High School Henry (Memphis Central High)

Henry Clay Polk, Jr. 1891 -1982

This info is courtesy of Tommy Pollard (email tommy at fpscompany dot com)

The search is over.. I was asked if I knew High School Henry's name? Thanks to Taylor Conley's response, we now know is name to be Henry Clay Polk. See Taylor's response below.

My great uncle's name is Henry Clay Polk. I do not remember him much, but I do remember how much he loved Central High School in the 60's and 70's. I was not born until the mid 60's, but he was a dear sweet ole man. He loved my sweet mother, my 2 brothers, sister and myself. Along with so many other family members. However his true joy came from CHS cheerleaders, players, coaches and students.

When he was born in the early 1900's he became very sick. Doctors told the Polk family that by age 8 his mind will learn no more. So my loving family taught him as much as a child in those days before the days of cell phones and computers could learn. God blessed him with His love and gave him a happy life. My mother cared for him until the day he died. He died peacefully and very happy in his sleep.

Know that this ole man who yelled for his team for victory may at times, to some ,wonder who this crazy ole man is? He was my great great uncle Henry. He was a child at heart but a man who went home to be with the Lord. Thank you to everyone who cared or put up with his ways. You made a difference in his life. I know this because of the love people showed him at our home and at the games. The stories my mother told me as I grew up made me proud to call him my Great Uncle Henry.

I could not let this drop so I decided to investigate further since I had Henry's full name and birth year.

Henry Clay Polk, Jr. 1891 -1982 was born in TN to Henry Clay Polk 1851-1915 and Alice May Turnage 1866-1939. He had 1 brother, Russell L. and 2 sisters Eunes and Marjory. Henry Sr. worked in the cotton and grocery industry. He owed his own business. "Polk, Spinning Co." at 252 Front St. in 1890. 1910 "Polk - Shepherd & Co." at 28 N. Front, and in 1914 "Polk & Barksdale Co." at 14 N. Front. William R. Barksdale was Henry's partner and Henry's son Russell L. began working for the company. Henry Sr. died prematurely after and appendectomy in 1915. At that time the family lived at 1957 Madison.

The family lived in several homes in Midtown but their last location was 1395 Goodbar (only 3 blocks from Crump Stadium). Henry Jr is listed on several census as having achieved a 6th grade education but never any work history and never married. The last two census show him living with his sister Eunes Polk at the Goodbar address.? After Henry Sr.'s death his son Russell L. Clay took over the business and the name changed to R L Polk & Co. of Memphis. They began publishing printed material such as the Memphis Directory, Memphis City maps, and the Tennessee State Gazetteer. They were located at 4419 Main in 1916. 1918 saw Robert S. Polk join the company as a vice president and the addition of Memphis Abstract was added to their list of companies. Robert also was a vice president at Union Planters Bank. The company continued in this capacity until the last entry in the Memphis Directory in 1942. The Memphis Directories listed on the register.shelby.tn.us website which is the publication beginning in the mid 1800's is used to list Memphis residents, their jobs, home address and eventually their phone number was produced by R T Polk & Co and shows an address of 341 Second St. The last census made public was 1940 so there aren't many sources of information beyond that date except death certificates. I still don't know where HSH or his sister Eunes are buried.

There is still the question, 'Is HSH related to James Knox Polk our 11th president. The answer is YES. Henry's 4 times great grandfather, Captain John A. Polk's brother Samuel had a son, James K. Polk born 1795 in Pineville, NC. I am not sure what that makes Henry and James relationship. I know it would be a lot of several times, and removed and cousins in it.

Some of the websites I used were ancestry.com, rootsweb.com, register.shelby.tn.us, and findagrave.com.

If you click on the find a grave site, do a search for Forest Hill Cemetery in Shelby County TN. Choose the midtown location and then enter Henry C. Polk. This will be HSH's father. You can continue to click on the father of each person and you will go earlier into the Polk family tree.

The Polk legacy began with Robert Bruce Polk (Pollok) born 1664 in Donegal, Ireland, who immigrated to Maryland. Then: William Bruce Polk was born in 1700 in Somerset, Maryland. Captain John A. Polk 1734 in Carlisle, PA then moved to Mechlenburg County, NC. John was a Revolutionary soldier. Charles T. Polk 1760 was one of the people known for settling the town we now know as Charlotte. John Polk 1782, William Allen Polk 1819, Henry Clay Polk Sr. 1851, Henry Clay Polk Jr. 1892

To the best of my knowledge, I hope I got most of these facts correct. I hope everyone enjoyed this trip back in time to discover there was a lot more to the man blowing that horn at us during Central football games.


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