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 michelle@visitclarksvilletn.com.


Charles Bollin Watts
Actor
1912-1966

Clarksvillian Charles Bollin Watts acted in more than 100 television, movie and theatre roles from the 1920s-60s, including sheriff in three episodes of "The Lone Ranger."

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Wilma Rudolph
Olympic Gold Medalist
1940-1994

Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born on June 23, 1940 in a region of Tennessee known, at the time, as St. Bethlehem, which later became a part of Clarksville. Rudolph was born into a large family, being the 20th of her father’s 22 children. After a bout with pneumonia and polio at age eight, doctors told her she would never walk again. A mere eight years later, at age 16, she earned a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympic Games in the women's 400-meter relay and would soon be known as the fastest woman in the world.

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Brenda Vineyard Runyon
Founder and Director of First Woman's Bank
1868-1929

Active in the Clarksville community throughout the early twentieth century, Brenda Runyon was the first woman to serve on the Clarksville-Montgomery County Board of Education. Her efforts during World War I helped to establish Clarksville’s first local Red Cross chapter. Her most significant achievement, though, is her role in the creation and operation of the First Woman’s Bank of Tennessee, which opened its doors on October 6,1919.

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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.

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Horace Lurton
Supreme Court Justice
1944-1914

Horace H. Lurton was the third of six Tennesseans appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. He opened a law practice in Clarksville after receiving his law degree in 1867. While serving on the Tennessee Supreme Court, Lurton taught constitutional law at Vanderbilt University and served as dean of the law school. A State historic marker stands outside the site of his Clarksville home on South Second Street, which was destroyed by a tornado in 1999. 

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Caroline Gordon
Author
1895-1981

On October 6, 1895, Caroline Gordon was born near the city of Clarksville at a farm called Merry Mont. After receiving a Bachelors degree in Greek at Bethany College in 1916, she worked as a teacher at Clarksville High School and then as a reporter for the Chattanooga News. Caroline published her first novel in 1931 and continued writing until she retired in 1979.

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Ida Gray Nelson Rollins
First Female African American Dentist
1867-1953

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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