Local author turns pages of history

Daniel Boone escorts settlers through Cumberland Gap.


The Watauga Association (1772) was the outgrowth of a desire for self-government and the craving for law and order. Here in the very forefront of the advance of civilization, it was so far from the authorities of constituted government in North Carolina, that it took weeks of wilderness travel to keep in touch.  For the protection of these brave pioneers, it was necessary that they have some local form of government and this Association was their answer to this need.

    In connection with this settlement we hear of the glowing deeds of James and Charles Robertson and John Sevier.  [The year] 1776 found the inhabitants of Washington District, Watauga Settlement, petitioning the Provincial Council of North Carolina that they be “annexed” to North Carolina.

Ramsey, that renowned historian of our state, makes this statement concerning the District. “The name Washington District, being in the petition itself, must have been assumed by the people petitioning, and was probably suggested by John Sevier, who, during his residence at Williamsburg, had doubtless known Col. George Washington, now the commander-in-chief of the American Army.  It is not known to this writer that the authorities or people of any other province had previously honoured Washington by giving his name to one of it’s towns or districts – a district, too, of such magnificent dimensions, extending from the Allegheny Mountains to the Mississippi … The pioneers of Tennessee were, probably, the first thus to honour Washington.”

In 1777, the North Carolina Assembly changed the district into a county of the same name, still retaining the boundaries of our state.  But these pioneers who had long cherished a dream of independence and entirely separate government began to grow restless and were not quite satisfied with the rule of their mother state.  And again, the close of the Revolutionary War found North Carolina in an impoverished condition.

Congress had offered several plans to help the states, thereby strengthening the national position.  One was to ask the states that held idle lands to cede them to the United States.  Pleas were being presented from the western settlements for military protection in the Indian wars.  North Carolina was not able to meet these and other claims, so in order to boost herself to a more stable foothold in governmental affairs, in May 1784, ceded her lands west of the Alleghenies to the federal government.

The provision was made, however, that it must be accepted by Congress within the space of two years.  This move caused consternation among the settlers in the region.  What did the act of North Carolina mean?  Merely this, that for two years, the people in the ceded territory were neither under the jurisdiction of the United States, nor of any one state.  They were left without outside support or protection, nor with ways of raising revenue, but during this time they were required to pay federal taxes.

Many were being massacred by the Cherokees.  Something had to be done, and the dream of self government began to approach reality.  On August 23, 1784, a convention was held at Jonesboro, at which John Sevier was elected president and Landon Carter, clerk. In this meeting it was decided that the three counties of Washington, Sullivan and Greene should unite into an association, with [a] view to the final formation of a new state.

Their rights were asserted in no uncertain terms.  The convention adjourned to meet again on September 16, 1784, but for some unknown reason the second meeting on this date did not take place.   In the meantime (Oct. 22,1784) the Assembly of North Carolina had repealed the act of cession.  During November, the delegates from the three counties attempted to meet at Jonesboro, but could not agree upon the adoption of the constitution and because of the disputes concerning the repeal of the cession act, broke up in confusion. 

On December 14, 1784, the delegates assembled again at Jonesboro for the consideration of a stable government, public finances and promotion of public spirit.  The formation of a new state still occupied their main attention.  When the vote was taken as regards the formation of a new state, 28 voted for and 15 against. 

The people without the courthouse eagerly awaiting the announcement of the result of the ballot, seemingly were in sympathy with the movement for self government.  John H. Wheeler, a North Carolina historian, states that while these people were together, John Sevier mounted the rude steps of the log court house and read a letter from Joseph Martin, who had just returned from the General Assembly of North Carolina, which informed them that the Legislature had granted to the people of Western North Carolina a general court, formed their militia into a brigade, appointed a brigadier general and repealed the cession act of the last session.  “Our grievances,” said he, “are redressed and we have nothing more to complain of; my advice is to cease all efforts to separate from North Carolina, but remain firm and faithful to her laws.”

Judge Williams tells us that – “The December convention largely devoted itself to the work of preparing a temporary constitution for the new state, which from the outset, was called the State of Franklin and not Frankland, as is sometimes stated.  The document was unique in form in that it was prefaced by a Declaration of Independence, in which was set forth the “reason which impels us to declare ourselves independent of North Carolina,”  — “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind,” making it proper. “

It recommended the temporary Constitution ”for the serious consideration of the people during six months,” after which period and before the expiration of a year,” another constitution convention should be held to pass upon its adoption as the permanent fundamental law, or to amend it to conform to the popular will.”

The first General Assembly in the Assembly of Franklin met in March 1785 at Jonesboro and John Sevier was elected the first and likewise the only governor of the State of Franklin.  Legislative acts were proposed, including those for the promotion of learning, division of counties and procuring a seal for the new state.  Therefore, we may truly say that Jonesboro was the first capital of the State of Franklin.

Ar Greeneville, the constitution was adopted, the organization of the government completed and the first and last meetings of the Legislature held.  When Sevier’s term as governor terminated in March 1788, the State of Franklin died and North Carolina resumed full control of the state that was formed for self protection.

(In the next installment, the formation of the Town of Jonesboro will be discussed.

Happy Hour spotlights Bristol Sessions

Rene Rodgers shares Bristol Sessions stories.


Associate Editor


“The purpose of my speech is to talk about the people you don’t often hear about,” began Rene Rodgers, head curator at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Her presentation, titled “Voices That Carry: History and Personal Stories from the 1927 Bristol Sessions,” was the topic of the History Happy Hour in Jonesborough on Thursday, Oct. 18.  Rodgers’ detailing of what has become known as the “Big Bang” of  country music took place on the second floor of the International Storytelling Center before an audience of 60 people.

The museum, located in downtown Bristol, Virginia, officially explains its legacy in these words: “In the summer of 1927, just two months after Charles Lindberg made his flight across the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis, and during the season that Babe Ruth was blasting out 60 home runs for the Yankees, record producer Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company was making music in Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia.  Between July 25 and Aug. 5 of that year, Peer conducted recording sessions using the new Western Electric microphone during which 19 performers (or groups of performers) recorded 76 songs.”

While country music fans recognize Ernest “Pop” Stoneman, the members of the Carter Family, featuring A.P., Sara, and Maybelle, and Jimmy Rodgers, not many can relate to contributions made to the Sessions by Wesley ‘Bane” Boyles and the West Virginia Coon Hunters, Uncle Eck Dunford, Alfred Karnes, Ernest Phipps, Hattie Stoneman, and Georgia Warren.  These are the names of individuals who also brought “Hillbilly” music from the region to audiences worldwide.

A slide gives a face to Alfred Karnes, an early performer.

Speaker Rodgers, who has written or edited posts about many of these individuals on the Birthplace of Country Music blog, artfully condensed their stories into an hour-long talk.  She also noted that recordings made before and after the 1927 Bristol Sessions in the record companies’ studios and further afield such as Asheville, North Carolina and Johnson City were also part of country music’s origins. 

She emphasized that the innovation of the electronic microphone was a major change in technology, bringing a “more authentic” sound to the music. 

In addition to phonographic records, radio would also play a major role in the dispersal of this “Hillbilly Sound” with stations like WSM in Nashville and a 50,000 watt station (XERA) on the Mexico / United States border.

Because of radio’s importance, Rodgers gave out a folder on the Birthplace of Country Music’s radio station, “Radio Bristol,” with a reference to scheduling on LISTENRADIOBRISTOL.ORG.  The low power FM station features three channels streaming different genres of country music, and one channel streaming video.  The museum’s literature states that the station has listeners throughout the nation and in more than 140 countries.

The greatest revelation in Rodgers’ presentation was the museum’s focus on genealogy.  The museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, has recorded several oral histories of descendants of the original 19 Bristol Sessions performers. Many of these descendants came together at the museum for the 90th anniversary in July 2017. Get-togethers like this, along with a few other reunions, have given family members the opportunity to share stories, photographs, and other items that enhance the museum’s content.

When Georgia Massengill Warren of Bluff City was 12 years old, she was one of the performers at the 1927 Sessions, Rodgers said.  The last surviving member of the groups that made up the music contributors, she died Sunday, March 6, 2016 at the age of 100.  She sang with the Tennessee Mountaineers and the two songs they recorded can still be heard as part of the museum’s exhibits.  The songs are “Standing on the Promises” and “At the River” recorded on the last day of the Sessions, Aug. 5.

Georgia married Paul Warren, who taught math and geography at Bluff City Middle School for 30 years.  She had five sisters and grew up on the Massengill’s farm between Piney Flats and Bluff City near where Ridgewood Barbecue is now located.  In a 2014 newspaper interview in the Bristol Herald Courier, Warren said, “I did everything on the farm but plow with the big plow. We had 12 cows.  Sometimes I had to milk them all.”

Most of the performers at the 1927 Bristol Sessions like Warren did not become famous. The Tennessee Mountaineers, named as such by record producer Peer, had to wait at the Taylor Christian Hat Factory where the recordings were being made until the West Virginia Coon Hunters recorded their two songs, “Your Blue Eyes Run Me Crazy” and “Greasy String.”  The group was from Bluefield where a number of families had migrated because the town was central to the coal boom, especially due to its railway traffic.

While the personalities of all those who comprised the 1927 Bristol Sessions performers are interesting, Rodgers said “meeting Uncle Eck Dunford must have been quite an experience.”  She said he “was full of character and personality,” speaking a distinctive voice and dialect, possibly Scots-Irish, wearing an overcoat in all seasons and often donning pink earmuffs when it was cold.  He lived in a cabin he had built in Galax, Virginia.  Dunford was a photographer and worked as a shoe cobbler.

Uncle Eck was known for his jokes and stood out in Galax when he frequently quoted Shakespeare and Robert Burns, pointing to a man who took the time to read and educate himself.  He was a highly skilled fiddler, guitarist and storyteller and known for his musical connections with Ernest “Pop” Stoneman.  He married into the family when he married Callie Frost, a relative of Hattie Stoneman’s.  He sang and played at the 1927 Bristol Sessions with the Stonemans and others.  He had two recordings by himself, “The Whip-poor-will’s Song” and the familiar children’s tune “Skip-to Ma Lou, My Darling,” with the 1927 recording being its first commercial cutting.

Curator Rodgers pointed out Hattie Stoneman as an important figure in country music and said, “Women didn’t always get as much recognition as men.” She said Hattie’s story illustrates “the huge influence of women in country music.” She was instrumental in “the support and encouragement” of her husband Ernest, who may have never recorded music without her.  She did all this while bearing 23 children.  After their marriage, Hattie played the fiddle with “Pop.”  At the Bristol recordings, Hattie was part of the Dixie Mountaineers and recorded “What Will I Do, For My Money’s All Gone” with Uncle Eck Dunford.

Alfred Karnes, born in Virginia and later residing in Corbin, Kentucky, was known as a harp guitar player, though there is much debate about whether he played this unusual instrument on the Bristol Sessions recordings.  A Baptist preacher with a wonderfully resonant voice, he recorded six religious songs at the Sessions, including “I’m Bound For the Promised Land,” “To The Work” and “Where We’ll Never Grow Old.”

Ernest Phipps, also from Corbin, was a singing preacher who had also worked as a coal miner.  He recorded at the 1927 Bristol Sessions and returned in 1928 when Ralph Peer returned to Bristol to record again.  Although his records, all religious in subject matter, were released by Victor, he did not record again after the 1927 and 1928 Bristol Sessions. His songs include “Old Ship of Zion,” “I Want to Go Where Jesus Is,” and “If the Light Has Gone Out Of Your Soul.”  He continued to live in Corbin where he preached for the rest of his life.

Voters choose change in pivotal years

Actions in Tennessee helped pave the way for women’s right to vote.


Associate Editor


A world war, an influenza epidemic, prohibition and the women’s suffrage movement made 1918 a pivotal year in both the nation’s and Tennessee’s politics. The General Election that year took place on Nov. 5. The end of World War I would occur on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month – Nov. 11, 1918.

The names and accomplishments of the individuals involved in the remaking of how political parties operated 100 years ago serve as timely reminders of the democratic process as the state approaches yet another mid-term election. In 1918 Tennessee elected a governor, a United States senator and members of the federal House of Representatives. Some background on the laws then in force is necessary in order to explain the sequence of events that unfolded.

Thomas Clarke Rye (Born June 2, 1863 – Died Sept. 12, 1953) was Governor of Tennessee in 1918. He had been elected for two terms during a period of time when Tennessee governors were elected for two-year terms. A Democrat, he was on the ballot in 1918 in the race for United States senator.

During his second term in office, the United States entered World War I. More than 80,000 Tennesseans joined the Armed Forces. In a time when prohibition was a state-wide issue, Rye enacted the so-called “Ouster Law” allowing for the removal of public officials for incompetence or unwillingness to enforce the law.

His first target was political boss E. H. Crump, who as mayor of Memphis had refused to enforce prohibition in the city. After an ouster proceeding filed by the state attorney general in 1915 was successful, an appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld Crump’s ouster.

In Washington County, Rye beat fellow Democrat John Knight Shields by 111 votes, 822 votes to 710. Statewide, however, Shields collected more votes and ran in the November election against Republican Henry Clay Evans, who he defeated with 62 percent of the popular vote.

Ironically, in 1917 Governor Rye enacted legislation that implemented a primary for choosing candidates for state offices from the Democratic and Republican parties. Prior to 1917, candidates were selected by delegates at party conventions.

Shields had been elected a senator by the Tennessee Legislature prior to the passage of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which established direct election of senators. He had previously served as Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court. As a senator, he served from 1913 to 1925.

Albert H. Roberts (Born July 4, 1868 – Died June 25, 1946) would be elected governor of Tennessee in 1918.

His opponent for the governor’s nomination was former state legislator Austin Peay. He defeated Peay in the Washington County Democratic primary by 131 votes, 991 to 860. He had gained the support of Boss Crump, winning the state-wide primary by 12,000 votes. He then defeated Republican candidate and  Knoxville judge, Hugh B. Lindsay in the General Election, 98,628 votes to 59,518.

Historians believe voter turnout for the general election was diminished by the year’s flu epidemic.

The influenza pandemic of 1918 was the most serious outbreak of flu in Tennessee history with 7,721 recorded deaths from the disease. It is estimated to have killed 20 to 40 million people worldwide, two to four times the number killed in World War I.

Once elected, among Roberts’ first order of business was to certify Tennessee’s ratification of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The state senate had voted 28 to 2 in favor of passage making Tennessee the 23rd state to ratify the amendment.

The amendment that prohibited the sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages would be the law of the land from 1919 until its repeal by the 21st Amendment in 1933.

On June 7, 1919, Roberts performed the marriage ceremony for celebrated World War I Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant Alvin York and Gracie Williams in the Pall Mall community in Fentress County.

On Aug. 9, 1920, following his victory in the primaries, Roberts called a special session of the General Assembly to consider the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would give women the right to vote.

The amendment required ratification in 36 states to become law. By August 1920, 35 states had ratified the amendment while eight states had rejected it, and five, including Tennessee, had yet to vote.

The Tennessee Senate approved the amendment by a 25 to 4 margin, and it narrowly passed in the State House by a 50 to 46 vote. Angry anti-suffragists tried to file an injunction. The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled against them. Governor Roberts certified the state’s passage of the amendment on Aug. 24, 1920.

Roberts had defeated William Riley Crabtree, a former Chattanooga mayor, by 67,886 votes to 44,853 votes in the Aug. 5, 1920 primary.

He faced Republican Alfred A. Taylor (Born Aug.6, 1848 – Died Nov. 25, 1931) in the General Election. Taylor, born in Happy Valley, Carter County, Tennessee, became famous for his election campaigns against his brother, Bob, referred to in Tennessee history as the “War of the Roses.”

Taylor would win 55.2 per cent of the vote in the first governor’s election in which women voted.

He was attacked by Democrats for his support of the “Lodge Bill” which would have provided protection for black voters, that vote taking place when he was a congressman.

On Election Day in 1920, Taylor defeated Roberts by a state-wide vote of 229,143 to 185,890.

In the 1918 Congressional race in the First Congressional District, Sam R. Sells (Born Aug. 2,1871 – Died Nov. 2, 1935), easily won both the primary election (receiving 745 votes more than his opponent in Washington County) and 100 percent of the vote in the general election in which he was unopposed. He served the lst Congressional District in Congress from March 4, 1911 until March 3, 1921.

So confident was Sells of his election chances in the Aug. 5 primary in 1918 that when he gave a speech on the war situation several days before the primary, the Herald and Tribune reported, “The speech was well received, and many expressions of fitness were heard. It had been thought by many that Mr. Sells would make a political speech, but the congressional race was not even mentioned.”

Born in Bristol, Sells was in the lumber, shale brick and other businesses in Johnson City after his political career came to a close. He died at 64 years of age and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

President Woodrow Wilson had called for a political moratorium during World War I saying “politics is adjourned.” However, on Oct. 25, 1918 a decisive turning point occurred in his eight-year presidency when he “released a note calling for the return of a Democratic Congress as essential to the nation’s security.”

Wilson’s questioning of the Republican Party’s patriotism turned what had been a listless campaign into a heated contest. On Nov.  5, Republicans swept the congressional elections, compiling a two-seat majority in the Senate and a forty-one seat margin in the House.

Burlington Industries employees reunited for reunion

Burlington Industries employees reunited on Oct. 20 to reminisce.


In Johnson City, many large employers have come and gone, as Johnson City has typically been the commercial center for Washington County, Tennessee. Burlington Industries is no different.

Burlington, who purchased Gloria Rayon in the 1930s, filled the void and pockets of many workers through its history. Closing the early 21st Century, after approximately 75 years in business, the Burlington Plant on McKinley Road in Johnson City served the purpose of making fabric used throughout the world on large looms that could transform simple thread into beautiful works of art.

Approximately 15 years after the plants closing, employees of the plant recently reunited for their second reunion in many years on Saturday, Oct. 20.

This reunion was special for the 60 plus employees who attended. After its closing, Marvin Carter purchased “the mill,” as employees affectionally call it. Since that time, Carter has transformed it into the Burlington Business Park. This park has many loft style apartments as well as storage rental units and restaurant and store space.

Employees of the old mill got to see the renovations and reflect on their memories of their time spent at work.

Martha Swift affectionately told of times when “young girls” went to work in the 1940s and 1950s, and did not understand how to take care of their feet. She said, “We went to work and wore our bobby socks and tennis shoes and walked all over this plant. I guess that’s the reason some of us have trouble walking today.”

Sylvia Bowser remembered working 2nd shift for 6 years cleaning offices before moving on to other duties at the plant, while her niece, Margaret Rhudy, also worked at the plant.

Pictures were also brought to help derive memories of the past. Looking at a photo that depicted several office staff,

Bob Sams asked Elaine Cantrell, if she remembered a photo which she was in. She said, “yes, that’s the day I retired.”

Cantrell along with seven other employees were honored before the plant’s closing for working 50 plus years at the plant. Cantrell who began her career reading pick clocks and reporting production among other duties in 1945 at the age of 17, retired in 1996 at the age of 68, for a total of 51 years.

Cantrell told those in attendance how many people don’t ever make it that long in one job.

Fifty years in one job is almost unheard of today. Yet, many at Burlington worked hard, developed bonds, and friendships that have lasted well past the typical work life.

Cutting it close for a cause: Ridgeview raises over $40,000 for new playground

Top fundraiser, Rylie Conley (third grade) shaves off the beard of the school’s music teacher, Joshua McFadden, as part of the fundraising challenge. McFadden agreed that if the students met their goal amount of $40,000, he’d let the student who raised the most funds shave his lengthy beard. Rylie Conley earned the top spot by raising almost $800 — and off came the beard.


Staff Writer


A playground was the focus for Ridgeview Elementary School’s fundraising goal this year, but the students weren’t playing around when it came to raising money for the project. In fact, the students raised over $40,500 dollars, with the money still coming in.

Site of the location of the new playground for Ridgeview.

“Every year we come up with a fundraiser. For the past two years we did a color-thon or a color walk,” Ridgeview Principal Kelley Harrell said. “Having that goal for the playground, our parents really supported that and we raised so much more money this year. They’re very supportive of that and our PTO is already thinking that next year, we’d like to add even more to some of our playgrounds.”

The playground will be placed in the field located at the front of the school and will include six swings, a climbing dome and four other small playground items, Harrell said.

But the future playground wasn’t the only incentive for the Ridgeview Raptors; the school’s music teacher, Joshua McFadden, agreed that if the students met their goal amount of $40,000, he’d let the student who raised the most funds shave his lengthy beard. Third grade student Rylie Conley earned the top spot by raising almost $800 — and off came the beard.

“Well I didn’t think it was going to happen,” McFadden, with a now clean-shaven face, said with a laugh. “Last year they raised $25,000, so to bump it up to $40,000, I thought I was in the safe zone. I thought that was never going to happen so I didn’t even worry about it. But they stepped up to it.”

Kadence WIlliams and Garrison Jones were part of the school effort.

But it wasn’t all for a ceremonial shave in front of the student body and for a new playground facility setting out front of the school; McFadden and Harrell both said the importance of physical activity for students was a key component in choosing this year’s fundraising goal.

“We feel that getting our kids outside is so important for them to be able to come back in and really be academically focused,” Harrell said. “We want them to have some outdoor time. We want them to get out every day for just the physical aspect and the social aspect. They need time to be out and talk to their friends and let some steam off. They don’t get enough of it.”

Fourth grade student Garrison Jones and fifth grade student Kadence Williams would have to agree. The two Ridgeview students said they looked forward to the new playground, but for Williams, the additional playground means more room for girls to have their fair share of playground access at recess.

“I hope there’s enough room for girls and boys. I hope there’s enough room for football and stuff,” Williams, who is a cross country and softball athlete, said. “I’m really excited about it. I think it’s going to be better because we’re going to have a newer and better playground and it’s not going to be so crowded and crumpled up.”

The funds raised will be put towards the playground equipment, as well as mulch and timbers for the facility, but the money will also be used to add an octoball court to the sixth-through-eighth-grade playground and swings to the kindergarten-through-second-grade playground.

While Ridgeview awaits its new playground, which is set to be installed in early December, Harrell said next year’s fundraising goal may be set on adding more to the playground facilities. And in the meantime, McFadden will consider getting to work on growing next year’s sacrificial beard.

“I’m okay with it,” McFadden said. “I made peace with it in the idea that not everyone can say that they have a $40,000 beard. So I’ll try to grow another one.”

Reliving History: Local students go back to 1892

Kelly Casteel’s fourth grade class prepares for a day of learning back in the 1800s. The class began the day by greeting Casteel and doing the Pledge of Allegiance, as they do on a regular basis.


Staff Writer


When Jonesborough Elementary School Principal Matt Combs told Kelly Casteel, a fourth grade teacher at JES that she was being transferred to another school, she didn’t know it was only for a day. She also didn’t know it would be back in the 1800s.

Oakhill School stands as a piece of history in the middle of Tennessee’s oldest town.

“Our principal called me to his office one day and asked me how I would feel about being transferred,” Casteel recalled. “My heart about skipped a beat as I did not want to be transferred. I love my school. Then he said, ‘to Oakhill School in Jonesborough. It’s an older school.’ I didn’t really know what he was talking about. I’ve lived here my whole life, but I didn’t know what Oakhill School was. But finally he explained that the idea was to bring my fourth grade curriculum and teach it in there.”

After Casteel made plans to take her fourth grade class to Oakhill School, a historic one-room schoolhouse in Jonesborough, Combs also told the students that Casteel was being transferred — along with the entire class — to another school in another century.

But Heritage Alliance Executive Director Deborah Montanti said this wasn’t a typical field trip to the historic building; she said the Heritage Alliance, the group that helped facilitate the event and provide a town tour for the students, wanted to help provide a “living history” for the 21st century students. Part of that experience included teaching the students about schoolhouse etiquette and what would get you in trouble with the schoolmarm.

Student teacher Emily Phillips (left) and Kelly Casteel (right) stand at the schoolhouse door ready to greet students as they walk into the historic building.

“The students who usually visit us go back in time to 1892. (Those at the Heritage Alliance) often dress the part and it’s a full day of reading, writing and arithmetic,” Montanti said. “This program is unique because Mrs. Casteel is using 21st century curriculum in a 19th century setting. It’s just been phenomenal. She’s just been masterful at blending that and the students have really enjoyed it. I think it’s brilliant.”

And to bring history to life, Casteel looked the part in a long, black skirt and Victorian-era, button-up high-neck blouse. Though she said many of the students pointed out similarities to the schoolhouse and their classroom at Jonesborough Elementary, Casteel said there was one big difference she noticed while teaching in the vintage setting, and that was the lack of technology.

“I’ve been a little spoiled,” Casteel said. “When I started teaching seven years ago, I started teaching with a SmartBoard, a projector, all these things activated by touch and devices to pull videos up and project things onto the screen. So that’s been hard today to not have that technology.

“It just takes more effort and more planning. Even copies of things, I didn’t bring anything like that. We’ve mostly been talking and reading and discussing some books and doing some things out loud as we’ve been practicing on our slate boards. It’s gone well, it’s just been a little bit of a challenge without that technology.”

Casteel also said she hopes it makes her students thankful to be living in a time with modern conveniences.

“It might make them feel more fortunate,” Casteel said. “Sometimes, you know, they have to come to school. And sometimes they can get a ‘we have to be here’ attitude.

“I think they might see how lucky they are to go to school in 2018.”

students used a slate pen and slate board to participate in class. They started the day with a writing assignment as the class covered maxims that would have been used in the 1800s.

The fourth grade students came to school with only a lunch and spent the day learning language arts and social studies at Oakhill School with a slate board and slate pen. They also went over why the U.S. flag in the classroom only had 44 stars and said the 1892 version of the Pledge of Allegiance to match, all while a portrait of George Washington hung at the front of the classroom.

Apart from giving the students a real look at what life would have been like back then, Casteel said she hopes it gives them an appreciation for a place such as Jonesborough that is steeped in history.

Iliana Saucedo and Aurora Rodriquez use the slate boards to complete their classwork.

“I just feel like Jonesborough has such a rich history,” Casteel said. “I’m guilty of not appreciating the history that’s here, living here your whole live and not knowing this is here. I didn’t even know this school was here until this (field trip) was presented to me. I feel like the kids have already learned so much about the town that they live in.

“That’s really important to know the history and your heritage of the place that you’re living.”

Montanti believes experiencing and understanding the history that lives in places like the walls of the old school offer more than just perspective. She believes they offer connection, much like the one a local student detailed in a letter following a similar field trip in Jonesborough about 10 years ago.

“At the end of the letter, this student says, ‘I have an aunt who is 104 years old. She lives in a nursing home and my parents make me go with them every Sunday to visit her. And I hate it until I went to Oakhill School. Now I love it because I feel like I understand her better and I have something to talk to her about.’

“That’s why it’s important,” Montanti said. “It’s making those connections. It’s feeling those roots, where we come from and how we’re all really much more alike than we are different.”

The JRT presents The Wild Women of Winedale

Performances are Oct. 26 through Nov. 11, with Thursday and Friday shows at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.


Later this month, Jonesborough Repertory Theatre will write a new chapter in the history books of American plays.

On Friday, Oct. 26, the curtain rises for the world premiere of the comedy The Wild Women of Winedale, written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten — three writers who need no introduction to the theatre scene.

Since 2007, patrons have been flocking to regional theaters — from Abington to Johnson City to Asheville to Mountain City — to see one of the Jones Hope Wooten laugh-out-loud comedies. Among their most popular works are The Savannah Sipping Society, The Dixie Swim Club, Christmas Belles and Dearly Beloved.

Their plays have been well-received in the Tri-Cities and also around the world. All in all, the trio has written 18 plays that have been produced over 5,300 times.

And in a matter of days, their 19 play will be added to the collection.

“The playwrights understand the dynamics of comedy and the interplay of personalities within families,” said Debra Shoun, a member of the upcoming Jonesborough cast. “On the stage, the characters and the situations remind us of members of our own families in the very same dilemmas that we all encounter at weddings, funerals and parties.”

Shoun has been part of eight other Jones Hope Wooten productions in the region, including the world premiere of The Red Velvet Cake War.

“These characters are real people in real circumstances, and that just naturally leads to humor,” she added. “When people laugh at the characters in their plays, they are laughing at some aspect of themselves, and that keeps us all human and real.”

The show introduces the Wild sisters of Winedale, Virginia — Fanny (played by Shoun) and Willa, along and their quirky sister-in-law, Johnnie Faye — as they navigate everything from turning 60, experiencing widowhood and losing a job to going to singles’ parties and watching their home go down a sinkhole. However, with equal doses of hilarity and heart, these extraordinary women come up with delightful and surprisingly unorthodox ways to free themselves of what’s keeping them from moving their lives forward. They confidently set their sights on accepting nothing less than happiness while there’s still time to enjoy it.

Together they prove it’s never too late to take another one of life’s paths for a brand new adventure.

Shoun and her onstage sister Joy Nagy (Willa) already have sisterly ties. In addition to playing cousins twice, Shoun and Nagy have starred as sisters in six other shows, including Other Desert Cities and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

It is also the second time Nagy has been part of a Jones Hope Wooten world premiere.

“I feel very honored to be part of this world premiere and to have the unique opportunity to breathe life into a new character for three wonderful playwrights whose works I have enjoyed performing for over 10 years now,” Nagy said. “The script quickly became very special to me because it has not only the trademark Jones Hope Wooten humor, but also sweet and poignant moments as it celebrates the independence, strength and spirit of women from many different walks of life.”

By day Donna Deason (Johnnie Faye) is director of global procurement at Eastman Chemical Company, but for the past several weeks she has spent her evenings creating the character of the recently widowed Johnnie Faye. And though her over-the-top actions and candid commentary often annoy her two sisters-in-law, Deason only feels genuine friendship for her two co-stars and is delighted to be reunited onstage with them again.

“I am working alongside the best in the region,” Deason said. “We have found a friendship bond offstage that enables our onstage characters to really connect. We trust each other to be dependable on lines, blocking, and character personality. By not worrying about those must-haves on stage, we are able to cut loose and truly become the wild women of Winedale.”

The roles of Fanny, Willa and Johnnie Faye will be performed by alternates Mary Nell McIntyre, Katy Rosolowski and Sarah Sanders on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and on Nov. 1, 4 and 8 at 7:30 p.m.

The JRT appreciates the sponsors for this show: the Bank of Tennessee, Lynda Wexler, Sonia King/Mary B. Martin, and the Wild Women of Jonesborough.

This show is directed by Joe Smith, assisted by Kari Tuthill. Rounding out the cast are Suzanne Cook, Lori Erickson, Phyllis Fox, Dana Kehs, Melissa Nipper and Anna VanEaton.

Performances are Oct. 26 through Nov. 11, with Thursday and Friday shows at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. The theatre is located at 125.5 West Main Street, Jonesborough. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423)753-1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com.

Sister shares Jonesborough history

George Caleb Bingham’s Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap (1851-52) is a famous depiction of Boone.


Associate Editor


Most residents of Jonesborough and area historians know that Paul Fink wrote a town history titled “Jonesborough: The First Century of Tennessee’s First Town.” Many of these same people may not know that his sister, Miriam Fink Dulaney, also wrote a history titled “History of Jonesborough and Surrounding Sections.”

While Paul was the Washington County Historian, Miriam was the Jonesborough Town Historian. She taught school and served as principal in both the Jonesborough Elementary School and Jonesborough High School.  Miriam Dulaney was also a professor of history at East Tennessee State University.

Her book titled “Humor, Rumor, and Romance in Old Jonesborough” is mentioned in an article in the “History of Washington County Tennessee” published by the Washington County Historical Association in which she was named one of the county’s “Notable People.”

However it was not until Gene Hurdt began scanning files at the Washington County / Jonesborough Library that this editor discovered a town history written “about 1975.” The article is 10 typewritten pages. Her brother’s book in its original publication was 302 pages as printed in a large, typewritten format.

Dulaney’s history follows in this and several future articles.  It is copied in the form written by the author without any editorial notes or corrections except for an occasional spelling note for purposes of clarification.

In writing the town’s history she did not hesitate to use words that express her opinions on the community’ s history, writing in a style rich in colorful expressions and valuable insights.  It would be interesting to know if the history was written for a particular town celebration. The text begins:

“Long before the white man ever topped the high ridges of the Unakas and caught the first glimpse of the broad East Tennessee valley, the site of what is now Jonesboro, was already a town — a thriving village of Cherokee Indians. To them it was known as NANATHUGUNYI (the Spruce Tree Place).  This word has come down to us corrupted in the rude speech of the pioneers as Nolichucky, now applied to our closest river.  But these former residents of our town had already moved westward when the first white traveler quenched his search at Mill Springs returning to the same spot on future visits, gave [giving] birth to the legend that he who drinks from this famous spring will surely come back to drink again.

“For almost two hundred and fifty years after the discovery of America, the country of the present state of Tennessee was a terra incognita to the European invader. The dazzling conquests of the Spanish in Mexico and Peru had fired the ambitions of the other nations of the old world until they too, wished to have a share in the exploitation of the great new field.  The warmer portions of the newly discovered territory was already in the possession of the Latins, so to the English fell that part of the continent now included in the United States and they planted colonies up and down it’s seaboard. 

“The coast of our state of North Carolina, was discovered by English voyagers in 1584 under the leadership of Sir Walter Raleigh.  Several unsuccessful expeditions and attempts at colonization were made.  On March 24,1663, King Charles II granted to eight nobles all the country between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, between the parallels of latitude 31 — 36. This section was called Carolina in honor of the king.  Shiploads of colonists soon began to arrive.  A freer country was never organized by man.  The primary objects of government were freedom of conscience and security from taxation, except by their own consent.  Nothing less would satisfy those who would not acknowledge an earthly monarch or tolerate unjust laws.  Altho [although] hardships and the rough demands of pioneer life at times mocked them, nothing could quell their dauntless spirit.  As more and more settlers came, civilization gradually crept westward, on to the base of the Appalachian range.  But this high rampart was an impenetrable barrier to further expansion in that direction.  Whispers of rich valleys and fertile farm lands to the westward of these forbidding mountains came to the colonists in the talk of the French and Spanish traders who had wandered into the country in the course of long journeys from their settlements around the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.  The curiosity of some of the bravest, called for an investigation of these rumors.  As early at 1748, a band of hunters from Virginia passed through a depression in the Cumberland mountains, naming it Cumberland Gap.

“In 1760, Daniel Boone, In one of his journeys from his home on the Yadkin River across the mountains into this country, killed a bear in the valley of Boone’s creek and carved the record of his deed on a beech tree. An interesting story of the encounter with the bear is told by old settlers.  As Boone was traveling thru the thick forests, he caught sight of a big black bear rapidly coming him.  Hastily taking aim with his flint lock rifle, the hunter pressed the trigger, but sad to relate, the hammer merely snapped.  The bear was almost upon him, but quickly taking in the situation he caught sight of a beech tree.  Up the tree he went, followed by the bear.  A snag projected from the trunk and Boone broke it off and threw it at the animal.  The aim was perfect — the bear fell to the ground stunned.  A moment later it lay stretched on the earth, clubbed to death by the mighty hunter.”

Getting spooky: Haunted Forest terrifies for 31 years

The ticket collector at the haunted forest warms of creepy trails ahead.


Staff Writer


Local folks who consider Halloween their favorite holiday have more than likely visited this venerable scare-fest, and probably on a yearly basis.

Back for the 31st year, the Hales Community Ruritan Haunted Forest opened Sept. 28, and will continue to terrify visitors until Halloween night.

One of the gruesome scarers at the haunted forest get ready to get into to character before frightened guests make their way through the scream-filled forest.

“We have four scenes this year. There’s a trail you follow that goes to different scenes,” Haunted Forest proprietor Robb Phillips said. “They’re all basically designed on our worst fears and nightmares to make it terrifying and scary for everybody.  And we change it yearly. We keep it new so it’s never the same.”

Phillips, who runs the event along with Kathy Shephard, said this year would be the fifth year he and Shephard have managed the attraction, which is held in coordination with the Hales Community Ruritan club.

The four different scenes this year include the Haunted Forest, the Escape Room, the Haunted Maze of Horror and Zombie Laser Tag.

“We have the Haunted Forest itself,” Phillips explained, “where people go through different themes we setup to terrify people. Just to scare the grownest men.

“Then we have the Escape Room. They have 20 minutes to escape from that particular room, and they have to find all the clues in order to get out. It’s not really scary, it’s just intense. Because you’re on a time limit and have a certain amount of time to get out so there’s pressure. So it’s pretty intense.

“We also have the Haunted Maze of Horror, and (people) have 20 minutes to find their way through that.  It’s disorienting, the way it’s designed and you basically have to go through and find the right path to take to get out. And there’s a few pop scares in it. I get lost in it just trying to go in and talk to (the designer). I can’t find my way out. Half the time he has to come back and lead me through it.

“And finally, we have Zombie Laser Tag, which is pretty self-explanatory.”

Because the attraction has been running for such a long time, Phillips and Shephard, along with the employees, have been able to fine-tune the details for maximum terror.

“We have a makeup room here. (Employees) are doing their makeup to make it look real. And it is very realistic,” Phillips said.

“Everybody takes it serious, too. They want to get out here and make everybody scared and they do a very good job doing that. They also have a blast.

“We’ve had grown men come in acting really cocky, showing off in front of their girlfriend. Then they come out, running funny trying to keep from peeing themselves, screaming coming up the hill. Those are always fun.”

Phillips urged customers not to wear open-toed shoes and to bring a jacket in case the weather gets chilly. He also had one other recommendation. “I never recommend against people bringing a change of clothes. We’ve had it happen several times. We’ve had it happen twice this year so far.”

While the employees are certainly good at terrifying visitors, they also keep the scares appropriate for younger visitors.

“We’ve had kids as small as two years old. What we’ll do is try to keep families coming in with smaller kids in the same group. (The employees) aren’t going to try to scare the two year olds like they would an adult. We try to keep all the age groups together.”

The cost for one attraction is $10. For each additional attraction, the cost is $5. The Haunted Forest is open on Friday and Saturday nights. The last two weeks of October, the attraction will open on Thursday nights, as well.

Phillips said that the parking lot opens at 7:30 p.m. and customers start getting sent in “at dark”. The parking lot closes at midnight, but customers will still be sent in “until the last victim has gone through the last scene.”

Additional information is available at (423) 491-1473 or (423) 202-8348. The Facebook page for Hales Community Haunted Forest also has information.

After 31 years of terrifying people, the Haunted Forest certainly knows its craft well and know their customers well, as Phillips noted, “People want to be scared. And we’re gonna lay it on them.”

The H&T chronicles the end of war

The front page of the Nov. 14, 1918 Herald and Tribune detailed the end of World War I.


Associate Editor


“PRUSSIAN WORLD DOMINATION PROVES TO BE ‘ONLY A DREAM’” chronicled the Jonesborough Herald & Tribune’s edition of Thursday, November 14, 1918.  History records the date the fighting ended in World War I at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11.

     Under the capitalized banner was a two-line full-column headline that announced: “Unconditional Surrender of Freedom’s Last Armed Foe Brings Tidings of Peace to War Cursed Earth and Joy to Souls of Men.”  Under the headlines, the text provided: “Armistice terms were signed by German representatives at midnight Sunday night, October 10th, and the world war came to an end Monday morning at 6 o’clock.

     “The terms of the armistice are of such a nature that Germany, having accepted them, will be absolutely powerless to renew hostilities even tho she desired to do so.  It means unconditional surrender and the victorious termination of the mighty struggle that has drenched the world with human blood.”

     Under the one column headline that read “JONESBORO CELEBRATES,” local reaction to the armistice stated: Monday, Nov. 11, will never be forgotten by the people of Jonesboro and surrounding country.  When news that Germany had signed the armistice terms, reached the quiet old town, the whole populace became astir.  Church bells ‘rang out the glad tidings, whistles blew, guns were fired, boys yelled, strong men wept and loyal women shouted.”

     The article went out to describe the gathering of people downtown in Tennessee’s oldest town.  They began shaking hands and a band arrived directed by J. T. Whitlock playing the national anthem.   Merchants closed their shops and at one o’clock in the afternoon a convoy of 115 automobiles decorated with American flags and bunting gathered in downtown.

    As the H&T article continued its description:  the automobiles “…formed a line headed with W. P. Shipley’s hardware truck carrying the Jonesboro band.  The procession marched thru Johnson City and back to the National Soldiers’ Home where 1200 veterans of bygone days with a unit of the American Red Cross and Boy Scouts marched to the music of the Soldiers’ Home band.

     “Far into the night the bells chimed on and the celebrations continued, until at last, the weary crowds dispersed to slumber sweetly and to dream of peace.”


    Under the headline “KAISER BILL ABDICATES” the article announced, “Saturday morning Emperor William, with trembling fingers, signed a letter of abdication, saying as he did so, ‘It may be for the good of Germany.’

     “Crown Prince Frederick also signed his renunciation shortly afterward.

     “The Kaiser and crown prince took leave of their troops Saturday and in company with Von Hindenburg, immediately set out for Holland where they arrived Sunday to take up their abode…”

     The Herald & Tribune’s Armistice edition was preceded by the paper’s Thursday, October 31, 1918 edition with headlines stating: GERMANY WAITS FOR TERMS OF ARMISTICE, AUSTRIA IS READY TO LAY DOWN HER ARMS, OVER TWO MILLION SENT OVERSEAS and HOW YOU CAN HELP SAVE A SOLDIER’S LIFE.”

     The article with “TERMS OF ARMISTICE” stated, “A brief reply of the German government to President Wilson’s last note says that exceedingly vital changes to the German constitution make the military powers subject to the people’s government and that it is awaiting terms of an armistice.”

    The article about Austria read, “In her reply to President’s note of Oct. 19, Austria accepts all his peace points and says she is willing without further preliminaries to negotiate peace and is ready for an armistice on all the Austro-Hungarian fronts.”

    The American military presence noted, “In a statement given out last week, Secretary Baker disclosed the fact that 2,008,931 men had been sent overseas to participate in the war against Germany.  Nearly one million of these have either embarked or landed in France since July 1st.”

     Sad news awaited the readers of the paper in the Herald & Tribune’s edition of Thursday, November 28, 1918.  Four separate stories listed the names of soldiers killed in World War I and another estimated war casualties.

     Under the headline of “JONESBORO BOYS KILLED IN FRANCE” were listed the names of Serg. Bernia Daniels and Serg. Virgil C. Moore.  Stating that the son of Jno. Daniels had been killed in action on Oct. 14, the story read in part: “Serg. Daniels was a member of Co. K, 6th Infantry.  He volunteered in May 1917, took training at Ft. Oglethorpe, Ga., and went across in January of this year. He was 28 years of age…”

     Stating that Geo. C. Mottern received a telegram Nov. 21 telling of his son’s death on Oct. 19, part of the text read, “Sergt. Mottern belonged to the Field Signal Battalion of the famed 20th Division which fought so furiously during the last days of the war.  While holding a splendid position as an operator for the Southern Railway, he was called to service on Sept. 19, 1917.  He went into training at Camp Gordon, was transferred to Camp Sevier and went overseas in May, 1918.

     “He was 28 years of age…”

     Only a brief paragraph under the headline  “HARMONY BOY FALLS IN ACTION” read “Mr. and Mrs. Charles Holmes residing near Harmony in the 13th district have been officially notified of the death of their son William, who was killed in action in  France a short time ago.”

     “BLACKLEY CREEK BOY DIES IN CAMP” stated a front page article that announced, “Wm. Arlie Brookshire, a son of Mr. and Mrs. T. R. Brookshire, of Blackley Creek, died Nov. 20 of pneumonia at Camp Union, N. J. The body arrived here Tuesday morning and was taken to Pleasant Grove where interment was made.”

     The newspaper under the headline of “WASHINGTON COUNTY BOYS MAKE SUPREME SACRIFICE” provided: “Recent casualty lists contain the names of the following Washington County boys killed in action in France. – Serg. Virgil Mottern, Jonesboro; Serg. Bernie Daniels, Jonesboro; Corp. Roby Hendrix, Johnson City; Pvt. Wm. Holmes, Jonesboro; Wesley Furchess, Embreeville, died of disease; Emmet Cole, Johnson City and Serg. Hobart B. Jones, Johnson City.”

     A final article read:  “ESTIMATED CASUALTIES OF WORLD WAR.”  The first paragraph stated, “The New York Sun in a recent issue estimates the aggregate casualties during the four years of war at 27,875,000 of which the dead alone numbered as many as 10,000, 000.

     “By nations, the casualties are estimated below [figures are not exact]: Russia – 7,000,000; France, 4,000,000; Great Britain, 2,000,000; Italy, 1,000,000; Belgium, 350,000; Germany, 6,900,000; Austria-Hungary, 4,500,000 and other nations, 1,225,000.”

Chuckey Depot: Railroad remnants recall yesteryear

Red and green lanterns pointed the way for early trains.


Associate Editor


Air horns, flags, lanterns, lights and whistles fill up three cases in an exhibit titled “Train Talk” at the Chuckey Depot Museum located at 110 S. 2nd Avenue in Jonesborough.  The exhibit allows exploration in how railroad technicians communicated during the day, at night, across distances and during challenging weather conditions prior to modern electronic communication methods.

Anne G’Fellers Mason, one of seven members of a Chuckey Depot sub-committee that designed the display said, “The group needed a good topic for our first temporary exhibit. We decided how crew members communicated with each other before radios would attract a wide audience. 

“I learned so much about trains” said Mason, who is the special projects coordinator at the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. “I am excited when I learn something new, for example, I was fascinated by the placement of ‘torpedoes’ on the tracks.”

This sign would have hung below a crossing flasher to warn oncoming motorists.

The railway detonator, called a torpedo in North America, is a coin-sized device that is used as a loud warning signal to train drivers – usually as a signal for them to stop.  Placed on top of the rails and usually secured with two straps, it emits a loud bland when the wheels of a train passes over. The device was invented in 1841.

Mason, along with committee member Rachel Conger, Jonesborough’s Parks & Recreation director, took a trip to Fannon’s Train Museum in Duffield, Virginia to inspect many of the items that are included in the exhibit. Kenny Fannon and his grandson, Ruston Fannon, are preserving the history of railroading in Southwest Virginia.  Their depot and museum was used as a prop in the movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” a 1980 biographical musical film about the life of Loretta Lynn.

The Fannons, who frequently  provide railroad programs at Natural Tunnel State Park and the Southwest Virginia Museum, graciously loaned the Chuckey Museum artifacts for the temporary display which will run through the end of December.

An opening reception for the exhibit was held on June 28th.  The crowd who attended “were happy and excited,” Mason said.  She added, “This is the type of display we want to use to keep people coming back to the museum.”

Included in the exhibit is a headlight from the front of an engine and a large sign that tells motorists at a railroad crossing to “Stop On Red.” Assisting in putting together the exhibit have been members of the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society.  The group has partnered with the Alliance and the Town of Jonesborough in recognizing the town’s railroad legacy.  Other members of the Depot sub-committee are Jacob Simpson, Susu Floyd, Jean Smith, Rick Chinouth and Jason Davis. 

Docent staffing at the museum is provided by the WVHS while the Alliance provides training for their volunteer work. “There is a partnership with the Alliance,  town, and railroad historical society that makes the museum the best it can be,” Mason said.  “Our exhibits meet museum standards and all staff members and volunteers follow best practices in doing the research, building displays and in providing educational programs relating to the displays.”

An interesting feature of the museum is the “Virtualrailfan” live camera.  The program utilizes an east and west live webcam to broadcast the action of trains passing through Tennessee’s Oldest Town. The Virtual Railfan Cameras were installed in May of this year. The webcams are monitored by thousands of people around the world.  To access the video, go to  the  http://www.wataugavalleynrhs.org/ If you go to “You Tube” just type in Jonesborough and the Cams will come up. A viewer  can stroll the red bar at the bottom of the page and see trains and people going in and out of the depot back four hours. Virtual Railfan currently has 33 cams from three countries.

The Chuckey Depot and Museum is opened from Wednesday through Friday from 1 pm until 5 pm; on Saturday from 11 am until 5 pm and on Sunday from 1 pm until 5 pm.  For more information concerning  Depot programs and use of the depot for events, telephone (423) 791-3869.

Exhibit spotlights women

An advertisement for the new Superba Ball Bearing Washing Machine promises to make life easier.


Associate Editor


Some of the larger artifacts in the archives of the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia are featured in “Home: A Factory Managed By Women” on display at the Jonesborough / Washington County History Museum. 

The museum is located in the Historic Visitors Center at 117 Boone Street.

Heritage Alliance Executive Director Deborah Montanti said the exhibit  “allows us to showcase artifacts that are not usually on display” like a cream separator and a wooden washing machine. 

Montanti explained that the “Factory” part of the title is intended to show how the mechanization of household work in the late 1800s both helped and hindered women of the era. The machines saved time but they also added more complexity to a woman’s plate.

In addition to running the household, increased productivity lead to paying jobs for many women in sewing, washing, butter production and more.

A McCormick Deering cream separator is on display in the museum.

“Women could sell butter and eggs,” Montanti said.   The exhibit includes butter molds that “could have given them a better selling price.”

The director thinks the washing machine may have been hand-made in the late 19th century. 

There is a sewing machine in the collection whose origin remains a mystery.   The very basic looking machine was manufactured by A. P. Sharp & Co. Of Baltimore, Maryland, but research by the Alliance staff has failed to locate any additional information on the machine or the manufacturer. 

A second machine on display was manufactured by the Davis Sewing Machine Company and sold by Sears, Roebuck and Co. under the moniker “Minnesota.”

According to International Sewing Machine Collectors Company, “1899 saw the introduction of a vibrating shuttle sewing machine made by The Davis Sewing Machine Company of Dayton, Ohio. With a few exceptions, Davis would become the sole supplier of sewing machines to Sears until about 1912.”

A treadle sewing machine promised separated cream and new clothes right from home.

“We have four or five sewing machines in our collection.  Sears and Montgomery Ward brought manufactures’ appliances to rural folks,” Montanti said. “They were delivered by railroad to towns across the nation as shown by material at the Chuckey Depot Museum.” 

The Visitors Center exhibit contains an early catalog washing machine advertisement. 

Sears, Roebuck and Company, colloquially known as Sears, is an American chain of department stores founded by Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curtis Roebuck in 1892. The corporation was reincorporated in 1906. Formerly based at the Sears Tower in Chicago and currently headquartered in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, the operation began as a mail ordering catalog company. The company started opening retail locations in 1925. Sears was the largest retailer in the United States until October 1989, when Walmart surpassed it.

Montgomery Ward Inc. is the name of two historically distinct American retail enterprises. It can refer either to the defunct mail order and department store retailer, which operated between 1872 and 2001 or to the current catalog and online retailer also known as Wards.

“Women have played a vital role in the health and success of the family throughout history.  They may not have gone off to work but their work at home contributed a vast amount to the family. Women have contributed both ways (as care givers and financial providers) in bringing home the ‘bread,’” Montanti said.

Located in the center of the museum, the “Home: A Factory Managed By Women” was a joint effort of the Heritage Alliance staff.  Jacob Simpson played a leading role in putting together the display that has been on exhibit for nearly a month.  It will continue through the end of the year.   

Early each year the Alliance staff meets to plan an exhibition schedule.  “We are very fortunate to have the talent level on our staff.  I would not trade my staff for any other group in the world – they are top notch,” said Montanti. “People do not realize the time it takes to put together an exhibit.  It is a thoughtful and time-consuming process.”

For that reason and the demand for docents and tour guides, Montanti said the Alliance is always looking for volunteers.  Those individuals who volunteer will receive training in order to successfully undertake a variety of duties available in the non-profit organization.

Founded in 1982, the Jonesborough / Washington County History Museum and Archives collects artifacts, documents, and photographs to help tell the stories of the land and people who constituted “the mother of Tennessee.”

The Alliance collection focuses on the social, cultural and economic history of Jonesborough and Washington County.  The museum’s photographic collection spans the period from 1850 through the 1980s.  It includes a number of photographs from early Jonesborough photographers L. W. Keen and O. L. Hensley.

Exhibits on display feature information on early life in Washington County, the clock that kept time in the 1847 Courthouse, and Jonesborough’s very first firefighting equipment from the late 1800s      Hours of operation at the History Museum are from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  There is no admission charge to visit the museum but donations are welcomed.

The Fantasticks comes to the JRT Stage

Shawn Hale (left) and Mike Musick (right) are ready to share the slaphappy production, The Fantasticks. (Photo by Karen Elb)


The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is honored to bring the longest running musical ever — The Fantasticks — to its stage. This show is bound to touch your heart and soul in such a way as to brighten your outlook on family, relationships, and life in general.

“The Fantasticks is a love story but so much more,” director Karen Elb said. “Through our narrator, we meet the characters and discover that two neighbors have built a wall between their gardens, apparently to keep their children apart, but these fathers have a secret plan to use reverse psychology to make their children fall in love. As the story unfolds, we go on a bittersweet journey of romance, challenge, heartache, and growth.”

Jonesborough resident Tom Flagg had the privilege of being in the cast of The Fantasticks in New York City’s Off-Broadway production. He loves the show and encourages everyone to attend. “The essential story about ‘a boy, a girl, two fathers, and a wall’ can be traced back centuries to plays like Pyramus and Thisbe, or Romeo and Juliet. But, unlike its predecessors, The Fantasticks is a coming of age story—a musical drama with lighter moments, rather than a tragedy littered with the bodies of fallen lovers, family, and friends.

“If there is a byword for The Fantasticks,” Tom continued, “I guess it would be ‘simplicity.’ The original set was a simple platform for a stage, a few lights, and a large theatrical trunk from which the entire show emanates. The Narrator, who becomes the protagonist of the story, delivers all the exposition for the audience. Nearly everything he mentions (costumes, props, a smaller trunk, and even two actors) comes out of that large trunk. The idea being that, at the end of the show, everything goes back into the box to be carted off to a different town, and a different theater, to tell the story all over again.”

The JRT is thrilled to present such an iconic show and such a special gift to the community. And audiences will be delighted by the sweet, poignant and familiar tunes such as “Try to Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain.”

“This show is the longest running show in history,” said Shawn Hale, who plays one of the fathers. “When you see it you will know why. It is funny, eccentric, touching and imaginative.”

Joe Gumina, who portrays El Gallo, the Narrator, agreed. “One of the reasons for The Fantasticks‘ longevity and broad appeal is that it offers insight for every age group. Its observations about adolescence, love, parenting, heartbreak, and so on, are timeless and universal and, I think, would be relatable to all our patrons.”

“The Fantasticks is a play that truly has it all,” Karen emphasized. “If you love a story with beautiful music, comedy, drama, romance, a bit of action, and a dash of self-referential humor, this is the show for you.”

The book and lyrics of The Fantasticks are by Tom Jones, and the music is by Harvey Schmidt. The show is directed by Karen Elb and music directed by Jennifer Ross. It is sponsored by Gary & Sandee Degner, Ignaci Fonberg, and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.

Rounding out the cast are Dave Bernhardt, Lindy Ley, Mike Musick, Lucas Schmidt, Garry Smith, and Catherine Squibb.

Show times are Thursdays through Sundays at 7:30pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm. Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. The theatre is located at 125.5 West Main Street, Jonesborough, TN. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423.753.1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com.

Constitution Bell Ringing set for Sunday

Those in uniform honor the bell ringing.


The United States Constitution Bell Ringing is set for 1:30 p.m. at the Oak Hill School in Jonesborough located at 212 East Sabin Drive.  The State of Franklin Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution is sponsoring its fifth annual Bell Ringing event.

The Town of Jonesborough, Heritage Alliance and the Jonesborough Genealogical Society, along with the  Northeast Chapters  of the DAR and Sons of the American Revolutio, are partners in the event. Reenactors provide a visual reminder of those who helped protect our freedoms.

The tradition of celebrating the Constitution was started by the Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1955, the DAR petitioned Congress to set aside Sept. 17-23 annually to be dedicated for the observance of Constitution Week.

The resolution was adopted by Congress and signed into law on Aug. 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Along with honoring soldiers of the Revolutionary War, this year’s ceremony will place special emphasis on the nineteen soldiers from Jonesborough killed in World War I. The war ended on the 11th hour of the 11th month 100 years ago in 1918.

Featured speaker at the ceremony will be Historian Allen Jackson, United States Air Force, retired.

The soldiers to be honored are:  Leeroy Carl Bacon, Private, US ARMY, died, 15 OCT 1918;  Hubert Barron, Private, US ARMY, died, 9 OCT 1918;  William Nelson Chinouth, Seaman 2nd Class, US NAVY, died, 4 OCT 1918;  Joseph C. Fulkerson, Private, US ARMY, died, 10 OCT 1918;  Paul Daniel Kelly, Private, US ARMY, died, 6 JAN 1918;  Marvin Herbert Lee, Private, US ARMY, died, 2 JAN 1919;  Hobert M. Leonard, Private, US ARMY, Buried at Sea, 25 JUL 1918;  Ralph Blain Matherly, Private, US ARMY, died, 8 NOV 1917;  James Miller, Private/Wagoner, US ARMY, died, 5 OCT 1918;  Walter Reens Million, Private, US ARMY, died, 7 OCT 1918;  John Edmund Phillips, Sergeant, US ARMY, died, 1 JAN 1918; William Phillips, Private, US ARMY, died, 11 OCT 1918;   John  Williams Armstrong, Corporal, US ARMY, killed, 18 JUL 1918;  Emmett Cole, Private 1st Class, US ARMY, killed, 4 OCT 1918;  Bernie Daniels, Mess Sergeant, US ARMY, killed, 14 OCT 1918;  Charles Albert Helton, Private, US ARMY, killed, 29 SEP 1918;  Walter E. McNeese, Corporal, US ARMY, killed, 6 OCT 1918 and Virgil Christian Mottern, Sergeant 1st Class, US ARMY, missing, 19 OCT 1918 awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for Bravery.

The last name remembered is Rufus A. Potter, Private, US ARMY, killed, 11 NOV 1918, on the last day of the war, actually in the last few minutes of World War I.

Also featured will be the Choral Department of David Crockett High School, under the direction of Kelly Davenport. Students from The Children of The American Revolution and Washington County Schools have been invited to the event and will participate.  County Historian John Kiener will give a short account of the role of female nurses in the war.

The ceremony will end with the first stanza of America, “My Country ’tis of Thee” and the ringing of bells, from the historical Oak Hill School bell to all types of bells chiming in from the attendees.

The event will be held outdoors and those attending are asked to bring lawn chairs.

Jonesborough docents give inside look of history

Jacob Simpson stands watch in front of the Christopher Taylor House in Jonesborough.


Associate Editor


“We have really extended the reach of the museum,” said Joe Spiker, Head Docent at the Chester Inn Museum as he discussed the impact of the Heritage Alliance’s History Happy Hour. As he talked, Anne G’Fellers-Mason, Special Projects Coordinator, was setting up a presentation for a talk and slide show on Jonesborough native Rhea Wells. 

Anne Mason poses in front of the Chester Inn.

Anne’s mother, Dr. Brenda G’Fellers along with Kristin Pearson, both employees of the Bristol Library, were giving the program. Spiker and Jacob Simpson, Exhibits Coordinator, were telling what it is like to be a docent in Tennessee’s oldest town when Gordon Edwards, a volunteer docent and President of the Heritage Alliance, arrived for the Wells Happy Hour.  

“We have been lucky so far in our programming,” Spiker said of the Happy Hour. “I’ve handled a lot of the scheduling for the program, and Deborah Montanti (Executive Director of the Alliance) came up with the name. They take up 35 to 40 minutes followed by questions. This year we have scheduled nine or 10 presentations.”

The History Happy Hour is only one of the duties that Spiker, Simpson and G’Fellers undertake in keeping the community’s heritage in the forefront for both residents and visitors.  Running a museum requires a variety of skills, including those of a docent. The following definition gives the essence of the position and its history.

Docent is used at some (mainly German) universities generically for a person who has the right to teach. The term is derived from the Latin word docēns, which is the present active participle of docēre (to teach, to lecture). In the United States it is usually a person who acts as a guide in a museum, art gallery, or zoo.

Research on available artifacts in the Alliance Archives, designing and installing exhibits, research, writing, talking to visitors, both in the museum and on the streets of Jonesborough, and designing educational programs are all part of the duties Spiker and Simpson undertake each month.

Joe Spiker can be found at the Chester Inn in Jonesborough.

In addition, docents help research and staff the Christopher Taylor house on Main Street. Gordon Edwards, a long-time volunteer for the Heritage Alliance mostly known for his cemetery work, is the projects director of the house. “It is a cool artifact on Main Street. We are trying to have more activities there,” he said. Mason adds, “We can now have people in the house. We are opening it on weekends.”

Simpson helped initiate one new program at the cabin for 2018. From May through September the House is the venue for an Old-Time and Bluegrass Jam Session. Held on the first Thursday of the month, the “Jam” is open to musicians and spectators. Audience members are asked to bring a chair or picnic and listen to the musicians on the lawn in front of the house. Attendance this summer has usually included 25 to 30 persons. No admission is charged for the jam session. The music lasts from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m. “While no admission is charged, donations will be accepted for the Christopher Taylor House Restoration,” Edwards said.

Docents also help by conducting town tours of Jonesborough along with a staff of volunteer tour guides. The tours are available at 1 pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and at 7 pm on Thursday. Town tour guides are dressed in various period costumes from the tri-corner hats of the early republic to a 1905 Jonesboro baseball team costume. Docents offer a regular schedule of historic walking tours of downtown Jonesborough. These tours depart from the Chester Inn. There are some seasonal changes in the schedule, so people interested in taking a tour are asked to please call ahead at (423)753-9580 or (423)753-4580 to confirm the tour schedule. The guides discuss the history of the town, its people and the lives they built. Tickets are $5 per person and can be purchased at the Museum.

This year the Alliance also offers tours of the Old Jonesborough Cemetery at 2:30 p.m. on the first and third Saturday of the month, going through mid-October. Tickets for the cemetery tour are $3 per person. In addition to town and cemetery tours, there is a “Myth Busting Tour” and “Railroad Tours.” A special combination ticket for two tours is available at $7 per person.

Gordon Edwards is a volunteer docent and President of the Heritage Alliance.

All the docents said they enjoy leading town tours. Some tours involve only a few people while groups have been as large as 25 people in the past. Weather does not usually halt the tours aside from possibly the cemetery tour. “I like to ask people where they are from,” said Spiker. “I had members from as far away as California. Most are interested in the fact that this area was once part of North Carolina.”

Docents Spiker and Simpson explained that the Chester Inn Museum, located downtown, chronicles the history of Jonesborough from its inception in 1779 to the present. The museum is located on the street level of the oldest commercial building in town. The Inn is a state owned historic site operated by the Heritage Alliance.

Exhibits include information on the State of Franklin, a diorama of Jonesborough in the 1850s and the history of the Chester Inn. Many of the exhibits feature Jonesborough’s extensive collection of photographs. The upstairs parlor, dining, and lodging rooms of the Inn, restored to the Victorian era style of the late 1800s, are also open for viewing.

Kids’ activities include a museum scavenger hunt, a coloring book that features some of Jonesborough’s historic buildings and a primary source activity with the cholera epidemic of 1873. “The first activity children are interested in are pushing buttons in the diorama,” said Spiker. “If I can catch their attention in that activity, then we go to other items in the museum including toys. With children, the more visuals you use, the better the presentation.”

Another Alliance program involves the Oak Hill School, built in 1886 to serve the community of Knob Creek. The building served local residents as a school and as a center for community events until the school was closed in the 1950s.

Memorial set for town’s first modern fire chief

Guy E. Sabin was a leader for the Jonesborough Fire Department.


Staff Writer


Next Wednesday, Sept. 5, will be an important day for the Jonesborough Fire Department. That day will mark the 130th anniversary of the death of JFD’s first fire chief, Guy Sabin. Responsible for heralding the JFD into the “modern age,” he died Wednesday, Sept. 5, 1888, as a result of falling from the roof of a building he was trying to save.

Chason Freeman, JFD’s Operations Lieutenant, has spent time researching Sabin and wanted to hold a ceremony to celebrate the man.

Nannie and Guy Sabin

“I’ve done research into the history of the fire department and (Sabin) actually formed the Fire Department in 1887. They called him a ‘captain’; what we would now refer to as a ‘chief’ position now.

“So I’d like to do a small memorial service and I’ve got some of the family members of the Sabin family that will be attending.”

The memorial will be held at the Rocky Hill Cemetery (Old Jonesborough Cemetery) behind First Baptist Church on Sept. 5 at 10:00 a.m.

Freeman’s research led to the obituary of Sabin, which described the incident which took his life.

“On Wednesday morning, September 5th, 1888, Jonesboro was aroused by the alarm of fire. Soon the amateur fire company, organized last winter, was in motion, but their captain, Guy Ellis Sabin, reached the scene of the fire before them. The burning building was found to be the residence of William Shaw, and the fire had gotten such headway that it was impossible to check it. Mr. Sabin, thinking that the residence of Mrs. Caleb Babb, near the burning house, was in danger, quickly mounted it and was with others engaged in pouring water on the roof when he fell headlong to the ground, dislocating his neck and dying instantly. The announcement to the already excited citizens that Mr. Sabin was dead, struck them dumb. But oh! How terrible the news to his family from whom he had just gone out with the cherry word, ‘Don’t be anxious about me, I’ll be back directly.’”

According to Freeman, Sabin had a rule that nobody climbed up on the roof of any burning building.

The museum of the Jonesborough Visitors Center contains some equipment that Mr. Sabin would have procured in his modernization of the Fire Department, as well as other exhibits about him.

Dynamo teller to perform in Jonesborough

Storyteller Dolores Hudock merges history and personal stories to create a package of vibrant tales that both uplift and entertain. She will be in Jonesborough through Sept. 1.


Dolores Hydock will soon bring her signature blend of vibrant historical works and personal stories to the International Storytelling Center for a weeklong residency in Jonesborough.

The Birmingham, Alabama transplant (Hydock hails from Pennsylvania) is the latest performer in ISC’s widely acclaimed Storytelling Live! series, which will import new talent to its Main Street stage every week through the end of October.

Hydock credits her time in the South, and the people of Alabama in particular, with sparking her interest in storytelling years ago. “If I’d landed in Connecticut or upstate New York or something, that never would have happened,” she said. “They helped me find my life.” She frequently collaborates with the Birmingham Museum of Art, for instance, which often commissions her to craft original stories to complement their exhibitions.

Historical stories have long held a certain fascination for Hydock, who loves to fish for connections from centuries past and the modern day. “The truth is, we’re all living in extraordinary times,” she said. “We always are. We’re just unaware.”

In addition to original material, Hydock will perform a selection of folk and fairy tales, another genre that she has always found absorbing and relevant to contemporary listeners. “To me, folk tales are the self-help books that people had 200 years ago,” she said. “They were the way that people shared what they knew about how to get along instead of reading a book about how to be successful or organized. We’re all looking for the magic bullet to a better life.”

In Jonesborough, Hydock will perform daily in ISC’s intimate theater. Concerts are Tuesday to Saturday, Aug. 28 – Sept. 1, beginning each day at 2 p.m. Advance reservations are recommended, with tickets available on a first-come first-served basis.

Tickets for all matinee shows are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. 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 five percent off any other purchase.

The 2018 Storytelling Live! series will a few weeks after the National Storytelling Festival, with a smattering of encores extending through the end of the year, for the holiday season.

Information about all performers, as well as a detailed schedule (including after-dark concerts and one-time workshops) 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. to 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.

The Old Mill: a piece of history shared with our North Carolina neighbors

Old Mill Cabin, now located in Banner Elk, North Carolina, once called Jonesborough home.

(Editor’s Note: The following article is used with permission from Carolina Mountain Life and copyrighted in 2018. The story about the log structure originally built near Jonesborough appeared in the Spring 2018 Edition of CML. The magazine is published four times a year and is available by subscription at a yearly rate of $35. The address of the magazine is Carolina Mountain Life, P. O. Box 976, Linville, NC 28646; by email —livingcarolina@bellsouth.net; on the web – www.CMLmagazine.com or by telephone at 828-737-0771.)


Special to the H&T

These days, we tend to forget how thin the line is between North Carolina and Tennessee, especially here in the Appalachian Mountains. Our Common Core textbooks have compartmentalized and homogenized too many details of our collective past which occurred on both sides of that arbitrary border, integrally intertwined and effortlessly crossing back and forth along this historic corridor.

Understanding that the “big picture” of Appalachian culture does not fit well within the confines of any single-state or municipality makes the opportunity to touch the collective history of our mountains within the walls of an existing structure a rare and inviting treat.

I recently discovered one such unique bit of the history-not just of North Carolina, nor just of Tennessee, but of Appalachia, and it is located right in our backyard on Beech Mountain in North Carolina.

Old Mill Cabin 2018 Inside Cabin.

Currently known as “The Old Log Mill,” the original log structure of this dwelling was constructed near Jonesborough (Tennessee’s oldest town) in 1797 by the Rubbles family. Jonesborough, the county seat of Washington County, was established in 1777, and at that time was still part of North Carolina. Its origins are rooted in the Watauga settlements, established in the early1770s in the vicinity of what is now Elizabethton.

In 1799, a daughter of the Rubbles married a Dr. Hill and for generations, their descendants lived in this log home. When this house was constructed, it was the largest structure in the valley, consisting of four floors of 750 square feet each.

Following North Carolina’s cession of western lands in June 1784, settlers west of the Appalachians found themselves without government. They remedied the situation by organizing the State of Franklin at Jonesborough. In August 1784, John Sevier became the governor of this “Lost State,” which continued until 1788. The constitutional convention and the first legislative sessions of the “State of Franklin” were held in Jonesborough until 1785.   

From the beginning, Jonesborough was a planned community. No ramshackle cabins were permitted; the owner of each lot had to build “one brick, stone, or well-framed house, 20 feet long and 16 feet wide, at least 10 feet in the pitch, with a brick or stone chimney.” Failure to comply with this provision brought forfeiture of the land title. In May 1788, commissioners reported in favor of Jonesborough as the best and most convenient location for the Washington County courthouse, prison and stocks. It is known that at one time, magistrate business including court hearings were conducted in this, the home that eventually was to become “The Old Log Mill.”

In the early 1900s, ownership of “The Old Log Mill” was conveyed to the Hicks family, and new additions were added to make a total of 11 rooms. The Hicks occupied the home for 45 years.

At the time, heat for the structure came from a 12-foot-wide fireplace that burned logs so large they had to be dragged in by oxen. According to historical accounts, Indians were fired upon from gun ports that were built into the dwelling, one of which is preserved on the second floor of the structure in its current location.

In 1980, Dr. Ed Calvin (one of the original developers of the northridge of Beech Mountain) purchased the building and had the structure dismantled, match-marked and shipped by truck from Jonesborough to Beech Mountain. Dr. Calvin was a survivalist, and he reconstructed the structure like a bunker in its new location.

The basement now contains walls and ceilings of concrete and steel that are three feet thick. The dwelling was fed at the time by an artesian well, which required no source of electricity (and which still exists on the site). During Calvin’s painstaking restoration of the log home between 1982 and1987, other modifications were made to the dwelling, including resizing the fireplace and enlarging the windows.

New wood elements were incorporated into the reconstruction and included a fireplace mantel, a bar, walls and flooring, some of which were sourced from trees felled on the Beech Mountain construction site. Waterfalls emanating from Buckeye Creek feed three ponds that were created on the property and stocked with rainbow trout. Calvin demonstrated a remarkable and unique vision in his creation of this tranquil and serene mountain compound. Among the most interesting modifications to the structure, he added a fully functional steel waterwheel by the Fitz Waterwheel Company that he acquired at a cost of $8,000 from a grist mill in Mountain City. His intention was to grind flour on premise but he never fulfilled that dream.

Dr. Calvin’s wife, Jan Calvin, was one of the Beech Mountain Club’s most beloved recreation directors. She especially enjoyed entertaining at the old mill and hosted programs that she developed for all ages and interests, including pig roasts, wine tastings, craft classes, wildflower walks and ladies’ luncheons.

In 1999, ownership of this historic structure transitioned once again, this time to the Biondo family. Upon acquisition of the home, the Biondos completely gutted the basement bunker and converted it into an office and playroom.

Ten years later, they added a 2,700 square- foot addition, being careful to keep the integrity of “The Old Log Mill.” Today the home is over 5,000 square feet, with five bedrooms and four and one-half baths.

The 700 square-foot covered rear deck is built adjacent to Buckeye Creek and faces a 10-foot streaming waterfall.   

“The Old Log Mill” property, located mere minutes from the heart of Beech Mountain Town Center, feels completely off the grid with sweeping long-range views. The simple notion that history was most likely created by legendary figures such as Sevier and Tipton within the walls of this structure merits a look inside. It isn’t every day one encounters this caliber of rustic mountain luxury steeped in so much of the culture and history of Appalachia.

“The Old Log Mill” is located at 130 Spruce Hollow Road on Beech Mountain and is currently available for viewing by contacting Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Banner Elk, North Carolina.

In 1918, votes bring about big changes

Downtown Jonesborough, in the 1900s.  


Associate Editor


EDITOR’S NOTE: Readers who find this article interesting are asked to provide the Herald and Tribune with any accounts, letters or photographs they may have of events during 1918.  Please reply to the author of this article at the email listed below or by postal mail at P. O. Box, 277, Jonesborough, TN. 37659.

The election of 1918 resulted in a number of cultural changes in the United States, not the least of which was the pursuit of the right to vote for women, as shown in the image below. A world war and a flu epidemic were also on voters minds as they headed to the polls.

A country engaged in a world war, a flu epidemic, a crusade against alcohol and the women’s suffrage movement occupied voters going to the polls in Washington County in 1918.  The Monday, Aug. 1 election would see a sweep of county offices by the Republican Party and new members chosen for the County Court. Candidates for state and federal officers in both the Democratic and Republican primaries were also determined.

Results of the August balloting were published in the Herald and Tribune on Thursday, Aug. 8, 1918 under the major headline:  “OFFICIAL COUNT MADE; SELLS DEFEATS HARMON.” A smaller headline read: “Democrats Nominate Roberts for Governor and Shields for U.S. Senate.  Gus Broderick Elected Sheriff.” John K. Shields  won the United States Senate primary election statewide but lost in the Washington County voting.

The story provided: “The official canvass of the ballots cast in the election on August 1 was made Monday.  In the regular election the following Republican candidates were declared elected without opposition.

“Chancellor, Hal H. Haynes, re-elected; Circuit Judge, D.A. Vines; Attorney General, O. B. Lovette; Trustee, J.W. Weeks, re-elected; County Court Clerk, W. C. Leab, re-elected; Circuit Court Clerk, W. H. Jones; Register, C. S. Maden, re-elected.

“In the race for sheriff, Gus Broderick, Democrat, defeated Lola Remine, the present incumbent by a majority of 163.  The official count is tabulated below.”

The tabulation involved the votes in 18 Districts.  For example, in the race for sheriff, Broderick received 2,008 votes while Remine had 1,875. Officials who ran in uncontested races each received approximately 2,500 votes.

“In the Democratic primary, the ballot in Washington County gave the following results: For U.S. Senate – Rye 822; Shields 710 – Rye’s majority 112; For Governor – Roberts 891; Peay 688; Shropshire 11—Roberts majority over Peay 131; For committeemen – Caldwell 1,175; Susong 1,186.”

“In the Republican primary, the ballot for the county resulted as follows: For Congressman – Sells 1,574; Harmon 890 – Sells’ majority 745; For State Senator – May 1,064; Collins 650; Roberts 599 – May’s majority over Collins 411; For the Senate District Collins was nominated by (a majority) of 44 votes.’ Sells (Congressman S. R Sells) defeated Harmon by over 2,000 (votes in the 1st Congressional District).”

“For Representative – Martin 1482; Royston 823 – Royston’s majority – 659.  For Committeemen – Thompson 1,457; Howard 1,270; Myers 728; Idol 560.   W. S. Tucker was nominated for floater without opposition.”

Unlike today, in 1918 there were 39 candidates elected to the County Court. The text of the Herald and Tribune article after a headline that read “21 NEW MEMBERS IN COUNTY COURT” read, “Of the 39 magistrates composing the county court, 18 of the old members were re-elected to office, while 21 successful aspirants replaced the others.  Politically, the complexion of the county court is Republicans 31, Democrats seven and the politics of one member unknown.”

In a subsequent edition, the names and address of the members of the county court were published as follows under the headline: “Who Belongs to the County Court – For the convenience of those who desire a complete list of the members of the present County Court, we give same below – W. C. Leab, Clerk, Jonesboro

1st District – M. M. Mauk, Chuckey, Rt. 4; Wm. S. Walter, Chuckey, Rt. 4.

2nd District – J. G. Dillow, Jonesboro, Rt. 1; S. W. Bovell, Limestone, Rt. 2.

3rd District – N. T. Bowman, Washington College, Rt. 1; T. G. Moore, Limestone, Rt. 2.

4th District – W. F. Reed, Telford, Rt. 1; J. M. Guinn, Jonesboro, Rt. 2.

5th District – D. A. Markwood, Jonesboro, Rt. 1; J. A. Hartman, Telford.

6th District – A. J. Willis, Embreville; J. W. Jones, Jonesboro, Rt. 1.

7th District – E. E. Hall, Fall Branch; A. R. Moulton, Fall Branch.

8th District – A. C. Benfield, Jonesboro, Rt. 3; Samuel J. Huffine, Johnson City, Rt. 1.

9th District – L. Armbrust, Johnson City; Thos. E. Matson, Johnson City; A. D. Hughes, Johnson City.

10th District – J. A. Swadley, Johnson City, Rt. 4; W. P. Leach, Johnson City, Rt. 4.

11th District – W. F. Carter, Jonesboro, Rt. 4; J. L. Clark, Jonesboro, Rt. 4.

12th District – C. E. Dove, Jonesboro, Rt. 10; J. M. Hale, Jonesboro, Rt. 11.

13th District – G. C. Horne, Jonesboro, Rt. 7 (Chairman); J. E. Duncan, Jonesboro, Rt. 13.

14th District – J. S. Hunt, Jonesboro, Rt. 7; L. M. Payne, Jonesboro, Rt. 6.

15th District – J. L. Hilbert, Jonesboro; Jas. H. Epps, Jonesboro; J. I Hawkins, Jonesboro; J. P. McNeil, Johnson City, Rt. 3.

16th District – J. W. Smith, Jonesboro, Rt. 7; J. Horace Smith, Jonesboro, Rt. 7.

17th District – W. S. Miller, Limestone, Rt. 1; R.  A. N. Walker, Jonesboro. Rt. 7.

18th District – J. H. Hardin, Washington College, Rt. 1; E.B. Mitchell, Limestone, Rt. 2.

Women were seeking the vote in 1918.  The suffrages (as the advocates of votes for women were called) had emerged in the South as an offshoot of the abolition of alcohol movement with the Women Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) playing a central role.  The Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association (TESA) and National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) lobbied the General Assembly for the right to vote in municipal and presidential elections.

In April 1918, their efforts were successful and both houses of the Tennessee Legislature passed a woman’s voting rights bill.  A lawsuit was immediately filed challenging its constitutionality but the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the law.  In 1920 Tennessee would play a critical role in the federal constitutional provision on woman’s suffrage.

The most serious outbreak of influenza  ( flu) in Tennessee history was also taking place.  There would be  7,721 recorded deaths from the disease in the influenza pandemic of 1918-19. What happened the state was part of a worldwide epidemic, multiplied in its effect by the dislocation and home-front demands of World War I.

November would bring another election and the end of World War I.  A second newspaper article will detail the events of this critical month in history.

Murder mystery dinner to offer clues

This family dinner is about to get a little heated. You don’t want to miss it.


You thought your family was bad? Add a dash of sibling rivalry, a touch of crazy, a house filled with secrets that are ready to explode, and you have a recipe for a murderous family reunion; and no one stirs the pot quite like the Crawfords!

Join Mae, Mable, Delmar, Isaac, Jessica, and Mona as they come together to celebrate Horace’s 90th birthday by getting the Crawford clan together under one roof at the Historic Eureka Inn. As tensions run high the secrets start to flow and someone turns up dead! Help the family put together clues and figure out what exactly is going on at this party!

Guests will be served dinner promptly at 7 p.m. and then escorted into the Eureka’s parlor to enjoy “The Family Reunion.”

The menu is as follows: House Salad with choice of Dressing, Delmar’s Smoked Meatloaf (a Vegetarian option is available), Southern Style Green Beans, Mable’s Baked Mac & Cheese, Mashed Taters with Brown Gravy, and Banana Pudding or Horace’s Birthday Cake. There will be an intermission where dessert will be served and the Clue Hunt will commence. Prizes will be awarded at the end of the show to the guests who can discover “whodunit” and why. This show will leave your tummy full and have you wishing you were part of the Crawford clan! Nobody puts the FUN in dysfunctional quite like the Crawfords

Join us in the beautiful and historic downtown Jonesborough at the Historic Eureka Inn for “The Family Reunion.” The Eureka Inn has partnered with Derek Smithpeters of DSP Creations Unlimited, to bring you the second of three Mystery Dinners in Jonesborough.This hilariously dangerous mystery dinner will take place at the Historic Eureka Inn, 127 W. Main St. The show begins at 7 p.m. and dates still available include July 27, 28 and August 3, 4, 10, 11. “The Family Reunion” was written by local artist and playwright, Derek Smithpeters. This show is produced by Eureka’s proprietors Katelyn and Blake Yarbrough.

Tickets for “The Family Reunion” may be purchased $45 plus tax at the Historic Eureka Inn, by calling (423) 913-6100, or by visiting crawfordfamilyreunion.eventbrite.com .

You can turn your show into an escape and book one of the inn’s guest rooms, enjoy a delicious Southern Brunch, and receive a discount! All Eureka guests will receive a $10 discount on their Mystery Tickets. Doors open at 6:45 pm and dinner is served promptly at 7. Parking is free, located down 1st Avenue and on Main St. For more information about the Historic Eureka Inn or their Mystery Dinners, please find them on Facebook, Instagram, or visit their website www.eurekajonesborough.com.