yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee

Millard F. Blount (Nov 1872 - Feb 1924)

from the research of Charles G. McKnight

Millard F. Blount descends from John and Elizabeth Blount, who migrated from Tyrell County, NC, to Bladen/Robeson Co., NC, about 1740-1750. John Blount was a Patriot of the American Revolution as was his son, Phillip Blount. Phillip's son, John and wife Elizabeth, lived their entire life in Robeson County. John's son, Elias, married Francis Packer and moved their family, including Millard's father, John Houston Blount, to Perry/Decatur County, TN, in 1831.

Millard was born to John H. Blount and his second wife, Mary E. Flowers, Nov 1872. Millard's father died in 1876 and his mother, married James B. Burns, who took in and cared for the Blount children.

Millard turned out to be one of the more adventurous Blounts. Millard married Eunice about 1891 and moved to Sheffield, AL. to work in a steel mill. Daughter, Exa, was born in 1893.

Millard became very proficient in the steel manufacturing business and in Oct 1911, signed the first of several three- year contracts to work for the Tata Iron and Steel Co. located in Sakchi, India. In 1913, after graduating from high school, Exa entered Ward-Belmont University, Nashville, TN, studying music and voice. Eunice, Exa's mother, died in 1916 and Exa joined Millard in India and continued her music and voice studies in Calcutta, India, and at the Royal Conservatory in Naples, Italy.

In a Feb. 17, 1919 letter, Millard wrote to his half-brother, County Judge Joseph M. Blount, that he was earning $300 per month and planned to ask for more money as his contract was about to end and, if he did not receive the increase, he would return to the USA. Apparently Millard got the raise as he stayed in India.

Millard was very proud of Exa and hopeful that her education and exposure to other cultures would raise her station in life. Quoting from Millard's Feb. 17, 1919 letter, he wrote, "If nothing happens to Exa and I, I am willing to return home next Mar landing in the USA about June as I want to tour Europe with Exa. Then she can say that she has been around the world. That is quite a lot to say for a girl. Very few girls of her class say that, I mean poor girls. The trip has been worth three years of schooling to her and I think it will be the making of her." Unfortunately, Millard did not live to see whether or not his prophetic vision for Exa came true.

In a newspaper article by Margaretta Clark, Press-Scimitar Staff Writer, Memphis, TN, 9 September 1946, "In Madame Exa Blount Lucchesi's scrapbook is a yellowed letter written from an official of Ward-Belmont School in Nashville to her father offering her a home if "Miss Exa" did not like her new home in India. That was 30 years ago, just as the young, motherless Tennessen was sailing with her father to Bombay, India." "Educated in Ward-Belmont she received her first musical training there. Later she studied in Calcutta under Murri-Monchieff and in Italy, receiving her diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Naples, Italy. On a concert tour in South America she coached voice with Prof. Roberti, director of "Centro Artistico Musical," Rio de Janeriro, and with Prof. Alberto Sarti, composer and former director of St. Carlos Opera House in Lisbon, and coach and accompanist of beautiful Geraldine Farrar."

"Madame Lucchesi's father did not live to see the triumphs she scored as a singer. He died three days after he sailed from Bombay, India, of a malignant fever while en route to see his daughter receive her diploma from the Naples Conservatory, and was buried at sea." (Indian Ocean)

"Madame Lucchesi met her husband in New York. Dr. Lucchesi had come to this country shortly after Mussolini came into power in Italy to seek freedom from dictatorships. Dr. Lucchesi practiced medicine in his native land for 25 years and was a major in the Italian Army in World War I."

"After conducting a voice studio in New York for nine years, she and Dr. Lucchesi moved to Memphis eight years ago where she opened another studio. Madame Lucchesi and her husband turn the pages of her scrapbook containing clippings, theater and concert programs, pressed flowers and scraps of silk and ribbons, which tell an exciting story of Madame Lucchesi's career as a singer and teacher of voice. Her last concert given in Memphis this past winter, were for the benefit of "Mothers of Overseas Servicemen" and for the Cynthia Fund."

Exa Blount Lucchesi passed away in Nashville, TN, after 1950. Millard would have been extremely proud of his daughter.

Submitted by:

Charles G. & Susan J. McKnight
1919 Rocky Court
Corinth, Texas 76208-5193

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