Clarksville Connections

Clarksville Connections 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.


Frank Sutton
Actor
1923-1974

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. 

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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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Phila Hach
Celebrity Chef & Author
1926-2015

Phila Hach was a woman ahead of her time. She created the first in-flight catering manual for the airline industry. She was the first woman to host a television show in the southern U.S. She worked as a flight attendant, television celebrity chef, cookbook author, restauranteur, innkeeper and catering chef. Oh, the stories she could tell! She was petite in frame, yet highly intelligent, quick-witted and a mighty force to be reckoned with. 

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Austin Peay
Tennessee Governor
1876-1927

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.

 

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Dorothy Dix
Author
1861-1951

Elizabeth Meriwether, more famously and internationally known as Dorothy Dix, a popular advice columnist, was born in 1861 near Clarksville. Having established herself as an exceptional voice among her peers at The Female Academy in Clarksville, Dix went on to pioneer the way for advice columns. She worked at The Picayune in New Orleans and for 17 years at the New York Journal.

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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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