Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Clarksville, Tennessee

« Back to Projects Dashboard

view all

Profiles

  • Pvt. James Denson Conway, (CSA) (1832 - 1861)
    Co. I 23rd Miss. Inf.
  • Col. Valentine Sevier (1747 - 1800)
    Valentine Sevier Birth:  Sep. 23, 1747 Rockingham County Virginia, USA Death:  Feb. 23, 1800 Clarksville, Montgomery County, Tennessee, USA Cemetery: Riverview Cemetery, Clarksville, Montgomery...
  • Key Pittman, U.S. Senator (1872 - 1940)
    Key Denson Pittman (September 19, 1872 – November 10, 1940) was a United States Senator from Nevada. He was a Democrat. Pittman was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1872 and was educated by pr...
  • Gov. Austin Peay, IV (1876 - 1927)
    Austin Peay, a successful and progressive governor during the 1920s, was perhaps best known as the governor who signed the infamous Butler (antievolution) Bill into law. Through administrative reorga...
  • Jimi Hendrix (1942 - 1970)
    From Wikipedia (English) : James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter. He is widely considered t...

Please add profiles of those who were born, lived or died in the city of Clarksville, Montgomery County, Tennessee.

Official Website

Clarksville is the county seat of Montgomery County. It's nicknames include "Queen of the Cumberland", "Gateway to the New South" and "Tennessee's Top Spot". The city was named after Brig. Gen. George Clark and his brother Capt. William Clark of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

History

In 1779, James Robertson brought a group of settlers from upper East Tennessee via Daniel Boone's Wilderness Road. Robertson later built an iron plantation in Cumberland Furnace. A year later, John Donelson led a group of flat boats up the Cumberland River bound for the French trading settlement, French Lick (or Big Lick), that would later be Nashville. When the boats reached Red Paint Hill, Moses Renfroe, Joseph Renfroe, and Solomon Turpin, along with their families, branched off onto the Red River. They traveled to the mouth of Parson's Creek, near Port Royal, and went ashore to settle down. However, an attack by Indians in the summer drove them back.

Clarksville was designated as a town to be settled in part by soldiers from the disbanded Continental Army that served under General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War. At the end of the war, the federal government lacked sufficient funds to repay the soldiers, so the Legislature of North Carolina, in 1790, designated the lands to the west of the state line as federal lands that could be used in the land grant program. Since the area of Clarksville had been surveyed and sectioned into plots, it was identified as a territory deemed ready for settlement. The land was available to be settled by the families of eligible soldiers as repayment of service to their country.

The development and culture of Clarksville has had an ongoing interdependence between the citizens of Clarksville and the military. During the Civil War a large percent of the male population was depleted due to Union Army victories at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. Many Clarksville men were interned at Union prisoner of war (POW) camps. Clarksville also lost many native sons during World War I. With the formation of Camp Campbell, later Fort Campbell, during World War II, the bonds of military influence were strengthened. Soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky have deployed in every military campaign since the formation of the post.

The tobacco trade in the area was growing larger every year and in 1789, Montgomery and Martin Armstrong persuaded lawmakers to designate Clarksville as an inspection point for tobacco.

Clarksville grew at a rapid pace. By 1806, the town realized the need for an educational institution, and it established the Rural Academy that year. It was later replaced by the Mount Pleasant Academy. By 1819, the newly established town had 22 stores, including a bakery and silversmith. In 1820, steamboats begin to navigate the Cumberland, bringing hardware, coffee, sugar, fabric, and glass. The city exported flour, tobacco, cotton, and corn to ports such as New Orleans and Pittsburgh along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Trade via land also grew as four main dirt roads were established, two to Nashville, one crossing the Red River via ferry called the Kentucky Road, and Russellville Road. In 1829, the first bridge connecting Clarksville to New Providence was built over the Red River. Nine years later, the Clarksville-Hopkinsville Turnpike was built. Railroad service came to the town on October 1, 1859 in the form of the Memphis, Clarksville and Louisville Railroad. The line would later connect with other railroads at Paris, Tennessee and Guthrie, Kentucky.

By the start of the Civil War, the combined population of the city and the county was 20,000. Planters in the area depended on slavery for the labor-intensive tobacco industry, one of the major commodity crops. In 1861, both Clarksville and Montgomery County voted unanimously for the state to secede and join the Confederate States of America. The birthplace of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was about 20 miles across the border in Fairview, Christian County, Kentucky. Both sides considered the city to be of strategic importance.

Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston set up a defense line around Clarksville expecting a land attack. The city was home to three Confederate States of America Army camps:

  • Camp Boone
  • Camp Burnet
  • Fort Defiance, Tennessee - a Civil War outpost that overlooks the Cumberland river and Red river and was occupied by both Confederate and Union soldiers.

The Union sent troops and gunboats down the Cumberland River, and in 1862 captured Fort Donelson, Fort Henry, and Clarksville. On February 17, 1862, the USS Cairo along with another Union Ironclad came to Clarksville and captured the city. There were no Confederate soldiers to contend with because they had left prior to the arrival of the ships. White flags flew over Ft. Defiance and over Ft. Clark. The citizens of the town who could get away, left as well. Before they left, Confederate soldiers tried to burn the railroad bridge that crossed the Cumberland River. The fire did not take hold and was put out before it could destroy the bridge. This railroad bridge made Clarksville very important to the Union. The USS Cairo tied up in Clarksville for a couple of days before moving on to participate in the capture of Nashville.

Between 1862 and 1865, the city would shift hands, but the Union retained control of Clarksville, including control of the city's newspaper, The Leaf Chronicle, for three years. Many slaves who had been freed or escaped gathered in Clarksville and joined the Union Army, which created all-black regiments. The 16th United States Colored Infantry regiment was mustered in at Clarksville. Other freed slaves lived along the side of the river in shanties.

After the war, the city began Reconstruction, and in 1872, the existing railroad was purchased by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. The city was flourishing until the Great Fire of 1878, which destroyed 15 acres of downtown Clarksville's business district, including the courthouse and many other historic buildings. It was believed to have started in a Franklin Street store.

In 1913, the Lillian Theater, Clarksville's first "movie house" for motion pictures, was opened on Franklin Street by Joseph Goldberg. It seated more than 500 people. Less than two years later, in 1915, the theater burned down. It was rebuilt later that year.

As World War I raged in Europe, many locals volunteered to go, reaffirming Tennessee as the Volunteer State, a nickname earned during the War of 1812, the Mexican–American War and other earlier conflicts. Also during this time, women's suffrage was becoming a major issue. Clarksville women saw a need for banking independent of their husbands and fathers who were fighting. In response, the First Women's Bank of Tennessee was established in 1919 by Mrs. Frank J. Runyon.

The 1920s brought additional growth to the city. A bus line between Clarksville and Hopkinsville was established in 1922. In 1927 the Austin Peay Normal School was founded, later to develop as Austin Peay State University. In 1928 two more theaters were added, the Majestic (with 600 seats) and the Capitol (with 900 seats). John Outlaw, a local aviator, established Outlaw Field in 1929.

With the entry of the United States into World War II, defense investments were made in the area. In 1942 construction started on Camp Campbell (now known as Fort Campbell), the new army base ten miles northwest of the city. It was capable of holding 23,000 troops, and as staffing built up, the base gave a huge boost to the population and economy of Clarksville.

In 1954, the Clarksville Memorial Hospital was founded along Madison Street. Downtown, the Lillian was renamed the Roxy Theater, and today it still hosts plays and performances weekly. The Roxy has been used as a backdrop for numerous photo shoots, films, documentaries, music videos and television commercials; most notably for Sheryl Crow's Grammy-award-winning song "All I Wanna Do."

Since 1980, the population of Clarksville has more than doubled, in part because of annexation, as the city acquired communities such as New Providence and Saint Bethlehem. The construction of Interstate 24 north of Saint Bethlehem added to its development potential and in the early 21st century, much of the growth along U.S. Highway 79 is commercial retail. Clarksville is currently one of the fastest-growing large cities in Tennessee.

On the morning of January 22, 1999, the downtown area of Clarksville was devastated by an F3 tornado, damaging many buildings including the county courthouse. The tornado, 880 yards wide, continued on a 4.3-mile long path that took it north to Saint Bethlehem. No one was seriously injured or killed in the destruction. Clarksville has since recovered, and has rebuilt much of the damage as a symbol of the city's resilience. Where one building on Franklin Street once stood has been replaced with a large mural of the historic buildings of Clarksville on the side of one that remained.

On Sunday, May 2, 2010, Clarksville and a majority of central Tennessee, to include Nashville and 22 counties in total, suffered expansive and devastating floods near the levels of the great flood of 1937. Many businesses along Riverside Drive along the Cumberland River were lost.

On the evening of February 24, 2018, the east side of Clarksville was struck by a strong EF-2 tornado. Two injuries were reported and a spokesperson for the Montgomery County Sheriffs Office stated four homes and two duplexes were destroyed, dozens more damaged and 75 vehicles damaged at the nearby Hankook Tire plant. The tornado had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, a path length of 4.05 mi, and a maximum width of 300 yds.

Links

Wikipedia

Fort Campbell

Camp Boone

Fort Defiance

Cumberland River Flood of 1937