Historian Ridley Wills II said he could have written his most recent book, “Belle Meade: A Legacy of Land, Lives, and Love,” blindfolded.

Commissioned by the mayor of Belle Meade, the book is a history of the city.

Wills has already written about the history of the Belle Meade Plantation, Harding Pike, Chickering Lane, Montgomery Bell Academy and the Belle Meade Country Club.

He grew up in Belle Meade, where he was reared by Harrison Vernon. Vernon grew up in the slave cabins at Belle Meade Plantation and remembered seeing the first car in the city.

Wills said Vernon’s stories incited his interest in history.

His writing ability came from his father, who was a poet along with being a businessman and iris grower.

(Wills once visited London with his sons and saw an iris variety that was originally hybridized by his father.)

The 87-year-old Wills is a fount of knowledge and stories. His ancestors are entrenched in Tennessee history. One was a Confederate soldier. Other ancestors owned Belle Meade Plantation. Another grandfather was a physician during the 1918 flu epidemic.

“Things happen to my friends, and I often know enough about their ancestors to know that it’s happened before,” Wills said.

Wills also knows that some historic markers are wrong. For example, one at Ensworth High School incorrectly identifies who originally built a house on the property. Wills said it was actually his ancestor.

Wills’ office is full of historical memorabilia he has collected over the years. In fact, hundreds of his books were donated to Fisk University and the historical society in Tracy City when he moved earlier this year.

Portraits of family members, paintings of horses, historical documents and a rare portrait of President Andrew Jackson hang on the walls of his office.

Wills’ 30 published books stand on a shelf next to family pictures.

Eight of his books cover all the historic sites in Davidson County by turnpike, the roads that radiate from the city center.

He also wrote a book about 600 Nashville roads — when they were built, who built them and for what they’re named.

His next book will be a compilation of History Corner essays he writes for the Contributor, which his son co-founded.

Wills, who taught for several years, said students today don’t learn Nashville, or Tennessee, history.

“I want to know it all,” he said with a chuckle. “And I know a fair amount.”

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