Who's Who of Memphis in 1905
          ...and the Forrest Monument Association

It's not just another park statue or "piece of metal"

When internationally noted sculptor Charles H. Niehaus' sculpture of Nathan Forrest was dedicated in 1905, it was immediately praised and rated by national art scholars as among the top three equestrian sculptures in the entire United States.  And that  still remains true.  


Every important figure in Memphis during this early period supported the Nathan B. Forrest Monument by either working with the Forrest Monument Association Committee or by their financial support.  There was a universal feeling that the city was doing something important.  These people were the "movers"  who cared about Memphis and its image in the world.  And they were frequently rewarded by having buildings, businesses, and streets named after them.  Below are some of the major contributors to the monument fund, and they represent a virtual Who's Who of  the city.  These are the Memphians who believed that Nathan Forrest should be honored with an equestrian statue and by having a park named after him. 




Judge J. P. Young George W. Gordon S. T. Carnes Mary Latham Peter Van Vleet

D. T. Porter


William Floyd Lyceum Stock Co. John Overton Sol Coleman John Gaston

Napoleon Hill


Rev. Thomas Gailor Hunsdon Cary W. F. Taylor C. A. Stanton W. A. Collier

T. B. Turley     

J. M. Goodbar R. B. Snowden H. M. Neely Henry Luehrmann W. W. Schoolfield

Robert Galloway


Forrest Association

< All names above can be verified in the Forrest Monument Association Book written as it happened by the people who were there - available in the Memphis Public Library and on-line This amazing 254 page book is one of a kind and contains original clippings, original photos, newspaper articles, original letters and the actual handwritten minutes of all Committee meetings.  It also provides insight into the hardships of actually getting the statue cast in bronze in Paris, and then transported to Memphis,  plus coverage of the dedication in 1905.

You can also verify these Memphians places in history at the library or you can find biographies and photos for most of them on-line in a very Special Edition of the 1891 Memphis Evening Scimitar.


Otherwise, brief biographies are provided below for each of them.


Judge J. P. Young:  A prominent citizen and judge, he was instrumental in organizing the Memphis Historical Society.  He also wrote several works about the history of Memphis, including "The Standard History of Memphis"  (Judge Young was secretary of the Forrest Monument committee).


George W. Gordon:  Railroad Commissioner of Tennessee, Indian Agent-Department of the Interior, Superintendent Memphis City Schools 1889-1907


S. T. Carnes:  In 1878 Mr. Carnes became a member of the famous Chickasaw Guards and in all drills from 1878 to 1889, led the company to victory.  He became president and general manager of the Memphis Light and Power and introduced the electric light and the telephone to the city.  (He was President of the association to build the Forrest Monument).


Mary Latham:  An officer of the United Daughters of the Confederacy whose focus was to preserve and collect valuable historical information relating to the Civil War.  And the daughters were involved in a great deal of charity work. 


Peter Van Vleet:   He established the Van Vleet Drug Firm which merged with Mansfield Drug Co, becoming Van Vleet Mansfield Co - one of the largest and most progressive drug companies in the country.  He and his wife donated their mansion and land on Poplar to build Memphis Tech High School.  After maintaining a large Main Street building for many years they built their own building.  Today it's known as "Van Vleet Flats".   Van Vleet was a major fundraiser and personal contributor to the Forrest Monument.


D. T. Porter:  Memphis was indebted to Dr. D. T. Porter.  During the 1878 Yellow Fever epidemic, he was very conspicuous with his labors in helping those suffering from the disease.  He was President of the Memphis National Bank and was instrumental in the city government.  After his death, his family named the D. T. Porter building in his honor.  In 1983 the building was renovated for condominiums.  Porter was a major contributor to the Forrest Monument fund.


William Floyd:  He ran  one the "finest ladies and gentlemen's restaurants in the city".  Located  on Main Street, it appears prominently in early Memphis postcards of the period.  The building is still there.  Floyd was a major contributor to the Forrest Monument Association.


Lyceum Theatre Stock Company:  The 6 men and 5 women of the Lyceum Theatre's stock company performed a benefit performance to raise funds for the Forrest Memorial Association.


John Overton:  No name is more prominent in Memphis than Overton.  No one did more to advance all the interests of the city.  John Overton Jr. was one of the leading and wealthiest citizens of Tennessee.  He was connected with the most important commercial and financial enterprises of Memphis, including being a director of the Bank of Commerce and the People's Insurance Company, Vice-President and director of Planter's Insurance...etc.  Mr. Overton was actively involved with the Forrest Memorial Association since its inception.


Sol Coleman:  Coleman began his business career in Memphis and rose to a rank second to none in the South - all built around a "good 5 cent cigar".  Then he developed a method of manufacturing an excellent chewing gum and couldn't keep up the the demand.  He was a director in the German Bank, Manhattan Bank, and President of the Teutonia Building and Loan Association.  He was an active contributor to the Forrest Monument Association.


John Gaston:  He came to Memphis as a waiter and soon opened his own restaurant off Court Square.  It became very popular and successful and then he opened the Gaston Hotel next door.  They both were considered the very best in Memphis.  Gaston became enormously wealthy and donated money an property to build the John Gaston Hospital.  He was a major contributor to the Forrest Monument Fund.  The restaurant and hotel buildings are still there.


Napoleon Hill:  In commercial and financial circles of the South, there are few with more conspicuous names that that of Napoleon Hill.  He was enormously successful - in wholesale grocery, cotton commission, and the firm of Hill & Company.  He's also been associated the the Scimitar Publishing Company, Union Planter's Bank, Memphis Fire and Insurance Company, Memphis and Charleston Railroad, the Cotton Exchange, etc.  Napoleon Hill was a major contributor to the Forrest Monument Association.


Thomas Frank Gailor  was the well-respected third bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee from 1898-1935. He led the prayer at the Forrest Memorial Association dedication ceremony in 1905.


Hunsdon Cary:  A prominent Memphis attorney.  In 1866 he formed a partnership with John F. Cameron and engaged in the brokerage business.  Elected cashier of the German Bank.  (Mr. Cary was an officer of the Forrest Monument Association).


W. F. Taylor  was actively involved in the Mercantile Business.  Previously he was in the wholesale dry good lines and became one of the leading cotton factors in the city.  He was director of the Bank of Commerce, Vice-President of Factor's Insurance and President of the Equitable Land Co.  (Taylor was a director of the Forrest Memorial Association).

Cornelius A. Stanton was the Keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony.

W. A. Collier:  Publisher of the Daily Avalanche and major horse breeder.  As Director of the Forrest Memorial Association, he was an active voice at all the meetings. 


T. B. Turley was considered one of the most learned and successful attorneys in Memphis.  He served as director in the Mercantile Bank and as a legal representative of the Western Union Telegraph Co, the Street Railway Company.  (He was a director of the Forrest Monument Association). 


J. M. Goodbar was a very successful business man and highly esteemed in Memphis.  In 1860 he opened a wholesale boot and shoe business.  He was also connected with several financial corporations, among them the Mercantile Bank, as Vice- President.  (Goodbar served as a director of the Forrest Monument Association).


R. B. Snowden:  After a time in New York, Snowden returned to Memphis in 18970 and was identified with all movement for conserving and advancing the public interests.  He served as one of the commissioners to devise a basis for the liquidation of the municipal debt and took an active part to re-organize the Memphis city government.


H. M. Neely was associated with the successful firm of Brooks, Neely & Company - one of the strongest commercial houses in Memphis.  He served as President of the Phoenix Fire and Marine Insurance Company and Vice-President of the Memphis National Bank, and President of the Memphis Cotton Exchange.  (Neely was a director of the Forrest Monument Association).


Henry Luehrmann came from Germany and worked as a clerk and then took a position as manager of a saloon - and saved his money.  In 1887 he erected a splendid building on Main - the Hotel Luehrmann and Restaurant.  His restaurant was considered one of the top 2 in the city.  Other interests were the Pioneer Cotton Mills, First Natinal Bank, and Home Insurance Co,   His building, beside the Warner Theatre, was demolished in 1968  to build a new bank.  Luehrmann was a major contributor to the Forrest Monument Association. 


W. W. Schoolfield came to Memphis in 1885 and began business with cotton factor D. H. Townsend.  He later founded Schoolfield, Hanover & Co wholesale grocers and cotton factors.  It became one of the leading houses of its line in the South.  He served as President of the Merchants Exchange and Vice-President of the Cotton Exchange, director in the Memphis National Bank and Vice-President of the Leath Orphan Assylum.  (Schoolfield is an officer with the Forrest Monument Association).


Robert Galloway came to Memphis in 1864 and worked as a clerk on a river boat.  He then took a clerk position with the Memphis and Charleston Railroad - and saved his money.  In a few years he became a partner in the P. M. Patterson Company and the name changed to the more familiar and successful Patterson Transfer.  Mr. Galloway was a member of the first board of Public Works and was responsible for the powerful railroads that entered the city.  (Galloway was a sponsor of the Forrest Monument Association).


These distinguished Memphians chose to honor Nathan Forrest, ... along with 800 + other Memphians and prominent businesses* not identified above but who are listed in the Forrest Monument Association book as a contributor to the Forrest Memorial Fund?   

                                              * The prominent Businesses include names we still recognize today: 
Gayoso Hotel
  Gerber's Department Store
    Goldsmith's Department Store
      Lowenstein's Department Store
        Commercial Appeal
          Memphis Steam Laundry
            Patterson Transfer
              Orgill Brothers
                O. K. Houck

Rewriting history, no matter how unpleasant that history might be, is not the solution.  A thorough knowledge of the past is the best way to prevent repeating it.  Instead of suppressing history, use it to your advantage, to educate all future generations, so the past is not repeated.



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