Clarksville Connections

Clarksville Connections is an ongoing project to share the stories of historically significant people who have a Clarksville connection. We invite your input. Please email your information and ideas to

Medicine and Science

Dr. Robert BurtDr. Robert Burt


After graduating with honors from Nashville's Meharry Medical College in 1897, Robert Burt relocated to Clarksville in 1904 and set up a medical practice. Two years later, Burt opened Clarksville’s first hospital: The Home Infirmary. The facility served all people and was Clarksville’s first and only hospital for 10 years. The Home Infirmary was recognized by the National Medical Association and operated for 40 years. Dr. Burt remained an active civic leader and education proponent in Clarksville until his death in 1955.


Ida Gray Nelson RollinsIda Gray Nelson Rollins

First Female African American Dentist

Ida Gray Nelson Rollins was born in Clarksville on March 4, 1867. Her mother, Jennie Gray, was a black woman, and her father was a white man to whom Jennie was not married. Ida’s achievements are a testimony to perseverance, determination and diligence. Though she was raised by a woman who was unable to read or write, Ida overcame her environment, becoming the first female African American dentist in the United States.