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Queen of the Cumberland/ Chris Smith House/ Smith-Trahern



The Christopher H. Smith House was built on four acres on Spring and McClure Streets between 1856-1859.


Christopher “Kit” H. Smith (1824-1866) was a prosperous tobacconist who built his 2 story mansion in the transitional style between Greek Revival and Italianate. He married Lucy Dabney (1827-1905) in 1856. He was a leading figure in the international promotion of dark-fired tobacco and helped make the city of Clarksville an important tobacco source. He divided his time between Clarksville and New Orleans. Kit was caught in a yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans in 1886, became ill and died. His remains were being brought by steamship Sultana to Clarksville when the ship infamously exploded [due to massive overcrowding of Federal prisoners being released from Vicksburg], and his remains were lost along with about 1,800 deaths.


After Kit died, Lucy stayed at Queen of the Cumberland nearly 40 years until her death. Local legend has it that Lucy, like a sailor’s wife, walked the widow’s walk on her roof hoping desperately for Kit to return and then did so as a ghost after her death. Lucy lived in the mansion with her daughter Nannet “Nannie” Dabney Smith Lockert (1860-1912) and her husband, Charles Lacy Lockert, Sr., (1855-1941). They wed in 1884. Lockert was a druggist. He partnered with John B. Reynolds in 1882 and started their own firm. The two men grew the business into the largest wholesale and retail drug establishment in Clarksville. The firm was located on N. First Street and is now known as Elder Conroy Hardware Building. 


Seven years after Lucy passed away, so did her daughter Nannie. At that point, the Lockert family had to sell the property, and their son, (Charles) Lacy Lockert, Jr. (1884-1974), was the legal heir. He sold it in 1919. Documents record that Lacy had begun Princeton University but because of a nervous breakdown and took treatment in Nashville where the Lockert family had moved. Lockert enrolled at Southwestern Presbyterian in Clarksville and was co-editor-in-chief of the yearbook, Sou' weser. For years afterward, other owners divided the house into apartments, and during World War II, Queen of the Cumberland was used to house soldiers.


In 1936, the house and land were purchased by the City of Clarksville with the intention of converting the mansion into Clarksville Hospital or a fire station. Those plans did not materialize. Four years later, the Second World War started and the property was used to house soldiers. Afterward, the mansion was in great disrepair, and the City of Clarksville planned to raze the residence and construct a fire station.


In 1947, Joseph Trahern and Margaret Fort Trahern of Tip-Top wanted to save this part of Clarksville heritage, and they bought the mansion. The Traherns thorougly renovated the old residence and then moved in and resided there for years.


The Traherns and their heirs, including Russell and Sue Rives (owners in 1981 and owners of Beech Street Auto Salvage) owned it until 1986 when the City of Clarksville bought it again.


The Smith-Trahern House hosts the Family and Community Education of Montgomery County as part of the University of Tennessee system (with Austin Peay State University). Christopher Smith called the mansion “ Queen of the Cumberland” since it sat on the bluff above the Cumberland River. That nickname is also shared with the city of Clarksville. The other names are derived from the prominent owners. NRHP 1988 See Tip-Top


Sources:

file:///Users/johnbrothers/Downloads/1909_rhodes_annual%20(1).pdf


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