Notable Clarksvillians

"Notable Clarksvillians" is an ongoing project to share the stories of historically significant people who have a Clarksville connection. We are working diligently to share content to the site so please visit often for updates. We also invite your input. Please email your information and ideas to

Frank Sutton

Frank Sims Sutton and Thelma Sutton met working for The Leaf Chronicle in Clarksville. On October 23, 1923, on S. Second Street in Clarksville, Frank Spencer Sutton was born. He was the typical little boy who enjoyed playing outside and coming home dirty. One day, he used grease to paint his face and put on a theatrical performance for his family; he told them that he was going to be an actor. In 1964, Frank was offered a role in a spinoff of The Andy Griffith Show. Starring alongside Jim Nabors, who played Gomer Pyle; Frank played Sergeant Vince Carter in the television series. 

Mason Rudolph
Professional Golfer

Considered to be one of Clarksville’s most iconic sports figures, native son Mason Rudolph won five times on the PGA Tour during his 23-year career.  At age 16, he was one of the youngest ever to quality for the U.S. Open.

Leonora Witzel

Nora Witzel was fascinated by cameras and took Kodak shots of people and places in and around Clarksville. A Christmas gift to her mother in 1905 was an album of her photographs, including the family home, flower gardens, and one of the many pet dogs she would love in her lifetime. Nora documented the people and places of postwar Clarksville. She photographed the usual bridges and birthday portraits, but also continued her fascination with outdoor photography. She climbed railroad trestles for unusual views of the Cumberland, and she began to experiment with light and tinting and other techniques of the American Pictorialists, a group of photographers who consciously separated themselves to become "artists."

Roy Acuff
King of Country Music

Roy Acuff's affiliation with Clarksville began in 1948, when he purchased Dunbar Cave and its surrounding land. He built an 18-hole golf course, that is now the Swan Lake Golf Course. Roy attracted people to the area by hosting live shows within the cave itself. With its cool temperatures -- even in the summertime -- and great acoustics, the cave became a gathering place for many residents during the big band era.

Austin Peay
Tennessee Governor

Austin Peay State University is named for three-term Tennessee Governor Austin Peay, who is credited with vastly expanding the state's highway system and improving secondary education in each of the state's 95 counties.


Allen Tate

Renowned poet Allen Tate was born in Winchester, Kentucky in 1899. At Vanderbilt University, he met and befriended roommate Robert Penn Warren, as well as a number of other fellow members of The Fugitives, a literary group that met weekly to discuss poetry and the defense of Southern literature. Tate lived in Clarksville from 1930-38 with his wife Author Caroline Gordon.

Ida Gray Nelson Rollins
First Female African American Dentist

Ida Gray Nelson Rollins was born in Clarksville on March 4, 1867. Her mother, Jennie Gray, was a black woman, and her father was a white man to whom Jennie was not married. Ida’s achievements are a testimony to perseverance, determination and diligence. Though she was raised by a woman who was unable to read or write, Ida overcame her environment, becoming the first female African American dentist in the United States.



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