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

By JOHN KIENER

Associate Editor

jkiener@heraldandtribune.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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