson County, now in Cheatham Co., TN.

       Pharaba Russell, born 10 October 1786; married George Sugg Allen, 21 November 1803; died  21 September 1866. Lived on Pond Creek, all of her life.

         Elizabeth Russell, born abt. 1790 ; married Martin Patterson 20 February 1810, Davidson Co, TN

James Russell Jr; born 20 December 1790, Davidson Co., TN; died 29 May 1843. Davidson Co., Tennessee.  Married Elizabeth Duren 25 December 1809 Davidson Co TN.   There are numerous copies of deeds of land purchased by James Russell. Jr. on or near Pond Creek. 

          Sally Russell, born abt. 1796; married Jeptha Hooper, 18 April 1810, Davidson Co, TN. this family moved to Calloway Co., KY  

      Arnold Russell, born 3 April 1796; died 25 Nov. 1872, Yazoo Co, Mississippi.

         Nancy Russell born abt. 1797; married Churchill Hooper 23 Aug. 1814 Davidson Co TN

        Peggy Russell, born abt. 1798; married Scott Larkin 10 November 1818

      John Russell, born abt. 1799 
      Martha Patsy Russell, born abt. 1804; married Wilson L Hooper 8 March 1824


Thomas Russell, is believed to be a brother of James Russell.  He was born before 1770; died 1824 in Davidson Co. TN; He married Angley Gower  13 November 1789. 

Children of Thomas Russell and Angley Gower Russell;

           Isaac Russell

          Polly Russell ; married James Daugherty 30 June 1816.

       Thomas Russell, Jr born 1798; married Ann Hooper 19 July 1829.

       Other children mentioned but not named in will of Thomas Russell.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Turkeys, and coyotes but no silly rabbits.

As the crow flies, our house is about three miles from the historic courthouse in downtown Nashville.  We have lived in Inglewood for 39 years, moving from East Nashville.  My family lived in Northeast Nashville when I was born and I grew up there.  My husband spent most of his childhood and teen years, a couple of blocks from East Nashville High School.  Wildlife in our childhood urban neighborhoods consisted of songbirds, pigeons, or an occasional toad. There must have been possums around but I don't remember seeing them. When we moved to Inglewood, rabbits were abundant, sometimes we spotted a possum crossing the road or a garter snake slithering through the grass.

The times they are a changin with the urban wildlife.  There are more birds and a bigger variety. Crows as big as ravens rule the treetops.  We have seen deer walking up our street.  Neighbors post photos of turkey, deer, and coyotes on Facebook.

Tom Turkey showing off for his lady friend, Inglewood, June 2015, Debie Oeser Cox

We have heard the eerie call of the neighborhood fox. One morning we looked out the window to see a coyote in front of the house. A family of raccoons lives in a neighbor's tree.

Mama Raccoon, Inglewood, June 2017 Debie Oeser Cox

Young Raccoons, Inglewood, June 2017 Debie Oeser Cox

We still see an occasional possum.  Rabbits and stray cats are a rare sight, but Hawks, of more than one type, are plentiful.  A neighbor has seen a heron fishing in her backyard pond.  We have seen a Great Horned Owl and often hear the call of the Barred Owl. Bobcats have been spotted in outlying areas of Davidson County.  Curious to see what changes might occur with wildlife in Inglewood in the coming 20 years.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Memory of Mama

This is a little note from facebook a couple of years ago.

I found a note that Mama wrote, listing her utility bills with the amounts in 1978, when she and Daddy were living at 1022 Pennock, in Papa Oeser's old house. In May, she wrote, telephone 11.50; gas 7.34; paperboy 7.28; lights 14.68 and water 7.19. Did anyone else say light bill, instead of electric bill? When mama was young, lights were about all that used electricity in a house. Not much more than that when I was a kid. We had a TV, a radio and a refrigerator, and in summer, window fans. Our cook stove and heat used gas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Wash Day!

This beautiful day, November 29, 2016, reminds me of wash day.  It was easy to wash clothes in the summer in Nashville, TN.  OK not easy, but convenient.  Most days from June through September ranged from warm to very hot, and not a lot of rainy days.  Fall, winter, and spring provided challenges for getting the washing done.  Any fall (or winter or spring) day that started as this one has, became wash day.  For my mama that meant up early to fill the wringer washer with hot water and all the dirty white clothes for the first load.  I always had an automatic washer but did not always have a dryer.  The washing was easy for me, just putting in a load of clothes and letting the machine do it's job.  Still, I had to start early to get all the clothes dry on the shorter days of fall time.  I loved hanging out the clothes and it was especially pleasant to take them off the line and smell the goodness of the sunshine and fresh air.  I often just had to bury my face into an item and just take it all in.  It was more than a smell.  It was an experience, like no other. Like anyone else who had no access to a dryer, I hwould hang out clothes, year round.  If the weather was particularly bad for an extended time, I had to resort to the laundromat, or wishy-washy as we called them in Nashville.  I hated that, so I hung the clothes out whenever possible.  Why is it that we never think to make a photograph of the simple everyday things, that once they are gone, become so important in our memories?  I did find a photo on pinterest that remind me of mama's clotheslines, but there was no credit.

Copied from pinterest, no credit given

I borrowed this excerpt from another of my blog posts to share here.

Washing clothes! Oh if kids today only knew.  At our house wash day started early, as soon as Mama got Daddy off to work and out of the house.  We had a wringer washer and she had to use the bath tub as a rinse tub.

Mama would pull the washer near the bathroom door and fill it with hot water and add powdered tide.  White clothes always went first. If there were a lot clothes the water would be changed but usually one tub of water did all the clothes.  Load the clothes into the hot water, let the machine agitate for awhile.  Then run each piece of clothing through the wringer and place it in the tub.  The machine I remember most was electric but the older ones had to be agitated by hand and the wringer had a handle that was turned to wring the clothes.  Ours had a motor that turned the wringers as clothing was fed through.  After the clothing was rinsed in the clean water, it went back through the wringer again and into a basket.  Then out to the clothes lines.  We had five or six lines strung between metal "T" poles that had been secured into the ground with concrete, so the weight of the wet clothes would not pull them down.

Once I was tall enough I helped hang the clothes.  Mama wouldn't let me use the wringer.  She got her hand caught in one and was afraid I would get hurt.  We had a lot of people in our house at times and a lot clothes.  By the time enough had been washed that all the lines were full, usually the first clothes hung, had dried and were taken down to make room for the next load.  In the summer my sister Ann and I were always home to help but once school started Mama was on her own.  It was an all day job and Mama washed the clothes and hung them out year round.  Rainy days would delay wash day and in the winter she sometimes had to wait for the warmer days.  I do remember when clothes froze on the lines, but they seemed to dry anyway.  When I was about 10, I think, an automatic coin laundry opened in the old Roxy theater.  By then my sister was married and she would bring her laundry and we would take Mama's and go there to wash clothes in bad weather.  Mama still washed and hung the clothes in good weather until she moved from Meridian in 1972. And next came ironing day!