Helen Keller’s story coming to JRT

Olivia Castillo plays Helen in the upcoming play.


The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is pleased to present “The Miracle Worker,” running Friday, Jan. 25, through Sunday, Feb. 10. This classic, intense, yet heartwarming story about Helen Keller and her extraordinary teacher, Annie Sullivan, will give audiences a deeper understanding of the trials and complications of Helen’s childhood.

“I think that most people know who Helen Keller is,” explained the director, Janette Gaines, “but to be able to actually see the real life story of what the family went through brings it to a different level for the audience.”

Helen Keller was born in Alabama in 1880. At 19 months of age, she contracted an unknown disease (possibly scarlet fever or meningitis), which left her blind and deaf. This, of course, broke down any normal communication with the child, so the family spent years not knowing the best way to handle this.

Gaines said she can relate. “My daughters are hard of hearing,” she said. “They don’t hear the same things we do. They also have autism, which is a lot like being deaf since they may not be aware of what’s going on around them. I had to unlock communication and understanding with my girls.”

That’s the bottom line of “The Miracle Worker” — unlocking the communication of Helen Keller. The title character is Annie Sullivan, who truly does work miracles for the family. She had been blind and underwent surgeries that helped her to see. She was only 20 years old when first employed by the Keller family. And she went to extreme lengths teaching Helen how to communicate.

“It’s amazing how Helen Keller went through all this,” said Olivia Castillo, who plays Helen in the show, “and how Annie didn’t give up.”

Annie Sullivan refused to treat Helen like she had disabilities. Unlike the child’s family, she didn’t give in to her tantrums or allow her to act disrespectfully. She pretty much “took the bull by the horns.”

“Annie never just gives up,” said Hope Hiester, who portrays Annie Sullivan. “And I’m a lot like that. Her story has helped me personally get through things in my own life. I have gastroparesis (a condition that affects the normal spontaneous movement of the muscles in your stomach) which makes everyday things difficult, so everything most people take for granted is a challenge. And Annie didn’t let anything stop her, so I’ve learned from her.”

Hiester’s character is not only physically challenged by working with Helen, but also emotionally and mentally challenged, and she perseveres through it all. “If you want to see a story that defies all odds and teaches you the value of hard work and perseverance, that’s what this show is. And trying to make the best of any situation.”

The story conveys just why Annie needed to persevere. Helen presented so many challenges for her family. “I’ve been around those with physical and mental disabilities,” said Mike Ellis, who plays Helen’s father, “so I can relate a little knowing how the parents struggled. I’ve been involved with The Arc (an organization that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families) so I see how and why the parents would need some assistance, and that helps me understand why Helen’s parents need a break.”

The show takes an honest look at family relationships and the struggles they have because of such a demanding child. It also reveals their love and commitment, though at times very strained, to not only Helen, but to each other. Each person in this show has his or her own “demons” to overcome, but those challenges are what make each character so special.

Emma Montag, who plays one of the blind students, is hearing impaired, so she understands the strong messages of this show. “Everyone’s beautiful and unique in their own way. I like to use that as awareness for other people to let them realize that just because they’re different or have something that makes them stand out doesn’t mean they should feel insecure about themselves. And that’s what makes ‘The Miracle Worker’ such a loving story, for all families, for all generations.”

Annie totally believed that —  for both herself and for Helen. They each had something to give. She helped to find the beautiful and the determination and the courage in both of them. She went way beyond what Helen’s family had ever thought possible.

Hope said it best. “Annie didn’t just give Helen a few words and say, ‘You live within your means; this is how you have to be.’ She said, ‘I can unlock the whole world for you.’ ”

And so she did.

“Theatre is about communicating a story,” Gaines said. “This particular story is about the importance of communication in everyone’s life. It’s got a good message that everyone can connect with. Audience members will find moments that will touch them and moments that will make them laugh. It’s a wonderful, triumphant story that will make people feel good.”

“The Miracle Worker” is by William Gibson and directed by Janette Gaines. The sponsors are Ballad Health, Ignacy Fonberg, the Law Offices of James R. Wheeler, and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.

Rounding out the cast are Auggie Carver, Lorianne Carver, Lucy Carver, Renee Hickman, Pam Johnson, Charles Landry, Chloe Ledes, Kyle Mason, Kalliopi Papas, and Caroline Peccia.

Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 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.

Helping others: Students work to give back to their community

Left to right, Micayla Lane and Mackenzie Robinette deliver the food and litter to an employee of the animal shelter.


The David Crockett High School Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) are hosting pet food and blanket drives for the Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter.

Students and staff members donated hundreds of pounds of pet food.

Headed by seniors Mackenzie Robinette and Micayla Lane, the club hosted a food drive at David Crockett High school for two weeks during the month of November.

Students and staff members of DCHS donated over 98 pounds of dry dog food, 61 cans of dog food, 95 pounds of dry cat food, 73 cans of cat food, and 58 pounds of cat litter for the shelter.

The FCCLA members are now hosting a blanket drive to collect new or gently used blankets for the shelter.

Students are partnering with various clubs at David Crockett High School, Daniel Boone FCCLA, and community members to collect as many donations as possible.

During the Crockett/Boone Basketball game on Friday, Jan. 18, blanket donations will be accepted.

If you bring a donation to the game, your ticket will be entered into a drawing for prizes including gift cards and gift baskets from local businesses. 

If you would like more information or would like to donate, please contact the DCHS FCCLA adviser, Jessica Gourley at gourleyj@wcde.org or by calling the school at (423) 753-1171. 

Tennessee announces what’s new for 2019


Tourism in Tennessee continues to expand with new attractions, impressive state-of-the-art developments, expansions and milestone anniversary celebrations of iconic attractions that help shape “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.”

2019 marks several milestones in Tennessee, including Memphis’ Bicentennial, Bijou Theatre’s 110th anniversary in Knoxville, and the 25th anniversary of the RC MoonPie Festival in Bell Buckle. Embrace the history, relive the stories and create memories. Here’s what’s new in 2019 for Tennessee.


Tennessee Music Pathways

The pathways connect the traveler to the people, places and genres that make Tennessee the Soundtrack of America, from the largest cities to the smallest communities. Whether it is a story of the past, a star of the present or promise of the future, historic or live, Tennessee Music Pathways go where the music does.

Tennessee Songwriters Week

Songs penned in Tennessee make the Soundtrack of America. A new state statute passed, annually designating the last full week of February as “Tennessee Songwriters Week.” The week is designed to celebrate the foundation of the craft, recognize songwriters and pave the way for future artists.


Baxter Seminary Park

Baxter Seminary Park will include a new live music amphitheater and walking trails, set to open in 2019.


25th Annual RC-MoonPie Festival

A quarter century celebration of the ultimate Southern tradition: RC Cola and MoonPies will be packed with fun and a reunion of the past 25 year’s Kings and Queens on June 15, 2019.


Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Walk through the pages of storybooks in the exhibit “Reading Appalachia: Voices from Children’s Literature” February-June 2019.

The exhibit “American Ballads: The Photographs of Marty Stuart” Aug. 2019-Jan. 2020 features photos of the people and places captured by the country music star since he first went on tour with Lester Flatt at age 13.

100th Birthday of Tennessee Ernie Ford

Bristol native Ernie Ford was most notably known for his hit song “Sixteen Tons,” which sold 20 million copies. During his birthday week starting Feb. 13, there will be celebrations featuring his son, Buck.

Lost State Distilling

The new distillery produces small batch gin, rum and Tennessee whiskey. Lost State has a tasting room, production area, retail area and event space.


I-40 Solar Farm

Information and Welcome Center

The new welcome center and solar farm greets visitors traveling on I-40. An interactive exhibit, designed by the University of Tennessee, highlights the state’s advancements in renewable energy.


Hiwassee River Heritage Center

The interpretive center and National Park Service-certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail will expand with new exhibits and an education room.


Edwin Hotel

The new upscale, five-story boutique hotel includes 90 rooms, meeting space, upscale décor, rooftop bar, local art and a restaurant.

Fallen Five Memorial

A dedication ceremony for an unveiling of a memorial honoring the five service members killed in the July 2015 terrorist attack on two local military sites will be in July 2019 at Tennessee Riverpark.

Moxy Hotel

The new boutique hotel includes 102 rooms, free Wi-Fi, cushy beds, stylish design, vibrant community spaces, in-room storage (enough to fit a bicycle) and a bar.

Moon River Music Festival

The Moon River Festival moves from Memphis to Coolidge Park in Chattanooga. The two-day family-friendly festival Sept. 7-8, 2019 highlights the music and culture of Tennessee.

Read House Historic Hotel

Undergoing $20 million in renovations, the hotel will upgrade the 242 guest rooms with new technology and bathroom furnishings, as well as redesign the lobby, ballroom and restaurant.

Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls unveiled a $20 million expansion with upgrades like an outdoor observation area, improved ticketing experience, expanded retail, LED lights and additional parking.

The Signal

The Signal is Chattanooga’s newest live music venue. The 1,300-capacity warehouse plans to host all genres of music, receptions, fundraisers, corporate events and conferences.


Ridley Sports Complex Expansion

The sports complex expands with seven new soccer fields including a championship field complete with bleachers, a press box, a new concession facility, restrooms and parking.


The Broastery · Tennessee Coffee Roasters

Cookeville’s only craft coffee roaster’s new storefront pairs with brands such as Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey to create locally roasted flavors and blends.

Saltbox Inn & Stables


Saltbox Inn & Stables now includes hosting areas at The Loft, Three Trees Ceremony Site, and The Greenhouse. The new lodging, Pumphouse Cabin, is directly on the property’s waterfall.

The Shoppes at Eagle Pointe

The new 25,000 square feet of retail space on 42 acres features 1,200 parking spaces with Publix, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Ulta, Michael’s and more.

Tennessee Legend Distillery at Maddux Place

A staple in East Tennessee, Tennessee Legend Distillery expands with a new sipping shop and free tastings at the historic Putnam County Courthouse.


Rhea Heritage and Scopes Trial Museum

The historic museum in the basement of the Rhea County Courthouse is now open after upgrades and renovations.  It’s the site of the 1925 Scopes Trial over the teaching of evolution.


The Harpeth Hotel

The Harpeth Hotel will be located along Franklin’s iconic Main Street. The four-diamond, 119-room luxury hotel will feature a gourmet chef-led restaurant, spa, whiskey-focused bar, and walkability to Main Street. Franklin will open an additional six hotels in 2019, totally over 1,000 rooms.

Carter House Visitor Center

The Carter House, one of three historic museums on the battlefield of the Civil War’s Battle of Franklin, will open a new visitor center with a museum and orientation center, similar to its sister property, Carnton.

Leiper’s Fork Winery

Eric and Samantha Coghlan, who began their winemaking in California at the Coghlan Vineyard in 2008, now bring their award-winning wines and minimalist farming approach to Leiper’s Fork Winery.

231 Public Square & Ruby Sunshine

The newly renovated mixed-use development on the square on Franklin’s iconic Main Street downtown will feature Ruby Sunshine – a new concept from New Orleans’ famed The Ruby Slipper Cafe, along with locally-owned boutique shops and a rooftop restaurant and bar.


Grit, Grace and Grub

The new Grit, Grace and Grub food and bluegrass festival Sept. 7, 2019 will take visitors on a grub tour offering a taste of Gallatin’s local eateries.


Ole Red Gatlinburg

Opening Spring 2019, Blake Shelton’s Ole Red Gatlinburg features a two-story bar and restaurant, retail area, performance space, dance floor, outdoor terrace and Southern fare like hot chicken and waffles.


Hands On! Discovery Center

The brand new all-ages science center offers fun interactive programs and exhibits including a musical Tesla coil, giant building blocks and a maker studio inviting guests to engineer a rocket, create a masterpiece and uncover something new.

Legacy of giving: Kiwanis turn dinner/dance into Chromebooks for students

The Jonesborough Kiwanis Club presents a check for the purchase of Chromebooks to the Washington County Board of Education.


Associate Editor


Every once in a while someone has an idea, someone else adds to it, and then another and another and so on,” said Lowie van Staveren, President Jonesborough Kiwanis Club, on Thursday, December 13, as he spoke to the Washington County Board of Education. This “idea” came to fruition at the meeting when the Kiwanis Club presented a check for $8,000 targeted at purchasing Chromebooks for the classrooms of the Washington County schools. 

Chromebooks are laptop-type computers which, when combined with educational software, are used by students in their classroom activities.  There are over 6,500 Chromebook computers in the county schools and the goal is to have enough Chromebooks to provide one for every student.

The Thursday night presentation was the culmination of a seed idea which began last summer in which a Dinner, Dance and Silent Auction was proposed to raise funds to support technology improvements in the county schools.  The program included a catered dinner, a dance, and a silent auction to raise the funds, 100 percent of which would be given to the school for Chromebook computers.

The event was held in the McKinney Center.  Kiwanis members worked diligently on decorations, planning and, set-up.  DNA Catering provided the meal and Big Time Entertainment provided the music.   Nearly 30 members of the Kiwanis Builders Clubs and Key Clubs from the High and Middle Schools assisted as servers, waiting on tables and helping where needed.  Many of the nearly 100 people who attended said they were impressed with the way the students worked to make the evening special and successful.   

This 1928 photo shows the Jonesborough Kiwanis Club members at that time. Throughout its existance, the group has been known for giving back to its community. Readers who can identify any of the members in the above photo are encouraged to email the Herald & Tribune at news@heraldandtribune.com.

The Jonesborough Kiwanis Club has been serving Tennessee’s Oldest Town and Washington County continuously since 1925.  Initially a business networking organization, the club has morphed into a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization committed to helping children.   

In 2018, for example, the club has contributed over $14,000 to county schools and an additional $13,000 to community organizations focused on children.  Members have also worked hundreds of hours volunteering in schools, town events, and various civic and town committees. 

In addition to the new dinner/dance event, Jonesborough Kiwanis members raise money through three other main fundraisers – the Annual Spaghetti Dinner, the Annual Golf Tournament, and managing parking for Storytelling.  These club activities are designed to build community spirit while raising funds needed to provide financial support to local organizations.   

One of the most popular traditional fundraisers has been the Annual Spaghetti Dinner, held on the last Saturday in February.  This event enjoyed its 50th anniversary last year.  However, club member Randy Smythe noted “this was our third 50th anniversary,” mainly because nobody remembers when it actually started.  Therefore 2019 will be the 51st for the spaghetti dinner. 

The meal costs $10 for adults and $5 for children. It includes all you can eat salad, spaghetti with meat sauce (or meatless sauce), noodles (regular or gluten free), dessert, and drinks.  Guests are able to dine-in or take out.  It is held at the Jonesborough Middle School from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

On the day of the dinner, Kiwanis members start making the secret sauce and noodles at about 8 a.m.  The “noodle man,” Pat Wolfe, said he “prepares 125 pounds of noodles” and noted that other club members prepare 80 gallons of sauce.  Add to that the salad “fixins” and deserts donated by the club members, along with gallons of drinks, and you have the essence of the meals.    

During the day various club members arrive to make the salads, plate the desserts, and prepare the building for the event.  The volunteers’ day goes from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Builders Club and Key Club members arrive at 4 p.m. and assist in cleaning the tables and helping guests. 

Much of the food is donated by local markets and businesses.  Missing from the meal description is the recipe for the secret sauce. For many years attorney Jud Thornton was the “head cook” for the group and developed the “special sauce”. When he passed away, Lloyd Fleenor took over and became the Spaghetti Chef.

Van Zandt noted that the club appreciates the full cooperation of the Jonesborough Middle School staff for allowing the club the full use of their cafeteria facilities. They school is an ideal venue and a key component of the success of this fundraiser. 

The club also partners with the Jonesborough Civitan in a Golf Tournament in early April.  This event provides a lunch and a round of golf at the Crossings Golf Course. Money is raised through sponsorships by businesses and individuals. 

The schools are a large beneficiary of Kiwanis fundraising efforts through direct donations to the classrooms, support of school programs and organizations, and scholarships to graduates of the high schools.   Members also volunteer in the classrooms during the week to assist students in reading, math, and science, assist in monitoring testing and support the “On My Own” program – an exercise in real world finances.   

Other funds go to organizations that support children. These include “Bags of Love” help children removed from harmful drug homes.  Little League, Soccer, and “Girls On The Run” help children develop athletic skills.  Safe Passage, CASA, and other programs support children and women needing assistance.  “Shop with a Cop,” established with the Jonesborough Department of Public Safety, provides Christmas gifts and food for families in need, and builds a positive relationship between the police, first responders and the children.   

Kiwanis also sponsors auxiliary clubs for students.  This includes Builder’s Clubs in the Middle Schools at Grandview, Jonesborough, and Lamar, and Key Clubs at David Crockett and Daniel Boone high schools.  These clubs provide a real world environment where students form and manage their own service organizations, electing officers, encouraging membership, creating and implementing service projects, and growing club membership.   Their organizations are overseen and led by teachers who volunteer their own time to teach important life lessons.   The Kiwanis club offers a $1,000.00 scholarship each year to each Key Club based on the sponsoring teacher’s recommendation. 

Kiwanis members come from a variety of backgrounds including medical professionals, an Air Traffic Controller, educators, consultants, and others.  The men and women are focused on helping children and work as a team to complete various projects and help with town events such as At Home with Santa, Easter Eggtravaganza and Halloween Haunts and Happenings.    

Member Pat Wolfe noted he joined Kiwanis in 1997.  “My first contact with the Club was in June 1966. I was back from Vietnam. My military service was in the Central Highlands. There was an orphanage that took our fatigues and washed them. There were lots of small children there. I was asked by Charlie Hartman from Jonesborough Kiwanis to give a program on Vietnam. I showed (club members) slides that included the children. They took up a collection that day and collected money to send to the orphanage. When returned, I got a job in Jonesborough at the Bank of Tennessee, and I joined the club.”

Van Zandt said he “was invited by a neighbor and since the club was focused on helping children, I decided to join.  It is a great club.”  John Tomko said “I was new to the area. The postmaster, Richard Knight, asked me to join.”

Fondly remembered by the group were past members Bernard Kaiman, Lee Halburg, John Palese, Jud Thornton, Conrad Crow, Earnest McKinney, and other members who helped make a difference in the club and community.

Today, the club meets at the Fellowship Hall at the Jonesborough United Methodist Church at noon each Wednesday. Lunch is catered by DNA Catering (Dawn Heaton).   Club dues are $180.00 per year. Officers of the group are President, Lowie van Staveren; Vice-President, Michelle Shelton-Stewart; Treasurer, Jack Van Zandt and Secretary Noah Beeber. The President-Elect, who will take office in September 2019, is Mike Floyd. Randy Smythe maintains the club Facebook page “Kiwanis Club of Jonesborough.” For additional information about Kiwanis, Jack Van Zandt can be contacted at jgvanzandt@mac.com.

Author shares the beginning of a town

Long before the 1847 courthouse, above, was built, the town of Jonesborough sprang to life on the Tennessee frontier.


Jonesborough Town Historian

(Editor’s Note: This is third in a series of articles containing a “History of Jonesboro and Surrounding Sections” written by Miriam Fink Dulaney.)

In the grim business of war, and under the spur of As regards the date of the first settlement of Jonesboro, history seems to be silent.  In all probability, the existence of the town dates almost to the Watauga Association in 1772. In 1779, the Legislature of North Carolina determined boundary lines and established Jonesboro as the county seat of Washington County.

It was named in honor of Willie Jones of Halifax, North Carolina, a distinguished patriot, who had proven himself to be an interested friend to the people of the western country.  The struggling little village planted among the wooded hills during the dark and uncertain days of the Revolution, has been the scene of many stirring events and thrilling incidents of the state’s history. Thru [through] the streets of the newly christened town, [John} Sevier’s troops marched to the rendezvous at Sycamore Shoals, later crossing the range to take part in the battle of King’s Mountain in 1780. It is said that the first lot sold, was bought by Robert Sevier.

“Mention of Jonesboro is found in several of the journals kept by early travelers in this section. Bishop Frances Asbury, an English Methodist missionary, gives this record — April 2, 1793: “Our conference began at Nelson’s near Jonesborough, in the new territory. We have only four or five families of Methodists here. We had sweet peace in our conference.” 

“This was the first annual Methodist conference held in Tennessee. The home of William Nelson which was mentioned, was on a ridge northwest of Johnson City.

Andre Michaux, a French botanist and diplomat, made two journeys thru [through] Jonesboro. On his way from Morganton, North Carolina to points west, we find this entry in his diary — May 15, 1795: “The 15th, passed Jonesboroug (sic), 10 miles from Colonel Tipton’s dwelling and 84 miles from Burke Court House. Slept at the house of Anthony Moore near Noleychuckey (sic) river.  During the night my horse strayed away.” 

“Again, on another visit to this section, the following entry is found — March 19, 1796: “Passed by Johnsborough (sic), 25 miles from Green.” (Greeneville).  “Several merchants are established in Johnsborough (sic) who obtain their goods from Philadelphia by land.”

A few years later, two Moravian missionarys, Brethren Abraham Steiner and Frederick C. De Schweinitz made a journey to the back country to promote their gospel among the heathen – the ‘heathen’ in this section being the Cherokee Indians. They traveled from Abingdon, Virginia down the great Watauga road, which in after times became ‘the Jonesborough road.’  This famous thoroughfare was part of the main stage coach line between Washington, D.C. and Nashville. 

An interesting account is given in their report.  — Nov. 3, 1799: “On the 3rd, as this was Sunday, we rejoiced that we could be remembered in the intercessions of the congregation in behalf of those who travel.  This morning we crossed the Wataga (sic), a main tributary of the Holston. As it flows very swiftly and has a deep ford [DeVault’s Ford, near Austin Springs], we were glad that a German who has land here and is well acquainted with the ford took us through.

“Ten miles from Wataga (sic) we came to Jonesborough and into the region of Nolachucky. The land here about is very good and fertile and mostly level.  Here, also, the culture of cotton begins again. Much maple sugar is boiled by the families in this region, in qualities of 1000 lbs. Now the price is 16½ cents per pound, but in spring the traders buy it for 12 ½ cents the pound. 

“The weather hitherto has been so warm that the foliage of most oaks and locusts, even of chestnuts, was still quite green.

“Jonesborough consists of one long street, has nearly 30 houses and is growing, as are all the towns of the back country.  The innkeeper with whom we stopped, looks after an apothecary’s shop as well as the inn.” The innkeeper at that time was Dr. Williams P. Chester of Carlisle, PA.  He was the first learned physician in this section and was the family doctor of John Sevier.  The inn is still standing, probably one of the oldest buildings left in Jonesboro – a monument to its historic past.”

But to continue with the journal – “Ten miles from here in Greene County begins, where this afternoon we came to an entirely new place, Leesburg, or New Washington, which for the short time of its existence, is not insignificant.” About the beginning of the entry, there was some discussion as to changing the county seat of Washington from Jonesboro to Leesburg, but after bitter debates it was decided that the old site be retained.

Some of the buildings of that era are still standing.  Of particular interest is the old tavern, now occupied by Mr. F. R. Devault. One may still see the wings where stage coaches backed into the yard under cover, so that passengers in alighting, might be protected from inclement weather.

When people live together, there must be law and provision for the execution of that law and punishment of offenders. At the November term of court, 1784, probably held in some log cabin near Jonesboro, the following record was made: – “The Court recommend that there be a Court House built in the following manner, to wit: 24 feet square diamond corners and hewed down after the same is built up, 9 feet high between two floors and the body of the house 4 feet high above the upper floor, each floor to be neatly laid with plank.  The roof to be of joint shingles neatly hung on with pegs, a Justices bench, a lawyer’s and a Clerks bar, also a Sheriffs box to sit in.” 

Exactly a year later, another entry was made – “the Court Ordered that Col. Charles Roberson be allowed fifty pounds Current money for the building of the Court House in the Town of JonesBorough.”  In such a manner was the first seat of justice established west of the Alleghenies.

Early court records prove that the people in their legal relations with one another often resorted to the most cruel methods of punishment.  For instance, in the August term of court, 1790, at Jonesboro, a man by the name of Elias Pybourne was arraigned for horse stealing.  The record is thus: – “The defendant being called to the bar and asked if he had anything to say why the sentence should not be passed upon Saith Nothing.  It is therefore Odered that said Elias Pybourne be confined in the publick Pillory one Hour.  That he have both his ears nailed to the Pillory and severed from his Head; That he receive at the publick whipping post thirty-nine lashes well laid on; and be branded on the Right check with the Letter H. and on the left cheek with the letter T. and that the Sheriff of Washington County put this sentence in execution between the hours of Twelve and Two this day.”

However, the sheriff rebelled at this terrible punishment and refused to execute the command of the court.  He, too, was brought to trial and convicted for non-performance of duty.

   (To Be Continued with a story about Andrew Jackson “our” president.)

Christmas greetings from 100 years ago

The front page of the Dec. 26, 1918 Herald and Tribune brought Christmas greetings.


Associate Editor


“In the grim business of war, and under the spur of conservation pleas wrongly understood, there is danger this year that something of the Christmas spirit will be lost. Never before has it been more important that it should not be.”

These were the opening words of an article titled “The Spirit of Christmas” in the Herald & Tribune on Dec. 26, 1918 on a page where a banner headline read “Christmas Greetings.”  The spirit article continued, “The Christmas spirit as well as civilization and liberty must be saved. The world is in the midst of a war that is wrenching men’s hearts; a nation that has made peace its emblem is throwing itself and every resource into the conflict; on all sides sons have parted from mothers and fathers; news of casualties is being received.  Under such circumstances it might be natural for the weak to yield to depression.  This must not be.  There is a brave and cheery side to the picture, which must be kept constantly in our hearts and minds.”

Quoted only in part, the Christmas Spirit concerns were reflected in a front page story under the headline: “FORMER JONESBORO BOY KILLED IN ACTION.”   

The opening paragraph stated, “The following notice recently appeared in a Rockport, Iowa paper: “John A. McNeece, living on the Tollie Wolf place, north of Rock Port, received a telegram last Saturday evening, bearing the information that his oldest son, Corp. Walter E. McNeece,  had been killed in action, Oct. 6th.  Corp. McNeece volunteered for service at the country’s first call, when he was but 19 years of age.  He has been overseas since June 26th and since then has undoubtedly seen some hard service…”

Both “The Spirit of Christmas” and the report of a soldier’s death illustrate the time it took for news from overseas to reach the home front. The Armistice had been signed on Nov. 11, 1918 but the newspaper continued to be filled with stories about World War I.

In the Herald & Tribune’s left side columns was the portrait of a soldier looking at an angel under a shining star and bells over Bethlehem. 

The “Beautiful Bethlehem Bells” was the following poem: “Over the roar of the cities; Over the hills and dells,  With a message of peace to the nations, Ring the beautiful Bethlehem bells;  Bringing joy to the souls that are sighing,  In the hovels where poverty dwells – There is life – there is life for the dying,  In the beautiful Bethlehem bells.”

Another poem expressed “A Christmas Wish” – “Wherever there is sickness, May Santa Claus bring health;  Wherever there is poverty, May Santa Claus bring wealth;  Wherever one is weeping, May tears to smiles give way;  Wherever sadness hovers, May joy come Christmas day.  To every heart that’s aching, may peace and comfort come;  And may an outlook rosy, Supplant an outlook glum;  May friends now separate, Soon united be;  And everyone find gladness,  Upon his Christmas tree.”

The front page also featured a story about “The Old Shoemaker” that is too long to be printed here. However, the sketch of a young person before a fireplace sitting in a rocking chair is worth retelling as explained by the caption, “A DATE WITH SANTA CLAUS.  – Dear Santa Claus, I’m waiting here.  For you to come with your reindeer;  And bring the toys you’ve got for me.  Right down into this chimney;  Can’t keep my head up very straight, So hope you won’t be awfully late;  Might go to sleep in this big chair, So Santa, if you really care;  To meet me, as I hope you do, You’ll make your reindeer come right thru;  ‘Cause if this date, you’re going to keep,  Do hurry ‘fore I go to sleep.”

Inside the pages of the Christmas edition of the Herald & Tribune in addition to the paper’s editorial content were a number of merchants’ holiday greetings.  Among the advertisements were the following: “Happy Christmas Wishes – The Banking & Trust Co.; TO EVERY ONE: Right Merry Christmas and A Most Happy New Year! – Jonesboro Supply House Building Material; A nice Christmas Gift to your Children would be a Deposit in the Bank to their Credit.  It would help them Start Saving – GET THE HABIT – First National Bank, Jonesboro.”

Another  ad announced some after holiday discounts “WHITLOCK’S –  New Coats—Coats that were $45 to be sold at $25, All kinds of Christmas Toys, A new lot of Overshoes at very low Prices. ” Shipley  Hardware Co. told readers, “Christmas Remembrances that will linger long after Christmas has passed can be found in our large stock of Hardware and Furniture.”

A number of merchants (Shipley Hardware Co., R. M. May & Son, City Drug Co., F.E. Britton, Farmers Union Co., Hoss & McCall) joined together in sponsoring an add stating “JOIN – Make this a Red Cross Christmas the happiest, merriest Christmas the world ever knew…  But in the rejoicings of peace and freedom there is one note of seriousness that America must not forget – there is misery and distress and sickness all over the world.  Relief must be given.  The work of the Red Cross MUST go on.  And to carry on, the Red Cross MUST have the support of your membership.  JOIN THE RED CROSS – all you need is a heart and a dollar.

The Red Cross message should be repeated this 2018 holiday season because the need for financial aid and volunteer assistance continues worldwide.  Do remember your charitable giving as the staff of the Herald & Tribune wishes all of its readers Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Society member creates book on 220-year-old mill


Jonesborough Genealogical Society members Dwight H. and Cheryl A. Christensen Bennett never knew that their genealogical research would bring them from California to Broylesville, (a little historic community in Washington County.

Cheryl’s two 5x great-grandfathers Nicholas and Cyrus Broyles settled in this community in 1783. Two Broyles brothers, who came from a long line of millers in Germany, settled on Little Limestone Creek. According to Cheryl’s book entitled “The Broyles, Bashor & Bennett Mill, Broylesville, Tennessee: A History of the Mill, the People and the Town,” Cyrus purchased land from Nicholas several times, beginning in 1783. When this property was sold in 1797, a land deed records a grist mill and saw mill on this property.

Brief History

Throughout this history, the building that houses the mill have been owned by several families including the Broyles, Bashors, Telfords, Swatzells, Mitchells, Smiths, Andersons, Parkers, and Taylors. The mill ceased operations in 1952, and remained vacant for its next 32 years until Erlene Hoover Ledford purchased the mill in 1982.

Erlene Hoover Ledford saved what has become known as the Broyles, Bashor, and Bennett Mill, after she “discovered the mill was to sold for $1,000 so that the brick and wood could be harvested,” on Thanksgiving 1981. With her daughter, Faith, Erlene purchased the mill and .595 acres, where she opened a second antique store inside, after retiring from the Ledford’s Antiques in Greeneville after 30 years in business. In 1983, the mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places through the Tennessee Historical Commission, where it remains on the register today.

Since this time, other owners including artist Margaret Gregg (1994-2007) and Richard Davis Smith and Marie F. Jones (2007-2016) improved the mill’s condition, turning it more into living quarters.

Bennetts Find Home

But by 2015, the Bennetts were not looking to buy a mill, but fate has a way of bringing you home. On a trip to attend a conference in Washington D.C., Cheryl and Dwight made a road trip to see Broylesville, where Cheryl had traced her ancestors too. According to her book, “Broylesville is small. It is said that about 20 people live there now. When Cheryl and Dwight first arrived, they were not sure where the town started and stopped.They asked for directions from a man who was mowing his lawn. He laughed. They had already arrived. The first building they spotted was the back of the mill. When they got to the front, they say the for sale sign.”

After about 6 months negotiating, the Bennetts purchased the mill, which set off the journey of a lifetime. The Bennetts hope to see the mill become a museum, establishing the Broylesville Archives and Museum. From 2016 to today, they have begun examining the old mill, finding several signatures including the oldest dating to 1863. From Dwight’s schematics to interviews with previous residents and hours upon hours of research, Cheryl was able to publish this 323-page hardback book on the history of the mill. This book, full colored, showcases a living testament to mill history in Washington County, as well as small community histories that still have not yet been recorded.

Dwight and Cheryl have donated a copy of this self-published book to the Jonesborough Genealogical Society, where it will be placed in the Washington County-Jonesborough Library’s Genealogical and Historical Collection for researchers to use. This book was paid for by a matching reimbursement grant from the Society for the Preservation of Old Mills (SPOOM) They have no plans of selling this book at this time. For more information on the Broylesville Archives and Museum, contact Cheryl and Dwight at broylesville@gmail.com or visit www.broylesvillehistory.com.

Cheryl’s next adventure is to publish a book on the history of mills throughout Washington County, Tennessee. Do you know of a mill and its history? If so, let the JGS know, by email us at info@jgstn.org.

Christopher Taylor house has new roof

The Christopher Taylor house sits proudly with a now-completed, new roof.


Thanks to the State Of Franklin Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and the Town of Jonesborough, the Christopher Taylor House has a new roof.

The Christopher Taylor House is one of the most popular attractions in Jonesborough.  It figures prominently on Jonesborough’s various tours, photo ops of all varieties, events and  the “Storytown” app. When it was relocated from its original location to the center of the historic district, it stood as a symbol of Jonesborough’s preservation efforts.

Unfortunately, years of deferred maintenance have resulted in several issues, but the roof was by far the most dire. Earlier in the year, The Heritage Alliance and the Town of Jonesborough partnered to remove the rotted shake roof and replace it with a temporary membrane, enabling the structure to dry out. This temporary roof also allowed the Heritage Alliance to begin opening the House during the peak visitors’ season and to create unobtrusive interpretive panels to help tell the story of this unique structure.

It also allowed the Alliance to begin a fundraising effort to purchase and install the period appropriate western cedar shakes which now help protect Captain Taylor’s log home. Funding for this project was made possible through a Preservation Grant from the State of Franklin Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR).  The Town of Jonesborough matched the DAR funding.

Now that the roof is on, The Heritage Alliance is taking on the task of creating a cyclical maintenance plan for the structure.  In cooperation with the Town, the Heritage Alliance staff and volunteers will routinely monitor the Christopher Taylor House in order to prevent little issues such as trimming branches away from the roof and keeping vegetation and mulch away from the log foundations to prevent rot.

Executive Director Deborah Montanti is excited to have the Christopher Taylor House back in the mix of heritage offerings. The goal is to restore the structure to its role as a gathering space, inviting the public in to experience the history this building holds, in addition to local crafts, music and storytelling.

“I especially love to talk about the Christopher Taylor House in the context of The Chester Inn next door” says Montanti. “Taken together, these structures represent the evolution of settlement patterns and architecture over a period of time. As artifacts, they provide a structural representation of pioneer building technology along the migration route of the great stage road. In addition, they give insight into the amenities of 18th century travel. Christopher Taylor built his log house along the stage road with what would be considered extra space, offering it to travelers weary from the road. Many pioneer settlers opened their home to strangers as the nation expanded westward. Such helpfulness was beneficial to both traveler and homesteader, whose generosity often resulted in the traveler becoming a new neighbor.”

Montanti noted that, “Even though the Christopher Taylor House has been relocated, its “V”- notch construction still serves as an example of the quick and dirty building techniques that put a roof over our forbearers’ heads. In contrast, The Chester Inn, built two decades later, illustrates a more sophisticated, settled population. Its clean lines and finely sawed lumber are indicative of a town that means to stay and to prosper, rather than move on down the road.”

Gordon Edwards, current president of the Alliance Board of Trustees and Project Director for the Christopher Taylor House Restoration puts it another way, “It is a wonderful artifact on Main Street and we need to take care of it. We appreciate the painstakingly careful work of Jordon Marvin Carpentry who installed the new roof and look forward to interpreting this treasure for many years to come.”

The Heritage Alliance is working with the Town and the State of Franklin Chapter , NSDARto host a rededication ceremony in the Spring of 2019.

The 1940s USO Christmas Show returns

Join the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre for the USO Christmas. Show times are December 6-16, Thursday through Monday, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 2 & 5 p.m. Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors.


Jonesborough Repertory Theatre

The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is once again thrilled to bring you the patriotic and energetic 1940s USO Christmas Show, written and directed by Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt, the theatre’s artistic director. This show (and its July counterpart) has been one of their iconic and most beloved shows each year.

JRT’s USO shows take you back to the wartime of the 1940s and the radio programming that uplifted the spirits of our military troops and their families. As always, the talented cast will perform songs and dances as well as comedy radio skits. You may find yourself singing along to familiar carols like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,”  “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and “Joy to the World.”

This show is not only a community favorite but also a favorite of the cast and band members. Here’s what several have to say about the impact this show has had on them and the community over the past 15 years:

“The USO show is a cherished JRT tradition. I am fortunate to be one of the original cast members and look forward to this show every year. I’ve witnessed the positive impact this show has had on our community as it honors our veterans and brings people together in the spirit of love and country. It is also very entertaining on multiple levels and we strive to provide our audiences with wholesome entertainment so that they leave the theatre with a smile on their faces and joy in their hearts.” —Sharon Squibb

“The 1940s USO Show has shown me how important it is to do something special to honor our veterans. JRT is so proud of our veterans, and this show means so much to all of us. I feel much more connected to our community because of the USO show.” — Jessica Shelton

“This show is always the most fun, the most meaningful, and no matter how many songs or skits we do, every year is different. The bond between the actors, musicians and tech crew is amazing. In every performance, we hope to create a similar bond with the audience. All of us, young and old, are deeply affected by the emotion and sentiment accompanying this yearly production.”

Stacia Howard (band member)

“To be able to do a show of this magnitude to say thank you to our servicemen and women has meant so much to me over the past 15 years. I think these are the most popular shows that we have ever done. They continue to sell out, and that is a tribute to this area and the patriotic feeling that we have. It’s a tribute to our theatre and the dedication that we have to thanking our military.” — Josh Baldwin

“I love doing this show, in particular because it involves such a diverse cross section of our community coming together to express our gratitude to our armed forces and our shared Christmas hope for a kinder, more peaceful world.” — Joe Gumina

“The USO show has a special meaning to me because it was my very first show at the JRT. It was my introduction to a community full of pride for their country, a theatre proud to recognize those who have given so much for their country and a group of people who I can proudly call my friends and family.” — Shawn Hale

“I am one of several USO ‘newbies’ getting to experience performing in this year‘s show for the first time and am so excited and honored to be a part of this patriotic, funny, and heartwarming production! I have been an audience member many times watching this show, and it has always touched my heart. This show is very family-friendly and allows younger generations to see how our parents and grandparents were entertained in the 40s.  We hope our audience loves the show as much as we do!” — Krista Wharton

“Through the years, Jonesborough Repertory Theatre’s 1940s USO Show has brought me so much joy and happiness. It was the first show I saw at JRT in 2014, sparking my interest in performing. I am sure it will bring you as much holiday spirit as it has brought me, my family, and friends. — Isaiah Johnson

Rounding out the cast are Heather Allen (choreographer), Lorrie Anderson, Andee Atkins, Tim Barto, Austin Bird, Ramona Bird, Tabatha Bird, Bob Browning, Stephen Cradic, Liz Dollar, Paul Fagan, Janette Gaines, Laura Griffin, Tiffany Matthews, Emily Merritt, Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt, Jessie Scarbrough, Lucas Schmidt (band director), Eli Simpson, and Don Squibb.

The JRT appreciates each of the show’s sponsors: Denny Dentistry, Morningstar Farms, Joe Grandy, Citizen’s Bank, Chick-fil-A, and Mary B. Martin/Sonia King.

Show times are December 6-16, Thursday through Monday, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 2 & 5 p.m. 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.

(JRT’s USO show is neither sponsored nor endorsed by the USO, and it’s not a fundraiser for the USO.)

Carter Mansion ready to ring in holiday

A troop stands guard outside of the Carter Mansion in Elizabethon. The tour of the historical home continues this year with historical figures wandering about and Christmas whimsy all around.


Set aside the hustle and bustle that always accompanies this time of year, and step back in time to the 18th century and enjoy a colonial Christmas at the beautiful Carter Mansion. Join Colonel John Carter, the Carter family, and all their friends for a glimpse into simpler time, when Christmas was the grandest celebration of the entire year. The event will be held on Friday, Nov. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 1 from 6 to 9 p.m.

In colonial America the Christmas season was celebrated as a month long array of merriment and festivities signaled by caroling, feasting, dances, foxhunts, and the firing of Christmas guns. Christmas on the colonial frontier would have been much different though, with only the simplest of pleasures being offered by the humble backwoods settlers. However, in contrast, the Carters would have displayed an opulence only seen in the finest homes of Williamsburg or Philadelphia.  

Spend a candlelit evening in the oldest frame house in Tennessee, decorated with bright greenery for the holidays.  Enjoy music, hot cider, and 18th century interpreters as they transport you to a Colonial American Christmas.  We look forward to your visit for this one-of-a-kind holiday gathering!

Tours are by registration only. A new tour starts every 20 minutes beginning at 6 p.m. The last tour starts at 8:40 p.m. Admission for adults is $7. Ages 7 to 17 to are $3 and ages 6 and under are free. You can register online at http://tnstateparks.com/parks/events/sycamore-shoals/.

For more information please contact Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, located at 1651 W. Elk Avenue Elizabethton or call (423)543-5808. You can also visit www.tnstateparks.com/parks/about/sycamore-shoals, www.sycamoreshoalstn.org, or www.facebook.com/sycamoreshoals.

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.”