From Jonesborough to Asheville: Professor discusses early frontier road

Hog drovers would drive herds of pigs to the appropriate destination in Asheville.


Associate Editor

Today, via Interstate 26, it takes less than two hours to drive to Asheville, North Carolina from Jonesborough, Tennessee. An internet search puts the driving time for the 61-mile journey at one hour and nine minutes. Beginning on Sept. 24, 1857, it took a party, including the Rev. C. P. Jones, three days to make the trip.

Professor Tom Lee discussed the historical and geographical connection between the two towns before an audience of 40 people gathered for History Happy Hour held at the International Storytelling Center on Thursday, Aug. 15. Dr. Lee, a member of the History Department at East Tennessee State University, outlined his efforts to locate the “old road” that was the beginning of commerce and communication between the towns located in two states and kept apart by mountains. 

Below, Asheville pays tribute to traveling swine.

The process of finding the location of this elusive yet important link initially directed the professor to a study of “Autobiography: the story of an old man’s life, with reminiscences of seventy-five years” by Nathaniel Edwin Harris.  He was born in Jonesboro in 1846 and moved to Georgia during the Civil War to escape Union troops.

While living in Jonesborough Harris remembered the “public road” in his autobiography. “As my father was engaged in the practice of medicine, he was very little at home and this threw me, in my earlier years, into the closest possible companionship of my mother. She did most of the punishing in those early times, using the rod according to the Scriptures. On one occasion I crept under the house to get away from her, but she followed me and my effort to avoid the punishment did not succeed. I then tried running away from her, and once went down the red lane, in the public road which ran by the house. My mother ran after me and near the foot of the hill both of us fell flat in the roadway. She was the first to rise and I did not escape the thrashing for some disobedience.”

Harris traveled the “Embreeville Road” when he “rode a horse, and left the horse at his uncle’s mill, which was on the road to the school house.” The school boy further commented, “The old homestead is directly on the road leading from Asheville in Buncombe County and Burnsville in Yancy County to Jonesboro.”

The “public road” where Harris got a “thrashing” Professor Lee believes constituted part of the Jonesborough to Asheville road. Harris served in the Confederate Army and after the war returned to his family’s home in Tennessee. Moving to Bartow County, Georgia, he attended the University of Georgia graduating in 1870.  After graduation he studied law and became Macon’s city attorney.  He got into politics serving in both the state’s House of Representatives and Senate. He then served as judge of the Superior Court from 1912 until 1915 when he resigned to run for governor. Harris served as Governor of Georgia from 1915 until 1917. In his “Autobiography” written in 1925, he said, “The founding of the Georgia School of Technology I regard as the most important event of a public nature, that occurred in my life.”

Harris was the first cousin of Alfred Alexander Taylor and Robert Love Taylor, both of whom were United States congressmen and governors of Tennessee. Harris died at his summer home in Hampton, Tennessee and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia.

During Harris’ youth before the Civil War, the road gained economic importance. Large numbers of swine were fattened in eastern Tennessee, a fertile farming region with many pigs and few people. A couple of hundred miles away lay the plantations of the South, which didn’t raise much food. Planters preferred to grow cotton, sell it for cash, and buy pork to feed their slaves (or, after the Civil War, their sharecroppers and tenant farmers). The hog supply was in Tennessee, the demand in South Carolina and Georgia, and in between lay the Appalachian Mountains. No navigable rivers or railroads connected the two, so there was only one way to move the hogs: on foot. The route followed the Valley of French Broad River through the Smoky Mountains, and passed through Asheville, North Carolina.

Dr. Lee illustrated this commerce by showing the “hog statues” at Pack Square Park in Asheville and with artists’ drawings of drovers driving the hogs to market. The road also became important with the arrival in 1858 of railroad transportation in Jonesborough. Once people traveled from Asheville to Jonesborough, they could board a passenger train and travel to New York City and other metropolitan areas in Northeastern United States. It was not until March 1879 before the railroads finally crossed the Eastern Continental Divide across the area’s Appalachian Mountains and entered Buncombe County where Asheville is located.

Returning to Rev. Jones three-day trip in 1857, his description of the journey began when he was invited to ride with Robert Brank Vance. His host, born April 24, 1828 – died November 28, 1899, was the nephew of the earlier Congressman Robert B. Vance (1793–1827) and brother of  Zebulon B. Vance.  The Democratic politician served as a member of the U.S. House of Representative for six terms: 1873–1885.  Vance was born in 1828, near present-day Weaverville, in the old homestead on Reems Creek, in Buncombe County. Vance died near Asheville at his farm.

The Vance Party’s journey on Day One began on a road that meandered along the French Broad River.  Then, the party made “a right turn onto [the] main road to Burnsville.” They would “pass in sight [of] Reems Creek Campground.  On Day Two they reached the “residence of Col. McElroy.”

By Day Three, the narrative gets more detailed.  According to Rev. Jones’ account, the party “set out at 7 o’clock am, arriving at Jonesborough approximately after dark.” According to Professor’s Lee’s calculations, this would have been a distance of 34 miles.

There had been recent, hard rains.  The account noted that the “road runs through the most broken, wild country perhaps that any road traverses in North Carolina or Tennessee.” On this day the party hired a “Mr. Hunter,” who was stated to be “an old stager well acquainted with the road.”

Professor Lee believes that observations to the right or left of the group at this point can become confusing.  However, the description as stated by the travelers is preserved in this account. With Hunter as their guide, the party “wound [their] way along the right bank of the Toe River.”  Eventually Road Mountain “loomed up on our right.”

The next landmark was “one of the tributaries, Big Rock Creek” flowing from Roan Mountain after which at length  the group “cross(ed) the Barney River [Cane River]

just at its mouth.”  Then, they followed the “Chucky [Nolichucky] for 20 miles” on occasion diverging when the mountainous terrain would “drive” them away from the river.

The Vance Party crossed Iron Mountain on the left side of the river at Indian Grave Gap. The gap was so-named because it was believed by early settlers that Indians often buried their dead at gaps in the mountains. For three miles the party climbed “higher and higher” until they reached an altitude of approximately 4,000 feet.     

On the border between North Carolina and Tennessee there was a hut. Traveling toward Jonesborough the group “wound around rock-ribbed sides of mountains; around deep gulches and ravines.”  Their descent placed them at Greasy Cove and then they passed the “Emory Iron Works” – corrected in the lecture to the “Embree Iron Works.”

Next stop was Jonesborough.

Later, both Tennessee and North Carolina would authorize the construction of “turnpikes” to improve the roads between the two communities. One such legislation specified a 16-foot road.

Lee’s presentation was funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Tennessee Historical Commission.

The next History Happy Hour will take place on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the International Storytelling Center. The topic of the lecture by Dr. Tim Holder from Walters State will be “Circuit Rider Francis Asbury.”

Further information about the History Happy Hours can be obtained from the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia by calling their office at (423) 753-9580 or by telephoning the Chester Inn Museum at (423) 753-4580.

County Archives seeks return of records

Donna Briggs and Ned Irwin work with some of the Archives’ records.


If something is missing, you try to recover it. The Washington County Archives is currently seeking to recover any Washington County records that, for whatever reason, are no longer in its custody.

The effort is being led by County Archivist Ned Irwin and authorized by the Washington County Public Records Commission and County Mayor Joe Grandy.

“The focus for the past year has been on recovering county records in various public repositories,” Irwin said.

Records have been returned from Special Collections at the University of Tennessee, the McClung Collection in Knoxville, and Appalachian State University. In total, nearly 12,000 county documents were recovered and returned to the Washington County Archives so far in 2019.

“Now the focus is shifting to recovering records that are in private hands,” Irwin said. “We know there are records out there, but unlike the public repositories, we do not always know who has them. We hear stories about what people have, and I am hopeful that spreading the word about amnesty will encourage people to return them. It is important for individuals to understand that under Tennessee law public records are always public records and being in someone’s private possession does not change this ownership.”

Irwin and Donna Briggs, archives associate, have worked closely with Allyson Wilkinson, county staff attorney, in the records recovery effort.

“The legal insight she brings to this effort has been invaluable,” he said.

The records returned so far are especially important for documenting the early history of Washington County and include records from the state of Franklin, slave documents, early Superior Court and Circuit Court cases, the Civil War, etc. Many topics are covered in these records regarding the social, cultural, civic, economic, and political history of the county, the region, and Tennessee.

And, as Irwin explained, “we are finding these documents join many related documents already in the collection.” 

Irwin and Briggs spend their day focused on preserving the government records of Washington County’s past for the benefit of future generations. The stories these documents tell connect this area to the history of the United States.

“We recently recovered a document signed by Andrew Jackson. It was like a homecoming to bring it back to Washington County where he signed it,” Briggs said, explaining that Jackson practiced law and served as a judge here before he became President of the United States.

Irwin noted that there has already been one anonymous donor return early county records.

“The individual just walked into the archives one day with these historic documents. The person had felt for some time that it was the right thing to do to return them where they belonged and finally brought them to us. I hope this example will encourage others to do the same.”

Anyone that may have county records or be aware of such records is asked to contact Ned Irwin at (423) 753-0393 or email him at Records can be returned anonymously. No questions will be asked. “We just want the records back home where they belong,” Irwin said.

Bil Lepp to tell his tales

Fan-favorite Bil Lepp is coming to Jonesborough.


Always one to perform for a full house in Jonesborough, storyteller Bil Lepp will soon begin his weeklong residency at the International Storytelling Center.

Lepp’s appearance is part of the Storytelling Live! concert series, one of ISC’s signature programs. Also known as the Teller-in-Residence program, Storytelling Live! will bring a new performer to Jonesborough each week through the end of October.

The West Virginian native made his name in local tall tale contests before going on to become one of the biggest names in the business. Now beloved around the world for his outlandish sense of humor and his stylish original tales, Lepp remains a fixture in the Jonesborough storytelling scene.

Lepp’s residency is an extended encore to his season-opening performance this past April, when he told stories to a sold-out crowd. He’ll also be performing at the National Storytelling Festival the first weekend of October. The Storytelling Live! format affords the rare opportunity to see Lepp in an intimate venue.

During the residency, Lepp will share a range of tall tales, including his infamous stories about his best friend Skeeter. Most of his stories are inspired by real life, even when they move far beyond the realm of possibility.

On Thursday, Sept. 12, Lepp will offer a special evening concert, “Chaos Doesn’t Happen on Its Own.” The nighttime performance will begin at 7:30 p.m., with tickets priced at just $15. Matinee performances will be offered for five days, Tuesday to Saturday, September 10-14. Lepp’s matinee performances at the International Storytelling Center will begin at 2 p.m.

All concerts are in the International Storytelling Center’s intimate state-of-the-art theater, located on Main Street.

Tickets can be purchased in advance on ISC’s website, in person, or over the phone. Walk-in seating is available the day of the show, while supplies last. Tickets for all afternoon matinees are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18.

As many times as Lepp has performed in Jonesborough, the thrill is always there.

“I have people in the audience who have never been to storytelling before,” Lepp said. “I like to give them a full-blown view of what it can be. I’m just always excited to come down to Jonesborough.”

The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health.

International Storytelling Center to Host Diane Edgecomb

Diane Edgecomb will be the next performer featured in the Storytelling Live! series.


Award-winning storyteller Diane Edgecomb will be the next performer featured in the Storytelling Live! series. Her stories will be accompanied with the musical stylings of Margot Chamberlain, who plays the Celtic harp. With voices that blend perfectly and a finely-tuned partnership developed over thirty years, Edgecomb’s and Chamberlain’s weaving of story, music and song is masterful.

Designed to bring a new storyteller to Jonesborough each week, Storytelling Live! has imported performers from all over the country since the season opened in May.

Edgecomb is best known for her traditional tales, though she also performs original tales. “I love doing myths and folkloric stories,” she says. “I like looking at the beauty and power and humor in these very old tales and legends.” Many of her traditional pieces are originally from Ireland, where Edgecomb has family roots.

In recent years she has also developed a series of nature stories designed to reconnect modern listeners to the great outdoors. “A lot of times we think we know everything,” she says. “We don’t have any sense of wonder or mystery about the world. The aim of these stories is to reconnect us to those things.”

The natural world provides a handy metaphor for the way in which Edgecomb approaches storytelling itself. “Stories are travelers,” she says. “A lot of times, people just cut them off. They don’t bring the root. What I try to do is put all the roots back in, put the soil around it, and make sure that all those things that have been lost are put back in. That helps the story live and breathe.”

During her weeklong residency in downtown Jonesborough, Edgecomb will pull a variety of stories from her vast repertoire. Matinee performances will be offered for five days, Tuesday to Saturday, September 3 – 7. All concerts are in the International Storytelling Center’s intimate state-of-the-art theater, located on Main Street.

Edgecomb’s daily matinees begin at 2 p.m. sharp. Tickets can be purchased in advance on ISC’s website, in person, or over the phone. Additionally, walk-in seating may be available the day of the show on a first come, first served basis.

Tickets for all afternoon matinees are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Exclusive discounts are available to ticketholders for the evening concert and matinee shows. Ticket stubs will earn a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only), Olde Towne Pancake House, Texas Burritos & More, Krazy Krepes, Jonesborough Barrel House, the Icing on the Cake (lunch only), and the Corner Cup. Additionally, Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and 5 percent off any other purchase.

The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, the Mooneyhan Family Foundation, and Food City. Media sponsors include News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune, and Cumulus Media.

ISC’s Storytelling Live! season extends through late October, with several encore performances scattered throughout the rest of the year.

The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live!, including the full 2019 line-up, or to purchase tickets and season passes, visit or call (800) 952-8392. 

JRT gets ready to welcome cast of gamblers, gangsters

Left to right: Cast includes Lucas Wilcox, Jacob Maurer, Johnny Archer, Josh Baldwin, Chris Pickens-Mitchell, Stephen Cradic, Ben Garber, Charles Landry, Joe Gumina and Bennett Little.


Mark your calendars now to see the romantic musical comedy Guys and Dolls at the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre, playing Aug. 29 through Sept. 15.

With memorable Frank Loesser songs such as “Adelaide’s Lament,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” and “Luck Be a Lady,” this show is a bundle of fun and energy that you don’t want to miss.

“Guys and Dolls is, at turns, hilarious and touching,” said Joe Gumina, who portrays the impulsive Sky Masterson. “The cast of characters is as bright and varied as the lights of Broadway.”

The hilarity begins when Sky — a fun loving, high-rolling gambler —unintentionally falls in love with prim and proper mission worker Sarah Brown, played by Catherine Squibb. Their unlikely story overlaps the turbulent romance of another mismatched pair: the endearing rascal Nathan Detroit (Lucas Schmidt) — who runs a famous floating craps game — and his loyal but long-suffering fiancé Miss Adelaide (Heather Allen), a headliner at the Hot Box Club.

The show follows the lives of these two couples through the streets of Manhattan to the dance clubs of Havana to the sewers of New York City. As the story unfolds on stage, these colorful characters’ hopes, aspirations, misunderstandings, and triumphs will touch a chord with today’s audience.

“Though Guys and Dolls is set in New York City during the post-depression era,” explained director Joe Smith, ‘the dreams and goals of the characters are similar to the dreams and goals we have today. We see men and women who are trying to make the ‘big time,’ to succeed in life, to find new opportunities, or to simply fall in love.”

“It is relevant today,” added Catherine Squibb, “because underneath it all, there is the classic lesson that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. It’s a heartwarming story that examines the different relationships that we all find ourselves in at one time or another.”

Audience members may be a little surprised to find themselves cheering for gamblers, rooting for gangsters, and charmed by showgirls and salsa dancers. But go ahead and applaud, because down deep, we really all just want the same thing: happiness.

“This show is often considered one of the finest musical comedies ever written,” said music director Shawn Hale, who also portrays Nicely-Nicely Johnson. “It is full of dazzling costumes and great songs that are unforgettable.”

“If big, brassy, show-stopping numbers are your thing,” added Gumina, “this show is sure to leave a smile on your face.”

Guys and Dolls is written by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. This production is directed by Joe Smith and assisted by Diane Taveau; music directed by Shawn Hale; and choreographed by Heather Allen. The JRT appreciates the show sponsors: Morningstar Farm, Chick-fil-A (West Market St.), Gary & Sandee Degner, and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.

Rounding out the cast are Johnny Archer, Josh Baldwin, Annika Beatty, Stephen Cradic, Andrew Duncan, Janette Gaines, Ben Garber, Emma Garber, Kate Hollenbeck, Charles Landry, Bennett Little, Hannah Love, Kyle Mason, Tiffany Matthews, Jacob Maurer, Chris Pickens-Mitchell, Lilli Pickens-Mitchell, Jessie Scarbrough, Brooklynn Shelton, Jessica Shelton, Tom Sizemore, Don Squibb, Anna VanEaton, Joel VanEaton, and Lucas Wilcox.

Shows run Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17 general admission, $15 for students and seniors. There is also a special group rate for parties of 15 or more. (An interpreter will be provided for the deaf on Saturday, Sept 14, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for these select seats must be purchased by Aug 24.) To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010 or go online to

World-class musician, storyteller to perform

David Holt will bring a collection of stories to Tennessee’s oldest town.


David Holt has always been a collector.

As an accomplished musician, he collects instruments. As a storyteller, he collects all kinds of tales. But maybe most of all, he has collected people.

Beginning when he was a young man up through the present day, Holt has been an informal archivist of the mountain music genre. His journey started in the early 1970s, when he moved to North Carolina to be closer to the source of the songs he wanted to play.

Touring the mountainside, he sought out musicians who played everything from the banjo to the paper bag. As he picked up techniques and songs, the stories followed naturally. “As I was collecting music, I began to hear about stories that were connected with the songs,” Holt says. “I began to collect these stories and tell them in concert along with the songs. I thought it was a very powerful combination.”

Holt started incorporating these stories into his own performances early on, first with folk tales and then with the unique personal stories of the characters he met along the way. He remembers one standout from Fred Cockerham, a banjo player in Mount Airy. “He was very droll, but never really excited about anything,” Holt says. “When he asked his wife to marry him, he said, ‘Would you like to be buried with my people?’ That was his proposal! I thought, yeah, I’ve got to tell the audience that. That’s just fascinating.”

As the International Storytelling Center’s next Teller in Residence, Holt will share stories and songs he has amassed over decades. Matinee concerts will run for five days, Tuesday to Saturday, August 20-24. Shows begin at 2 p.m.

Holt sees a big part of his task as a performer as recreating the natural environment in which he originally heard a story. A performance is a kind of conversation, he feels. “To me that’s really interesting, to make a program feel like you’re talking on somebody’s front porch,” he says. “I want it to be subtle and woven into this tapestry of music and story.”

Teller-in-Residence program tickets can be purchased via the International Storytelling Center in advance (which is recommended), but walk-in seating remains available while supplies last. Tickets for all afternoon matinees are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Discounted season passes are still available for a very limited time.

Exclusive discounts are available to ticketholders for the evening concert and matinee shows. Ticket stubs will earn a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only), Olde Towne Pancake House, Texas Burritos & More, Krazy Krepes, Jonesborough Barrel House, the Icing on the Cake (lunch only), and the Corner Cup. Additionally, Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and 5 percent off any other purchase.

The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, the Mooneyhan Family Foundation, and Food City. Media sponsors include News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune, and Cumulus Media.

Storytelling Live! will run its regular programming through the end of October before hosting a few seasonal performances through the remainder of the year.

The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live!, including the full 2019 line-up, or to purchase tickets and season passes, visit or call (800) 952-8392.

Germanna settlement is subject of lecture

In the colony of Virginia, Germanna was a settlement of German immigrants.


Associate Editor

Germanna was a settlement of German indentured servants in the Colony of Virginia, settled in two waves, first in 1714 and then in 1717. Cathi Clore Frost presented a program to 30 members of the Jonesborough Genealogical Society (JGS) on Saturday, July 27th about “Germanna,” a name selected by English Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood, reflecting both the German immigrants who populated the settlement and the British Queen, Anne, who was in power at the time of the first settlement.

The Germanna Colonies consist of the First Colony of 42 persons from the Siegerland area in Germany brought to Virginia in 1714 and the Second Colony of over 20 families primarily from the Baden-Württemburg area of Germany brought in 1717. Both groups were indentured to Spotswood.

Genealogical evidence shows that many of the families later migrated southward and westward after completing their indentured service and intermarried for generations, producing a rich genealogical heritage. Today, the Germanna Foundation database of descendants exceeds 125,000 people.

Frost, who lives in Oregon, is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Germanna Foundation. Before speaking to the JGS, she attended and lectured at the Foundation’s 62nd Annual Conference and Reunion that took place in Virginia from July 18th through 21st. 

The Commonwealth of Virginia in 2019 is celebrating the 400th anniversary of the first representative legislative assembly convened in the colony. Special events and interpretive programs have taken place throughout the year. Heralding “Virginia’s Red Letter Year of 1619,” Germanna Conference sessions included the long-range effects of importing slaves and bringing women across the ocean to marry frontier post single men in addition to the freedom to participate in representative government.

Frost, a genealogist and author of numerous publications and books, has ancestors who settled in the Second Germanna Colony. She repeated, for the benefit of JGS members, a conference session she conducted titled “Germanna 101.” The influence of the Germanna settlements has spread across the United States. Members from the original settlements migrated out of Virginia and some settled in East Tennessee at Broylesville in Washington County. Frost’s ancestors included families who traveled to and settled in the State of Iowa.

Apollo 11 astronaut and Germanna descendant Buzz Aldrin visited Germanna Community College’s Daniel Technology Center in Culpeper, Virginia in 2014. During his visit Aldrin met with students as part of his ShareSpace Foundation’s effort to inspire children to study science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. On this occasion, Buzz was presented with a copy of his genealogy tracing back to the Germanna Colony’s founding in 1714. The Germanna Foundation helped establish Germanna Community College by donating the land 50-years ago for the Locust Grove campus to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the purpose of founding the College in 1969 – the same year that Buzz walked on the moon.

In her program, Frost detailed the harsh living conditions that caused Germans to emigrate. Most were from the poor or laboring classes of society. The First Germanna Colony was recruited under the belief that Virginia had minerals, particularly silver, that could be mined. Their European diet was limited to grains and root vegetables. Meat was seldom available.

The settlers previously had suffered through nearly endless wars and French army invasions in addition to extremely cold winters. The migrations were proceeded in 1708-1709 by “The Great Frost” that saw temperatures dip to the coldest levels in Europe in 500 years. Animals froze to death, the Rhine River was completely covered with ice, and the King of France awoke from a sleep when his beard froze. Taxes were burdensome.

The settlers brought little when they sailed to America. An attempt in 1711 to colonize New Bern, North Carolina failed when the immigrants were attacked by Indians and most were killed. In Virginia in 1714 Fort Germanna, home of the First Germanna Colony, was constructed and became the westernmost settlement of the British Empire. Today it is considered one of the most significant archaeological sites in the nation.

The Germanna settlers had religious beliefs that embraced the Calvinist Reformed or Evangelical Lutheran faiths. There were also some Catholics in the group. Attendance at the Church of England services in Virginia eventually was not required. In 1740, the Hebron Lutheran Church in Madison County, Virginia was constructed and is still standing. The building represented good German construction methods and the fruits of a fundraising trip by members in Europe. In 1801 a pipe organ which is still in use was added to the church. Hebron is the oldest Lutheran Church with continuous use in the United States. Attendees at the 62nd Germanna Foundation Reunion could worship there on Sunday or at the nearby Little Fork Episcopal church in Culpeper County.

In Virginia, members of the settlements found abundant game was available in addition to cropland and timber that could be sold for ship masts. They also collected pitch and attempted winemaking. Original settlement tracts were small but eventually the Germanna colonists moved out to areas where they could obtain multiple acres. Frost said that one of her family members eventually owned 1,000 acres of Virginia land.

Frost also talked about the benefits of and limits to DNA testing. She emphasized that original research is needed before using this type of testing to supplement genealogical records. Of great value to members of the Jonesborough Genealogical Society were her listing of sources of research, both internet and on site at various library and courthouse locations.

Acclaimed storyteller Connie Regan-Blake to perform

Connie Regan-Blake will return to Jonesborough this month.


From the first annual National Storytelling Festival in 1973, Connie Regan-Blake knew she had found her calling.

Back then, a career in storytelling was barely distinguishable from a rock-and-roll lifestyle. Regan-Blake and her cousin Barbara Freeman toured the country in a pickup truck, telling stories wherever people would gather to listen.

It was an unconventional lifestyle, but one that suited the two tellers at the time — and gave them a well of road stories from which Regan-Blake is still drawing to this day.

From the comfort of her home in Asheville, North Carolina, those days feel like a long time ago now. “Even then, I think I had a sense that I was in the beginnings of a storytelling revival,” Regan-Blake said. “I’m really amazed at myself. We didn’t have a home base for three years.”

During her week in Jonesborough, the much-admired teller intends to share some new traditional stories as well as a recent fan favorite, a true story about a woman who trained herself as a pilot and a spy during World War II. “I read a newspaper article about Dagmar Chillman in the early 1990s,” Regan-Blake said. “She lived in St. Augustine, Florida, and I was going to be there performing, so I called her.”

Regan-Blake also plans to share a mix of other historical tales, and personal and traditional stories. Her performances will run Tuesday to Saturday, Aug. 13-17, with each show scheduled to start at 2 p.m.

Storytelling Live! is produced by the International Storytelling Center in Jonesbrough, and all concerts will take place in their intimate theater inside the organization’s headquarters on Main Street.

Storytelling Live! tickets can be purchased in advance (which is recommended), but walk-in seating remains available while supplies last. Tickets for all afternoon matinees are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Discounted season passes are still available for a very limited time.

Exclusive discounts are available to ticketholders for the evening concert and matinee shows. Ticket stubs will earn a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only), Olde Towne Pancake House, Texas Burritos & More, Krazy Krepes, Jonesborough Barrel House, The Icing on the Cake (lunch only), and The Corner Cup. Additionally, Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and five percent off any other purchase.

The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, the Mooneyhan Family Foundation, and Food City. Media sponsors include News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune, and Cumulus Media.

Storytelling Live! will run its regular programming through the end of October before hosting a few seasonal performances through the remainder of the year.

The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live!, including the full 2019 line-up, or to purchase tickets and season passes, visit or call (800) 952-8392. 

New mural pays tribute to local artist

A new mural at the Jonesborough Library is now ready to inspire local readers to ‘travel through time.’



A new mural adorns the wall of the Jonesborough Library, dedicated to “all who find adventure in reading.”

Orchestrated by the Friends of the Washington County Library and created by local artist Bill Bledsoe, this colorful rendition of literary greats, from “Moby Dick” to “Tom Sawyer,” is intended to inspire all who enter the library’s doors in search of a good book.

But the mural also holds an even deeper meaning for parents Russel and Kathy May, who have donated the artwork to the library in honor of their son, Sam.

“We are delighted to donate the mural that is titled ‘Travel Through Time. Read!’ which was designed and created by Jonesborough’s own Bill Bledsoe to the Jonesborough Library in honor of our son, Sam,” Russel Mays told a small crowd present at the July 20 mural unveiling and reception. “Sam loved Johnson City and Jonesborough and was involved with many, many activities with lasting impact.

The “Travel Through Time. Read!” mural was unveiled by artist Bill Bledsoe on July 20.

“We believe that with guidance of the library staff, many creative and wonderful activities will be inspired by this mural. And it will make the library even more fun for its users.”

Samuel D. Mays, a well-known urban artist who passed away in 2013, was credited with a number of local contributions during his lifetime, from helping design one of the first Jonesborough Days T-shirts to playing an important role in the creation of the original Blue Plum Festival.

“He graduated from ETSU with a bachelor in fine arts, and opened a graphic design firm, Fresh Punch, in Johnson City,” Russell Mays shared. “His work is still all around you.”

But Mays stressed that this mural was about so much more than just their son. While they believe it reflects his passion and creativity, the art also honors all the workers behind the scene who help make the library what it is.

“There are two reasons Kathy and I wanted to donate this mural to the library,” he explained. “One was to honor our son. The second is (because of all of the library services) paid for by Friends of the Library. We did not want Friends money to go any other direction than programing.”

For Bledsoe, being part of “Travel Through Time” was also a double honor.

Kathy and Russell Mays donated the mural in honor of their son.

First, he said, through the process he got to learn even more about fellow artist Mays.

Next, the creation process got him to thinking about his own library journeys.

“For me, I wanted to put images of stories that I enjoyed, and most specifically, when I moved here to Jonesborough I was 10 years old,” Bledsoe shared. “I never had an experience of being in a library while living in Johnson City. But when we moved to Jonesborough, the library was in the basement of the Chester Inn.

“My ritual was to go down there, especially when school was going on, and do my homework every night. I loved walking down there and I loved the smell of the books.”

This plaque honors artist Samuel D. Mays.

As an artist, it was, of course, the illustrations that caught Bledsoe’s eye. He drew on those memories when he began the mural.

“These are based on original illustration in the first editions of these books that are referenced in here,” Bledsoe said. “Whether it’s the Lord of the Rings or the Wizard of Oz or the Odyssey, Moby Dick, Narnia, the Headless Horseman, Tom Sawyer, A Christmas Carol,  Fall of the House of Usher.”

“Whenever you are asked to do something about literature, the mural could run all the way from this corner and back and it still wouldn’t be enough.”

He hopes the mural can inspire a new generation of readers and artists.

Mays closed the reception with the following Haiku, in honor of his son:

He loved and was loved.

He gave, but was given more.

He lived and lives on.

Washington College Academy dedicates trail quilt block

Local artist Sharon Stone puts finishing touches on the quilt block.


Trustees and guests of Washington College Academy in Limestone met Friday morning, July 19,  to dedicate “The Light In the Wilderness” the school’s addition to the Washington County Quilt Trail.

The quilt block, which features a log cabin with a candle burning in the window, represents the founding of WCA in 1780 by Rev. Samuel Doak. “The light in the wilderness” has been a motto of the school for centuries.

The academy first established as a private Presbyterian-affiliated educational institution by Doak. Currently, Washington College Academy offers a high school curriculum for adults free of charge and the WCA School for Arts & Crafts offers classes in traditional and contemporary arts & crafts.

The quilt block was installed on the north side of the Harris/Jablonski Student Complex.

The Appalachian Resource Conservation and Development Council administers the Washington County Quilt Trail.

Archive Annex renovation completed

Ned Irwin and Donna Briggs look through some of the books available at the Washington County Archive Annex.


Associate Editor                              

A major renovation to the Washington County Archive Annex was completed in 2019. The $350,000 project to the former county jail at the rear of the Washington County Courthouse in downtown Jonesborough now provides a secure, climate-controlled storage space for county records.

Ned Irwin with new HVAC system.

Currently, older records from 13 different county office and departments are housed in the Archive Annex, including records from the county mayor’s office, bookkeeping, Circuit Court Clerk, Clerk and Master (Chancery Court), Register of Deeds, and Trustee, among others. “The Archive Annex provided the space for all the county records formerly stored at the Downtown Center in Johnson City, along with additional records from other offices,” County Archivist and Records Manager Ned Irwin said. 

“County officials always have access to the records. They are their records and they can have access whenever they need them.”

He consults regularly with office holders on records disposal and retention. State law specifies that certain county records must be kept on a permanent basis, while others can be disposed of after a certain time period.

The construction project included installation of a new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system; electrical upgrade; new lighting; and the enclosure of 100 exterior windows to help insure a proper climate for the storage of records. In addition, a new roof was installed to handle the six heat pumps as part of the HVAC system. The Archive Annex contains approximately 10,000 square feet of storage space and houses several thousand boxes and volumes.

Johnson City architect Thomas Weems designed and supervised the project that began on Nov.13, 2018 and was completed on March 19 of this year. Preston Construction Company of Johnson City was the general contractor. Kingsport Armature was the electrical sub-contractor, and S. B. White Company of Johnson City was the HVAC sub-contractor. Morristown Roofing was the roofing sub-contractor.

The annex, originally constructed as a county jail, has excellent security. “It was a secure place to house prisoners, and it makes a secure place to house records. It is solidly built and access is very limited,” Irwin said. “Now that we have proper air and lighting, we and our volunteers will be able to work in the space, which we haven’t been able to do before.”

Irwin noted that the Archive Annex is strictly a records storage facility. Researchers wanting to use county records should come to the archives building located at 103 West Main Street, two doors west of the courthouse and directly across the street from the International Storytelling Center.

Say Cheese: Inn offers chance for ‘historic’ photos

Chester Inn docents Janice Hammett and Gordon Edwards pose for their old fashioned photographs.


Associate Editor

You can enter a photo studio from the turn of the 20th century and have your picture taken at the Chester Inn Museum now through August. 

The exhibit, titled “Capturing Images: Photography and Photography Equipment in Jonesborough,” was assembled by Joe Spiker, staff member of the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. 

If you are going to get your photograph taken, explained Spiker, “Visitors can use their cameras or cell phones to take their own pictures, or ask one of the docents to take it for them.” 

There are also props on hand including hats and scarves that visitors can use in their photographs.

Mary Whaley dons the appropriate garb and expression for turn-of-the-century portraits.

Highlighted in the exhibit is the photo studio of O. L. Hensley. His studio probably started in the area about 1890 and continued through the early 1900s. Hensley’s studio was located on Main Street. He often photographed outdoor scenes in addition to studio portraits. One such picture is labeled “Camping on Clark’s Creek, 1900 – O. L. Hensley Photo.” 

The museum’s “Photo studio” is a photographic reproduction of his studio complete with backdrop, camera equipment, chairs and a couch.

Spiker said he devotes parts of January and February when the Chester Inn Museum is not open to think about new exhibits and how to assemble the contents in the space available. Most of the exhibits in the photography display are from the Alliance Archives including photographs from Volume 14 of the Fink-Dulaney Collection. Spiker believes visitors will be particularly interested in the collection’s box camera with glass plate holders. 

Twentieth century cameras on display include a Kodak Duaflex II, circa 1955; a Polaroid 600 Business Edition, circa 1985, a Nikon Tele Touch 300AF, circa 1988 and a World War I Army Issue Field Camera, circa 1917. Motion picture cameras are also included in the collection with the explanation: “Capturing still images evolved into moving pictures, and photographs technology evolved along with it. Interest in movies and motion pictures exploded in the 20th century, and the appearance of handheld video recorders allowed anyone to record video and audio recordings.”

“The development of photography in the 19th century fundamentally changed human society,” Spiker’s introduction to the exhibit explains. “Photograph technology allowed people to view and understand things in ways that had never been possible.  Other groundbreaking 20th and 21st century technologies such as movies, television, computers and cell phones were built on or incorporated in some way the basic components of 19th century photography.” 

Ginny Whaley dons the appropriate garb and expression for turn-of-the-century portraits.

Examples of photographs are shown in the museum’s display cases under the headings of “Tintype,” “Ambrotype” and “Cabinet Card.”

Each type is labeled on several pictures and then described as follows: Tintype introduced in 1856 is a photographic image printed on thin iron plate.” 

The second tintype in the exhibit is a portrait of Jonesborough photographer L. W. Keen in the early 1860s. Libern Wilkerson Keen (1823-1907), a native of Sullivan County, opened a photographic gallery in Jonesborough in 1847.  This was only eight years after photography first came to the United States.  He remained in business until the end of the century.

Joe Spiker with the Heritage Alliance describes the process of putting together an exhibit.

“Ambrotype was introduced in 1854 and was popular for 10 – 15 years,” according to the Capturing Images Exhibit. “Ambrotypes were printed on glass plates. Later ambrotypes usually consisted of a single, ruby-colored glass plate and were packaged in a small container. . . Ambrotypes were similar to daguerrotypes which are largely considered the earliest form of photographic printing.”

The “History of Washington County Tennessee” (Jonesborough: Washington County Historical Society, 2001) in an article about the scarcity of goods during the Civil War states, “L. W. Keen, noted local photographer, sought photographic cases by offering refunds to those who returned their pictures with cases intact.

The “Cabinet Card” was introduced in 1866 and became popular in the U.S. in the 1870s. According to Capturing Images, “Cabinet cards became one of the most common photograph printings used in portraits. Cabinet cards were popular for photography studios to use like L.W. Keen and O. L. Hensley because it allowed them to display their studio name both on the front and the back.”

“Camping on Clark’s Creek,” an early 20th-century photo from O.L. Hensley.

A segment of the display asks: “What happens once cameras capture their image?”  The answer depends on when you ask the question, according to Spiker. 

“Most modern cameras retain their images directly and use memory storage devices or online transference to retrieve a printable image while in the 19th and 20th centuries the film development process. . .” included a number of devices, some of which are shown in the museum exhibit.

The value of photographs to historians in understanding the past is pointed out in a display case placard. Part of the goal of the exhibit “is to reach out to the community” explaining “while our photographic collection is extensive, there are holes we would like to fill in. In order to tell as much of Jonesborough’s story as possible we are asking for any photographs that you might have of Jonesborough and Washington County, including buildings, people, places, events, communities and neighborhoods of non-main street Jonesborough, and area towns such as Telford, Bowmantown, Limestone, etc.” 

For additional information about the exhibit,  Spiker can be contacted at (423) 753-4580. The Chester Inn Museum is located at 116 West Main Street in Jonesborough.  The museum is open now through October on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Researcher talks impact of women in East Tennessee settlement

Women played a larger role in East Tennessee history than many history books and road markers might suggest.


Associate Editor 

“When you get into history, you do not want to research what already has been done,” Casey Price, a Masters Degree student at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), told the year’s initial History Happy Hour audience on Thursday, March 21. His topic was “18th Century Resistance to State Formation in East Tennessee” with a theme that asserted the role of pioneer women has been neglected by historians.

The 25 persons who attended the lecture at the Chester Inn in Jonesborough received the fourth semester graduate student’s first explanation of a part of his thesis that he would defend at ETSU the following week.  The title of the thesis is “State Resistance: Gendered Spatial Construction Era in East Tennessee.”

The explanation of spatial, which is the nature of space, to Price involves the desire of frontier women to escape the English system of government in the 18th and early 19th centuries along with the legal doctrine of coverture.

Far more than the dictionary definition of the term as referring to the legal status of women, coverture said that upon marriage, a husband and wife were said to have acquired a unity of person that resulted in the husband having numerous rights over the property of his wife and in the wife being deprived of her power to enter into contracts or to bring lawsuits as an independent person. In the United States, these restrictions have now been abolished by various statutes.

The resistance to statehood was part of an original women’s rights movement that has long been ignored by Tennessee’s recognized pioneer historians including J. G. M. Ramsey and Samuel Cole Williams.  Price pointed out that these writers viewed history as “patriarchal” with the result that the role of men in American history is overemphasized.

A simple illustration was used as an example of this male gender bias. A Washington County Monument and a Tennessee Historical Markers read:  “Site of Cabin—Erected by William Bean – Russell Bean – First White Child Born on Tennessee Soil…” [the monument]  and “About 1 ½ miles to the east, on a knoll beside Boone’s Creek, a monument marks the spot where William Bean, first permanent white settler in Tennessee, built his cabin in 1769.  The site was previously used by Daniel Boone as a hunting camp.  Russell Bean, first child of permanent settlers, was born here” [the marker].

There is no mention of Bean’s wife Lydia in either the monument or marker despite the fact that the Bean family is traditionally regarded as the first permanent settlers in Tennessee.  They lived on Boone’s Creek where that stream flows into the Watauga River. In Price’s opinion, this marker needs to be reworded.

Lydia has an important role in pioneer history. She was taken captive and was to be killed by the Indians. However, an Indian woman named Nancy Ward was able to rescue her and get her back home to her family. As a Ghigau, Nancy had the power to spare captives. In 1776, following a Cherokee attack on the Fort Watauga settlement on the Watauga River (at present day Elizabethton, Tennessee), she used that power to spare Mrs. William (Lydia Russell) Bean.

Nancy took Lydia into her house and nursed her back to health from injuries suffered in the battle. Mrs. Bean taught Nancy how to weave, revolutionizing the Cherokee garments, which at the time were a combination of hides and cloth bought from traders. But this weaving revolution also changed the roles of women in the Cherokee society, as they took on the weaving and left men to do the planting, which had traditionally been a woman’s job.

In the graduate student’s presentation, the word “state” had an inclusive meaning that could range from references to colonies or a state.  In this respect, “men explore but women determine the settlement.”  Therefore, after individuals like the Long Hunters explored an area, they returned with their wives and children.  In this pattern, mothers and sisters along with other kinfolk also settled creating a society.

In East Tennessee this pattern of settlement resulted in unstructured county lines. Government was loosely said to be controlled from male officials living east of the mountains.  The need for more structured boundaries can be seen in Middle and West Tennessee where the institution of slavery demanded greater government control, Price said.

Examples of unstructured boundaries in East Tennessee can be illustrated by Peter Jefferson’s travels to the far reaches of Virginia where he stopped east of present day Elizabethton. Use of Peter’s information (he was the father of President Thomas Jefferson) could have resulted in parts of Carter County, Tennessee being in Virginia. Both east and west of Bristol in 1903, a United States Supreme Court commission found survey marks made with a hatchet. However, the commission never agreed to the location of the state line in downtown Bristol that divides Tennessee and Virginia. 

Not only did women determine the pattern of settlement in East Tennessee, they also provided economic stimulus to society. Once settled, women did not want to move. Cited by the lecturer as an example was the refusal of Rebecca Boone, the wife of Daniel Boone, to move to Florida. Instead the family moved to East Tennessee and then Kentucky. 

Probate records of estates illustrate the presence of spinning wheels as important family items along with agricultural tools. Price used the store of Thomas Amis in Hawkins County to illustrate the many transactions made by women, which often involved the use of barter rather than purchases by cash.

Home production of goods by women included agricultural goods, bee products and textiles. By 1810, there was a production of two million pounds of goods in public facilities in Appalachia in contrast to 26 million pounds of goods produced by women in private homes. These goods enabled men to purchase items such as gunpowder. The informal production techniques also avoided taxation.

A lively and interesting question and answer period followed Price’s talk. He indicated that he has found most pioneer settlers in East Tennessee were English with a minority of Scotch-Irish and Germans.  Authority for the statement, Price said, can be found in David Hsiung’s research on the settlement of the region. Price has a mother and sister with PhDs that he said explains, in part, why he has an interest in women’s history.

He also told the audience that he had been accepted into a doctoral program at the University of Tennessee.  Hopefully, Price and other students can spark a revival of history instruction in American education. A recent review of American history from colonial times onward titled “How to Hide an Empire” in the Wall Street Journal read: “American history is in trouble – the discipline that is. The share of college students who major in history has fallen by two-thirds since the early 1970s.”

The importance of teaching history in our nation’s schools was emphasized near the end of the review with the statement, “The author (Daniel Immerwahr) implores us to see the U.S. ‘not as it appears in its fantasies, but as it actually is.’”

New herbal ‘farmacy’ opens in Johnson City

Crafted Organics, which offers a variety of natural remedies for ailments such as blood glucose issues and high blood pressure, officially opened in June.


A new natural medicine store with an on-site herbalist recently opened in Johnson City.

Crafted Organics, which offers a variety of natural remedies for ailments such as blood glucose issues and high blood pressure, officially opened in June. 

The store is located at 4100 North Roan Street Suite 4. It is co-owned by Quillan Price and his wife Jen. Both were born and raised in Johnson City. Quillan has worked in the healthcare industry for the last 20 years.

After receiving multiple degrees, Pre-Med with an emphasis on Biology, Chemistry, & Kinesiology, and his disappointment in the current Medical & Pharmaceutical Industries, Quillan decided to pursue an education in Natural Remedies so that he may offer an alternative.

“I wanted to make a true change for healthcare,” he said. “This led me to herbs, which is the actual true source of healing. Herbs are where true health begins.”

Crafted Organics began as an online shop on the popular website ETSY in October 2018. Sales took off and the couple decided to open a store and offer their products to the public.

A variety of products are offered by the shop including vegan seasonings, herbal teas, hair products, hair oil, luxurious bath products, handmade soaps, variations of herbal capsules, Elderberry syrup, ginger syrup, bath scrubs, facial spray, tinctures, miracle salves, pet products, and exclusive CBD products such as CBD-infused sugar and Harry Hemp Kush.

All items are made in-house and crafted by Quillan and Jen including packaging and labeling of products.

“I wanted to give the public the same thing I was looking for, natural medicine,” Quillan said. “I couldn’t find those sources, so I relied on my knowledge and background to build my foundation for mixing herbs.”

There are more than 160 herbs located at Crafted Organic so if a customer cannot find what they are looking for or have an unusual request, it can be mixed together on the spot.

An on-site herbalist can answer any questions posed by a customer and help guide those who like to do their own research and mix their own remedies.

Crafted Organics is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Teller to bring ‘luxury of conversation’

Corinne Stavish will present tales of humor and heartfelt reflections at next week’s Teller In Residence performances.


Storytelling isn’t just a profession for longtime teller Corinne Stavish. It’s also a way of life.

In today’s busy world, she recognizes the privilege of truly taking time to listen. “The whole experience is luxurious,” she observes. “There is the luxury of time. There’s the luxury of space and the luxury of real conversation with people.”

Jonesborough is often called the storytelling capital of the world, but Stavish thinks of it as more of a close cousin to Broadway. “It has the excitement and the energy of theater,” she said. “I was a theater major, so I know. Jonesborough is the gold standard.”

She’s been performing in the town for decades.

Like many storytellers, over time. Stavish has found her interests shifting away from purely traditional folklore and more towards tales about contemporary living.

“I stayed away from personal stories for a long time because I thought they were egotistical,” she said. “But what I learned is that it’s not about me. It’s about humanity.”

But those reflections on humanity can take many forms. A recent piece that has been popular with her audience is a historical tale about the Holocaust — a longform tale that she’ll perform at the International Storytelling Center on the Thursday of her residency, which runs Tuesday through Saturday, June 25 – 29.

Reservations for all performances, and particularly the Thursday matinee, are highly recommended. Tickets for all matinee shows are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Heavily discounted season passes are still available for a limited time.

Altogether, Stavish will host five matinee shows, each beginning at 2 p.m in ISC’s headquarters in downtown Jonesborough. She’s known for her intricate construction and her surprisingly funny style.

Stavish has earned a fiercely dedicated audience, and the appreciation is mutual. “There’s just no other audience like it,” she said. “They understand story, and they understand storytelling. I’m a romantic and it’s just the romantic ideal of what storytelling should be.”

Exclusive discounts are still available to all ticket holders. Ticket stubs will earn a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only), Olde Towne Pancake House, Texas Burritos & More, Krazy Krepes, Jonesborough Barrel House, the Icing on the Cake (lunch only), and the Corner Cup. Additionally, Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and 5 percent off any other purchase.

The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, the Mooneyhan Family Foundation, and Food City. Media sponsors include News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune, and Cumulus Media.

Storytelling Live! is a seasonal program that runs from April to October.

The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live!, including the full 2019 line-up, or to purchase tickets and season passes, visit or call (800) 952-8392. 

Voices from the past: New interactive play to begin at Chester Inn

Anne G’Fellers Mason (center) may have written the words, but it is the cast who will help bring these stories to life.



Visitors to the Chester Inn will have the opportunity to hear the stories of former residents “first-hand” as the Heritage Alliance launches “Voices of the Chester” this week, with performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

An early photo of the Chester Inn on Main Street, Jonesborough.

The new interactive play — by the Alliance’s own Anne G’Fellers Mason — features stories about Dr. Chester, Theodocia Vance, Alf Taylor and more, portrayed by local actors on location at the Inn on Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15, with a special final performance at the International Storytelling Center on June 16.

“You meet at the museum downstairs, and I am your time-traveling tour guide,” said Mason, describing the Friday and Saturday performances. “We travel through the rooms. Some of it takes place on the back porch. Some in the parlor, the dining room, the bedroom, down in front.”

It’s the perfect opportunity, she said, to see the stories of these early Jonesborough residents come to life within the very rooms their own words might have been spoken.

“That’s the beauty of this play,” Mason said. “It is being able to move through space and kind of move through time. This building has been so many things. We’re talking 200 years. That’s a lot of lives.”

The Chester Inn, a Tennessee Historical Commission state-owned historic site located on Main Street, is considered the oldest building original to Jonesborough’s commercial district. William Chester, a medical doctor, constructed the building in 1797 to capitalize on those traveling through Jonesborough on the Great Stage Road.

But while the stories of Dr. Chester and other well-known historical characters may have found a place in Mason’s play, she has also made sure to also spotlight some of the quieter voices.

“We know a lot of the history of the building, and there is also the opportunity to tell the stories of people that we don’t know that much about, like Sara and James Roberts, who were the orphans who were bound to Dr. Chester to work at the inn,” she said. “And then Daphne, who was an enslaved woman who worked here.

“These people who left maybe left only one document behind, but the story is still here.”

Mason promises a total of about 10 stories portrayed by a cast of eight local performers. The play, she said, lasts about an hour. And it is worth every minute, she said.

“I do research. I put these words on page,” Mason stressed. “But (these actors) really bring it to life.”

For the actors themselves, the project has remained a labor of love.

“I love that you’re not just on one stage,” said Kalli Papas, the cast’s youngest player at age 11. Kalli plays orphan Sarah. “You get to go all around the building. You get to see everything. You get to be in the play.

“It’s not like most plays. It feels more real.”

Dana Kehs, who portrays Theodocia Vance, an early innkeeper, agrees.

“It’s more than just a monologue,” Kehs said. “It’s more than just telling a story. You are immersing the audience in the whole process.

“And my character, I love her. She had such fortitude. This is a person not to be forgotten. She needs to be remembered.”

Performances at the inn will take place at 7 p.m. on June 14, and at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m. on June 15. Due to the intimate nature of the experience; only 20 tickets are available per performance on Friday and Saturday.

A special performance of Voices of the Chester will be offered at the International Storytelling Center on June 16 at 1 p.m. The International Storytelling Center is handicap accessible. During this Sunday matinee, the stories of the Chester Inn will come to life onstage at the Krispy Kreme Theatre which seats 95 people. 

Tickets for all performances are $8. To purchase tickets, call the Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010. Tickets can also be purchased online at

Annual Gala presents inspiration via Gardening, Art and Tea

The Garden Gala event in Jonesborough offered a scenery of greenery at every turn.


H&T Coreespondent

“Bee Happy” was the theme for this year’s Garden Gala held on Saturday, June 1, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors were invited to come out for a self-guided walking tour of private and public gardens throughout Downtown Jonesborough, learn fun and interesting facts about bees and the important part they play, as well as enjoy tea and cookies.

A group of friends, many returning visitors to the Gala, eagerly await the tour to begin.

This year was the 23rd Garden Gala to be celebrated in Jonesborough. The Tuesday Garden Club and the Schubert Club take turns hosting the gala; this year it was the Tuesday Garden Club’s turn.

Dona Lewis, chair of the Garden Gala, helped organize the event.

She said the reason they chose to focus on bees for the theme is because bees play a major part in plant production. 

“As the bee population decreases, so does our food production,” said Lewis, as she explained how bees contribute to crop growth through pollination.    

Lewis hopes that visitors found enjoyment in the beautiful gardens and the art and music that was present at several of the stops along the tour, as well as learn some new and interesting facts about gardening and the bees that pollinate them.

Visitors had the opportunity to view seven public gardens and 10 private gardens along the tour.

A bus was provided by David Crockett High School to transport visitors to the various gardens.

The private gardens are owned and maintained by residents of Historic Downtown Jonesborough and are opened to the public during the Garden Gala so others can experience the unique beauty that each gardener has worked hard to create.

One of the first stops on the tour is the garden of Jonathan Adams and Sherrell Lyon, where visitors could enjoy a well-designed, half-acre garden with a greenhouse made out of recycled windows, a collection of antique birdcages placed strategically throughout the garden, a private dining area and an artfully designed henhouse and rabbit pen.

Jonathan Adams showcases his outdoor dining area.

“I’ve always wanted to make a place where family and friends can come and relax and have something interesting to look at,” said Adams.

Each garden held its own appeal. Some were shaded and mysterious, others whimsical, while others gave a feeling of openness and serenity.

They allowed visitors to see what can be done when people and nature come together. A new world can be created and experienced.

A great example of how a garden can become a world of its own is the Thatcher garden.

The garden was created by Helen and Sam Thatcher and is a visitor favorite. It contains four different garden rooms that are in themselves unique and give a mysterious yet peaceful feel.

“It feels like I’m walking through the Secret Garden,” said one visitor as she gazed around in wonder at the small courtyard to the side of the house.

Another visitor laughingly said that going along the shaded walk path at the front of the house felt like she was walking in an enchanted forest and almost expected to meet a fairy or other magical creature.

Helen Thatcher hopes that the tour encourages people to start a garden of their own. She said it doesn’t matter what size of garden they have or what plants they choose to grow, it’s just important to spend time with nature.

Thatcher enjoys being a part of the Garden Gala and appreciates all the visitors that come out to be a part of the tour.

“I love being out in nature,” said Thatcher, when asked how she felt about people visiting her garden. “It’s so peaceful, and it would sad if no one came and enjoyed it with us.”

Becky Chapman shows her reblooms and details how she creates them with used crystal or glass and temperature-safe adhesive.

Every garden had a unique landscape design with artistic features such as a multicolored watering pot, a flowerbed made out of an actual iron bed, birds made out of scrap metal, and a heart shaped design made out of brick on a walk path. 

Visitors also had the opportunity to buy new items to add to their garden or materials that teach new gardening techniques from marketplace vendors set up on the International Storytelling Center Plaza and in front of the Washington County Courthouse from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

There was everything from stained glass, plants, garden items, tools, garden-style jewelry and other handcrafted items.

“The Garden Gala is great because it brings a lot of people to our beautiful town,” said Becky Chapman, a vendor who has been a part of the Garden Gala for the past eight years.

Chapman sells glass art flowers called reblooms that are made out of used crystal and glass.

The Tuesday Garden Club had a flea market-type booth set up where they sold plants grown by members of the club, as well as other gardening items.

Lynda Harris ran the booth and said that the benefits of the Gala is that it promotes life in Jonesborough and teaches how to grow a healthy and environmentally safe garden.

“A big part of what we do today is raise money for local high school students and programs in the community,” said Harris.

All the money made from the Gala goes to charity, such as scholarships for students going into a career in agriculture.

The Gala brought in over 400 people to town, many of which are returning visitors.

P.J. Tucker, a California native who moved to Jonesborough several years ago, is one of those returning. This was her fifth Garden Gala.

“I love the Gala because it always gives me new ideas for my own garden and it’s a great way to spend time with friends,” said Tucker

“I can’t wait to see the treasures that are usually hidden behind fences,” said Carolyn Andrews, whose first visit to the Garden Gala was Saturday.

Both Tucker and Andrews feel that the Gala is important because it brings the community together, attracts new people to town, and the money collected is used to give back to the community.

Afternoon tea took place from 1 p. m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Kennedy garden where visitors could enjoy homemade baked goods and iced tea, while listening to music played by Martha painter on her harp.

The event was sponsored by the Northeast Tennessee Master Gardeners and Southern Appalachian Plant Society.


This book holds recipes of old and now offers a glimpse at how life used to be.


“The art of cookery is every day receiving increased attention, and no wonder.  Life is made all the brighter by satisfactory feeding; and he is a dull philosopher who despises a good dinner,” wrote Mrs. Grace Townsend in 1891 as part of an Introduction to the book ‘DINING ROOM AND KITCHEN.”  Published by the Monarch Book Co. as “An Economical Guide in PRACTICAL HOUSEKEEPING for the AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE,” the book contains 527 pages of the 19th century’s “Choicest Tried and Approved Cookery Recipes.”

The recipes begin with the “SOUPS.” The reader is told: “Soup, nourishing, but simple, should form the first course at every dinner.” The list of ingredients indicate that preparation of family size meals is intended as in the listing for Mutton Soup or Mutton Broth which both begin with “six pounds neck mutton.”

After 41 pages of soup, the recipes move on to “FISH, FROGS AND EELS.”  The preparation of SHELL FISH is next under the heading: “OYSTERS, CRABS, LOBSTERS, CLAMS, SHRIMPS AND TURTLES.” At page 67, “POULTRY AND GAME” recipes appear with the following admonition: “A fowl to be stewed should be dropped in cold water; this extracts the juices and renders the gravy richer. To be boiled whole and preserve the juices, it should be put in boiling water. A lump of charcoal put inside the dressed fowl will preserve it fresh. Packers would do well to remember this.”

“MEATS AND SUITABLE SAUCES” start on page 92.  The reader is told, “Bread is well termed the staff of life” on page 126.  The recipes continue with “DAINTY BREAKFAST DISHES, TOASTS AND MUSHES” beginning on page 154.  The next topic is “EGGS.”  “To ascertain the freshness of an egg without breaking it, hold it before a strong light or toward the sun, and if the yolk appears round, and the white surrounding it clear, the chances are it is good.”  An alternative test follows: “Or put them in a bucket of water; the fresh ones will sink immediately, those that float are doubtful.”

Categories of recipes continue with “VEGETABLES” – page 168 and “SALADS” at page 193.  Housewives were told on page 200: “CAKE MAKING AN ART.”  Author Townsend wrote: “This branch of cooking above all others demands care, and it is invariably true that a good cake maker is a success, at whatever branch of cooking she undertakes.” The dessert section continues with “SAUCES FOR PUDDINGS AND DUMPLINGS” and “DAINTY DISHES FOR DESSERTS” ending on page 320.

Another set of recipes is titled “WATER ICES AND SHERBETS, PICKLES, SPICED FRUIT AND VINEGARS, CANNED AND DRIED FRUITS,” plus “PRESERVES, JELLIES, ETC.”  The category ends on page 386.  Readers are also told about making “CATSUPS and CANDIES.”  At page 396 under the heading of “FRAGMENTS,” the text reads: “Before concluding our ‘Cook Book’ proper, we feel it would be incomplete without containing a few suggestions relative to using up remnants from the table, and odds and ends accumulated in cooking.”

The cookbook continues with “LUNCHES, PICNICS AND PARTIES,” followed by “SANDWICHES” and “FOOD FOR INVALIDS.”  The last section of the book deals with “CARVING” and “BILLS OF FARE” including a section with suggestions on what to cook when seasonal ingredients are available. 

Housewives were also told about housekeeping focused on “THE DINING ROOM with TABLE ARRANGEMENTS, the NURSERY, KITCHEN AND LAUNDRY.”  A daily routine for house cleaning suggests: “On Monday, wash; Tuesday, iron; Wednesday, bake and scrub kitchen and pantry; Thursday, clean the silverware, examine the pots and kettles, and look after the store room and cellar; Friday, devote to general sweeping and dusting; Saturday, bake and scrub kitchen and pantry floors, and prepare for Sunday.”

Interesting features of the cookbook are suggested menus for holidays, for persons who are ill and for daily dining. A “MENU FOR ONE WEEK BY COURSE” reads as follows:

SUNDAY – Breakfast: Baked beans with pork and Boston brown bread, omelet.  Dinner: Roast turkey potatoes, canned corn, plum jelly, young lettuce broken up (not cut), heaped lightly in a dish and ornamented with sliced eggs; Charlotte russe, jelly and sponge cake.  Supper: Cold turkey. Cranberry jelly, canned fruit, jam and cake. 

MONDAY. – Breakfast: Graham bread, broiled bacon, fried potatoes; Dinner: Boiled corn beef with horseradish sauce, whole boiled potatoes and turnips, slaw; hot apple pie with whipped cream, oranges and cake.  Supper: Toasted Graham bread, cold corned beef sliced, grape jelly, hot buns.  

TUESDAY. – Breakfast: buttered toast, pork chops broiled, hominy grits. Dinner: Tomato soup, pigeon pie, creamed potatoes, canned corn or beans, pickles; steamed pudding with sauce, almonds, raisins. Supper: Plain bread, sardines with lemon, light coffee cake or sweet buns and jam.

WEDNESDAY – Breakfast: Sally Lunn creamed codfish, fried raw potatoes, scrambled eggs. Dinner: Pigeon pie, grape jelly, new potatoes, tomato salad; delicious lemon pudding, cake. Supper: Toasted Sally Lunn, cold pressed meat, vanities with jelly.” (Sally Lunn is a type of bread, a recipe for which is included in the cookbook.)  Mrs. Townsend states: “The cake should be torn apart, not cut; cutting with a knife makes warm bread heavy.  Bake a light brown.  The cake is frequently seen on Southern tables.” 

THURSDAY – Breakfast: Oranges, corn batter cakes, broiled liver, scrambled eggs.  Dinner: Roast beef, mashed potatoes, beets, cress salad, plain boiled rice with cream.  Supper: Plain bread, Bologna sausage, rusk with berries.”  (A rusk is another type of bread with a recipe in the cookbook.)

FRIDAY – Breakfast: Muffins, broiled beefsteak, poached eggs, potatoes in Kentucky style.  Dinner: Baked or broiled fish (if large, or fried if small fish), boiled potatoes in jackets, lettuce salad, custard pie.  Supper: Toasted muffins, cold rusk with strawberries or marmalade.” (Editor’s note:  The cookbook lacks a recipe for Kentucky style potatoes.)

SATURDAY – Breakfast:  Cream toast, fried ham, potato cakes, stewed tomatoes.  Dinner: Roast leg of mutton with potatoes, green corn, tomatoes, muskmelon.  Supper: Plain bread, dried beef frizzled, boiled rice with cream, blanc mange, jelly, cake.”

(Installment III of Campbell’s Collection of Books will review “The RUMFORD COMPLETE COOK BOOK” published in 1929.)

Hypnotizing folk tales coming to ISC

Anne Shimojima will be the featured storyteller next week for the Storytelling Live! program, sharing folk tales and peronal stories of her family’s past.


Anne Shimojima didn’t realize she had it in her.

The storyteller, who will soon appear at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough as a featured performer in its popular Storytelling Live! program, always gravitated to folk tales over personal stories—that is, until she started digging deeper into her own family’s past.

When Shimojima set aside six months to interview family members about their experiences as Japanese-Americans during World War II, she realized she had a tale on her hands that was much bigger and more impactful than the usual anecdotes that families tell and retell around their dinner tables. Her father’s parents lost their livelihoods when they were forced into U.S. imprisonment camps after Pearl Harbor.

The process of piecing together that difficult tale was valuable for the storyteller, personally and as a matter of perspective. “It gives you a better sense of who you are and where you came from,” she said. “And it’s important to pass that on to our children so they have a better sense of where they come from, too.”

Part of her mission since then has been to encourage audiences to tap into their own family histories.

During her weeklong residency in Jonesborough, Shimojima plans to share the difficult, fascinating tale. Over the course of the week, she’ll host five matinee concerts, each beginning at 2 p.m., most of which will have a heavy focus on folk tales.

“Stories that have lasted for hundreds of years always have a grain of truth in them,” she says. “They’re not necessarily realistic, but there’s an inner truth to the stories. And I think people respond when you’re telling them something true.”

Shimojima originally found her calling as a performer when she was working as a librarian. Like a hero in a story, one day she became aware she had a hidden gift with the potential to save the world. The revelation came about when she put down the books and started sharing folk tales with her young audiences. “When you put the book down and tell the story, it’s a much more intimate experience because you’re looking into their eyes,” she says. “I was immediately hooked because the kids were hanging on to my every word.”

Shimojima’s full residency is June 4-8, with reservations recommended, but not required. Tickets for all matinee shows are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Heavily discounted season passes are still available while supplies last.

Exclusive discounts are available to all ticketholders. Ticket stubs will earn a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only), Olde Towne Pancake House, Texas Burritos & More, Krazy Krepes, Jonesborough Barrel House, the Icing on the Cake (lunch only), and the Corner Cup. Additionally, Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and 5 percent off any other purchase.

The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, the Mooneyhan Family Foundation, and Food City. Media sponsors include News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune, and Cumulus Media.

The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live!, visit or call (800) 952-8392. 

Select county schools receive STEM grants

Sulphur Springs Elementary School received a $5,000 grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority.


The Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated (a TVA retiree organization), recently awarded Sulphur Springs School, $5,000 for a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education project.

The grant award is a part of $580,000 in competitive STEM grants awarded to 161 schools across TVA’s seven-state service territory.

“The planned project provides hands-on experience using technology, science investigation equipment, and support materials that will allow students hands on experience in a water quality study,” said, Diana O’Neal, middle school science teacher at Sulphur Springs. “Students will be actively involved in collecting data for the study and developing plans to restore and maintain a healthy waterway. The project is intended to be a yearly event that increases understanding of the effect that our community has on a local stream and provide awareness of how the river that provides water for the community is impacted.”

Across the valley, educators submitted projects large and small, to further their STEM education initiatives in the classroom.

The project Sulphur Springs School submitted will ask seventh and eighth grade students to participate in a problem-based learning unit to determine the health of a creek located near the school and consider solutions to share in a culminating project presentation. The STEM study focuses on the importance of maintaining water quality by researching pollution causes, actual testing of the creek for water quality, and developing solutions to keep the water source healthy. Students will collect data using stream study investigation kits to record information such as pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and stream flow.  Specimens will be collected and used to determine the health of the creek using data on macro-invertebrate populations. Results of their findings will be shared with the student population and the community.

The competitive grant program provided teachers an opportunity to apply for funding up to $5,000 and preference was given to grant applications that explored TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development and community problem solving. Schools who receive grant funding must receive their power from a TVA distributor.

“The goal of the program was to help further STEM education across the valley,” said Rachel Crickmar, TVA Community Relations Program Manager. “We knew this program would be popular and competitive and now we’re are looking forward to seeing the impact these projects have.”

South Central students will soon join David Crockett on a STEM project thanks to TVA.

David Crockett High School received $750 for a STEM education project as well.

The project David Crockett High School submitted, in collaboration with South Central Elementary, is to perform cross-curricular STEM projects. Both high school and elementary participants will research about food deserts, careers, and developing an aquaponics system.

Students will compare hydroponics and aquaponics using a Socratic seminar. High school participants will become experts of a 20-gallon aquaponics system. During the first collaboration, high school students will teach photosynthesis, nitrogen cycle, and assist in developing an aquaponics system with the elementary students. Both groups will collect data pertaining to nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and height of plants with their own systems. Both groups will engage in asking questions, defining problems, analyzing data, developing models, construct explanations, evaluating and communicating information.  The students will bridge communication during the project using Google Docs. During a second collaborative visit, they will discuss the STEM project and deliver presentations. In conclusion, the students will write an essay on how their local community could implement a large scale aquaponics system in relation to STEM careers.

Peggy Wright, Principal of David Crockett, said, she is “looking forward to the partnership and experience our students will have to work together on this cross-curricular project.”