Lockeland History

By Harry V. L. Gower

In the early years of Nashville, Tenn., the east boundary was the Cumberland River. To the east lay the beautiful, shady, cool Edgefield. The L. & N. R.R. to Louisville, KY., was the dividing line between North and South Edgefield. In 1883, Edgefield was annexed to the city. It became East Nashville where I have lived all my life. The city limit was 14th St. This included Spring Park, located between Fatherland and Holly Streets and from 13th to 14th Streets. From 14th Street east was the 18th Civil District of Davidson County, Tenn. An enclosed cow pasture extended from 14th to 16th Streets and from a fence one block south of Woodland St. to Shelby Ave. Also from 14th to 16th Streets and south of Shelby Ave. was another pasture. In the river bottom was a field of corn, beans, tomatoes and pumpkins tilled by Mr. Lawson Smith.

Lockeland is a territory like Eastland, Inglewood, Belmont and Waverly Place. This territory, in the bend of the river known as McLane’s Bend, extended from 14th Street east to the river and from the river North to Eastland Ave. (then known as Vaughn Pike). It is on high ground, about the heighth of the State Capitol roof. It slopes toward Shelby Park and sourthward to the river. The soil is deep, rich, and abounds in beautiful, large shade trees.

In the early 1900’s, beginning at Sevier St. Northward and to the east of 16th Street, the streets were named as follows: Sevier, Electric, Ashworth (now Eastside), Long, Shelby River, Rothschild (now Boscobel), Lillian, Van Sinderen (now Fatherland), Ruth (now Russell), Chadwell (now Holly), Woodland (from 17th St. out it was Plum St. ), Morrow (now Forrest), No. Garland Grove (now Ordway Place) McEwen, Vaughn Pike (now Eastland Ave.). 14th St. north of Woodland was called Ordway, Grove Ave. was named Ordway Place later for there was a duplicate Grove Ave. in Waverly place. The former Ordway became North 14th St.

By 1902, there were several sub-divisions of land. The A.V.S. Lindsley, Chadwell, Weakley, McEwen and others. New homes were being built in all areas. Then it was ideal territory to fly kites, send up tissue paper balloons and chase after them. And many baseball diamonds, but one house being built could eliminate a playing field. Homes used kerosene lamps for lighting and coal was used for heating. Water was obtained by dug cisterns, wells and springs. Lockeland had several fine ones. The best known was Lockeland Spring in the back yard of J. B. Richardson at 17th and Woodland St. extending along Woodland to 19th St. The spring was about 400 feet south of the street.

A bold spring flowed into 15th St. from the campus of R. D. S. Robertson’s Military Academy which included the block from Woodland to one block south and from 16th to 15th streets. Another spring was located in the middle of Boscobel St. in the 1600 block near 17th Street. Mr. Walker had a large dairy near the spring which furnished water for his cows and people in the neighborhood. Another one was in a cave at the end of Shelby Ave. in Shelby Park. The spring a school was named for was Spout Spring. It was located in a bluff on the south side of Vaughn Pike. The school was built on the bluff. It is now a residence after being remodeled near where Chapel Ave. enters Eastland Ave. now numbered 1818. Someone placed a 3-inch iron pipe where the water flowed out of the side of the bluff several feet above the ground, allowng it to spout into a chiseled basin about 18 inches deep in a rock in the ground. The school children and passers-by obtained drinking water from this unusual spring. Another spring was a wet weather one in the basement of Lockeland School at 18th and Lillian Ave.

The writer of this history moved to 1606 Fatherland St. on May 6, 1902 and is still living there 68 years later. It was then Van Sinderen Street. There was one church – the 17th St. Christian Church at 1700 Van Sinderen St. A broom factory at 16th & Boscobel St. was operated by the two Hill brothers. A cigar factory was at 19th & Lillian Ave. operated by the Smotherman brothers. It was at the alley and their home fronted on Lillian Ave. Two grocery stores. J. J. Hanson had a one store at 1701 Fatherland St. and W. G. Ritter at 1600 Woodland St.


Transportation to this beautiful section of our city was furnished by the Nashville Street Railway. The Fatherland line came out Fatherland to 11th St. on 11th to Shelby Ave. and thence to a switch between 12th and 13th Streets where the regular cars stopped. A “Dawson Dinky” – so named for the long time motorman – ran from the switch to the end of Shelby Ave. at the entrance of Shelby Park. The Fatherland line had a 10 minute schedule. The dinky met every other street car.

The Woodland car line stopped between 14th and 15th Streets. It was later extended to 16th Street where the R. D. S. Robertson’s Military Academy was located. As the population grew, the line was extended out 16th to Eastland and out Eastland to porter Road. Later it was extended out Porter Road to Greenwood Ave.

History of East Nashville Transportation

In 1888 there were the North East Railroad, Main and Lischey Ave., Woodland and Fatherland Railroad lines. The Nashville and Edgefield Railroad acquired the N.E. Railroad in 1889. On February 26, 1890, it was consolidated with the United Electric Railway Co. Later it was called the Nashville Street Railway. It operated 56 street cars.

How Lockeland Obtained Its Name

Col. Robert Weakley was a native of Halifax Co., Va. He came to Tennessee, settling in Davidson County in the White Creek Valley. He purchased land east of Nashville in the bend of the Cumberland River, known as the McLean’s Bend. His homestead called Lockeland was built in 1790 – 10 years after Ft. Nashborough was founded – Weakley may have constructed the “fine” home with brick made on the place with the old log house as a part of the project. The more recent portion with an entrance to the north and the tower, facing west toward Woodland Street, was constructed long after the property had passed out of the ownership of the Weakley family.

Robert Locke Weakley, son of Col. Robert Weakley, purchased the Mansion House tract of 398 acres for $16,325.45. He died on Dec. 10, 1848. He left no will. The Chancery Court of Nashville sold the tract to E. H. Childress. Later owners were the Caldwell and James B. Richardson families.

Col. Robert Weakley bought the Lockeland tract on May 21, 1800 for $45,000. He was still living in the White Creek Valley at the time of purchase.

Jane Locke, daughter of Matthew Locke of Rowan County, N.C. and her mother, the former Miss Mary Elizabeth Brandon, was born in Rowan County, N.C. and later moved to Davidson, County, Tennessee. Jane Locke was married on August 11, 1791 to Col. Robert Weakley for whom her named the Mansion Lockeland for her.

When the subdivision was being developed in 1880, at the end of Woodland St. near the Robert Weakley’s old home “Lockeland”, which James R. Richardson then owned, a meeting was held to decide on a name. The name Woodland Heights was proposed, but Mrs. Richardson suggested the name Lockeland, so as to perpetuate the old pioneer home of nearly 100 years. The suggestion was accepted, so we now have Lockeland as a section of East Nashville. It was named for Jane Locke, wife of Col. Robert Weakley of Halifax Co., Va.

Died (from Nashville Review Sept. 19, 1838.)
Died – On yesterday evening (Sept. 18, 1838), Mrs. Jane Weakley, consort of Col. Robert Weakley. Funeral this evening at 3:00 o’clock at his residence 2 miles east of Nashville. Divine services will be by Rev. Dr. Edgar.”

Col. Robert Weakley died on Tuesday morning February 4, 1843.

The Weakley Family Vault

The Robert Weakley’s family vault was erected 1839. It was located at the rear of 1715 Forrest Ave. on a lot facing on Grove Ave. (now Ordway place) at the rear of the lot. It has since been removed.

The Locke Family

This family lived from an early date in Bedford County, Tennessee, the earliest name found was William Harrison Locke (born between 1785 – 1794). In the 1820 census he was in Bedford County. He had a son Robert Weakley Locke, born March 13, 1813. The Locke family was evidently kin to the wife (Jane Locke) of Col. Robert Weakley of Halifax County, Va., and Davidson County, Tennessee.

Electric Avenue

There was a mystery in Lockeland concerning the name of Electric Ave. There was no electricity at the time. About 3 months ago I heard this story for its name. Dr. John Shelby, (appointed postmaster of Nashville, Tenn. on March 19, 1849) built a home on 5th St. south of Shelby Ave. He called it “Fatherland” from which Fatherland Street is named. Shelby Ave., Shelby Park and Shelby pond which was south of Shelby Ave. and east of So. 2nd Street was named for him. Shelby Ave. was not open from 4th to 5th streets at that time. The story goes that Dr. Shelby was so dynamic and full of electric energy and he replied even his clothes were “charged” thus Electric Ave. On December 4, 1970, looking at a map of 1890 showing the different subdivisions in Lockeland, I saw a tract of land south of Shelby Ave. and west of Shelby Park. Electric Ave. was in this tract. It was purchased by the United Electric Railway Co. and I am persuaded the street was named “Electric” for the name in the United Electric Railway Co.

Lockeland Annexed to Nashville

At noon on Saturday, September 1, 1906 Lockeland was taken into the city. Then came gas mains. Later on streets were opened through the pasture, Holly being the first one. Then came water mains and electric lights. The dusty roads were made into streets, 16th and 17th streets were the only two through streets northward. The city took over Shelby Park. A basin was dug for a lake. The dirt was used in building roads through the park. The lake was fed by two Lithia springs – Lockeland and Tillman. I suggested the lake be named Lithia Lake but it was not done. It is now called Shelby Lake or the lake in Shelby Park.

Fatherland Street

Fatherland St. was built through the former pasture with a fill of about 50 feet and then Van Sinderen lost its name. A car track from 11th St. was laid to 19th St., then on 19th St., then on 19th St. to land north of the alley back of Boscobel St. to 20th St. where the car line made a loop to take people to the park. This loop was discontinued later and cars came out Shelby, through 19th St. and back Fatherland St. Street cars were discontinued in Nashville on September 1, 1941.

I rode Fatherland car #31 on the first trip over the new track out to the park and also rode the last car of the line – up from 11th St. and Fatherland around the loop on car #83. The difference between these numbers is 52, which is the number of years street cars operated in Nashville, Tenn. 1889-1941. (April 30, 1889 – Sept. 2, 1941).

Shelby Park in the Early 1890’s and 1900’s

The Nashville Street Railway built a summer Casino in Shelby Park in the early 1890’s near where the Community Center is now located. The leading plays of the day were presented on summer nights. People who rode the street cars to the park were presented free tickets to the plays. I lived on South 12th St. (near Shelby Ave.) at the time and our family would ride out there. We saw Joseph Jefferson in the play “Rip Van Winkle”; Others were “The Old Homestead” and “East Lynn.”

On Sunday afternoons a balloon ascension with a parachute and man aboard, was a drawing attraction. And the first cylinder phonograph records were played at the park. Ear Phones were attached. It cost 1 penny per tune. Boys in my neighborhood would work after school hours to earn money to listen to the music on Sunday afternoons. Later, Sunday afternoon band concerts were held and at Centennial Park at night. Movies were shown on the hillside near the site of Community Center on Saturday nights. Large crowds came to view them. My neighbor, Mr. “Dutch” Waggoner was the machine operator.

The New Fire Hall #14

The community still growing, fire protection was badly needed. A Fire Co. #14 hall was built at 1600 Holly St. and a Community Hall back of the fire hall. Citizens of Lockeland purchased the lot next to the fire hall so the firemen would not be disturbed while asleep. Capt. H.H. Bass was the Captain at the time. The park is called the H.H. Bass Park. The fire engine was named for J.B. Richardson, who owned “Lockeland” at 105 So. 17th St. where the new Lockeland School is now located.

Fire Fighting in Lockeland Before Taken into the City

When a fire was announced, a bucket brigade was quickly in action from a cistern or well to the fire. Large, husky men could throw a 2-gallon bucket of water to the roof. If the house next door was in danger, men knew where long ladders were in the neighborhood and were soon on the scene. Men would place blankets over the gable and kept them soaked with water. Others would be on the roof lifting buckets of water with a rope. Boys would fill the buckets when lowered to the ground. Sometimes there were 2 or 3 lines of water being passed from person to person from other cisterns to the fire. Boys would take the empty buckets and run to the cistern to be refilled. Everybody brought a bucket from their home. Many a home was saved from destruction by this method. There were always reserves on hand to pump water from the cistern. It was truly a loyal neighborhood in time of trouble or distress.

Lockeland’s Most Horrible Accident

It was a sunny, warm Saturday afternoon on August 31, 1912. I had finished “my days work” at noon at Foster, Webb and Parkes, 215 3rd Ave., No. and had gone to 5th Ave. to make some purchases. On 4th Ave. near Union St. I met Sam Elliott who worked at the same place as I; a member of my Sunday School class at East End Methodist Church and who lived at 1619 Shelby Ave. He asked me to go shopping with him. He had no confidence in himself in making selections. He wanted a shirt and tie. We went to Burk & Co., 45h and Union where the First American National Bank is now located and made his purchase. We walked to the transfer station and had to wait many minutes for a Fatherland car. When one came, it was filled with bloody people. We thought a terrible fight had taken place on the car. We learned the car I would have been on had I not been delayed by Sam – Number 130 – ran away down Shelby Ave. from 13th Street to the bottom of the steep grade, jumped the track and rolled down the north embankment of about 50 feet and landed in a field, with the wheels in the ground. When we passed the scene of the wreck, we saw only the trucks and floor. The side and top were a pile of debris. 28 people were on board and injured. Many were cut by broken glass. One young lady on Fatherland St. was the most seriously hurt. She remained in bed several weeks. She recovered. There were no fatalities. Al l Lockeland praised God that no one was killed. I thanked Sam many times for delaying me or I would have been victim #29 on that ill-fated street car ride.

After an early supper, my two sisters and I sat on top of the embankment, with many others, watching workmen, under powerful lights, getting the trucks up the embankment and onto the rails. Double truck car (running on Glendale line) $425 with 2 powerful motors, with powerful jacks the wheels were raised level of the track and with frogs – back on the track, the wrecker with all the debris, pushed the remains of old 130 to the company shops. Workmen cleaned up the debris so well, nobody could tell there had been a wreck.

Concerning the New Lockeland School

C. K. Colley and Son – Architects – had their office in Sterling Court on Belmont Blvd. I delivered mail there for 31 years. One day “Mr. C. K. ” (affectionately called “Grand Dandy”) told me he was to draw the plans for the new Lockeland School. I told him that was in my neighborhood. I only live 4 blocks from the location. He said to me, “I will plan the prettiest school in the city for you.” So in 1939, the new school was built and you can see what he planned for me.

When the school was in operation I joined the Lockeland Men’s Club. Our first project was to get the city officials to have the school yard back of the building filled to make it level with the rest of the play ground. This would give more space to play on. After many months of effort, our labor was rewarded. The P.T.A. has carnivals on the play ground during summer months to raise funds for that organization. I belong to that P.T.A. also.

Every year since the school was built, now over 30 years, I have made a talk on or about February 22. I worked at the Post Office as a Letter Carrier for 43 years and 45 days. We had a holiday but the schools were in session, therefore, that particular day was chosen. I have talked to thousands of the pupils there and tried to give them a message not found in books, on interesting topics that made for good citizenship, civic-minded neighbors and a love for their fellowman. One day I talked with a first grade girl who had been promoted to the second grade. I told her I had been going to school for years and had not been promoted. She looked at me in surprise and said, “Gee! You must be awfully dumb.”

By visiting this school, I have kept young in spirit, made hundreds of new friends, gained knowledge of how modern schools of today, with all modern equipment are operated. All so different when I went to old Lockeland School at 18th and Lillian Ave. We did not know what a cafeteria was. We ate cold lunches from home. Nor a public address system, electric lights, running water, steam heat, record players and television. We had coal stoves and buckets of water were brought from a well at 1801 Lillian Ave. for use at recess. One boy was on guard until recess to prevent dogs from drinking water from the buckets. When meetings were held at night a large swinging kerosene lamp hung from the ceiling. Lanterns were placed on window sills and guarded by men to prevent an upset lantern. However, we went to school to learn and that we did for we had excellent, dedicated teachers in the County School System.

My history would be incomplete were I to fail to mention some of the families of yesteryears, whose contributions to Lockeland by being God fearing people, home loving, home owners, civic minded, helpful in time of need and wonderful, friendly neighbors, have made it a territory so loved and cherished that it is a high honor to live in dear, beautiful Lockeland.

I am happy that over 68 years of my life has been spent in dear Lockeland at “Merry Dell” – my home at 1606 Fatherland St., since May 6, 1902.References –
For old city directories, Map of 1890 on subdivision of land at City Library.
State Library for valuable information concerning history .
Sam Weakley, a schoolmate in the 5th grade at Warner School (Miss Estella Davies was teacher), until I left May 6, 1902 to live in Lockeland, for valuable material concerning his kinsman Col. Robert Weakley.
Harry V. L. Gower, Historian
(who was 80 years old on August 20, 1970)
1606 Fatherland St. – Lockeland
Nashville, Tennessee – 37206
December 17, 1970