September 1996


by Eleanor Williams

On Tuesday morning, June the 12th, 1934, the celebration of Clarksville's Sesquicentennial continued with sites of the city. Among the points visited were Dunacn Marr's slave market, the home of Woodrow Wilson's parents, Fort Defiance, the Confederate breastworks, Sevier Station, the mansions of Gustavus A. Henry and Cave Johnson, Stewart College, and the John Conroy home where Father Ryan was staying when he wrote his immortal CONQUERED BANNER on hearing the news of Robert E. Lee's surrender.

In the afternoon, one of the highlights of the celebration, a three-mile historical parade, was observed by a crowd of more than 20,000 visitors and residents. W. B. Dunlop was in charge of this mammoth undertaking that began at two o'clock. Assisting Mr. Dunlop were C.W. Bailey, Mrs. M. L. Cross, Mrs. J. H. Puckett, Mrs. C. G. McClure, Mrs. H. M. Lupton, Roy Collier, Mrs. F. N. Smith, Ch. H. Moore, Norfleet Carney, Reams Farmer, Mrs. Charles Gill, Mrs. Bailey Harper, Joseph Boillin and Dr. Robert Burt.

Governor Hill McAlister led the procession along with his staff, the executive of the Sesquicentennial celebration and city and county officials.

Several different subjects were represented in the parade. These included Administration with five units; Patriotic with 13 units; Historical with eight units; The Arts, two units; Fraternal, three units; Religion, 13 units; Education, 23 units; Tobacco eight units; Clubs, five units; County Work, five units' Transportation, 21 units; Business, 21 units and the extension section prepared by the African-American population consisting of 58 units. Approximately 210 superbly decorated floats carried out the themes of the various subjects.

The Patriotic section included floats by the Historical Society with the assistance of the following individuals: Mrs. M. L. Cross of the Daughters of the American Revolution; Mrs. F. N. Smith of the Sons of the American Revolution; Mrs. Howard Edmondson of the United Daughters of the Confederacy; W. E. Crotzer with the American Legion; the War Mothers; the Cavalry; the C. C. Camp and Mrs. L. M. Moore with the Red Cross.

The floats of the Historical section represented Moses Renfroe; Colonel Valentine Sevier; Jophn Montgomery and Martin Armstrong; the first Court House that was a log structure; the Tobacco Exchange; the first steamboat and the first printing shop. This last float, which depicted the early printing press of the WEEKLY CHRONICLE distributed old papers to the old crowd.

The Arts section featured floats related to music, literature, oratory and dramatics. The Music Club and the Philomathic Club with F. G. Woodward as president, were in charge of these floats.

The Fraternal organizations were represented by the Masons, the Junior Order of American Mechanics, and the Odd Fellows. Roy Collier was chairman of this section assisted by H. M. Cooley.

The religious section, under the direction of Dr. J. H. Lacy, included floats by all denominations with three by the Episcopalians and several by the Baptists including Spring Creek Baptist Church. The Jewish float exhibited four periods of the development of the Bible. Of special interest was the Catholic float that depicted Father Ryan, former pastor of the church, and author of the "Conquered Banner," writing his famous poem. The uniforms on this float were authentic having been worn by either Confederate or Union soldiers. They included those of General Hickman and John Brummett of the Confederate forces and Colonel Adam Martin and L. W. White of the Federal forces. Mr. Brummett, who served in the First Tennessee Regiment, Company R, was 91 years of age at the time of the sesquicentennial.

The Education section, under the guidance of C. H. Moore, Norfleet Carney, Halbert Harvill and H. L. Allison, featured floats from the majority of the districts in the county, as well as St. Mary's School, the I.O.O.F.,Howell School, Austin Peay Normal School and Clarksville High School. A tribute to teachers who had taught forty or more years was a popular float. This section ended with the float carrying the Clarksville High School queen, Eleanor Wood, followed by a band of marchers showing the various activities of the school. The Grace Chapel school float, representing 4-H Club activities, was awarded the first prize of $12.00. It was built and designed by Miss Pattie Mason assisted by G. C. Wright and Miss Marvel Bass. The second prize of $7.50 went to the Southside Elementary school float that depicted the evolution of the educational system in the county schools. It was made under the direction of the principal, John Matthews. The third prize of $5.00 went to the float from Districts 14 and 15 that depicted a McGulley's Reader with characters sitting in the opened pages. It was arranged by Julia Wall of the Fredonia School and Grace Stacker of the Bethlehem School.

The portion of the parade pertaining to the tobacco industry was headed by S. O. Richardson assisted by R. D. Farmer, Matt Rudolph and W. D. Elliott. Floats in this section depicted the tobacco patch, the tobacco barn, transportation of tobacco, a loose floor and the manufacture of cigars and snuff.

Clubs were represented in the parade with floats from the Women's Federation of Clubs headed by Mrs. Garnett Adkins; The Cou ntry Woman's Club with Mrs. Hicks Polk; the Chamber of Commerce; the Rotary Club with G. G. McClure; and the Kiwanis Club with L. N. Byers.

The section entitled Country Works had floats connected with the 4-H organization and the Blue Ribbon Health Children.

The Transportation portion depicted an Indian on foot, horseback riders, covered wagon, ox cart, buggy, automobiles from 1914 to 1934 and a modern bus. During the parade airplanes soared overhead.

The Business section emphasized wholesale groceries, drug stores, building materials, petroleum products, equipment, plumbing and vintage clothes to include 1934 clothing. Of particular interest was the wholesale grocery float that featured a giant map of the world detailing imported and exported products and the float of the plumbing industry that depicted its progress with the evolution of the bath tub. No advertisement of products was permitted, but the advertisement of the company was allowed. Joseph A. Boillin, Jr., headed this committee assisted by Harry Orgain.

The last section sponsored by the African-American population featured 58 units with at least 13 units by the various churches to include Mr. Olivet, Fifth Was, St. John's, St. Peter's, A.M.E. Zion, Ebenezer A. M. E., Mission Baptist, Greenhjill, and Springhill. Also featured were the Drum Corps, Legionnaires, Spanish American veterans, Civil War veterans, Red Cross nurses, War Mothers, the Depression Band, the Cadet Drill Corps, Delta Sigma, The Masonic Lodges, the Elks, the Afro-American Industrial Union, the Benevolent Order No. 1 and 2, and the Odd Fellows. The Medical Division featured the hospital and local doctors. Local business organizations, e. g., real estate, groceries, beauty shops, taxis, undertakers and pressers, were represented. Clubs included the Ladies Industrial Society, the Neighborhood Circle, the State College Club, the Fisk Club and the Crocus Art and Study Club. County schools from the various districts were represented as was the Adult Education group. Floats from the City Elementary School and the High School Department were also featured.

The parade formed on Greenwood avenue, on Madison Street from Greenwood to Tenth Street and on Tenth to the S & N Railroad. The line of march was from Greenwood and Madison Street to Third, Third to Commerce, Commerce to Second, Second to Franklin, Franklin to the Public Square, the Square to Legion, Legion to Third, Third to Franklin, our Franklin to Ninth, and Ninth to Main and College.

Many local bands and those from surrounding areas were invited to participate in the parade. Among these were the State Agricultural and Industrial School Band, the band of the Archie Wood Post of the American Legion, local high School bands, the Hopkinsville High School Band, the Dickson High School Band, the Odd Fellows Home Band, the American Legion Band from Dickson, the Depression Band, the Howell School Drum and Bugle Corps, and a demonstration by a Cadet Drill Corps. Also included were three African-American bands from Hopkinsville, Memphis and Nashville to include the Pearl High School from Nashville.

The ingenuity of local craftsmen was demonstrated by floats of a paddle wheel boat, THE CITY OF CLARKSVILLE; a hand-made log house; a two-wheeled cart with solid wooden wheels drawn by mules; and a log, replica of the first courthouse.

Mrs. Leigh Buckley, surrounded by numerous children, portrayed the Old Woman in the Shoe on the float sponsored by Acme Boot Company. She recently recalled how concerned she was for the safety of the children as the float was forced to make many sudden stops. She asked the driver of the mules to yell out each time a stop was anticipated so she could warn the children.

The local paper reported that Tye Sanders, New York cameraman for the Universal talking newsreel, and Webber Hall, cameraman and O. M. Goodman, soundman for the Fox Movietone newsreel, were in town to film the gigantic parade. They were met ty Manager T. F. Ware of the Capitol Theater. The Universal celluloid were to be forwarded to New York for addition of audio comments by Graham McNamee. These reels were to be shown at the Capitol Theater and throughout the Sudekum circuit.

On Tuesday night the dramatic production titled THROUGH THE MIST OF THE YEARS, was presented on a stage at Mericourt, the State Experimental Farm (currently Mericourt Park). The Park was located on the corner of Madison Street and the newly named Pageant Lane. The drama was written by Rev. Arthur E. Whittle, who was the Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in 1934.

The script was described as depicting "completely the 150-year history of the city and county. Showing in all its parts of happiness, the striving, the suffering, the social and economic problems and the features that have blended together to make this beautiful section beloved by everyone who has ever known it."

The set for this tremendous exhibit of talent at Mericourt Park was a difficult task in itself. The stage, designed by Clarence Speight and James Gordon Elliott, was 60 feet wide, 40 feed deep and 30 feet high and was built especially for the Sesquicentennial in the bowl at Mericourt. The bowl provided seating for approximately 4,000 on the nearby slopes.

The use of an amplifying system with microphones placed at intervals on the stage and two giant horns, located high on each side of the stage enabled the audience to hear every work spoken on stage.

Members of the Little Theater cast and trained the more than 500 participants in the play. Among the directores were Collier Goodlett, Mrs. Leigh Buckley, Mrs. Richard Fry and Ursula Beach. The many technicians required for lighting and sound effects, for the movement of stage properties, for curtains, props and for costume arrangements were highly trained. The "stagehands" including the make-up specialists and the general workers about the stage, numbered approximately 150 individuals. Props were provided by individual citizens with leadership by various clubs and organizations. A musical theme was carried out throughout the show with appropriate music for each episode. The music was provided by an orchestra of the Nashville Conservatory of Music, under the direction of Eric Sonrantin with Charles Bryan acting as Assistant Conductor.

 Because of the multitudinous supply of properties, backdrops, stage settings, and costumes, the Little Theater group found it necessary to employ the John W. Rogers Production Company of Fostoria, Ohio, for assistance with the details of the production. The contract was for not more than three performances at a cost of $1,500.00 Any additional performance would be at a cost of $500.00 each. H. D. Pettus was in charge of the financial aspects of the celebration. The Rogers Company sent Mr. and Mrs. Jack Geller, a husband and wife team with wide experience in the presentation of pageantry. Mr. Geller had been chief of pageantry and later chief of production at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. Mrs. Geller trained 35 local makeup artist for the pageant. The Rogers Company also provided many other services to include costumes and the painting of the backdrops.

The drama that opened with a "Song of Salutation" written by Carl Frady, and sung by William Adams, C. A. Tygret, and Thomas Pollard, consisted of 12 episodes. The first half of the pageant depicted the historical side of the city and county. The second half of the pageant was presented in transparency, utilizing a double stage. The front portion of the stage depicted a current event in the professional, religious and business life of Clarksville. The rear portion of the stage

presented events of he past.

Episode One entitled "Landing of the Renfroes" was under the direction of Harry M. Smith with the properties being furnished by the Book Club. This scene revealed to the audience the landing, the settlement, and the attack of Moses Renfroe and his companions in 1780. Actors were Edmund Dabney as Col. John Donelson; and John Mason as Moses Renfroe. Properties for this episode were unique and included 10 bows and arrows, 50 tomahawks, one dozen rifles, pistols, tom-tom drums, ancient pots and pans, steel and flint and two kegs of powder and bullets. Lucille Tramill recently recalled the long dress and pantaloons she wore while taking part in this episode.

Episode Two entitled " The Founding of Clarksville, 1784" was under the direction of Collier Goodlett with properties being furnished by the Montgomery County Historical Society. This scene depicted Clarksville's birth in 1784 with Martin Armstrong and John Montgomery auctioning of the town lots. The attack on Colonel Sevier was also enacted in this episode. Cast as John Montgomery and Martin Armstrong were Collier Goodlett and William Adams respectively.

Episode Three featured a "first-class ball" at a hotel in Clarksville in the 1830s. This was one of the more outstanding scenes with the gentlemen and the ladies dancing to the minuet. Thomas M. Traughber directed this episode with properties by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Thursday Club. H. M. Cooley portrayed P. Gibson, the host, with Ted Northington as the Hon. Cave Johnson and Martha B. Harris as Mrs. Johnson. Callis Tate was Andrew Jackson and Dr. R. M. Workman was Col. Crusman. Other actors were Arch Northington, Elizabeth Hicks, John Martin, Margaret Bland, William Welker,Clara Clark Epperson, Lynwood Tarpley, Grace Stacker, Victor Albright, Barbara Askew, John Draper, Mrs. Jack Killebrew, Charles Major, Martha Alice Dickson, Laurin Askey, Mrs. Harriet Beach, Roberta Drane and Kit Haynes. Minuet dancers were Lula Foust, Ann Northington, Katherine Smith, Sue Williams, Lillian Frances Owen, Homoselle Floust, Mary Betty Bates, Nancy Neblett, Dorothy Brown, Mary Rice Ely, Elinor Hach, Dorothy Noland and four African-Americans.

Episode Four entitled "Town Meeting, 1861" concerned the question of union or secession. Under the direction of John M. Mason, the scene enacted the hotly debated issue with those in favor of secession being victorious. In the last of this scene, Stewart College students, were seen enrolling eagerly in the Confederate Army. Properties were furnished by the Business and Professional Women and the Music Club. Dr. P.P. Claxton portrayed Hon. James E. Bailey; Ted Northington Hon G. A. Henry; John S. Daniel, Hon. D. N. Kennedy; Harvey Hunt, Hon. John F. House; Hubert Porter, Gen. W. A. Quarles; and L. G. Derthick, Col. Forbes. Joe Ussery was the messenger and James Welker the leader of the Stewart College boys.

Episode Five, also concerning the Civil War, was under the direction of Mrs. Richard Fry with properties by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Dilettani Club. This scene depicted the Soldier's Aid Society of Clarksville and Montgomery County making uniforms for the men at war. This group of loyal women presented a flag to Capt. Beaumont's company. Properties involved in this episode included placards on the walls that read "The South Forever," "We Fight for Freedom," "Down with the Invaders" and "God Save the South." Individuals in this act were Mary Frances Cotham, Louise Gorham, Janie Outlaw, Mrs. M. E. Burchett, Ursula Smith, Mrs. Leigh Buckley, Mrs. B. E. Price, J. T. Traughber, Kenneth Haley, John Draper, Mrs. J. H. Puckett, William Chester, M. L. Hester, Harris McReynolds, Ted Northington, Wisdom Rudolph, and James Gray. One prominent Clarksvillian, a deacon in one of the larger local churches, reported for duty in a somewhat inebriated condition on several occasions. The Confederate soldiers were portrayed by Hubert Edwards, John E. Gray, Edwin Bates, Jr., John Watson, Robert Bourne, Edmund Dabney, Emmett Corlew, William Edmondson, Holuston MCutcheon, Joe Law, Charles Hunt and Charles B. Watts. Mrs. Buckley recalled that during this episode one of the Confederate soldiers became confused and drilled with the Federal troops and he even marched off the stage with the Federal troops. Another soldier forgot the shoes to his costume and had to wear his white shoes on stage. Needless to say, these were quite conspicuous.

The last episode of Part One was directed by Mrs. M. L. Shelby with the properties by The Progressive Study Club and the Wednesday Club. This scene opened as a group of African-Americans gathered on the courthouse square at the same time that a message from Fort Donelson arrived. A town meeting was then held and a committee was appointed to secure the best terms for surrender from General Grant. Grant arrived, accepted the city, and left Federal soldiers in charge. The Federal soldiers tried to prevent the Christian burial of a rebel soldier, but the Rev. Dr. Ringgold defied the order and won the respect of the Federal officers. This brought an immensely dramatic end to the first act of the pageant. Included in this episode were William Moore, Frank Fiederling, Ted Northington, M. L. Hester, Wisdom Rudolph, Harris McReynolds (portraying Dr. W. T. McReynolds), Mrs. Mahoney, Mrs. Orourke, John Mason, Harry Smith, Joseph Birney, and Rev. A. E. Whittle. Federal soldiers were portrayed by Sidney Jones, Cecil Martin, William Cattell, Zarthan Martin, Nathan L. Joslin, J. K. Smith, Cecil Hargis and Louis Tramill. More than fifty African-Americans performed in this episode as an agitator in the crowd. Mr. Moore was 18 years old at the time and his role was to yell "Fight, fight, give the white folks hell."

The second half of the pageant began with an episode concerning religion. Utilizing a double stage, a minister's meeting in 1934 occupied the front half of the stage while the back portion of the stage depicted, through a transparent curtain, a service being held under the trees in 1830. The men who were the pioneers of the churches spoke of their dreams fro the future of Clarksville. The scene closed with a Negro spiritual. The scene was under the direction of Rev. J. Wayne Drash. Actors were William Moore, Howard L. Smith, E. H. Harrison, H. M. Cooley, John Conroy and the ministers of Clarksville in 1934. Also two choirs, one composed of 25 African-Americans, performed.

The second episode concerned education. A modern high school classroom was seen at the front of the stage with Professor C. H. Moore teaching history. Father Time entered and lifted the transparent curtain to disclose the transfer of the Masonic University to the Presbyterian Synod, to Stewart College, then to Southwestern Presbyterian University and finally to the Auistin Peay Normal School. This episode was directed by John M. Mason with the Students Club furnishing the properties. In this episode C. H. Moore portrayed the teacher with students: J. C. Cunningham, Mardite Edwards, Frances Manning, Sarah Stout, Jane Beaumont, Nancy Ellen Dickson, Jo Mason, Anne Harris, Louis Posey, Richard Bailey and Marvin Hayes.

Medicine was the subject of the third episode. A modern operating room was shown on the front stage. The flashback on the back stage depicted the handicaps that doctors faced in 1840. Miss Ursula Smith directed this episode with properties by the Mothers' Club. Doctors in the episode included Dr. R. M. Workman, Dr. L. R. Uffelman and Dr. Paul Hahn. Nurses were Mrs. A. W. Harris, Miss Ruby Barry and Mrs. Norman Bradley. The patient was portrayed by Billy Preacher Stephens and the country doctor was Dr. F. J. Malone. Other actors included Mrs. Edmund Dabney, Richard Perkins, Thomas Pollard and Lamar Armstrong as the sick child. The mammy and two orderlies were portrayed by African-Americans.

Mrs. Leigh Buckley directed the fourth episode that concerned the raising of tobacco in Clarksville and Montgomery County. Properties were furnished by local tobacconists. The front stage presented a modern loose floor to the audience. The back stage depicted a time when the tobacco industry was threatened by the silk industry in 1849. This scene had romance and comedy woven into its plot. The auctioneer was James Gold and the tobacconists were B. E. Price, L. V. Brewer, Ed Edwards, James K. Dent, J. T. Edwards, Matt Rudolph, Jake Rosson, Paul Rudolph and Adolf Hach. Others in the cast were P. D. Warfield, A. L. Burnet, Arch Northington, Anna Elizabeth Adkins, Laurin Askew, Hubert Porter, Horace Smith, Polly Ann Workman and Kit Haynes. Stevedores, stowaway and spectators were included in the cast to include ten black roustabouts.

Law was the subject of the fifth episode, under the direction of Thomas M. Traughber with properties by the Art Study Class. The first part of the scene disclosed a meeting of the local Bar Association after a banquet. Judge Cunningham addressed the newly sworn members. The flashback revealed Judge C. W. Tyler and the Honorable Austin Peay visiting President Woodrow Wilson in the White House in 1917. Local members of the bar appeared in this episode with Fred Woodard portraying President Wilson; W. D. Hudson as Gen Pershing; Thomas Daniel as Admiral Sims; William Welker as the under-secretary; W. B. Nicholson as Judge C. W. Tyler; and J. T. Traughber as the Honorable Austin Peay.

Mr. Jack Thumma directed the last exciting and highly emotional episode entitled Patriotism. Properties were by the Magazine Club. The front part of the stage was filled with people attending a meeting after an Armistice Day parade. Tableaux of the wars of 1812, 1861 and 1898 were presented for the backdrop with the final scene in the trenches during World War I. The tragedy of war was somewhat relieved by the appearance of the White Companion, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who attracted both Germans and Americans into No Man's Land with His miraculous appearance and His plea that there be peace. The advance news of the Armistice was then told while the hymn "Peace, Perfect Peace" played softly in the background. The scene closed with the cast singing patriotic songs while the American flag slowly descended. Actors included Halbert Harvill, Mrs. J. M. Dickson, Callis Tate, Mrs. Garnett Atkins, Hubert Porter, Harley Fite, Robert Bourne, Edwin Bates, Jr., John Daniel, John Watson, Rev. Whittle, James Gray, Joe Law, Mrs. William Harris, F. N. Smith, Jr., Mrs. Alvin Boone, Joseph D. Birney, Jack Smith, Jack Thumma, John Mason, Rev. John A. Davison and four African-Americans.

African-Americans who participated in the pageant included James Adams, Prof. H. L. Allison, Fred Batson, Rev. W. H. Benton, Laudell Buck, Robert Buckner, Cleotus Burney, Kelly Burney, Emmett C. Clarke, Ed Lewis Crotzer, Nathaniel Garrett, Robert Jackson, Jr., Roy Hester, Thomas Holland, Rev. D. W. Holmes, Prof. D. B. Jones, Frank Lampton, Herbert Martin, Howard Meriwether, George Mabry, Emmett Metcalfe, Wiley Moore, Jasper Northington, Lewis Payne, Albert Phillips, Mr. Priestly, John Quarles, Mr. Suggs, Wiley Taylor, George Watkins, Ralph Webb, Ernest Wilson, Allen Wright, Prudence Allison, Inell Brewer, Mary Buckner, Mena Dunlop, Anna Evans, Gladys Floyd, Hanie Gibson, Clara Greenlaw, Eloise Harris, Eisa Hodgkins, Sammie Hodgkins, Cecile Jones, Leola Jones, Anna Lee Kilgro, Sallie Lampton, Clara McReynolds.Mary Lone, Ms. Kinney, Ethel Northington, Homer Northington, Marguerite Quarles, Alberta Smith, Hantha Smith, Mary Steverson, Aileen Stoner, Sare Stoner, Jessie Ward, Marie Wharton and Katie Wright.

Highlights of the pageant were filmed by Dewey Moussen of the Cresent Amusement Company to be shown at theaters in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. Some of the highlights included the landing of Moses Renfroe and the Indian attack of the settlement; the surrender of Clarksville; Fort Defiance' Sevier Station; and many of the historical homes in Clarksville as well as homes and scenes from Dover, Tennessee

Admission to the pageant was 50 cents with advance sale of three tickets for $1.00. Only 500 seats were reserved at seventy-five cents each. The pageant was a great success with a crowd of approximately 6,000 attending this opening night that began at 8 o'clock. The second and final show was on the following night

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