Saturday, August 13, 2011

#14, #15, #27, #32, #42

50, that's the number of deceased Tennessee Governors, the number of graves that I will be visiting.  Seems rather overwhelming, but on the bright side most of the graves are located safely within the borders of the State. Of course, Tennessee isn't a small state---we might be short but we're quite long and it would take you 8 hours and 54 minutes to drive from Memphis (Southwest border of the State) to Elizabethton (Northeast border of the State) so as you can see I potentially have my work cut out for me. But the only way to do this is one grave at time, so I decided to start close to home...much to my delight I learned that five Governors are buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, located just five miles from my house.

So, this past Sunday afternoon, while Amber worked to finish up a few work related items Major and I packed up and headed out to the cemetery. Upon arriving we decided that the best plan of attack was visiting the office to see if they could give us any friendly pointers on where we needed to head since the cemetery itself is quite expansive. Of course, it being Sunday the office was closed. Undeterred, Major and I headed into the cemetery to find them ourselves. After about 20 minutes of driving around aimlessly Major was over it and decided to get some shut eye and  I decided to call my mom, who had a tour book of the cemetery and might be able to walk me to the ones that were listed on the tour. This went off without a hitch and I visited the three that were listed in the tour guide in no time flat...that left two I did what any good grave hunter would do and called the office of the cemetery first thing Monday morning, who were more than happy to oblige me with a map and general directions on how to get to the graves. I made the second trip to photograph the remaining graves on my way to work on Tuesday morning.

 Name: Aaron Venable Brown
Birth: 15 August 1795
Death: 8 March 1859
Age at Death: 63 years, 6 months, 21 days
Interment: Mt Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, TN 
Term in Office: 14 October 1845 – 17 October 1847
Political Party: Democrat

Aaron Venable Brown was born in Brunswick County, VA, the son of Rev. Aaron Brown and Elizabeth Melton. Aaron was a graduate of North Carolina University, where he was Valedictorian of the class of 1814. After graduation, he moved to the Nashville area and opened a law office with future Tennessee Governor and United States President, James K. Polk. Aaron was elected first to serve in the Tennessee State Senate, then the Tennessee State Legislature and finally to the U.S. Congress.  In 1845, he was elected as the Governor of Tennessee, where he served for only one term. While in office, answering a call from his former law partner, James K. Polk, for 2600 volunteers from Tennessee to fight in the Mexican-American War, Aaron was able to muster 32,000 men, thereby earning Tennessee its nickname the 'Volunteer State'. After his stint as Governor he would go on to serve as Postmaster General under President James Buchanan from 1857 until his death on March 8, 1859


 Name: Neill Smith Brown
Birth: 18 April 1810
Death: 30 January 1886
Age at Death: 75 years, 9 months, 12 days
Interment: Mt Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, TN 
Term in Office: 17 October 1847 – 16 October 1849
Political Party: Whig

Neill S. Brown was born to Duncan and Margaret Smith on April 18, 1810.  He used his wages as a teacher to pay his way through college and was admitted to the bar and began his legal practice in Pulaski, TN. In 1837 he was elected to the Tennessee State Legislature and then again from 1841 until 1847, at which time he won the Governorship of Tennessee defeating Democrat, Aaron V. Brown (no relation). Under his Governorship he fought for the establishment of Public Schools in Tennessee. In 1849, he was defeated in his bid for re-election and would go on to be the United States Minister to Russia.  When Nashville was capture by Union forces during the Civil War, Brown was imprisoned for a short time by the Military Governor of Tennnessee, Andrew Johnson. Aaron Brown died in Nashville on January 30, 1886.

Name: Benton McMillin
Birth:  11 September 1845
Death: 8 January 1933
Age at Death: 87 years, 3 months, 28 days
Interment: Mt Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, TN 
Term in Office: 16 January 1899 – 19 January 1903
Political Party: Democrat

 Benton McMillin was born in Monroe County, KY to John and Elizabeth McMillin. He would be educacted at the Kentucky Agricultural and Mechanical College, which would become the University of Kentucky. In 1869, he would marry his first wife Birdie Brown, who would die a few years after their marriage. Two years later he was admitted into the Tennessee Bar and would open a law office first in Celina and later in Carthage, TN. He would first serve in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1874 until 1877, at which point he would be elected to the U.S. House of Represantatives where he would serve from 1878 until 1899. It was during this time period that Benton would marry his second wife, Lucille Foster, with whom he would have a daughter. The year 1903 saw Benton make an unsuccessful bid to serve in the U.S. Senate which would prompt him to resign from congress to focus on running for Governor, a position he would win and hold for two terms. His governorship focused on improvement to the Tennessee economy, public education and reforming child labor. After his second two year term he never held elected office again but was appointed as the Minister to Peru and Guatemala by President Woodrow Wilson. He died on January 8, 1933 in Nashville.

Name: William Brimage Bate
Birth: 27 October 1826
Death: 9 March 1905
Age at Death:78 years, 5 months, 2 days
Interment: Mt Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, TN 
Term in Office: 15 January 1883 – 17 January 1887
Political Party: Democrat

William Brimage Bate was born on October 7, 1826, to James H. Bate and Elizabeth Brimage. He would start his career as a clerk on a steamboat that traveled between Nashville and New Orleans. While in New Orleans on one of these journeys, William would learn of the outbreak of the Mexican War and immediately enlist in a company of troops. He would rise from Private to Lieutenant by the end of the War. After the war he would be elected to the State Legislature at the age of twenty-three. He would next attend Cumberland University and graduate in 1854 opening a law office in Gallatin. In 1856, he would marry Julia Peete, they would have four girls and be married for a total of forty-nine years. When Tennessee seceded from the Union, William enlisted as a private in a company that was formed in Gallatin. He would see action at Shiloh, where a bullet would shatter his leg, nearly killing him and leaving him with a limp for the rest of his life. Refusing a civil position in the Army and instead choosing to remain with his company, he would be wounded twice more even having three horses shot out from underneath him at Chickamauga. By the end of the War, because of his valor, he had been raised to the position of Brigadier-General. Following the war, he would return to his law practice, opening an office in Nashville. In 1883, he was elected Governor and would serve two terms focusing primarily on debt problems caused by the Civil War. Following his terms as Governor, he would serve as U.S. Senator from 1887 until his death in 1905. In 1905, while attending the second inauguration of Theodore Roosevelt, William would contract pneumonia and die on March 9, 1905.

Name: Hill McAlister
Birth: 15 July 1875
Death: 30 October 1959
Age at Death: 84 years, 3 months, 15 days
Interment: Mt Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, TN 
Term in Office:

17 January 1933 – 15 January 1937
Political Party: Democrat
Hill McAlister was born in Nashville in 1875. He could count three former Tennessee Governors as relatives (Willie Blount, William Blount and Aaron V. Brown).  Educated at Vanderbilt he worked as an attorney in Nashville until he was elected to the State Senate. After his stint as a State senator he would serve eight-years as State treasurer.  Losing two bids for Governor, he was elected in 1932. Serving as Governor during the Great Depression, Hill supported most of the intiatives passed down by President Franklin Roosevelt, particularly the TVA. Additionally, he was labor friendly and a strong supporter of unemployment compensation.  After two terms he would not seek a third and leave office in 1936. He would die in 1959

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