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DCSO History

TIMELINE OF NASHVILLE / DAVIDSON COUNTY
Prepared with information from the website of the Nashville Public Library and from research conducted at the Metropolitan Archives of Nashville and Davidson County. Click here for a list of all Davidson County Sheriffs.

Special thanks to members of the staff and management of the Metro Archives for their professionalism in helping to gather this information.

1700s and Earlier
8000 BC First known inhabitants of the area that is now middle Tennessee build villages.
1200 AD Large native villages cover the area that is now Davidson County.
1450 Native villages are disappearing and the area that is now middle Tennessee is becoming a hunting area.
1600s Charleville, a French-Canadian fur trader, establishes a trading post at the French Lick.
1714 Charleville’s post is now abandoned. Middle Tennessee is a hunting ground for the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek tribes.
1769 Timothy Demonbreun, a French-Canadian fur trader, arrives at the French Lick and begins hunting in the area.
1775 The American Revolution begins.
1775 North Carolinian Richard Henderson bargains with Cherokee leaders for claim to the land between the Ohio and Cumberland rivers.
1776 The Declaration of Independence is signed.
1779 At Henderson’s urging, James Robertson leads a small group of men to explore the Cumberland Bluff in the spring.
1779 Col. John Donelson prepares flotilla of flatboats to bring women and children to the area by water.
1779 Robertson leads the first group of settlers, mostly men and boys, to the Cumberland Bluff, arriving on Christmas Day.
1780 Donelson arrives with second group of settlers on April 24 after a 1000-mile river trip.
1780 The Cumberland Compact, detailing settlers’ rights, is signed by 250 men on May 13.
1783 Daniel Williams moves to the area from South Carolina with his family, becomes Davidson County’s first Sheriff. Elections for Sheriff are scheduled for every two years.
1783 The North Carolina legislature creates Davidson County in the area that is now middle Tennessee.
1783 The Revolutionary War ends.
1784 The North Carolina legislature passes an act establishing the town of Nashville, naming it for General Francis Nash.
1785 Col. John Donelson, one of Nashville’s founders, is mysteriously killed.
1785 Dr. John Sappington is the first physician to arrive in Nashville.
1785 The first school, Davidson Academy, is chartered.
1785 Thomas Marston in Sheriff of Davidson County.
1787 David Wray is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1787 Real estate is assessed in Nashville and taxed for the first time, at the rate of one dollar per acre.
1788 Andrew Jackson arrives in Nashville to serve as public prosecutor.
1788 Bob Renfroe, a free African-American opens a popular tavern in Nashville.
1788 Thomas Hickman is Sheriff of Davidson County. He would become a Justice in 1799.
1789 Sampson Williams is Sheriff of Davidson County. He may have been a brother of Davidson County’s first Sheriff, Daniel Williams.
1790 William Porter is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1791 Sampson Williams is Sheriff of Davidson County. 
1794 James Robertson leads the Nickajack Expedition against the Creek Indians.
1794 Nicholas P. Hardiman is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1796 Nashville’s first church (a Methodist church) is built on the public square near the Davidson County jail, courthouse, and stocks.
1799 Nashville’s first newspaper, Henkle’s Tennessee Gazette & Metro Advertiser, is printed.
1799 Wright Williams is Sheriff of Davidson County.

 


 

1800 – 1849

1800 Joseph Johnson is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1802 John Boyd is Sheriff of Davidson County. Boyd was one of the signers of 1780’s Cumberland Compact, and is believed to have fathered the first male child whose birth was recorded in Nashville.
1806 Cumberland College is chartered as the successor to the Davidson Academy.
1806 Nashville incorporates as a town in Davidson County, to be governed by six Aldermen and a Mayor.
1807 The Bank of Nashville is founded, becoming the first bank in Tennessee.
1807 Nashville’s first force of volunteer fire-fighters is created.
1808 Michael C. Dunn is Sheriff of Davidson County. He also served as a Justice in 1805.
1810 The first book in Davidson County is published.
1812 The first meeting of the legislature is held in Nashville.
1812 The War of 1812 begins.
1813 James Robertson, one of the founders of Nashville, dies near Memphis.
1815 The War of 1812 ends.
1816 Caleb C. Hewitt is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1816 The Nashville Female Academy is founded.
1818 Nashville celebrates the first arrival of a steamboat, the Andrew Jackson.
1818 Thomas Hickman is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1819 James Monroe visits Davidson County, becoming the first U.S. President to visit Nashville.
1820 Ann Rodgers Grundy begins the first Sunday School class in Nashville.
1821 The Nashville Medical Society is founded in the log courthouse on the public square, becoming the first medical association in Tennessee.
1822 Joseph W. Horton is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1822 The City Cemetery is established on 4th Avenue South.
1822 The first bridge is built across the Cumberland River. It is made of stone.
1824 Andrew Jackson is defeated in his campaign for President of the United States.
1824 Music publishing begins in Nashville with Western Harmony, a book of hymns and instructions for singing.
1824 Phillip Lindsley comes to Nashville to be the head of Cumberland College.
1826 The General Assembly passes an act establishing the University of Nashville.
1828 Andrew Jackson is elected seventh President of the United States.
1830 Willoughby Williams is Sheriff of Davidson County. In his retirement, he took pride in the fact that he “was never in a single instance called on to explain one of his many official acts [as Sheriff]”.
1833 Nashville’s first publicly owned waterworks is completed.
1833 The first insurance company in Davidson County, the Tennessee Marine and Fire Insurance Company, is founded.
1836 Philip Campbell is Sheriff of Davidson County. He also served as a Justice in 1822.
1838 Cherokee Indians pass through Davidson County on the now-infamous “Trail of Tears” march.
1838 Felix R. Rains is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1843 Nashville is declared the permanent capitol of Tennessee.
1844 Churchill Lanier is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1844 James K. Polk is elected President of the United States.
1845 Andrew Jackson dies at his home, “The Hermitage”, outside Nashville.
1845 Construction begins on the Tennessee State Capitol building.
1848 B. M. Barnes is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1848 The first telegraph message in Davidson County is received.
1849 James K. Polk dies in Nashville.

 


 

1850-1899
1850 The first steam engine, the No. 1, ordered by the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, arrives in Nashville.
1851 The first gas street lamp is lighted on 2nd Avenue North at the public square.
1852 A public school system is authorized by the City Aldermen.
1852 Littlebury W. Fussell is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1854 E. B. Bigley is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1855 Mount Olivet Cemetery is created.
1855 Nashville’s first public school opens on the northeast corner of the intersection of 8th Avenue North and Broad Street.
1857 John K. Edmundson is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1858 James Hinton is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1859 Construction begins on the Maxwell House Hotel.
1859 Robert Campbell is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1859 The Tennessee State Capitol building is completed.
1860 John K. Edmundson is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1861 The Civil War begins.
1862 Federal troops occupy Nashville, which becomes the first southern capitol city to fall to the Union Army.
1862 James M. Hinton is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1865 The Civil War ends.
1865 The first mule-drawn streetcars appear in Nashville.
1866 E. E. Patterson is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1866 Fisk University is founded.
1867 John Berrien Lindsley founds Montgomery Bell Academy, using funds left to the University of Nashville by Montgomery Bell at his death in 1855.
1868 C. M. Donelson is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1869 Mount Ararat Cemetery is established.
1871 The Fisk Jubilee Singers begin a series of singing tours to raise money for their struggling school.
1872 E. D. Whitworth is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1873 Sampson Keeble becomes the first black man to serve in the Tennessee General Assembly.
1873 Vanderbilt University is founded.
1876 Francis M. Woodall is Sheriff of Davidson County. Prior to his election as Sheriff, he was a Constable for six years and a Deputy Sheriff for four years.
1876 Jubilee Hall is built, becoming the first building in the United States constructed for the higher education of African-Americans.
1876 Meharry Medical College is founded.
1877 Nashville’s first telephone call is placed.
1877 The world’s first air mail is flow from Nashville to nearby Gallatin…via balloon.
1878 John L. Price is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1880 Nashville celebrates the centennial year of its founding (the signing of the Cumberland Compact).
1881 Tim Johnson is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1882 Nashville’s first electric lights appear.
1883 T. E. Moore is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1885 The first professional baseball game in Nashville is played in Athletic Park near the Sulphur Spring Bottom, north of downtown.
1887 R. D. Marshall is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1889 Electric trolleys replace the mule-drawn streetcars.
1889 The Tennessee legislature passes a poll tax as a prerequisite for voting.
1890 General Hospital opens with 60 beds.
1890 Vanderbilt plays Peabody in Nashville’s first football game.  (Who won?  Anyone know?)
1891 David Lipscomb College begins as the Nashville Bible School.
1891 W. J. Hill is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1892 The Union Gospel Tabernacle, later known as the Ryman Auditorium, is completed.
1895 J. D. Sharp is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1896 The first automobile is driven in Nashville.
1897 The Centennial Exposition opens, with the Parthenon as its showpiece.
1899 Lewis Hurt is Sheriff of Davidson County.

 


 

1900-1949
1900 Union Station opens.
1902 Centennial Park is acquired by the city, marking the beginning of Nashville’s public parks system.
1902 The National Life Insurance company is founded in Nashville.
1903 The Arcade opens downtown.
1903 Thomas E. Cartwright is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1904 Nashville’s first skyscraper is constructed at the southeast corner of 4th Avenue North and Church Street.
1904 Some of downtown’s street names are changed to numbers.
1904 The city’s first Carnegie Library opens at the corner of 8th Avenue North and Union Street.
1904 The One-Cent Savings Bank, later known as Citizens’ Bank, opens.
1905 The black community institutes a streetcar boycott to protest a new law requiring separation of the races on electric streetcars.
1905 The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office has 14 Deputies, one Jailer, and one Turnkey, all of whom are listed by name in the City Directory.
1907 Charles D. Johns is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1907 Tony Sudekum opens the first movie theater in town, The Dixie, on 5th Avenue North by the Arcade.
1908 Ex-Senator and Prohibition leader Edward Ward Carmack is shot by his political adversaries on 7th Avenue North near Union Street.
1909 Samuel H. Borum is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1909 Statewide prohibition is passed over the Governor’s veto.
1909 The school that began as Davidson Academy (then Cumberland College, then University of Nashville, then Peabody Normal College) becomes the George Peabody College for Teachers.
1910 The Hermitage Hotel opens in downtown Nashville.
1910 The world’s first night airplane flight takes off from Cumberland Park in Nashville.
1911 A Model-T Ford climbs the steps of the Capitol building to prove that automobiles could replace horses.
1912 Goo-Goo candy bars are concocted.
1912 The 8th Avenue reservoir ruptures, flooding the nearby south Nashville area.
1912 The Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School, later re-named Tennessee State University, opens.
1913 C. W. Longhurst is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1914 The National American Woman Suffrage Association meets in Nashville.
1915 O. L. Grimes is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1916 East Nashville is devastated by fire.
1917 The Nashville City Directory now shows two additional positions at the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office — Assistant Jailer and Jail Physician.
1917 World War I begins.
1917 Joe W. Wright is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1918 The community of Old Hickory and a powder plant are built by Dupont in Davidson County.
1918 James R. Allen is Acting Sheriff of Davidson County.
1919 The 18th Amendment (prohibition) is ratified.
1919 World War I ends.
1920 R. L. Camp is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1920 Tennessee becomes the 36th, and deciding, state to vote for ratification of the 19th Amendment (women’s suffrage).
1922 The Nashville City Directory ceases listing Sheriff’s Office employees by name.
1925 The Grand Ol’ Opry begins.
1926 Bob Briley is Sheriff of Davidson County. The Davidson County Jail is located at 427 2nd Avenue North.
1927 The Nashville City Directory boasts that Nashville has “over 750 miles of splendidly built highways” and that “the Vanderbilt Stadium seats 22,000 people and is the largest athletic field in the South.”
1927 Percy Warner Park, Tennessee’s largest municipal park is established in southwest Davidson County.
1927 The War Memorial Building is constructed near the Capitol Building to expand state office space.
1928 The Davidson County Jail now publishes its phone number as “6-6831″.
1929 Gus S. Kiger is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1929 The Great Depression begins when the stock market crashes on “Black Tuesday”.
1930 The Davidson County Workhouse is in operation on Hyde’s Ferry Road, “5 miles west” of town.
1930 Sam Shryer is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1933 A tornado wreaks havoc in east Nashville.
1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces “The New Deal”.
1934 Lawrence A. Bauman is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1937 American Airlines lands its first plane at Nashville’s new airport.
1937 Nashvillian William Edmondson becomes the first black American to be given a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
1937 The present Davidson County Courthouse is completed and opened.
1938 F. A. (“Pete”) Carter is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1938 The Nashville Housing Authority is created.
1939 Ivey Young is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1940 Bob Marshall is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1941 Buses replace the electric streetcars.
1941 The first Iroquois Steeplechase is run.
1941 The U.S. Census Bureau’s 140 figures show Davidson County’s population as 257,267 of which 241,931 (94%) live within Nashville’s city limits.
1941 World War II begins.
1942 Claude A. Briley is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1943 Cornelia Fort of Nashville becomes the first female pilot to die on war duty in American history.
1943 The Grand Ol’ Opry moves into the Ryman Auditorium.
1945 Three engineers at radio station WSM open “Castle Studio”, the first recording studio in Nashville, in the Tulane Hotel.
1945 World War II ends.
1947 Garner Robinson is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1949 The Capitol Hill Redevelopment Project is approved as the nation’s first urban renewal project.

 


 

1950 – 1999
Year Events and Milestones
1950 Capitol Records becomes the first major company to locate its director of country music in Nashville.
1951 Belmont College opens.
1953 Thomas Y. Cartwright is Sheriff of Davidson County. The Nashville City Directory shows separate phone numbers for the Jail and for Radio Patrol.
1955 Kelley v. The Board of Education leads to a school desegregation plan in Nashville.
1956 Phone numbers in Nashville and Davidson County now have named prefixes. The Sheriff’s Office telephone number is published as
“ALpine 62674″.
1956 Tom B. Cartwright is Sheriff of Davison County.
1957 Davidson County’s population is estimated at 368,514 with 47% living in Nashville and 53% living in the unincorporated areas. Davidson
County’s assessed property valuation is $528,255,360, of which Nashville comprises 59%, with the remaining 41% in the unincorporated areas.
1957 The “L&C” (Life and Casualty) Tower is completed downtown.
1960 The Nashville Sit-In Movement leads to widespread desegregation of public facilities.
1961 Building permits issued in Davidson County total $67,693,222.
1961 Leslie E. Jett is Sheriff of Davidson County. The Sheriff’s Office has added a Traffic Safety section and an Education Director.
1961 The Maxwell House Hotel is destroyed by fire.
1961 The municipal airport opens.
1962 Metropolitan government, to combine Nashville and Davidson County into one entity, is approved in a voters’ referendum.
1962 Tennessee’s first interstate highway, connecting Nashville with Memphis, arrives in Nashville.
1963 Metropolitan government is formally inaugurated on April 1. County Judge Beverly Briley takes office as the first Mayor. Within its 533 square miles, Davidson County is home to an estimated population of 423,150.
1965 Robert R. Poe is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1966 The Davidson County Jail is located at 110 N. Public Square, telephone (615) 747-4389.
1967 Davidson County’s voters approve liquor by the drink.
1967 John A. Frazier is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1970 The population of Davidson County is estimated at 469,400.
1972 Themepark Opryland USA opens in northeast Davidson County.
1973 Lafayette (“Fate”) Thomas is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1974 The Grand Ol’ Opry moves from the Ryman Auditorium into the facilities at Opryland.
1975 Congressman Richard Fulton is elected the second Mayor of Metropolitan Nashville/Davidson County.
1976 The United Nations comes to Nashville for its first meeting away from New York City.
1978 Amtrak passenger train service through Nashville comes to an end.
1978 Professional baseball returns to Nashville with the Nashville Sounds.
1979 Celebration of Nashville/Davidson County’s bicentennial begins.
1980 The Tennessee Performing Arts (“T-PAC”) opens.
1982 The first Summer Lights Festival is held.
1983 Riverfront Park opens on Broadway, January 10.
1983 The Sheriff’s Office releases some inmates under a new state law authorizing up to 25% of some convicted misdemeanants’ sentences to be credited for good behavior .
1984 Nashvillian Tracy Caulkins wins three Olympic gold medals.
1986 Union Station re-opens a hotel.
1987 Congressman Bill Boner is elected Mayor of Nashville/Davidson County.
1987 Nashville opens a new convention center downtown as well as a new airport in east Nashville.
1990 After 13 years of allegations and investigations, Sheriff “Fate” Thomas is indicted  on charges of corruption. He later pleads guilty and is sentenced to five years in federal prison. He is released in late 1994.
1990 The population of Nashville/Davidson County is reported as 508,181.
1990 An immense statue of Athena is unveiled in the Parthenon. Over 4 stories tall, it is the largest indoor sculpture in the western world.
1990 Henderson (“Hank”) Hillin is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1990 A Federal Judge mandates a maximum allowable population for the Davidson County jail system.
1990 The population of Nashville/Davidson County is reported as 508,181.
1991 Phil Bredesen is elected Mayor of Nashville/Davidson County.
1992 Al Gore, Jr., of Carthage outside Nashville, is elected Vice President of the United States, November 3.
1993 The Sheriff’s Office Workhouse is closed as a correctional facility and remodeling begins to convert it to office space.
1994 Gayle Ray is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1994 The BellSouth Building opens, October 20. The public soon nicknames the structure “The Bat-Building” for its profile’s resemblance to the fantasy hero Batman.
1996 Tennessee celebrates its bicentennial.
1996 The Metro Library Board approves a $125M plan to build a new 315,000 sq. ft. mail library and five regional branches.
1996 The Tennessee Bicentennial Mall State Park opens the celebration of the states 200th birthday, June 1.
1997 Opryland-USA closes with “Christmas in the Park” at year-end.
1997 The National Football League comes to Nashville as the Oilers move from Houston to Tennessee.
1997 The National Hockey League comes to the Nashville Arena with the Predators, September 25.
1998 The daily evening newspaper, the Nashville Banner, ceases publication with its final edition, February 20.
1998 Tornados strike downtown and east Nashville in the middle of work- and school-day, April 16.
1998 The Sheriff’s Office Correctional Development Center-Male wins national accreditation by the American Correctional Association.
1998 Tennessee’s NFL team changes its name from its old Houston name, the Oilers, to the Tennessee Titans, and adopts a new logo, December 22.
1998 The Southern Festival of Books, held annually in Nashville, holds its tenth anniversary celebration.
1999 Bill Purcell takes office as Mayor, September 21.
1999 Davidson County’s becomes the first Sheriff’s Office Jerry Newson Center to be awarded national accreditation by the American
Correctional Association.
1999 The abandoned Central State Mental Hospital on Murfreesboro Road is demolished to begin construction of a Dell Computers manufacturing site.
1999 The 90-year-old Shelby Street Bridge closes permanently to vehicular traffic, and reconstruction begins to convert it to a pedestrian
walkway to Adelphia Coliseum.
1999 Ground is broken for a new main library on Church Street, July 24.
1999 The first game is played in the new Adelphia Coliseum, August 15.
1999 The new Nashville Zoo at Grassmere opens.

 

 


 

 

2000+
2000 The Titans play in the Super Bowl on January 30 and, although they do not win, downtown Nashville is essentially shut down
on February 3 when the team is welcomed home with a ticker tape parade for its amazing first season.
2001 Metro Nashville/Davidson County announces its plan to make many of its services available on the internet.
2001 The administration of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office becomes the first in America to be awarded national accreditation by the American Correctional Association.
2002 The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office’s Criminal Justice Center Detention Facility is accredited by the American Correctional Association, making it the first agency of its kind in the United States to be 100% accredited.
2002 Daron Hall is Sheriff of Davidson County.
2007 The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office becomes the first in Tennessee, and only the 4th in the US, to participate in the 287(g) jail model. Trained ICE deputies can now screen foreign-born arrestees to check legal status.
2008 The Davidson County DUI School now operating under the DCSO and begins generating revenue for Metro Government
2009 Cell dog program for the female inmate population begins.
2009 DCSO takes responsibility for courthouse security contract.
2010 Historic flood hits Nashville as the Cumberland River escapes its bank and devastates businesses and homeowners. DCSO responds with inmate work crews to save Nashville’s only operating water plant and gains national attention.
2010 Daron Hall is elected to a third term
2010 Daron Hall is elected as president of the American Correctional Association; the first sheriff in ACA’s more than 100-year history to serve in this position.
2011 Mobile Booking Unit begins operation to reduce inmate processing time and get officers back in Nashville neighborhoods quicker.
2011 Inmate daily population hits an all-time low. The 300-bed Offender Re-Entry Center is closed as a housing facility.
2012 DCSO partners with Make-A-Smile organization to build a playground in a west Nashville neighborhood devastated by the historic 2010 flood.
2012 After participating in the 287(g) program for five years, seeing a 74 percent decline in the percentage of illegal aliens arrested, and processing more than 10,000 illegal immigrants charged with crimes, the DCSO does not renew its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.