Notable Interments in Riverview Cemetery
Within the hollowed confines of the Riverview Cemetery lie the remains of early pioneers, settlers, civic leaders, and statesmen of this areas historical and cultural heritage. Men and women of all the American wars are interred here. Many pioneers and 19th century citizens, including four Revolutionary war soldiers are buried here.
A brief description of a few of the notable interments at Riverview Cemetery are listed below.
Valentine Sevier – 1747-1800
(Pioneer Settler, Revolutionary War Colonel)
Although the Native Virginian is little known, he is a pioneer who experienced Clarksville before it was established as Clarksville. His brother, John Sevier, would eventually become the first governor of Tennessee in 1796. Valentine purchased 640 acres near the Cumberland, and settled with his family. In 1794, Valentine and his family suffered a devastating attack from Indians, which resulted in death of his neighbor, and some of Valentine’s family. This area is now called Sevier Station, and is Clarksville’s oldest standing structure built in 1792. Valentine Sevier died February 23, 1800, and he was buried on his property across the Red River which later became the Riverview Cemetery.
Robert Loftin Newman – 1827-1912
(Artist, Civil War veteran)
Mr. Newman grew up in Virginia the only son of Robert L. Newman and Sarah J. Matthews. Newman’s father died when he was young, and in 1838 his mother remarried and moved the family to Clarksville. As a young man, he began painting portraits, but his clients repeatedly rejected his work. He later got his chance to study with a master, and opened a studio in his Clarksville home in 1858. He worked on full-length portraits and pendant portraits for commission. During the Civil War, however, Newman served as a lieutenant of artillery (1861) and as part of Company G of the Fifteenth Virginia Regiment (1864), putting aside his brushes for a time. In 1873 his mother died, and Newman moved away only to later return to the Nashville area. He painted madonnas, sapphos, nymphs, and fortune tellers in a highly individualistic style that did not conform to any of the schools of his time. He gained dome fame in his later years with a few pieces such as “Little Red Riding Hood” and his “Christ Stilling the Tempest” which was shown in Paris at the Paris International Exposition in 1900. His works would go on to be recognized worldwide, and although he died in 1912, his art would go on to be shown around the United States. Today, Clarksville honors his memory with a historical marker near Austin Peay State University’s campus. There is no marker present at his gravesite, but we know that he was laid to rest at the foot of his mother’s grave.
Joshua Brown – 1843-1924
Joshua Brown was the son of Evalina Susan Bailey Brown and Joshua Brown, Sr. He died February 25, 1924 at his Miami winter home. He was a native of Clarksville, and is buried in the Riverview Cemetery along side of his parents. Joshua fought in the Civil War and joined the Confederacy after the recapture of Clarksville. He served along side of Sam Davis, the boy hero of Tennessee. Joshua was taken POW twice, at Pulaski Tn and later held at Rock Island, Illinois. Brown and Davis served with Coleman’s Scouts, a Confederacy unit that gathered intelligence on federals movement and were caught in the act of transporting documents back to Confederacy headquarters. Davis was hung for refusing to give up his source of intelligence documents. Joshua Brown received The Southern Cross of Honor from The United Daughters of the Confederacy in June 1901, the New York chapter.
Leonora (Nora) Witzel – 1875-1961
For almost three decades, Clarksvillians climbed the dark, narrow staircase at 132 ½ Franklin St to face the foreboding Leonora Witzel. Some did so with confidence; many entered Miss Nora’s photographic studio with a little fear. To most Clarksvillians, if they thought of her at all, Miss Nora was an eccentric, an oddly dressed, “mannish” woman doing a man’s business. Most had no idea that suicide, scandal, and sly suggestions of sexual impropriety had shaped her life as she provided for her mother, her grandmother, and a cousin in a time when job choices for women were limited. Leonora was the daughter of German immigrants, Joseph and Margaret, and her father, Joe was a shoemaker. He fell ill, and could not afford to move away and receive the best care so he committed suicide when Nora was just fourteen years old. The newspaper was gruesomely graphic and the headline read “Hardworking, honest Joe Witzel blows out his own brains”. By 1908, she earned a meager living as milliner, but was fascinated by cameras, and took Kodak shots of people and places in and around Clarksville. In 1917, America entered the World War, and, with so many men away from home, something new came to Clarksville. Nellie Gray, Lucy Howard, and Lutie Thrower opened photographic studios downtown. Perhaps it was the influence of these pioneering women photographers that convinced Nora that she could make a living on her own as a photographer. The public image she presented was a rough and robust woman. She shocked the community by smoking in public and playing pinball in Pullman’s Café. But, those who knew Miss Nora saw a very different picture. “She was a gem”. She would get right after you when she was taking your picture, but when you got to know her, she was as kind as can be. She continued taking pictures well into her 70’s, and she celebrated her 82 birthday in the first house she’d ever lived in that didn’t use kerosene for light and coal for heat. Her new home had electricity. Miss Nora’s antiques are scattered, and her cameras and negatives are part of the collection of the Custom’s House Museum & Cultural Center. Her greatest legacy, however, still hangs on countless walls and fills albums in Clarksville homes – her photographic memories of three decades of Clarksvillians. There is a statue representation of her downtown on Third Street just north of Commerce, that was dedicated April 19, 2007.
Margaret Ann Montgomery (Brierleigh) – 1725-1810
Mother of John Montgomery who Clarksville Montgomery County was named after. We know that she is buried in the Riverview Cemetery in Section 1 which is the oldest section of the cemetery, but she has no headstone or marker at her grave. There is a statue of her son, John near the corner of City Hall on First Street.
James B. Reynolds – 1779-1851
Born in Ireland, he immigrated to America in 1798, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1804, and practiced law in Clarksville, TN. In 1815, he was elected as a Republican to the Fourteenth Congress, served until 1817, was again elected as a Jackson Republican to the Eighteenth Congress serving 1823-1825. After his term, he resumed the practice of law until his death at the age of 72 in Clarksville, Tennessee.
James Elder – 1764-1827
(First Mayor of Clarksville, Tn.)
James E. Elder became the first mayor of Clarksville, Tn. in 1820. He is buried in the Riverview Cemetery, but his grave is not marked. According to a brass plaque located in front of the fountain on Strawberry Alley in downtown Clarksville, “Strawberry Alley was so named because the street was constructed across the strawberry patch of Mrs. Lucinda Elder, who was the wife of James Elder. In 1859, many attorneys had offices here and it was sometimes called Poverty Row, but the name Strawberry Alley remained. After WWI, the alley from Public Square to Second Street was extended and renamed Legion Street. In 2009, under the leadership of Mayor Johnny Piper and the Clarksville City Council, the street was renovated and the name Strawberry Alley restored to the area from First Street to Second Street. The area from Second to Thirds Streets remained Legion Street.”
Boranges (B.R.) Peart – 1813-1866
B.R. Peart, 34th General Assembly; represented Montgomery, Robertson, and Stewart counties. Unionist, he served from the beginning of first session in 1865 to his death in 1866. A special election to fill the vacancy resulted in the election of Cave Johnson whom the Senate refused to seat because, among other reasons, “his weight of character and influence was given in behalf of the rebellion” and “he is not a qualified voter under the Franchise law of 1865”. The seat remained vacant for the remainder of the term. Peart was a native of Kentucky. He was preceded in death by his wife, and left behind a daughter, Ophelia, and a son, Columbus. Senator Peart was a stone mason by trade, and one of the incorporators of the Tennessee River Mining Co. in 1865. His strong Union views were reflected in his Senate Joint Resolution No. 94, resolving: “That all person who voted willingly on the 8 day of June, 1861, for Separation and Representation are now, and will ever be looked upon as infamous by all loyal men in this State; that it fixes a stain upon them which is indelible and must remain upon them forever.” (Biography submitted by Jill Hastings-Johnson, Montgomery Co. Archivist)
Rev. Henry F. Beaumont – 1799-1864
Rev. Beaumont was thought of to be a very kind and spiritual soul. Many said he was one of a kind. He carried his religion into everything; it seemed as if Christ walked with him in all his daily avocation, commanding reverence wherever he went from all classes. He possessed the power of knitting people together with tender ties of friendship, binding with cords that never loosen, but strengthened by new links uniting the present generation in the same fraternal bond, and so it is that this wonderful influence still lives. Truly he was blessed by God and used by the Lord as an instrument for great good, and everything he put his hand to was blessed. All people who knew Mr. Beaumont admired his straight-forward walk and loved him as a Christian man. Rev. Beaumont was said to be the “Progressive Spirit of Other Days and Leader of Public Enterprise who shaped Trade and Commerce, United the People and Formed Customs that gave Tone to the Name of Clarksville”. He was the Founder of Methodism in Clarksville. The “Sanctuary on Main” (located at the corner of Main St. and 4 St.) was the original first United Methodist Church in Clarksville. It was established by Henty Beaumont in 1831.