Local Civitan dates back to 1947; still serving area communities

The Jonesborough Civitan has been making a difference in the community since its inception in 1947.


Associate Editor


Most residents and visitors pass by the gazebo at Mill Spring Park or the shelter at Wetlands Water Park assuming they were built and paid for by the Town of Jonesborough. The two facilities are but a couple of the projects completed by the Jonesborough Civitan Club.

On the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, the group of approximately 20 members meets at the Blackthorn Club near Jonesborough for fellowship and discussion of projects that will benefit the community.

Current projects include support for the Civinettes at David Crockett High

School, wheelchairs for those in need, funding for five Free Little Libraries in conjunction with the Jonesborough Community Chest and flags for Veterans Park. The group also sponsors Little League baseball and soccer teams in the community.

The Civinettes are an all-female club. Their new advisors are Lauren Murr and Julie Rastall.

The local community service organization was chartered on Aug. 15, 1947. The charter was issued by Civitan International, based in Birmingham, Alabama and founded in 1917 “to build good citizenship by providing a volunteer organization of clubs dedicated to serving individual and community needs with an emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities.”

The organization broke off from a service club when members in Birmingham, Alabama felt it was “focused too much on increasing the business of club members.” The club was led by Courtney Shropshire and named “Civitan,” derived from the Latin word for citizenship.

“I was not in a civic club,” said Jimmy Rhein, who joined the group in 1985. “I was working in Kingsport and could not go to a noon meeting. I joined because the membership met at night.”

Now, the club does hold its meetings at noon. Rhein said he discovered that “It was a good way to make connections with others and to help the community.”

Member Steve Alexander joined the club in 1987. He also was working outside of Jonesborough. He said, “Dad (Wayne Alexander) had been a club member, so I joined.”

Alexander said the gazebo project was undertaken when he was president. “We were looking for a large project,” he said. “The town owned the land and the club spent between $12,000 and $15,000 to built the gazebo,” now the site of numerous events including weddings and ghost stories during the annual Storytelling Festival.

The Storytelling Festival is one of the groups’ fund raising projects where members assist with traffic and parking during the annual event in early October. Other fund- raisers are a chili supper in February and a golf tournament usually held in late March or early April.

Traditionally, the club has also sold fruit cakes during November and December. The sales by what is now a 40,000 member international organization began in 1951 when Civitan Earl Carver stopped by a small bakery in Claxton, Georgia and purchased a fruit cake. It was so good he purchased cakes to take home to Florida and then suggested his club sell the cakes to raise money — which they did. Since then, Civitan and Claxton Fruit Cakes have become synonymous with the holiday season. One of the most successful fundraising projects beginning in 1976 has been the Civitan Candy Box Project. The program has raised $50 million through the placement of boxes of mints at businesses in members’ communities.

Alexander said the shelter at Wetlands Water Park originally was moved to accommodate the park. “It was our project from start to finish.” Adding to the structure are restrooms close to the shelter that were built by the Town of Jonesborough.

The Civitans organized and sponsored the “Miss Historic Jonesborough Scholarship Pageant” in 1985. Several years later the group was offered the “Miss Johnson City” franchise. Thereafter it was run as a combined pageant crowning both “Miss Historic Jonesborough” and “Miss Johnson City.”

Then, several years ago, the pageant split from the Civitans and is operated as a separate organization.

Rhein and Alexander both said, “We are always looking for the next project.” Alexander added, “We are now working with the Town of Jonesborough on weather resistant musical chimes that people can ring by striking.” Civitan has joined with the local Kiwanis Club in some projects such as the annual golf tournament.

A major project of the club in the past was a joint venture with the Jonesborough Riding Club. It was the Jonesborough Horse Show usually held on the July 4th weekend and took place in the 1950s and 1960s. It was held on the 11E Bypass where Mark Ferguson’s Car Wash and Storage business is now located. In the early ‘50s the group also sponsored a Minstrel Show at the old Jonesborough High School, now known as Academy Hill.

The organization is proud of the fact it was the first major, all-male service club to accept women as members. An informal ladies’ auxiliary had been part of Civitan since the late 1920s but women had never been Club members. Membership was first opened to women in 1974.

Current officers of the club are: Jimmy Rhein, President; Mike Dixon, Vice-President; Jeff Orr, Secretary and Taylor Fleenor, Treasurer. Dues for members are $70.00 per quarter.

“We have been sponsoring activities in the community for over 50 years,” said Rhein. Members of the group have included former Mayor Kelly Wolfe, Steve’s father and well-known funeral director Wayne Alexander, Sam Mitchell, Sr., Sam May and Harry and Wilbur Weems.

A couple of outstanding Civitans from the past are Jack Leonard and W.C. Rowe. Leonard’s daughter was Miss Tennessee. Rowe was a Washington County Commissioner for many years. Former Washington County School Director Ron Dyke’s father, J.C., and his grandfather were Civitans. Members of other Civitan clubs throughout the nation have included Thomas Edison, Presidents Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Harry Truman. Others have included United State Supreme Justices Hugo Black and Ed Sanford; Cornelius Vanderbilt, IV, Richard Petty, and Bo Jackson.

The organization has adopted a special emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities. It has been a major sponsor of Special Olympics and operates the UAB Civitan International Research Center in Birmingham. This world-class research facility is a center for research into disorders such as autism, Down syndrome, brain tumors and epilepsy.

Tennessee has played a major role in Civitan’s history. For example, the group’s second annual convention attended by 115 clubs was held at Chattanooga in 1922. The Knoxville Civitans raised $100,000 to build a three-story hospital for indigent tuberculosis patents in 1923.

If you are interested in Civitan Club membership or would like to know more about the organization, contact Jimmy Rhein at telephone number 423-753-4522 or email: “rheinjhsd0010@embarqmail.com.

Storyteller to bring the humor

Andy Offutt Irwin will bring all of his talents and stories — including ones about food — to Jonesborough from Saturday, July 17 through Saturday, July 21.


Triple threat Andy Offutt Irwin — storyteller, humorist and musician — will be the next artist in line for Storytelling Live! in downtown Jonesborough. As a guest of the International Storytelling Center, the popular performer will offer a series of live concerts.

Throughout Irwin’s residency, Tuesday to Saturday, July 17 – 21, he’ll share an array of stories and songs, including fan favorites and new material.

“If I don’t tell Marguerite stories, there will be unrest,” he said, referring to his most beloved character, an 85-year-old physician named Marguerite Van Camp. Despite the ridiculous trappings of her life that mark her as a character, not a person, Marguerite is so beloved by Irwin’s fans that most of them think of her as real.

In addition to his afternoon performances, on Thursday, July 19, Irwin will offer a special evening concert, “A Football Made of Cheese,” which is in part a story about his sister’s strangely specific phobia of yellow cheese. The nighttime performance will begin at 7:30 p.m., with tickets priced at just $15. Tickets for all matinee shows are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18.

Irwin’s Thursday-night concert is one of many special events scheduled throughout the Storytelling Live! season, including other after-dark shows, Saturday-morning story hours for children, and story-related workshops.

All matinee concerts begin at 2 p.m. in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall. All ticketholders can present their ticket stubs for a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only); Medley Vegan Vegetarian; Olde Towne Pancake House; and The Corner Cup. Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and 5 percent off any other purchase.

Throughout the week, Irwin will intersperse stories from his own childhood into his sets of original stories about Marguerite. A relatively new area of interest for him is food, a subject about which he’s nostalgic, if not romantic. “A lot of storytellers talk about food and what they grew up eating,” Irwin said. “Kathryn Tucker Windham used to tell a story about not having sugar in the cornbread, but I grew up on Captain Crunch. I’ve got the dental work to prove it.”

Information about all performers, as well as a detailed schedule for the 2018 season, is available at www.storytellingcenter.net. 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, 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. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live! or to make a group reservation, call (800) 952-8392 ext. 222 or (423) 913-1276.

Sounds of Boones Creek grand opening celebrated

From left to right, Ed Bowman, Lilly Hensley, Brenda Whitson, and Vicki Shell help kick off the ribbon cutting at the Sounds of Boones Creek Museum.


Associate Editor


An overflow crowd of nearly 200 persons celebrated the Grand Opening of the Sounds of Boones Creek on Tuesday, June 26 at 525 W. Oakland Avenue in Johnson City. The museum is a walk through of 260 years of county history.

The Boones Creek Historical Trust Museum & Opry displays a look back in time with artifacts collected by the 32-year old organization pledged to preserving the history of the Boones Creek community.

After a welcoming by Boones Creek Historical Trust President Lilly Hensley, members of the group explained the museum’s timeline that features photographs of the famous tree noting Daniel Boone had killed a bear in 1760 and Bean Fort, where William Bean established residency in 1769 as the first European settler in what would become Tennessee. Other exhibits detail local doctors Hezekiah Hankal, for whom the Washington County Health Department Building is named, and Joseph L. Clark, a pioneer physician. An expert shooter who went to Hollywood to create western movie scenes, Joe Bowman is featured in one panel of the museum as is Mayne Keefauver, the first woman to run for public office in Washington County.

There are also scenes containing information about agriculture, the Burley Bowl, small industry, schools and churches. Museum visitors are told that Boones Creek was home to country music pioneer and songwriter Fiddlin’ Charlie Bowman and an audio presentation features his song “9 Pound Hammer.”

During the ceremony, BCHT Historian and Treasurer Edward Bowman, commented, “People visit museums, but they need a reason to return again and again. So every Saturday night at 6 p.m. we have an Opry on this little stage. It’s part history lesson and part music.”

Bowman, a graduate of both Boones Creek High School and East Tennessee State University, continued in explaining that the museum is a “‘people’s opry’ – local talent taking the stage. The response has been amazing. There is no question this small space isn’t going to hold us long. The demand is already evident.”

The space at Oakland Avenue was donated to the Historical Trust by Dr. Carroll and Jimmie Ann Hyder. It is a temporary one-quarter scale model of a museum venue that is planned for the future at a location in Boones Creek. A possible site for the museum is a barn on the Keefauver Farm, owned by the City of Johnson City and planned for future recreational development.

The BCHT consists of 250 members. “The Sounds of Boones Creek can very easily become one of the largest draws in our area,” Trust member Stephen Sebastian said. “We are the keepers of remarkable frontier stories and artifacts…what you see here only scratches the surface of our collection.”

Commenting on the creation of the Museum & Opry, Trust member Vicki Shell said, “We have put this place together in four months on a shoestring to illustrate our dream. We are going to honor our benefactors in a permanent way in the museum but for now let me say ‘thank-you’ to those of you who have already opened your wallets and said you wanted to be part of this…We need your support.”

The BCHT will join with East Tennessee State University in musical programing under the direction of Ron Roach, chairman of ETSU Appalachian Studies. In the future, after school workshops and music day camps for people of all ages are planned.

Assisting Historian Bowman and President Hensley in the Ribbon cutting Tuesday was Brenda Whitson, Director of the Chamber of Commerce’s Convention & Visitors bureau. The organization was credited with its support of the Museum & Opry’s establishment. Also present in the audience were a number of local government officials. Immediately following the ribbon cutting, the audience listened to a playing of the song, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”  Refreshments were provided to visitors at a tent in front of the museum after the ceremony.

The museum is now open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Musical programs with a featured band followed by people who want to join in the evening’s entertainment take place each Saturday night For more information, visit www.boonescreekhistoricaltrust.org. or telephone numbers (423)467-0151 and (423)329-3784

Johnny Cash show offered more than music

A 1973 edition of the Herald & Tribune contained this photo of Johnny Cash in Jonesborough as he looked over a book on Landon Carter.


Staff Writer


In July of 1973, Richard Nixon was the President, Stevie Wonder was on the radio and right here in Jonesborough, Johnny Cash was preparing to celebrate the Fourth of July in Tennessee’s oldest town.

The Herald & Tribune announced the show as one of Cash’s largest to date.

Johnny Cash performed on Friday, July 6, 1973 in Jonesborough for what was the first annual Jonesborough Days Festival. The show was hosted at the Jonesborough Middle School football field, and included Carl Perkins, the Tennessee Three, and, of course, his wife June Carter Cash. Now, this year’s Jonesborough Days Festival will feature a Johnny Cash look alike contest and a tribute show dubbed the “Johnny Cash NOW concert”.

The show that sparked the man in black-themed events this year at the festival might have been over 40 years ago, but for former Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe — who was 3 years old at the time of the show — Johnny Cash made created an unforgettable memory in the Jonesborough native’s mind.

“During the show, I remember there was film of two trains colliding with each other. That stuck out in my mind,” Wolfe recalled. “It also stuck out in my mind that he and his wife were singing together and how good they were together. And to this day I’m still a huge Johnny Cash fan.”

As an adult, Wolfe said he finally got to thank the man in black in 1999 when Cash played at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia.

“I told him that I remembered seeing him at the very first Jonesborough Days,” Wolfe said. “I wanted him to know what kind of impression it made on me. I remember he said he remembered playing it and that it was a great crowd.”

But Cash didn’t wind up in Jonesborough by chance; thanks to a group of dedicated community leaders, Cash agreed to play the show to kick off the Jonesborough Days Festival after the group made a trip to Hendersonville, where Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash lived.

Mark Hicks — whose mother, Lois Hicks, was part of the group that made the trip to persuade Cash to come to Jonesborough — said his mother shared with him her memory of the meeting.

“Momma told me that when they got to his house, Johnny Cash came downstairs in a big black robe and black house shoes and (the group) sat there and talked for a good little while,” Mark Hicks said. “I know they talked about Jonesborough and he agreed to do the show.”

An unidentified newspaper clipping and an autographed show program from the 1973 festivities are pictured. (Courtesy of the East Tennessee State University Archives of Appalachia)

The show didn’t only help celebrate Jonesborough Days; Washington County Commissioner Pat Wolfe said that during the time, Cash’s agreement to come to town also boosted the restoration and preservation movement in Jonesborough, which was taking place during the time of the show.

“Jonesborough was just in its infancy of getting the historical restoration movement going,” Pat Wolfe said. “There were a lot of naysayers in the community, a lot of naysayers out in the county saying, ‘That’s not going to work. That’s not going to happen.’ About the same time, storytelling was beginning too and the same naysayers said the same things about storytelling.

“But the way that the first Jonesborough Days developed, it quieted a lot of naysayers and showed them that yeah, it’s really going to happen. Of course, that went right along hand-in-hand with all the restoration that was starting downtown. It was an emphasis point to kick off that we were going to do this.”

In addition to taking place at the time of the town’s restoration, Mark Hicks said Cash’s show also raised money to help start up a museum in Jonesborough.

“The idea came up that Jonesborough needed a museum,” Mark Hicks said. “They didn’t have a museum and with everything going in and being done, they wanted to have that.

“My mother and the group collected all the money and that money ultimately went and started the museum that Jonesborough has now. That stuff has evolved in the last 50 years, but whatever they put in during the mid ‘70s was where that money went.”

But did Cash know he was potentially playing a part in Jonesborough’s restoration movement? If his love for history and the area from which June Carter Cash was from proved to be any indication, Pat Wolfe said he believes Cash had multiple reasons to do the show in Jonesborough.

“Johnny got excited about what was going on,” Pat Wolfe said. “He was sort of a history buff of Arkansas and he of course also got excited about up where June came from in Southwest Virginia, Hiltons and Maces Springs and up in that area.”

As for Kelly Wolfe, it was the country music legend’s willingness to do the show, in addition to one of the most memorable concerts he’s ever seen, that solidifies the impact that Jonesborough Days kick-off show had on the little town of Jonesborough.

“He was just kind enough to do it,” Kelly Wolfe said. “And I think when you start off with Johnny Cash, you can’t go wrong. Jonesborough Days, to this day, continues as a strong festival thanks to his involvement.”

JRT features Broadway-experienced actor

Tom Flagg, above, poses with fellow JRT performer, Sierra Ford.


Staff Writer


A recent arrival to the Jonesborough area has a talent that is already proving useful to the Jonesborough Repertory Theater.

Tom Flagg

Tom Flagg, along with his wife Jane, recently moved to the area from the New York/New Jersey Metro area and has quite the experience in the performing arts.

He has performed under the bright lights of Broadway and has also traveled all over the country refining his craft.  And, beginning June 29, he will play the part of John Adams in the local production of  “1776.”

“I now find myself on the stage of JRT, performing one of my favorite roles in musical theatre,” Flagg said.

Born in Ohio, Flagg still remembers his first stage performance, “a school Christmas pageant when I was 5 years old.”

He gained experience in community theaters of North-Eastern Ohio, a time he remembers well. “It was a great training ground. I fondly remember those theaters, the people I worked with and one director in particular who encouraged me to be a professional actor. I guess I was destined to be an actor.”

While in high school, Flagg spent two summers at his “dream job” with the Kenley Players in Ohio. 

The Players “produced ‘star package’ shows for 14 weeks every summer, and I got to work with stars I’d been seeing in movies and TV my whole life. Ethel Merman, Chester Morris, Artie Johnson, Jane Powell and many others,” Flagg said. “I was star-struck.”

At 19 years old, Flagg moved to New York City and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, a two-year program that included classes on acting, stagecraft, performance techniques, fencing, mime and dance.

After completing his studies there, he began to audition for professional jobs, which led Flagg to meet his wife.

“On June 30th of that year, I arrived at the theater and soon met the young lady who would become my wife and sometime acting partner, and our theatrical life was off and running,” he said.

The two were married and spent time at theaters in North Carolina, New York and Pennsylvania. As their careers progressed, he spent much of his time traveling across the country. “I eventually traveled to 36 states and performed in over 125 different American cities,” Flagg said. “After each show ended, I returned to the fold to audition for another one. That is the nature of show business.”

One of those early auditions led to his first taste of Broadway. Flagg had a small role in a play called “LEGEND” and staged the fist fights and gun fights required for the Western style play, which closed three days after opening.

His path to the much brighter lights began at the Wolf Trap Theater in Virginia on a musical called “Shenandoah.” He was contacted and called to join the Broadway company of the same play. More Broadway shows followed and he also landed his own showcase.

“The Will Rogers Follies” ran for two and a half years at the Palace Theater.

While with the show for its entire run, Flagg “was at home to have dinner with my family before leaving for my show at night. I was able to drive my kids to school in the morning, and to be around to do Dad stuff during the day. It was a great time.”

He also appeared in the Broadway revival of “How to Succeed in Business” which starred Mathew Broderick.

When the Flaggs decided to retire, Tennessee’s tax rules drew them to the area, and they met the Jonesborough Repertory Theater’s Shawn Hale on a “scouting trip”, who then sold them on Jonesborough.

After moving to the area, the couple met former Mayor Kelly Wolfe, who convinced them of the soundness of their choice.

Flagg received a call from JRT artistic director Jennifer Ross a few days later, and after a few conversations, he was tapped to perform the role of John Adams.

Flagg said that his next door neighbor told him “If you make eye contact with someone and they don’t smile and say hello, then they aren’t from around here.”

Storyteller to celebrate July 4th in Jonesborough

Tim Lowry will share tales from the South next week.


Acclaimed performer Tim Lowry, whose storytelling roots are deep in his home state of Kentucky and his adopted home of South Carolina, will soon perform as part of the International Storytelling Center’s Teller-in-Residence series.

Part of Storytelling Live!, the series invites a new resident to Jonesborough each week through the end of October for daily concerts and local storytelling activities.

To help celebrate July 4, Lowry, long a true connoisseur of Americana — his website says he’s “telling stories of the people, by the people and for the people” — will include a selection of his most popular frontier stories and historical pieces throughout the week.

“I always loved the performing arts, and storytelling was something that was indigenous to the area,” he said. “Storytelling was a part of everyday life, a readily accessible form of entertainment.”

Lowry’s inventive stories come from a long tradition of small-town folks who made their own fun. “When I was a teenager, my town finally got a bowling alley,” he said. “Before that it was a two-and-a-half hour drive to bowl. It was a two-hour drive to go to McDonald’s. There was one movie theater, where (to quote my mother) the movies weren’t dirty, but the floors sure were. People made their own entertainment.”

During Lowry’s weeklong residency, Tuesday through Saturday, July 3 – 7, his daily concerts will begin at 2 p.m. in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall.

He will also host a special morning concert aimed at children ages 6 through 10 on Saturday, July 7, at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are just $5 for all ages. All ticket holders will receive coupons for 15 percent off at The Lollipop Shop, a popular Main Street store that sells old-fashioned sweets and toys.

Tickets for Lowry’s matinees are just $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Advance purchase is recommended for all performances.

Storytelling Live! runs from May through the end of October, with daily matinees Tuesday through Saturday and special programming like evening concerts and workshops scheduled throughout the season.

Information about all performers, as well as a detailed schedule for 2018, is available at www.storytellingcenter.net. 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, 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. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live! or to make a group reservation, call (800) 952-8392 ext. 222 or (423) 913-1276.

Musical offers way to celebrate freedom

Left to right, Shawn Hale as Benjamin Franklin and Lucas Schmidt as Thomas Jefferson help bring “1776” to life.


For our upcoming Independence Day celebration, the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is thrilled to present the patriotic musical 1776, June 29 through July 15. Join the cast for this fun and engaging look at the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, with well-known songs including “The Egg,” “Molasses to Rum,” and “But, Mr. Adams.”

“The story is of the writing of the Declaration of Independence,” said co-director Lindy Ley. “And the story specifically within that of John Adams. He’s the one really pushing and pushing for independence.”

In fact, the show opens with the song “Sit Down, John” because everyone is so tired of hearing him talk about independence. But during the course of the show, he does get through to them, because the final scene is the actual signing of the document.

“It’s a powerful scene,” said the other co-director, Lucas Schmidt, who also portrays Thomas Jefferson. “The final picture is the name of each delegate and state being called as he makes his way up and signs, and then they take their spot as another delegate comes up. And there are chimes in the background . . .  ching, ching, ching.”

What a poignant ending to what is a humorous, often chaotic, and lighthearted look into American history.

“There are very funny things in the show,” said Shawn Hale, who plays Benjamin Franklin, “but the story helps us remember where we started. How we became the country we are today.

“It’s such a reminder of the struggle they had,” said Catherine Squibb, who portrays John Adam’s wife, Abigail. “And that we’re here today is a huge testament to their belief that they could create a better union.”

And, the cast agrees, this particular show takes you further into the story than you would typically read in history books.

“This is really a wonderful look into the actual humans behind the writing of the Declaration of Independence,” said Ley.  “It’s telling history in a way that makes these people very real people. So you relate to them. So you connect to history in a new and interesting way.”

“They go into areas that you don’t usually think about when you’re watching anything historical on television,” said Schmidt. “You don’t consider how miserably hot it was because they had no air conditioning. And they had to wear wool or heavy cotton because they didn’t have athletic, sweat-wicking sportswear. Or that John Hancock carried a fly swatter with him because there was no pest control.”

“It allows the audience to look at them as people,” added Tom Flagg, a former Broadway actor, who portrays John Adams. “Like Ben Franklin says, ‘What will they think we were, demigods? We were men, pure and simple.’ And that’s the essence of it. We treat them like people, not like these austere figures that should walk around with halos and wings.”

Of course, one of the big questions audiences may have is if this is an accurate historical account. And, for the most part, they say, it is.

Music and Lyrics for 1776 are by Sherman Edwards, and the book is by Peter Stone. The show is directed by Lindy Ley and Lucas Schmidt, and sponsored by Henry & Flora Joy, Tennessee Hills Distillery, Denny Dentistry, and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.

Rounding out the cast are Tim Barto, Steve Bashor, Guthrie Butler, Andy Cobble, Mike Elder, Paul Fagan, Sierra Ford, Joe Gumina, Donald Harvill, Gray Harvill, Karl Kapoor, Charlie Landry, Kyle Mason, Daniel Matthews, Paul McQuaid, Cody Shivers, Sylvann Thorne, Corey Tickles, Kari Tuthill, Alex Vanburen, Austin Wingate, and Kelly Wolfe.

Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm; and Monday and Tuesday, July 2 and 3, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. The theatre is located at 125.5 West Main Street.

To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com. (Mr. Flagg is appearing through the courtesy of Actors Equity Association.)

New restaurant promises better-for-you dining

Vegan Medley Vegetarian is one of the newest restaurants in Jonesborough.


Staff Writer


Anyone with a gluten allergy or just a craving for a healthy vegan or vegetarian meal now has an option right on Courthouse Square.

Opened in mid-September of 2017, Vegan Medley Vegetarian restaurant offers a variety of vegan and vegetarian options such as smoothies, soups and sandwiches.

According to owner Sam Nathan, every item on the menu, except the Panini and the yogurt smoothie, is vegan, while those two items are vegetarian.

“We are geared towards health foods and we have gluten free options available,” Nathan said. “It’s all from fresh ingredients. Nothing comes from canned food. We make to order. Everything is made to order. It has not been made in a factory where it sits in a bottle or something.”

While every menu item is either vegan or vegetarian, there is a stark contrast between the two, according to the restaurant owner.

“Vegan means pure, plant-based, including plant-based oil, no egg or milk. No animal product of any kind. Vegetarian will include milk, yogurt or cheese.”

Nathan says that his most popular dish is the pesto hummus sandwich. “The pesto and hummus both are made in-house not bought from stores.”

He adds that almost half of his business is from take-out orders.

Vegan Medley Vegetarian is located at 105 Courthouse Square and is closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.

Business hours from Wednesday through Friday are 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and Saturday from 12:30 until 6 p.m.

Nathan adds that in the next two to three weeks, the restaurant will undergo some minor modifications and that the business hours may expand as well. Vegan Medley Vegetarian may be reached at (423) 900-0254 or online at www.medleyvv.com.

To the market: Manager gets ready for growth

Left to right, Jonesborough Locally Grown’s Kari Simmons, Cameron Hege, Ashley Cavender and Kyra Tedford get ready to go.




Things are happening at Jonesborough’s Boone Street Market and new manager Cameron Hege is more than happy to be in a front row seat.

Fresh tomatoes are just a few of the local offerings.

“People have really lost their relationship with food; there’s no intimacy,” Hege explained. “We lost about 30 years where we’re really having to retrain ourselves to look at food that we eat as sustenance, but also that it provides  for more than just yourself, considering the farmers and the local economy.”

At Jonesborough’s locally-grown market, he has found the perfect place to spread that message.

A Tennessee native — Hege grew up in Knoxville — he had spent most of his career in retail management, as well as kitchen management. But when life in Philadelphia became more than a little hectic, he and his wife looked to move back home.

“I was working crazy hours, she was working crazy hours and we wanted to move back and have a more comfortable way of life,” Hege said.

The opening for a market manager at Boone Street a little more than six months ago seemed tailor-made for him.

“I have a good background in food and a good background in retail,” he said. Plus, there was the chance to learn so much more. 

“Being in a kitchen, I mean you learn to identify products and quality, but the amount I’ve learned about local groceries and how the local economies are affected by local farming. . . I mean I’ve learned so, so, so much while I’ve been here.”

Besides getting the chance to clearly grasp the value of the flavors of locally produced ingredients, Hege is excited to be a part of the market’s new role both in expanding its products but also its importance.

While the market is still committed to its 100-mile-rule for much of its stock, they are broadening the search for other harder-to-find products.

“Our produce and meat, that’s never gonna change. That’ll always be within a hundred miles,” Hege said. “But we did expand our radius several weeks ago to products sourced within a 100 miles, then to sourced within Tennessee and then, if absolutely necessary, to sourced within central Appalachia.” This way, he explained, the local link and quality remains, but the variety of items can expand.

Hege is also pleased about the new emphasis on the market as a source of fellowship as well as food.

“We want to make the market an actual event environment, like a venue,” Hege explained. The popularity of the monthly 100-mile dinners have already proven a need.

He cites the Thursday Night Markets as a new example.

“We have vendors, we have a live band, we have get an event permit so people can sit outside and enjoy beer if they want  to,” he said. “We have menu items out of our kitchen.” The next Thursday night market will be held June 21 from 5 to 8 p.m.

And that’s just the beginning, there is a ongoing food story, Hege believes, that needs to be shared. And his continuing goal is going to be to get spread the word.

Visit www.jonesboroughlocallygrown.org/ for more information.

Couple celebrates 73 years of marriage

Harvey and Madge Crain have been married since 1945. Photos were taken at a “Still Sweethearts” Banquet at Limestone Free Will Baptist Church.


Staff Writer


Seventy-three years ago the Allies were victorious in World War II. 

And 73 years ago, Harvey and Madge Crain were married, beginning a life-long relationship most dream about.

While the couple currently live in Telford, they remember the first time they met in Chuckey.

“I was in the car with my sister. We had come from Greeneville; we worked in Greeneville and we were on our way home,” Mrs. Crain remembered. “We stopped by a service station to get gasoline and he was sitting on the bench.”

Mr. Crain added, “She was 16 years old, riding home with her sister and I was sitting on a bench at the Lucky Bitner store in Chuckey, and she was in the car. I saw her and we just got to talking and a little more than a year later, we got married.”

Mr. and Mrs. Crain were each 17 years old at the time of their marriage. Their courtship would seem unfamiliar to teenagers nowadays.

“Her parents were very conservative and they didn’t allow us to date or go anywhere without another member of the family,” Mr. Crain said.

“At the time of our meeting, they lived about two miles from where I lived and after that, they moved to Johnson City. So our courtship, if you called it that, was by letter or I would pick her up and a member of the family to attend a church service somewhere.”

After the Crains tied the knot, they moved to Johnson City together for a year before packing up and moving to Warren, Michigan, where he worked in an auto factory for 31 years.

They returned home to Tennessee in 1981 where Mr. Crain repaired fire trucks for close to 70 communities from Cumberland County to Sullivan County.

The Crains have one daughter, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

They celebrated their 73rd anniversary on May 17 and attended a “Still Sweethearts” banquet held by the Family Life Center at the Limestone Free Will Baptist Church — captured by a photographer in the kissing booth and proving that after 73 years, their love still shines brightly.

Regi Carpenter to Host Performance Series and Workshop in Jonesborough

Regi Carpenter is heading to Jonesborough.


Acclaimed entertainer Regi Carpenter, whose work has been featured by NPR, the Moth, and Sirius Radio, will soon lead a series of live performances as the storyteller in residence in Tennessee’s oldest town.

The Storytelling Live! series, which is curated by the International Storytelling Center, will bring a new performer to Jonesborough each week through the end of October.

Carpenter, who has worked extensively with regional health care provider Ballad Health, will also host a unique workshop geared towards counselors, health care professionals, clergy, social workers, and other professionals who help adults and children cope with grief and loss. The storyteller has been working in therapeutic storytelling since the death of a family member more than a decade ago.

The workshop, “Getting to Grief: Storytelling in Bereavement” will run from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 7. A small registration fee is required.

In her own storytelling, Carpenter is known for her clear singing voice, as well as fearlessly delving into difficult personal stories alongside treasured childhood memories and traditional fare such as fairy tales.

As a professional, she’s been on the performance circuit for more than 20 years. But she originally honed her craft as a kid in upstate New York, where she was the star of her small-town variety shows.

A few years ago, she developed a story about what she had long considered one of the most secret and shameful experiences of her life: the year of high school that she spent receiving inpatient treatment at a state mental institution. Somewhat unexpectedly, the story took her storytelling career to new heights, earning her well-deserved national acclaim.

Carpenter’s concerts, which are open to the public, will be held daily at 2 p.m., June 5 -9, in ISC’s headquarters, located on Main Street, Jonesborough.

Tickets to Carpenter’s performances are just $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Advance purchase for all events sponsored by the International Storytelling Center is highly recommended.

For more information about Storytelling Live! or to make a group reservation, call (800) 952-8392 ext. 222 or (423) 913-1276.

Peter Cook to bring his tales to town

Peter Cook will share his own special stories and tales next week in Jonesborough.


Peter Cook, an acclaimed storyteller who has been deaf since the age of 3, will be the next teller in residence for the International Storytelling Center’s Storytelling Live! series.

Cook, who is chair of the American Sign Language (ASL) department at Columbia College in Chicago, has a long and rich history as both a performer and an educator. He has taught at Columbia since 1998, including a hiatus during which he focused on his performance career.

As Jonesborough’s resident storyteller, Cook will host a series of live concerts from May 29 – June 2, beginning each day at 2 p.m. He will be accompanied by an interpreter.

He will also host a special children’s concert on Saturday, June 2, at 10:30 a.m. Geared towards ages six through ten, the show will feature stories with a great deal of audience participation.

All of Cook’s dynamic performances include elements of ASL, pantomime, and acting. His expressive style developed in part from his experience as a poet. ASL has its own poetic tradition, an elegant and expressive form that focuses on live performance instead of the written or spoken word.

Many of the storyteller’s tales are personal, with a focus on his childhood in Chicago and New Jersey. After losing his hearing to a bout with spinal meningitis as a toddler, Cook grew up as a deaf person navigating a hearing world, which led to frequent misunderstandings. He has described his life as “a story of miscommunication, of an extra struggle to communicate with the outside world.” Learning ASL as a young adult unlocked new possibilities, not just as a person, but also as a performer.

Tickets for Cook’s Saturday morning children’s show are just $5 for all ages. All ticket holders will receive coupons for 15 percent off at The Lollipop Shop, a popular Main Street store that sells old-fashioned sweets and toys.

Cook’s matinée concerts are just $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Season passes will be available at more than a 40 percent discount, but only for a limited time. Advance purchase for all performances is recommended.

Storytelling Live! runs from May through the end of October, with daily matinées Tuesday through Saturday and special programming like children’s shows and workshops scheduled throughout the season.

Information about all performers, as well as a detailed schedule for 2018, is available at www.storytellingcenter.net. The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health. .

The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

For more information about Storytelling Live! or to make a group reservation, call (800) 952-8392 ext. 222 or (423) 913-1276.

‘Mitford’ full of hometown charm

‘Welcome to Mitford’ promises a colorful, unforgettable cast of heart-warming characters.


The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is delighted to bring to life the fictional world of Mitford, the charming town featured in the book series by Jan Karon. “Welcome to Mitford “ truly captures the warmth, passion, and depth of the novels. The show will run from May 24 through June 3 at the theatre located at 125.5 West Main Street, Jonesborough.

“I’ve been a fan of the Mitford novels for over 20 years,” said Pam Johnson, the director, “so I was thrilled to be asked to direct it. My first concern, though, was if the script kept the integrity of the books. I was happy to find out it totally embraces Jan Karon’s vision. And we cannot wait to share it with our community.”

“The stage adaption does an amazing job of capturing the heart and soul of Mitford,” said Jennifer Ross, who portrays the spirited Cynthia Coppersmith, and is a huge fan of the books. “Patrons who love the Mitford books will not be disappointed. All of the small town humor, love and friction are woven carefully into this beautiful script.”

The story revolves around Father Tim, the middle-aged bachelor rector of the Lord’s Chapel, and how his life is utterly changed when first, he takes in an unruly boy, Dooley Barlow; and second, the vivacious Cynthia Coppersmith moves in next door.

“Cynthia is my favorite character,” Ross said. “I love her courage and her wit. But most of all, I love her dedication to the Lord and the way that it permeates her entire life.”

The town and people of Mitford are inspired by the years the author lived in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The show can be considered a period piece set in the days before the convenience and popularity of computers and cell phones. Mitford is true “small-town America” with colorful characters who drive the show.

“The characters in this show are very down to earth and funny!” Ross said. “Everyone has someone in their life like Uncle Billy, or Miss Sadie, or certainly Emma Garrett, Father Tim’s secretary.”

Mary Nell McIntyre, who plays Emma, agreed. “Since we live in a small southern town, I feel that the audience will really identify with the characters.”

One of the most popular characters of the show is the loveable, entertaining Uncle Billy. His jokes alone may be worth the price of admission.

“Uncle Billy is my favorite,” McIntyre said. “He is a joke-telling cutup who also loves his eccentric wife. Steve Bashor does an excellent job portraying him.”

“Uncle Billy is at the top of the list of favorite characters,” said Joel VanEaton, who plays Father Tim. “He is a pivotal character and provides a deeper context within the scope of the story. Also, his jokes are stellar. I’m glad I get to laugh along with most of them. It would be hard not to.”

There are many humorous moments in the show, but also many poignant moments to identify with in one way or another.

Tristan Matthews, who plays young Dooley Barlow said, “People will relate to the family side of the show and the struggles that come with it.”

VanEaton said, “Father Tim says in one scene, ‘Give thanks in everything—in loss of all kinds. In illness, in depression, in grief and in failure. And, of course, in health and peace, success and happiness. Give thanks in everything.’ That kind of sums up the breadth of how people will be able to relate to this show.”

The cast promises that this drama/comedy will tug at your heartstrings on many different levels. Everyone will see why its motto, as Mayor Esther Cunningham proclaims, is “Mitford takes care of its own.”

VanEaton stated it best. “This is an inspiring, hope-filled play that I believe will leave those who see it with a renewed sense of the joy of community.”

“Welcome to Mitford” is written by Robert Inman and is adapted from the Mitford novels by Jan Karon. The show is directed by Pam Johnson and assisted by Joe Smith. The JRT is thankful for the show sponsors—Ignaci Fonberg and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.

Rounding out the cast are Steve Bashor, Sarah Grace Cook, Suzanne Cook, Stephen Cradic, Will Dollar, Doug Fox, Phyllis Fox, Janette Gaines, Joe Gumina, Hannah Higginbotham, Adam Honeycutt, Karl Kapoor, Dana Kehs, Mike Lilly, Dick Lura, Avery Morgan, Mike Musick, Melissa Nipper, Sarah Nipper, Katy Rosolowski, Eli Simpson, Alexis Turner, Ella Turner, Kari Tuthill, and Anna VanEaton.

Shows are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.; and Sunday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com.

Historical Society honors Elaine Cantrell with Excellence award

Elaine Scott Cantrell, right, received ETHS’s highest honor, the Ramsey Award for Lifetime Achievement.


KNOXVILLE — The East Tennessee Historical Society’s annual Awards of Excellence were presented at the organization’s Annual Meeting on May 1, at the Foundry on the World’s Fair Site in Knoxville. 

Since 1982, the Society has been annually recognizing individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the preservation, promotion, programming and interpretation of the region’s history. Three Washington County initiatives were among the 28 awards presented.

Elaine Scott Cantrell received ETHS’s highest honor, the Ramsey Award for Lifetime Achievement. Ms. Cantrell has shown outstanding contributions to history, genealogy, preservation, and documentation of Washington County and regional history and at age 89 continues to contribute in new ways. Too numerous to enumerate, Elaine’s endeavors include board and committee service, cemetery documentation, a three-year historic survey of the county, an obituary project, newsletter co-editor, director of the Jonesborough Genealogical Society, and acting as the driving force behind the creation of the Washington County Archives. She has been the recipient of numerous awards in the past.

About the East Tennessee Historical Society:

Established in 1834, the East Tennessee Historical Society has 2,000 members across the United States. Its active publications program includes the biannual genealogy magazine Tennessee Ancestors; the annual Journal of East Tennessee History; and Newsline, as well a other books pertaining to the region’s history. The Society also sponsors the Museum of East Tennessee History, East Tennessee National History Day, and the family heritage programs “First Families of Tennessee” and “Civil War Families of Tennessee.”

Welcome to the Farmers Market: Jonesborough’s ‘front porch’ promises both new and old this season

The interactive online map, above, can show market visitors what products will be available on any given week, simply with the click of the mouse.

Expect more fresh produce like this at the 2018 market.




Jonesborough’s Farmers Market kicks off this Saturday with more than a few tricks up its sleeve for 2018’s growing season.

Yet current market fans need not be alarmed by the changes. Organizers promise they are still committed to maintaining all the things that have made Jonesborough’s “front porch” thrive for more than 10 years.

“One hundred percent of products are sold by the farmers and there is no reselling,” said Ashley Cavender, event coordinator for Jonesborough Locally Grown,  the non-profit umbrella organization over both the Farmers Market and its sister store, Boone Street Market. “I think that is what helps us stand out.”

“It just further connects you to your food,” she added. “You are literally standing there talking to the person who worked so hard to get the product to you.”

Now in its 11th year of providing locally grown produce and locally created foods and crafts to Jonesborough families and those in the surrounding region,  the Farmers Market will open at 8 a.m., Saturday, May 5, with more than two dozen colorful vendors, a variety of tasty breakfast foods, lively music and the chance to visit, make friends and learn as you go.

But there are a few new items — first and foremost, a new executive director for Locally Grown, and a new website and interactive map that sets Jonesborough’s market firmly in the 21st century.

“We have a new map at our Jonesborough Locally Grown website (www.jonesboroughlocallygrown.org) under ‘Our Markets’ and then ‘Jonesborough Farmers Market’,” said Executive Director Kari Simmons. “The new website has information on the market, such as parking. We even have our dog policy there.”

The best feature, however, may be at that new map on the bottom of the page, which is set up so viewers can pick a date, click on a particular vendor location, and find out what vendor and what type of product will be available that week.

Also new to the Saturday market this year is a craft demonstration booth, organized by “Hands-On Jonesborough.” Each market day, Hands-On Jonesborough will list a roster of local artisans who will conduct demonstrations of their hands-on craft for the public.

The first Saturday of each month, a “Kids Place” will feature a McKinney Center activity, with other Saturdays filled with hula hoops and a play area just for children.

At the market information booth, which is found at the center of the market, customers can use credit, debit and EBT cards in exchange for tokens to spend at the market. SNAP customers may receive ‘double dollars’ through the Fresh Savings program sponsored by the AARP foundation. This means a customer using up to $20 worth of their SNAP can receive another $20 to spend on fresh produce.

For Simmons, however, the most important thing at the Jonesborough Farmers Market remains the farmers.

“Something that’s really amazing about Jonesborough is they want to support their neighbors. They want to support the community,” Simmons said. “At the Farmers Market, the money is going back to that person (who produced the food), that person’s family and that person’s farm.

“I don’t know how you could support a farmer more than by coming down to our Farmers Market.”

Storytelling begins with week of tall tales

Storyteller Bil Lepp will be back in action May 1 through May 5 in Jonesborough.


Bil Lepp, a storyteller known for his sharp sense of humor and his wild tall tales, is storytelling season’s opening act.

He’s first up in a line of top-shelf entertainers that the International Storytelling Center (ISC) will host through the end of October as part of one of its signature programs, Storytelling Live! As the town’s teller in residence, Lepp will perform every day, Tuesday through Saturday, in the Center’s downtown headquarters.

Lepp has been telling stories in Jonesborough since 2000, where he has long since reached celebrity status.

He recently took a moment to reflect on his popularity, tracing part of his appeal to his naturalistic style.

“Part of what I like to do is look like I’m making up the story on the spot,” he said. “When people ask if I’m ad-libbing, I take it as an incredible compliment. All good storytelling should feel like an extension of the supper table. It shouldn’t feel like a performance.

“Every other person in the world has a thousand stories in their head that they’ve never written down,” he added. “In conversation, you share those little experiences from your life. Mine are just longer and in a more professional form.”

Lepp’s residency will run May 1 – 5, with performances at 2 p.m. daily. Tickets will be sold in advance, and early reservations are highly recommended. “I generally have full audiences,” Lepp said.

The storyteller often opens storytelling season in Jonesborough.

“The audience is fresh,” he said. “They’re ready for storytelling after a long break. We always have a lot of fun with it.”

On the evening of Thursday, May 3, Lepp will offer a special evening concert, “Bil & Skeeter Break the Ocean.” It’s one of the many tall tales he’s written about his real-life best friend, the infamous Skeeter.

“He’s so much cooler in my stories than he is in real life,” Lepp said, joking.

The nighttime performance will begin at 7:30 p.m., with tickets priced at just $15. Tickets for all matinee shows are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. Season passes are available at a deep discount for a limited time.

Lepp’s Thursday-night concert is one of many special events scheduled throughout the Storytelling Live! season, including other after-dark shows, Saturday-morning story hours for children, and story-based workshops.

Tickets for all special events are all sold separately. Ticketholders for any matinee or evening performance can present their ticket stubs for a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at JJ’s Eatery and Ice Cream; Main Street Café (lunch only); Medley Vegan Vegetarian; Olde Towne Pancake House; and The Corner Cup. Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and 5 percent off any other purchase.

Information about all performers, as well as a detailed schedule for 2018, is available at www.storytellingcenter.net. 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, 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.

For the love of music: Local teen gets ready to help teach at college event

Musician Grace Constable credits her family, dad, mom (Angie) and sister Chelsea for a strong base of support to pursue her dreams.




Musical talent seems to run in the Constable family — that and a bit of healthy rivalry.

“If Chelsea gets something faster than me, I’m automatically trying to do it even faster or better,” Grace Constable, age 16, said with a grin, talking about her older sister, who recently gained attention with the release of a new debut  EP.

Grace Constable poses with dad, Greg.

But there is also a great deal of professional respect and support in that relationship, especially as Grace gets ready to not necessarily follow in her sister’s footsteps, but to blaze her own trail.

She has already gotten to play an important part in her sister Chelsea’s new release, playing guitar, as well as drums and bass, when she was only 15.

And on Thursday, Grace, accompanied by her sister, will be helping to lead a East Tennessee State University Seminar for music students and other interested guests.

“I’m going to be teaching a class to people who are older than me,” Grace said with a touch of awe. “And I’m under the impression it’s in a pretty big room.”

Yet it’s a challenge she feels well equipped to meet.

While she has always loved music, Grace credits a couple of special moments for helping to hone her life’s direction.

“When I was around about 11, that’s when I got to play with Tommy Emmanuel. That was a really cool experience for me,” Grace recalled. “I had been listening to his music for a long time and I really liked it.

“After that, I played him one of my songs and got to hear his feedback. It was just a really cool experience.”

Like her sister, Grace began to work with Taylor Guitars, helping to provide promotional videos. It was through Taylor that she was able to attend an event in California that really sealed her musical dreams.

“Taylor flew us (Chelsea and Grace) to the 2016 California NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants, to perform,” Grace said. “It was insane. We were in a huge room and there were a ton of people there.”

When a Taylor representative asked Grace to do a blues jam for an interested listener, she complied.

“ I didn’t know who it was and it was the bass player for the Rolling Stones,” she said.

Today, Grace continues to hone her craft while attending GradPoint Virtual School at home as a sophomore. Her favorite subjects are U.S. history and world history, but she always seems to come back to music and the many layers of training that can surround it.

“I have a lot of stuff that I’m interested in,” Grace said.

Asked about her dream 10 years into the future, she said, “I would like to be working as a solo artist, maybe a studio engineer and a session musician… recording and producing music, with people bringing new ideas for me to add my piece to it.”

For now, Grace is hoping to graduate early and attend Berklee College of Music for a degree in music theory.

And she is excited about Thursday’s event.

The topic of discussion will be business marketing and music, she said. “It’s important to know how to promote yourself with social media and through the right companies,” she said.

But mostly, she’s looking forward to the music.

“We’re doing some Tony Rice material and traditional bluegrass songs. We’re doing a few gypsy jazz tunes and I get to play two of my original songs.

Plus, she said, they will be performing a crowd favorite: “Sultans of Swing.”

In addition to her sister, Grace said, “I get to work with two amazing artists. Ainsley Porchak and Max Etling.

“They are wickedly talented.”

David Crockett rat rod robotics wrap up the season

The Rat Rod Robotics team from David Crockett High School spent spring break at a competition in South Carolina.


Rat Rod Robotics Team participated in their last event of the season, Smoky Mountain Regional Competition in Knoxville, from March 21 to March 24. The team is very proud to have been one of the safest teams at the competition. The team’s safety captain, Corbin Cowden, won Star of the Day, an award given each day at competition to two participants who have made a notable contribution to promoting the culture of safety. Cowden also led his team to win the Underwriters Laboratories Pit Safety Award. This award is given to the team that exemplifies safety at all times in their pit (the area in which the team works on and stores their robot during competition). The team is pleased with how they have done this season and are greatly looking forward to next season. Photo at left, Corbin Cowden, helped set the team (above photo) on a winning track. (Photos contributed)

Indian forays trouble Southwest Territory

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of Southwest History provided by the Daughters of the American Revolution from the files of Mrs. Mary Sue Hurt Campbell.)

By John Kiener
Associate Editor


“The passage of a few months sufficed to show the Governor (William Blount) that (John) Tipton could not so easily be held in leash. Early in 1793 Indian forays against the whites in the Territory were causing no little discontent, and the mercurial Tipton thought to capitalize on it by raising and heading a force to march into the Cherokee country to make war — all without authority of the territorial or national government.”

As quoted in the final page of Chapter II of “Washington County in the Territorial Period” authored by Samuel C. Williams for the celebration of the Sesqui-Centennial of the Territory on Oct. 13, 1940, “The story is told by Blount in a report to the Secretary of War, General Henry Knox: ‘It is with the utmost difficulty that the people can be restrained from embodying, going and destroying the Cherokee towns, as many as may be in their power, and particularly about the time these murders were committed, John Tipton, heretofore Colonel of Washington County, was actually using his endeavors to raise a large party for that purpose, and boasted that he should be joined by at least nine hundred. His rendezvous was at Jonesboro about seven miles from his own house on the 10th inst., where only five men appeared. This so discouraged him that he did not proceed towards the frontiers farther than a few miles; but had he come on at this unfortunate moment it is to be feared that he would have been joined by a number of the frontier people.

‘The judges, upon my causing proof to be made of the intentions of Mr. Tipton to disturb the peace and order of government, have issued a warrant for apprehending him, which is probably before this executed. They have also issued warrants against several other turbulent characters who appeared to be engaged with him.’

“Tipton, however, rebounded in time to be elected by the voters of his county in the following year to the general assembly of the Territory, where he rendered most effective service.”

The SEQUICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION of the Southwest Territory: 1790 – 1940 on Sunday, Oct. 13, 1940 featured a “Historical Pageant” as described in the third installment of this series. Produced by Tusculum College, the “CHARACTERS – IN ORDER OF SPEAKING — PROLOGUE” were with the historical character listed first and the name of the player second: James Robertson – George Moore; John Sevier – John S. Irvine, Jr.; Bonnie Kate Sherrill – Elizabeth Morris; Fighters – William Sharp, John Vogt, Richard Bodtke, and Harry Sears; Women – Violet Rodefer, Evelyn Carter, and Benny Lane; Indians – George Wingate, Michael Giuliano, Lawrence Brinster, Roger Thompson, Alan Robinson, Evan Shipe, Edward Anson, Thomas Thomann, and Robert Reinhart.

In EPISODE I the major players were: William Cobb – Thomas Van Den Bosch; David Campbell – James Moir; Joseph Anderson – Robert Faulls; John McNairy – John Poggi; Mrs. Cobb – Violet Rodefer; Gov. William Blount – James Dobson and Hugh White – William Woodward.

In EPISODE II the major players were: Joseph Brown – William Sharp; John Williams – John Vogt; Barman – William Woodward; John Sevier – John S. Irvine, Jr.; Gov. William Blount – James Dobson; James Winchester – Richard Bodtke and Stockley Donelson – Harry Sears.

In EPISODE III the major players were (last names only of characters and players that were previously identified): Daniel Kennedy – Moore; Rev. Hezekiah Balch – Faulls; Samuel Carrick – Moir; Sevier – Irving; Mrs. Sevier – Miss Morris; Rev. Samuel Doak – Poggi and Blount – Dobson. A note printed below the list of Characters stated: “All members of the cast are Tusculum College Students.”

Chapter III of the SOUTHWEST TERRITORY HISTORY is titled “Sullivan County.” The text reads: “Sullivan County being the first carved from Washington County, came next for organization. On October 25, 1790, the governor appeared at the then court house of Sullivan for that purpose. Blountville, named for the governor, was not yet the county seat. That was at or near Eaton’s Fort of 1776, on the waters of Reedy Creek, about five miles from the site of Kingsport and under Eden’s (corrupted from Eaton’s) Ridge.

“The governor there commissioned the following as justices of the peace for the county: George Maxwell, John Scott, John Shelby, Abraham McClellan, William King, William Delaney, Gilbert Christian, John Anderson, Joseph Wallace, Robert Allison, Richard Gammon, David Perry, George Vincent and David Looney. Later in commission as justices were Thomas Nash, John Vance, Samuel Smith, John Yancey, John Spurgeon, John Williams, Samuel McCorkle, George Rutledge, James King, James Gaines, Thomas Rhea, Walter Johnson and Robert Elsee.

“Matthew Rhea was the first clerk of the court; George Rutledge sheriff with Robert Rutledge and Wm. McCormack his deputies; Stephen Majors, registrar.

“George Rutledge was also honored by the people with a seat in the territorial legislature; but one representative was allotted to the county and Rutledge appeared for it at the two legislative sessions. When Grainger County was later laid out, its seat of justice was named in honor of Rutledge, who succeeded John Sevier as brigadier.

“The first lawyer licensed by the territorial government was John Rhea, later and for a long period to be congressman from the first district of Tennessee.

Of course numerous other lawyers had preceded Rhea at the bar, but his was the first license issued by Governor Blount. He was at the same time appointed as county attorney.

“Due, perhaps, to the death or removal of the members of the distinguished Shelby family of Sapling Grove, the county had no representative in the legislative council, nor in the composition of the district cavalry nor on the bench of the superior court of the District of Washington.

Officers in the Sullivan regiment of militia were Gilbert Christian, lieutenant-colonel; Matthew Rhea, first major; George Rutledge, second major; David Bragg, Wm. Burk, Robert Christian, William Childress, Samuel Bouchers, Andrew Beatty, Joseph Cole, Solomon Smalling, Wm. McCormack, Francis Berry, William Pemberton and James Gregg, captains; Isaac White, Nicholas Mercer, Wm. Skillen, Joshua Hamilton, Wm. Simpson, William Snodgrass, David Lewis, Jacob Weaver, Robert Rutledge, William Blair, John Laughlin and John King, lieutenants; Robert Easly, Jacob Jobe, John Craft, Anthony Sharp, Robert Yancey, James Beatty, Elisha Cole, Daniel Smith, John McClellan, Robert Blair, John Kaywood, Jr., and Samuel Dunsmore, ensigns. Later David Brigham was appointed a cornet of cavalry. In January, 1795, John Scott was made lieutenant-colonel commandant to succeed Gilbert Christian, and Matthew Rhea was advanced to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, George Rutledge becoming first major, and Wm. Childress, second major.”

(To Be Continued in Installment V of this series.)

A place in the woods: Plan offers chance to play a part in caring for arboretum

Above, Indra Weickert, niece of Arboretum creator, Frances Lamberts has been able to play a part in the garden’s transformation since the first tree planting. She was back recently to help ensure the arboretum’s survival by designing a hands-on manual to aid volunteers in the new Adopt-A-Plot program, including the map at left indicating the numbered sites.




For nearly two decades, Ardinna Woods has been something of a family affair, with local gardener Frances Lamberts faithfully tending its myriad of plants and trees — and niece Indra Weickert  flying in from Germany periodically to work with her aunt, as well as helping to create the descriptive brochures that would share its story.

Last month, Weickert was back in Jonesborough for a different Ardinna task; she was here to finish up an important Adopt-A-Plot garden catalog that could allow her hardworking aunt to step back from a project she had nurtured from its very beginning.

In short, Ardinna Woods’ family is getting ready to get a lot bigger.

“Frances Lamberts has created an absolutely beautiful area,” Jonesborough Town Adminstrator Bob Browning said Monday. “She has been a one-woman ball of fire.”

Arboretum plants are native to the area and are carefully flagged for identification.

But it has also been a tremendous amount of work, he said, and Browning is hoping the new Adopt-A-Plot will allow individuals, groups, families or even clubs to take over the responsibility of one small patch of Jonesborough’s famed Ardinna Woods.

It is, according to Browning, an exciting opportunity. “Ardinna Woods in now a level II arboretum,” he said. “And Frances’ work has been written up at least a couple of times in the Tennessee Conservation Magazine”

For those who are still hesitant to step up and adopt, Weickert’s packet of information may turn out to be the deciding factor.

Complete with a colorful, accurate map, plant listings, plant care and photos, the packet should take much of the guesswork out of volunteering. 

“With such a map, with the information, anyone who adopts an who has any kind of love of plants, will  find an easy way to (keep up the garden),” Lamberts said.

The catalog is also something of a tribute to Weichert’s longtime dedication to her aunt and the project. She remembers planting the first 10 trees in the space outside the wastewater treatment building that was at that time a town eyesore.

“I was 20,” Weickert said with a smile. “I didn’t know what it would end up. But I liked going to a place and planting some trees. I thought that was great.”

According to Lamberts, it was Weickert who later insisted the trees should be numbered for identification in the first brochure she designed.

“You can go through walk the walkways and read about the trees and plants,” Weickert explained.

And, when she learned her aunt was painstakingly trying to get the plant list together for the proposed Adopt-A-Plant program, she knew she could help.

“Frances had already gotten all the information,” Weickert recalled. “We talked about how we need to catalog it, (including) how to take care of the plants and photos.”

“I said, ‘This can be done. I know how to do it in an Excel Spreadsheet.’ ” That way, if you need it you can add some columns to a specifici plant. The date it was planted. The date it was removed.”

While there are still things being added to the informational Adopt-A-Plot packet that will make the task even easier, like additional photos and other plant details, Browning said the program is ready to start taking on volunteers and Town Hall is eagerly awaiting the calls.

As for the aunt and niece duo, Lamberts is reassured that the woods future is being secured – and Weickert is just happy to have been a part of the project.

“I don’t know anything about plants,” Weickert admitted as prepared to returned to her hometown in Germany at the end of her stay. “But I love going into the garden and working with people.”

It is also apparent that she loves and admires her aunt.