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Sampson Wesley Keeble home: Trailblazing Politician and Businessman

Updated: Mar 2

A marker by the Tennessee Historical commission recognizes Keeble's home on Broadway and 2nd Ave. South where Sampson Wesley Keeble (1833-1887) and Harriett (?-1870) resided. After Harriett died, he married Rebecca Cantrell Gordon(?-1849) in 1875.

He grew up in Murfreesboro, TN and by 1865, was living in Nashville. In 1871, he became a director of the Tennessee Colored Agricultural and Mechanical Association with other prominent African-American leaders. Keeble was involved in politics: a representative for Davidson County in the 38th Tennessee General Assembly, 1873-74. He was the first Black to serve in the Tennessee state legislature and was a member of the Republican Party. He was also a magistrate from 1877-1882 with the Davidson County Court. He and his brother worked as barbers, owned the Rock City Barber Shop on Cedar St. (now Charlotte Ave.) until 1885, and also owned the Harding House boarding house near the Ryman Auditorium.

About 1871, he was one of the wealthiest Blacks in Nashville, but began losing his fortune in part due to the failure of the Freedman's Bank in 1874. There is a bust of Keeble honoring him at the Tennessee State Capitol since 2010.


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