Captain William Driver Grave – Nashville, Tennessee - Atlas Obscura

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Captain William Driver Grave

The grave of the 19th-century sea captain who coined the phrase "Old Glory" can be found in this quiet cemetery.  


Inside the oldest public cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee, lies Captain William Driver. On his 21st birthday, his mother gifted him a hand-sewn United States flag she and a group of her friends made. Driver was elated with his gift and was credited as saying “I name her Old Glory,” forever coining the name in relation to the United States flag. “Old Glory” accompanied Captain Driver on his many adventures as a ship captain.

Driver traveled twice around the world before retiring in 1837 in Nashville. On holidays, he would display “Old Glory” from a rope extending from the house to a tree across the street.

When Tennessee seceded from the Union in 1861, Driver remained loyal to the Union. He hid “Old Glory” by sewing the flag inside a comforter to keep the Confederate Army from destroying it. When the Union army took Nashville, Driver gave the flag to the troops and Old Glory was flown over the state capitol. Since 1922, the flag has been preserved at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The cemetery where you can find Driver’s gravestone is very beautiful and well-maintained. It opened in January 1822 and is the resting place of many of Nashville’s founders and historical figures. 

Know Before You Go

The Nashville City Cemetery is open from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, though holiday hours may vary. The cemetery is located down a one-way street just a few miles away from downtown Nashville.  Captain Driver's plot is in Section 20.

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February 17, 2023

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