Tennessee lost another hero this week. Joe Harvey McClanahan ended this chapter of his life on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009 at his home. This information is taken from an article I compiled in 2008 for his 95th birthday. I have added some notes and pictures. As researchers and family historians, people like Joe Harvey are rare. He remembered minute details about every person he encountered. He had a keen, discerning eye which I admired. Thank you Joe Harvey.
When I need to learn about any event in Robertson County or any person who lived in the last 150 years, I turn to one person, Joe Harvey McClanahan. He is the historian’s historian. Joe Harvey is an active member of this community and a former businessman. He is a charter member of the Springfield Lions Club and a 48-year-member of the American Legion. He was a lifelong member of Springfield Baptist Church and likely to be seen around town at the Farmers’ Bank Coffee Club or learning about new happenings in town.
Joe Harvey McClanahan was born 20 August 1913 in the house where he lives today.[He died in the same room he was born.] His parents were Albion Amzi McClanahan and Ella White McClanahan. Across the street his nephew, Wilbur McClanahan was born in 1914. Wilbur and Joe Harvey would become close friends and playmates.
The McClanahan family moved into the house at 251 Oak Street (now known at 315 Oak Street) after Dr. A.A. McClanahan purchased the house and lot from Kate England in 1897. In his book, The Springfield I Have Known, Charles Love discussed the backside of this property at the turn of the century.
There were no buildings on the East side of Walnut Street between Third and Fourth avenues. Milton Green’s pasture embraced all of the territory between Oak and Walnut streets and the martin (now Tony Dowlen) property. Along Walnut street between the Green pasture and Third Avenue were the cow lots of G.P. Martin, Dr. McClanahan, John R. Long and others.
As a youth, Joe Harvey had a continuing love for the trumpet and band music. One band he led was called “Blues Chasers.” Their theme song was “Goodbye, Blues.” They traveled throughout the area playing for dances and special events. Among the band members were Charlie Brandon, Herbie Knowles, G.B. Kemper, Bobby Rosson, Johnny Whiting, Haywood Couts, Howard Byrum, Ellis Binkley, and Pope Johnson. His love for music continued. He was a charter member of the Springfield Lions Club where he received the Melvin Jones Fellow Award and also directed the first Springfield [Tenn.] Lions Club Minstrel.
Joe Harvey attended Main Street school and graduated from Springfield High School and also attended Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon [Tenn.].
A few years later, he opened the Gulf Pride Service Station, which was located at 4th and North Main, across from the Center. He was a contractor and insurance agent for White-McClanahan Insurance Agency. Mr. McClanahan purchased the Stinnett Coal Company, which later became McClanahan Lumber Company, which he owned and operated with his son, Harvey, until his retirement in the mid-1990s.
Shortly after the marriage of Joe Harvey to his wife, Ruth Glover, the McClanahans moved into what they call the “little house.” According to the family, Joe Harvey built the little house in 1935. His first two children, Harvey and Gail [Holman], were born in the little house. After A.A. McClanahan broke his hip, Joe Harvey and his family moved into the big house about 1938.
The second floor of the house at 315 Oak Street became the home for Joe Harvey, Ruth and their growing family. Their third child, Ella [Bellflower], was born after the family was living in the “big house.” The former pump room of the big house became the kitchen for the family. Joe Harvey had grown up hearing stories about the pumping of water from his older brothers, White and Albion. The front room became Joe Harvey and Ruth’s bedroom. Their children called it the “big room.” Gail and Ella shared a bedroom at the rear of the house beside the kitchen. Harvey’s bedroom was very small. There was just enough room for a bed and a chest.
The family flourished and enjoyed their home. They lived and played in their second floor home for many years. With the exception of weekends, they ate their meals upstairs in the kitchen / dining room. On the weekends, they would go downstairs and dine with Joe Harvey’s parents (or as the children called them, Grandmother and Papa.)
Joe Harvey entered the U.S. Army during World War II. He completed training for the Infantry, was involved in combat in France, and completed his service as an Army clerk. After his military service, he returned to Springfield and the Gulf Pride Service Station. Joe Harvey was involved in several business interests, but we all remember his involvement with McClanahan Lumber on Cheatham Street. He was member of American Legion Post #48.
Joe Harvey and his family have celebrated every Christmas together on Oak Street except one. The family moved to Silver Springs, Maryland, in 1943. Joe Harvey was working in a bakery, until he was called into service. The family moved back to Springfield eighteen months later. Ella remembered celebrating her fourth birthday in Maryland.
[Let me add a note to this memory. During World War II, Joe Harvey was a member of the 4th Infantry Division in France. He completed his Infantry training and remained in the Infantry until the end of the War. Just prior to his discharge, he was encouraged to change his military status so he would receive more compensation. With a young family he changed his status or MOS. Several years after the War, a military friend and colleague wrote Joe Harvey a letter telling him that he was eligible for a Combat Infantry Badge for personally participating in active ground combat while a member of infantry unit after 6 December 1941. Joe Harvey applied for this Badge and was turned down because he had changed his MOS from Infantry to a Clerk. All parties agreed he would have been eligible except for the change in his MOS. He worked with every elected official throughout the years, but was unable to gain that medal. We once thought we could obtain this medal for Joe Harvey and have it presented to him. A medal was purchased and mailed to him with the return address of the awarding organization, but the postage endorsement indicated it was mailed from Springfield, Tenn. He immediately questioned his daughter, Gail, about who might have sent this medal. He was unwilling to accept the medal except if presented from the U.S. Army. He was still working on that at the time of his death. ]
Your life is an inspiration to all who had the pleasure of knowing you. Thanks for the memories and life lessons.