Works by Ridley Wills II


Ridley Wills II Lest We ForgetLest We Forget;  Nashville’s Lost Businesses and Their Stories
Author:  Ridley Wills II
Copyright 2013 Ridley Wills II;
Softback; 304 pages
Item: 9781937824129

From Cornelia Fort Airpark to Tennessee Central Railroad to Marathon Motor Works, author Ridley Wills leads readers through Nashville’s history, sharing stories and photographs of more than 220 businesses and their owners and managers.  –from the cover of Lest We Forget; Nashville’s Lost Businesses and Their Stories


Elizabeth and Matt: A Love Story
Author: Ridley Wills II
Copyright 2007 Ridley Wills II;
Hardback; 114 pages
Item:  9787774571660

In this biographic piece author and historian Ridley Wills II draws from his own memories and the many letters written by Dr. Matt Buckner (1870-1945) and his wife Elizabeth Jackson Buckner (1876-1947), the Niece of Belle Meade Plantation owner General Billy Jackson.  Composed as means of documenting the lives of his grandparents for future generations Mr. Wills begins with the birth of Matthew Buckner and traces the Buckner’s personal and civic lives in the City ofNashvilleto the death of Mrs. Buckner in 1947.

Heritage, Highballs and Hijinks:  Colorful Characters I Have Known~
Author: Ridley Wills II
Copyright 2010 Ridley Wills II;
Hardback 226 pages
Item: 9781450714211

Nashvillehas been home to many interesting and charming characters over the years, colorful people such as performer Minnie Pearl, pilot and cross-dresser Neil Cargile Jr., and ex-convict Tupper Saussy III.  Heritage, Highballs, and Hijinks:  Colorful Characters I Have Known shares the humorous and endearing stories of twelve men and women who have made a mark in Tennessee History. Historian Ridley Wills II, having had the privilege of knowing these unique characters shares stories that make the reader feel like they are being let in on a secret.  Full of humor that will make you laugh out loud.

From the cover of Heritage, Highballs and Hijinks:  Colorful Characters I Have Known.


The Hermitage at One Hundred:  Nashville’s First Million-Dollar Hotel
Author:  Ridley Wills II
Copyright 2009 the Hermitage Hotel; Providence House Publishers
Hardback; 281 pages
Item: 9781577364221

It was 1910, andNashvillewas a city on the rise.  It lacked one defining feature:  a luxury hotel.   A group of farsighted businessmen set out to change that, and The Hermitage Hotel was born.  For the next hundred years, the hotel would serve as the backdrop to some of history’s greatest moments and would shelter the famous and sometimes the infamous.  Follow the story ofNashville’s first million-dollar hotel, from its place in the fight for women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement.  Through engaging narrative and historic photographs, the story of The Hermitage Hotel unfolds.

 Joe C. Davis Jr. (1919-1989)
Author:  Ridley Wills II
Copyright Ridley Wills II 2001; YMCA of Middle Tennessee publisher
Paperback 47 pages
Item: 13233

In this publication Mr. Wills takes time to celebrate the life of one Nashville’s prominent citizens of the twentieth century.  Born in 1919, Joe Davis Jr. was determined even as a young man working and hanging about the tennis courts of Belle Meade Country Club where he and his sister once sold lost golf balls to Club golfers.  Although his family lacked the means to send him to private school, Joe’s initiative permitted him to attend the prestigious MontgomeryBelleAcademyon a tennis scholarship.  After winning several tennis titles while attending VanderbiltUniversity, Davismade a name for himself in the coal business.  Described by many as a private, frugal but kind man, his success in the coal industry permitted him to become an avid philanthropist and valued advocate for the YMCA and other Middle Tennessee organizations. Join Mr. Wills as he celebrates one of Nashville’s self made champions of the mid and later 20th century.

Nashville Streets and Their Stories
Author:  Ridley Wills II
Copyright 2012 Ridley Wills II;
Paperback; 164 pages
Item:  9781937824013

In this 2012 publication Ridley Wills tells the tales of the individuals and events that shaped Nashvilleand its surrounding communities such as Oak Hill and Belle Meade.  In Nashville Streets and Their Stories, he divulges interesting facts about how presidents, politicians, businessmen, real estate developers, financiers, Civil War battles and Southern plantations combined to shapeNashville’s unique history.  Wills recounts local events ranging from the 1792 signing of a treaty between settlers and the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes at Treaty Oak to the more recent 2010 renaming of McLemore Street to YMCA Way.  He identifies some areas such as “littleHollywood,” “Hell’s Half Acre, “The Nations,” and others that are linked by the streets ofNashville.

Listing more than five hundred of Nashville’s most prominent place names, organized alphabetically, and illustrated with rarely seen photographs and illustrations, Nashville Streets and Their Stories captures the spirit of Nashville’s forward thinkers and progressive builders.  –excerpt from the cover of Nashville Streets and Their Stories

A Walking Tour of Mt. Olivet Cemetery
Author:  W. Ridley Wills II
Copyright 1993; John W. Wagster Publisher Receiver, Mount Olivet Cemetery Company Inc.
Paperback 43 pages.
Item: 333

This booklet acts as a walking guide forMt.OlivetCemetery. Established in 1856,MountOlivetbecame the city’s primary burial location afterCityCemeterycould no longer accommodate the city’s recently deceased. MountOlivetis the final resting place for many prominent Nashvillians including:Belmont’s Aklen Family, Belle Meade Plantation’s Harding-Jackson family, Captain Thomas G. Ryman andLibscombUniversityfounder David Libscomb.

Old Enough to Die
Author: Ridley Wills II; forward by Duncan MacLeod
Copyright 1996; Published by Hillsboro Press
Hardcover 180 pages
Item: 9781881576815

Ridley Wills II tells the story of the Bostic family –four brothers, their sisters and mother, plus several in-laws and first cousins –primarily through their letters, with background on what was happening to the family in the larger world of American history.  The letters printed in the book come from the family of Irene Jackson Wills, wife of the author.  The book does not deal with sweeping philosophical questions about history or morality, but with what happened to ordinary people who were caught up in the War Between the States and the events surrounding it.  Both the men and women in the family were participants in and victims of the war, and their reaction to their cruel fate draw the reader into their lives in a way that ordinary histories do not.

–from the cover of Old Enough to Die.

Tennessee Governors at Home:  Executive Residences of Tennessee’s First Families
Author: Ridley Wills II; Forward by Martha Sundquist
Copyright 1999 Ridley Wills II, Hillsboro Press
Hardback; 162 pages.
Item: 9781577360735

In Tennessee Governors at Home, author and historian Ridley Wills II presents an intimate look at more than two hundred years of life at home for Tennessee Governors and their families.  Over the years, engaging stories of these Tennessee first families have been handed down and are now recorded and preserved…Each first family brought its own set of circumstances, style of living, and traditions to the executive residence while performing the social obligations of Tennessee’s highest office.  This illustrated volume provides a private glimpse into the family life of these public figures.

–from the cover of Tennessee Governors at Home:  Executive Residences of Tennessee’s First Families

Touring Tennessee:  A Postcard Panorama 1898-1955
Author:  Ridley Wills II
Copyright 1996 Ridley Wills II; Publisher Hillsboro Press
Hardback; 246 pages
Item:  9781881576983

Arranged topically and geographically, Touring Tennessee provides a delightful recollection of aTennessee when horse, carriage, and Model Ts dominated rural and urban life.  Wills engages readers with amusing commentary, history and insight concerning the rhythm of life in early twentieth-centuryTennessee.  From the earliest days of commerce onGay Street inKnoxville to long-told tales of the glamorous Peabody Hotel inMemphis, Wills uses narrative and images to illustrate the cultural shift from an agrarian to an industrial lifestyle.

The YMCA of Middle Tennessee:  Three Centuries of Service
Author:  Ridley Wills II
Copyright 2011 YMCA and Ridley Wills II; Publisher Dunham Books
Hardback; 334
Item:  9780983990666

Despite its humble beginnings in 1844 in a room in aLondondry goods firm, the YMCA’s influence today is worldwide andNashvillehas been a pivotal part of its success and its story from the very start.

Follow the stories of the men and women whose passion for the organization catapulted the YMCA of Middle Tennessee to greatness, not only within the YMCA family, but on the national and international stage.

–from the cover of The YMCA of Middle Tennessee:  Three Centuries of Service

Yours to Count On:  A Biography of Nashville Banker Extraordinaire
Author:  Ridley Wills II
Copyright and Publisher Vanderbilt University 2007; 
Paperback; 193 pages.
Item:  978091533219

Young Sam Fleming always wanted to be a banker.  Three years after graduating fromVanderbiltUniversityin 1928, Sam joined the fledgling trust department ofNashville’s Third National Bank.  There his legendary vitality, charm and financial savvy catapulted him to power as bank chairman, president of the American Bankers Association, and Chairman of the influential Vanderbilt University Board of Trust.  Along the way, Sam made fortunes (including his own) and touched the lives of hundreds of people, from the humblest caddy at Augusta National Golf Club to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Through the Great Depression, three wars, the Civil Rights Movement, and the advent of globalization, Sam demonstrated to friends, family and alma mater that he was, indeed theirs to count on.

–from the cover of Yours to Count On:  a Biography of Nashville Banker Extraordinaire Sam M. Fleming