StoryTown

Our Place in History

Episode Summary

As Tennessee kicks off its 225th Birthday, StoryTown takes a look at events and people from Northeast Tennessee that have earned a place in our state’s-- and nation’s-- history. This one-hour storytelling radio show features stories from long ago, as told by the Heritage Alliance’s Anne G’Fellers-Mason, as well as more current stories from the 20th and even the 21st century. Discover the mystery of the lost time capsule in the Washington County Courthouse. Hear about the Lost State of Franklin, a state formed after the Revolutionary War which was never formally recognized by the other 13 states, but which had a governor and a government in the area now known as northeast Tennessee and western North Carolina. Named after Benjamin Franklin, discover how it was formed, and how it was taken back. Hear the story of Ethel Brown, a teacher at the segregated Booker T Washington School , giving a glimpse into early and mid-twentieth century education for Jonesborough's African American students. Travel along the route known as "Great Indian Warpath" and the settlement known as Bean Station, established by William Bean and Daniel Boone. Walk through history in this exciting episode.

Episode Notes

Written by Jules Corriere with Anne G'Fellers-Mason, sara elizabeth

Music Direction and Accompaniment by Brett McCluskey

Sound Engineer  Jared Christian

Stage Manager  Phyllis Fabozzi

Sound Effects by Gary Degner

StoryTown AmeriCorps Assistant Ian Kirkpatrick

Edited by Wayne Winkler

Theme Song by Heather McCluskey

MUSIC GUESTS   Virginia West

SPONSORED BY

Tennessee Arts Commission

The Wild Women of Jonesborough

Gary and Sandee Degner

Rae Dee O'Lufver

McKinney Center

Town of Jonesborough

Episode Sponsored by The Heritage Alliance

Episode Transcription

JULES

Coming to you from Jonesborough, Tennessee, the Storytelling Capital of the World, and broadcasting from the historic McKinney Center, it’s StoryTown, Jonesborough’s original storytelling radio show. 

 

I’m Jules Corriere, and I’ll be your host tonight as we celebrate Tennessee’s 225th Birthday here in Tennessee’s Oldest town. We’re here tonight to look at our place in history. 

 

KATY

Pre-dating the state itself, Jonesborough has really established its place in history. We could be here all week telling stories.

 

JULES

We could, but we won’t. Looking through all of the history and stories of our special place here in northeast Tennessee, it wasn’t easy choosing which stories to share. 

 

KATY

So many juicy stories, so little time!

 

JULES

But as least there’s comfort in knowing that the stories we couldn’t fit in tonight’s show can always pop up in future shows. 

 

KATY

I guess you’re right. 

 

 

JULES

We are so happy to have the Heritage Alliance sponsoring this very special episode on our history. And we are thrilled to have special music guests Virginia West with us tonight. 

 

KATY

We’d also like to thank the Tennessee Arts Commission for their generous grant. 

 

JULES
We are so grateful for all of the community support we’ve received this year, which has allowed us to keep brining stories to you on our live streams and podcast channels. Thank you to the Wild Women of Jonesborough and Gary and Sandee Degner and to everyone who helped during our fund drive to help us hit our goal, even if it meant I had to hold a snake last month! 

 

KATY

And thank you again to Connie Deegan for that one!

 

JULES

Well, Katy, I see you’re wearing your train engineer hat, ready to go on this adventure through Jonesborough’s timeline, but the train came about eighty years after the founding of Jonesborough. Let me replace that cap with something that fits our time period a little better. 

 

 

KATY

A powdered wig? 

 

JULES

Yes. Very distinguished looking. Even though, as a woman, you’d never be able to wear it in the first place we’re visiting tonight. Although, we could put you in some pantaloons, and with that wig, maybe pass you off as a judge in first, log structure courthouse built here. 

 

CALVIN

Although, we could dress her in a frontier outfit, and she’d make a fine Lydia Bean, who, with her husband, William, were the first European settlers in this region, moving here in 1769 before there was even a town. They built a log cabin on the Watauga River, and started a family.  Lydia’s child, Russell Bean, born in May of 1769, is known to be the first child of European descent to be born in what would become Tennessee. During their time it was the wild frontier. 

 

MIRIAM

Word has it, Russell was born with some of that wild frontier in him, and would become a traveler and explorer, himself, making his way as a gunsmith and fur trapper. 

 

CALVIN

Following a trade established by his father. William Bean travelled often on longhunts and explorations with none other than Daniel Boone. The two of them, along with Richard Callaway first came to the area in 1762. Bean and Boone returned, and once Bean was established with his family, travelled with Boone again, crossed the Clinch Gap along the Great Indian Warpath and the German Creek tributary of the Holston. 

 

MIRIAM

A little thing called the American Revolution got in the way of their plans for a time, and Bean served in the Revolutionary War. As one of the Overmountain Men, he fought in the strategic Battle of Kings Mountain. After the war, he was awarded 3,000 acres on the land he and Boone liked so much along German Creek.

 

CALVIN

Bean set up a four-room cabin that served as an inn at those crossroads. The inn was frequented by fur traders, other long hunters, and settlers, and came to be known as Bean Station. Sadly, the town and cabin, thought to be the first permanent settlement in what would be Tennessee, were lost in 1942, when the area was flooded by the Tennessee Valley Authority for the construction of the Cherokee Dam. But there is a marker of this historic site, thanks to the John Sevier Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, first erected in 1924, and then moved by the TVA in 1954. 

 

 

CALVIN

Today, the Bean legacy continues in our region. The cabins might be gone, but family members still live here and shape the history. 

 

CATHERINE

Now, Katy, let’s take the coonskin cap off and put on the powder wig. Court is in session. Jonesborough, is the oldest TOWN in Tennessee, and was established seventeen years before Tennessee was granted statehood. 

 

CODGER (BRETT)
We’ve been around a long time.

 

CATHERINE

The General Assembly of North Carolina established Jonesborough as the county seat of Washington County. It was named after North Carolina legislator Willie Jones, who supported North Carolina’s westward expansion over the Appalachian Mountains.

 

CODGER (BRETT)

Even though he was never known to have stepped foot here. 

 

CATHERINE

The first meeting to decide the location of the new courthouse was at the home of Charles Robertson, and it was decided that John Carter, Andrew Greer, William Cobb, Jacob Womack, George Russell, John Sevier and James Stuart would lay out the plans and location of the new courthouse. One hundred acres was purchased from David Hughes and laid out into lots for the Town of Jonesborough. The lots were offered in lottery. The first courthouse was a log construction. Several courthouses would be constructed, deconstructed, and constructed again, near the very same spot of that first courthouse. Jonesborough was chosen for its central location as westward expansion began. All those land deeds needed to be settled, and as settlers headed further and further west, it was impractical to have to go back to one of the bigger cities. Unlike the Bean Station settlement camp, Jonesborough was never intended to be a wild frontier town, but rather a sophisticated place, populated with lawyers, their families, and merchants to meet their needs. Strict building codes were implemented to assure that the town was built to reflect these tastes. Open log and and beam construction had to be covered over within a certain amount of time. 

 

CODGER (BRETT)

They wanted it fancy in these parts. Some things never change. 

 

CATHERINE

Well, the buildings are still standing, many of them, and the attention to care and construction has a lot to do with it, which of course helps drive our tourism industry in town. You can go down one street and see buildings from the 1700’s 1800’s, 1900’s and 2000’s. You can’t do that everywhere in Tennessee. 

 

CODGER (BRETT)

You can’t do that everywhere in the country. 

   

CATHERINE

And it’s all because of our place as the seat, with the courthouse creating that center of activity. Court dismissed. 

 

 

KATY

Thank Goodness. This wig is itchy.

 

WENDY

Not so fast. 

 

KATY

Oh, rats. (Puts wig back on.) 

 

WENDY

I’ve still got a bone to pick here about this whole “Before Tennessee was a state thing” because there was a state here. 

 

CODGER (BRETT)

Not this again.

 

WENDY

Well there was. The Lost State of Franklin, which stood in existence for many a year. 

 

CODGER (BRETT)
But never formally recognized by the other states.

 

WENDY

Recognized by us, who lived here and founded it. This whole East Tennessee region was the State of Franklin, named after Benjamin Franklin. We had a governor and a government. John Sevier-

 

CODGER (BRETT)
The first Governor of Tennessee—

 

 

 

WENDY

The first Governor of the State of Franklin, first, he and others in the community didn’t feel like they were being represented fairly over in Western North Carolina. So, being the independent spirited people they were, and we still are, I might add, they got together in Jonesborough in 1784 and formed this new state. Jonesborough served as the capital—

 

CODGER (BRETT)

Until Greeneville stole it away from us—

 

WENDY

Franklin was the country’s fourteenth state until 1788. In the Battle of the State of Franklin, North Carolina and those turncoats here reclaimed the land. After that, North Carolina didn’t want the debt accrued during the Revolutionary war, and we were sort of on our own again until the approved state of Tennessee was formed. John Sevier was governor of that state, too. To my knowledge, he’s the only governor who has served terms in two different states. 

 

CODGER (BRETT)
One of them was never a state. 

 

WENDY

It was, for one, brief shining moment-

 

CODGER (BRETT)
Quick! Somebody move us into the next segment before she breaks out into song. 

 

JULES

I will! Especially since we have a couple of folks who are already here to break out into song. It you’re just tuning in, you’re listening to StoryTown, Jonesborough’s originally storytelling radio hour on WETS 89.5 FM out of Johnson City, Tennessee. 

 

BRETT

30 seconds music.

 

JULES

And we’re back. I am really excited to introduce our next guests. This is their first time on our show. Virginia West is a musical duo currently based out of Bristol, Virginia and comprised of two Appalachian born-and-bred musicians Toni Doman and KT Vandyke. Specializing in Country Western, Folk, Swing and Americana music styles, they bring a uniquely vintage approach to their musical escapades. Fresh with colorful harmonies, vibrant rhythm and melodies, they paint compelling musical landscapes. Pulling their  influence from classic country greats like Patsy Cline, Hank Williams  and George Jones, as well as intriguing swing acts like Squirrel Nut  Zippers, Cab Calloway and other dance friendly swing icons, their music is simple yet captivating, emotive and catchy. Help me Welcome Virginia West!

 

VIRGINIA WEST PLAYS 2 SONGS

 

JULES

Thank you so much. They’re going to be back a little later in the show. And if you haven’t had enough of them after that, I know they’ll be playing a set during our upcoming Jonesborough Days Festival, on Doc’s Front Porch. You’ll have to come and check them out. 

 

KATY

OK, Jules, I’ve got my engineers cap on, I just know the train stories are coming up next.

 

MARCY

Not quite, Katy. Here’ let’s put this graduation cap on you. Seeing as how Jonesborough was built to be the seat of law in the region, it only follows that education was important to the first settlers here, and that need has continued through the ages. We’ve collected school stories from our community, and we want to share some of these special places and people from our more recent history of the past hundred or so years.

 

STEFANIE

My name is Mrs. Ethel Brown. I began teaching around 1934 at the school on the rocks. That was the colored school on Spring Street. When Booker T. Washington opened in 1940, I went up the hill to begin teaching there. I had students in grades one through four, all in one classroom. Miss Silvers also came from the school on the rocks, and she taught fifth through eighth in the other classroom. When we first opened, there was no furnace. There was a pot-bellied stove in each room. A few of the eighth-grade boys would get to school about an hour early, and chop wood and get the stove started in the winter so it would be warm when the other students arrived. My rule during those years was, that if the students were good during the week, then on Fridays, we’d have a weenie roast on the pot-bellied stove. Eventually, we got a furnace. Eventually we got bathrooms. Eventually, we got a school bus. Some things we never got. But that’s OK. We made do, and we made generations of great scholars using old text books, and often doubled up students in one desk. We called them study buddies, and turned that experience it into a positive. We studied math, grammar, music, spelling, history, art, and science. I remember their faces, all of them. Little Chuck Pace, young Nancy Mack, Paul, and his sister Debbie, Joanne Fitzgerald, Nancy Robinson, Montreal Brown, Sue Greenlee, Pam, Oh, but you aren’t here for a roll call. You’re here for some memories. I’m gonna take a little break right now, so you can hear some stories. Paul, here’s a nickel, now take this and go down to the little store on Spring Street and get me some bologna and crackers and come right back.

 

MARCY

I went to Glendale the first three years, and then they closed it. I went to Fall Branch after that. Miss Gibson was my favorite teacher. Yutiba Gibson. I named my youngest daughter after her. I thought a lot of her. If anything came up, she was there for us. That was back in the 50’s. Glendale was a nice little place. You had a kitchen and a woodstove for heat. It had four or five rooms. There was an upstairs, but I was never up there, because I was in a lower grade. I graduated eighth grade in fifty-six, five years after they closed Glendale. The school is still there, but it’s falling in now. After sixty-five years, I guess I’m falling in a little, too. But I can be fixed with a girdle. Poor Glendale. It was a sweet place. 

 

JONATHAN

I went to the old Midway school.

 

MARCY

Really? What is your favorite memory?

 

JONATHAN

We did Bible verses. I did well there. 

 

SADIE

I was seven when I started school. We didn’t have a school bus either, where I lived. Mom and dad would get me up and I’d catch the milk truck. I went to Leesburg school, grade one through eight. It’s where my mother went to school. It was a two room school divided in middle, one side was through 4th, the other through 8th. We called it to the little room and the big room, when you got to 5-8, you were in the big room. I had a teacher, in the 2nd grade. We were learning our tables and arithmetic. I thought I knew mine, but got nervous when she asked me to recite. She expected the answer as quick as she snapped her finger. If you didn’t, she pulled your hair. There were a lot of children with their heads down crying. I was one of them. I started to get stomach aches before school. One little boy told my daddy I didn’t want to go to school because I was getting my hair pulled. Daddy went up there, and told her it better not happen again. Mama said that happened to her too, and thought it was just how school was. But times were changing. My stomach aches went away when the teacher stopped pulling my hair. Eventually, she stopped pulling everyone’s hair. 

 

LINDA

I rode to school with Daddy, ‘cause it’s on his way to work in Johnson City, so I didn’t ride the bus. One morning on the way to school, I looked out the window and it started snowing. I asked her, “Mother, do you think I should wear my boots today?”

 

PHYLLIS

Oh, it’s not going to be any big snow. 

 

 

LINDA

I rode to school with Daddy. I bet you by 10:30 they dismissed school. We had a blizzard to the point that the electric lines were broken down. When they dismissed us, I saw all those big yellow busses lined up out there. Well, I didn’t have a clue what bus to get on, because I never rode one. I went downstairs where Mrs. Williams’ class was, because her room had the telephone. I wanted to call mama, but the phone lines were down. I didn’t know what to do, so I just walked home with my friend Linda Rankin, who lived on West Main. I can remember jumping over lines that were laying in the street. Children don’t think about the dangers of power lines. We just skipped across them like it didn’t matter. What did we know? We were having fun in the snow. We stopped at Linda’s for lunch. Meanwhile, mother was in a panic when I didn’t get home. She started to town. Then Daddy got home and he took out after both of us. Mother had started out in a bright green coat with a green hood. The snow had so collected on her back that she was just blending in and Daddy almost drove into her looking for us. School wouldn’t open again for weeks. Nothing would open, the snow closed everything, stores and all. It took me years and years and years to like bologna again, because that’s all we had to eat for a week. Fried bologna on a Coleman stove. It was the longest winter break we ever had. 

 

STEFANIE

Class dismissed.

 

SFX

Train Whistle.

 

KATY

Oh, yay! Finally! I get to tell you about the train coming! 

 

CODGER (BRETT)
Oh, brother. We all know the story of the great Doc Cunninghamd and the immortal thirty who brought the train to Jonesborough, saving us from ruin. 

 

KATY

Well, aren’t you a grumpy little story spoiling Codger. 

 

CODGER (BRETT)

All I’m saying is, can’t we hear a new story. Without Doc Cunningham. Sorry, sitting here on the corner all week, I’ve heard the town tour and know all the usual stuff. Tell me something I might not already know.

 

KATY

Well, it’s good to know the tours are so educational. Because it’s important you remember Doc Cunningham. A train story. Hmm. Oh, I’ve got one.

 

CODGER (BRETT)

Try me.

 

KATY

The train depot. The original train depot. 

 

CODGER (BRETT)

That old Victorian one.

 

KATY

A ha! I do have something old that’s new. You remember the Victorian one? Well, It was rebuilt. But it was not built in the same place, which speaks to the diminishing importance of the rail system when it was rebuilt. Jonesborough’s original depot was in the Parson’s Table parking lot directly behind the courthouse, just along Woodrow. and it was a really ornate brick building, three stories in the middle, and it has these beautiful wings on either side. We have the building dimensions, and a photo of the Washington hotel behind the courthouse that shows the roofline of the depot. But so far, we still haven’t recovered photos of the original. It was built for the railroad coming through town, in the late 1850s

 

CODGER (BRETT)
Courtesy of Dr. Cunningham.

 

KATY

Thank you. Yes. Oh, and it was a fancy place. There were supply storage for trains. The 2nd floor was passenger services. The third floor was the offices for the East Tennessee Southwest Virginia Railroad. This railroad depot served a lot of people. There was at least one passenger train a day stopping in Jonesborough. The whole reason the Washington Hotel existed back there was for dining traffic. 

 

There is even a story that Ulysses Grant came through and dined at the Washington hotel. 

 

CODGER (BRETT)

Of course, you don’t have pictures of that, either, do you.

 

KATY

Sadly, no. And if there had been one on display, it was lost in the fire. Perhaps the 1883 fire. By that time Johnson’s Depot had put their water tower up. Most of the rail traffic passenger-wise, anyway, was now stopping in Johnson City instead of Jonesborough. When our depot was rebuilt, it was built back on Depot Street and it was very much a Victorian structure, like the one you remember. 

 

CODGER (BRETT)

See, that’s what I like. Train stories I don’t know already.

 

PAUL

I’ve got one of those. Moving into the twentieth century, when cars were also coming into play, but trains were still important. Early on we had service stations- two of them, right in town, along with a taxi stand and a train station. My older brother got on that train one time, riding the rails, looking for work. 1929. My place in history, our family’s place in history, was a hard place in 1929 Jonesborough. The trains went through here all the time- the Number One, the Number Four, and forty-one, twenty-six, and forty-two. We knew each one, and they’d meet here two, three times a day. A lot of people would come and go, and we’d often wonder if some other place might have a promise of making a better future for us. My brother, especially, wondered that, and thought for sure there might be the promise of better, and left on one of those trains, in search of it. That’s how my brother was killed in West Virginia in ’29.  He was heading there to get a job with six or seven others. The saying is, he rolled off the train car when he was sleeping one night, and cut himself in pieces under the tracks. That’s the saying to folks outside the family circle. Inside the family circle, the saying is he found worse than what he was trying to leave behind. 

 

We did discover, what he was trying to leave behind also had a lot of good. My father worked in town for Paul Marr, Fred Chase, and that bunch. White folks. They knew my father didn’t have money to bring my brother home to bury him. Soon as they heard, they said, Rounder – they called him Rounder – Rounder, hold on for a minute. They went around town collecting money, which was sparse in 1929, even for white folks, and they came back and gave my father enough money to bring my bother from West Virginia to Jonesborough for a burial. That’s what they done for us, and it was a good thing. That was in ’29. 

 

Nearly a hundred years ago, but the pain of that loss is still there. He should have had grandchildren and great grandchildren walking through town, telling stories of our family, and of his, and his successes. He should have lived past his early twenties, into his seventies, eighties, nineties, like me. All those should haves. 

 

He should have had his own place in history. But 1929 was a hard time to have a place for someone like him, like us. I got lucky, I made a little place in history here, getting to work for the town, getting to grow up and live a long life, and help my neighbors like we’ve been put on the earth to do. To help people in need. 

 

Here it is, nearly a hundred years later. It’s easier, but not easy. It’s safer, but not safe. It’s kinder, but not kind. I like to think that’s the part I helped with during my years. To make it more instead of less, because too much has already been lost. That’s the part I got from my father. After Mr. Marr and Mr. Chase helped get my brother home, my father said we had to start drawing our circles wider.  Not smaller. He told us that no matter what else happened in the wide world, remember we have people right in our community who need help like we did, or who we can help. The more people we touch, the more we’ll find kindness. He said, maybe you’re not gonna be scared of someone you get to know. Maybe you’re not gonna hurt someone you know either. I think that’s what he was thinking more than anything else. Get to know, people, Alfred, he told me, Get to know people. And so, I spent my life trying to do just that. Most times, it was a joy. I told my family the same thing, and added to what my father asked of me. I told them, get to know people. And be kind to each other. I hope somebody who remembers me, will remember that, too. 

 

KATY

Alfred Greenlee, I remember you. We all do. 

 

JULES

If you’re just tuning in you’re listening to storytown, Jonesborough’s original storytelling radio show on WETS 89.5 FM out of Johnson City, Tennessee.

 

BRETT
30 seconds music.

 

JULES
And we are back, and as promised, so are Virginia West.

 

VIRGINIA WEST PLAYS 2 SONGS

 

JULES
Thank you all so much for joining us. Now if our audience is as taken with your music as I am, where are some places we can catch you next?

 

VIRGINIA WEST GIVES SHOW AND WEBSITE DETAILS

 

JULES
Thank you all again so much!

 

KATY

Well, I think I’ve run out of hats to wear for this show.

 

JULES
Oh, think again, my friend. It’s time to put on your party hat?

 

KATY

Party hat? Well, I always have one of those handy!

 

JULES
Good thing, because we’re going to a party. A LOT of them. We are celebrating our place in history, after all! Up next is Anne G’Fellers Mason from the Heritage Alliance to take us on some historic parties in a segment we like to call-

 

ALL

ASK THE HISTORIAN!

 

ANNE

Jonesborough knows how to throw a party. 

 

PHYLLIS

Woo! Party!

 

ANNE

Oh yeah, Jonesborough doesn’t hold back. We’re talking parades.

 

PHYLLIS

Yeah!

 

ANNE 

BBQs

 

PHYLLIS

Woo, ribs!

 

ANNE

Baseball games

 

PHYLLIS

Those are fun.

 

ANNE

Oratory contests filled with speeches.

 

PHYLLIS

Uh . . .

 

ANNE

Debates

 

PHYLLIS

Wait

 

ANNE

Historical re-enactments

 

PHYLLIS

Hold on. Has anyone in Jonesborough ever been to a party before?

 

ANNE

What, your parties don’t include speech contests?

 

PHYLLIS

No.

 

ANNE

You don’t know what you’re missing. The 1912 Jonesborough and Washington County homecoming celebration was not a simple small-town affair.  Over a 110 representatives sat on the Homecoming Committee, which included local businessmen and nationally-known politicians. 

 

WENDY

110 people?! Imagine that Zoom call. Imagine getting anything done.

 

ANNE

But they managed. Daily newspapers across the country carried stories inviting the sons and daughters of upper East Tennessee to return for the weeklong celebration. The Southern Railway offered reduced price fares for travelers returning for the festivities. Merchants sponsored entertainment and ran homecoming sales.Between August 12th and August 17th, attendees celebrated Tennessee’s history with visits to sites throughout the region, including David Crockett’s birthplace, the Andrew Johnson home in Greene County, and Sycamore Shoals.  Baseball games, tennis tournaments, concerts, and parties were held throughout the week, but the greatest festivities occurred on Washington County Day on Thursday, August 15th. 

 

GUERRY

And what was celebrated on that day? The new, Washington County Courthouse! Well, technically it was still a giant hole in the ground, but they were ready to place the cornerstone for the new building. Washington County Day began with two cornerstone ceremonies dedicating the new construction.  In the weeks leading up to homecoming, residents were invited to bring mementos to be placed inside the cornerstone.  At the request of public representatives, the local Freemasons conducted a Masonic ritual in which the cornerstone of the new public building was symbolically set, plumbed and squared and a chaplain appealed to the Grand Architect for blessings on the building. The Masonic ritual was followed by the laying of a second cornerstone by the citizens of the county. Hey, Anne, you know that Courthouse turned 100 in 2013 and we threw a big birthday party for it then. How come we didn’t take out that time capsule from all those years ago?

 

ANNE (quietly)

We may not remember exactly where it is.

 

GUERRY

What was that?

 

ANNE 

I said we may not remember where it is. It’s been a long time, okay? Maybe we’ll find it for the Courthouse’s 150th birthday. Following the ceremonies dedicating the new courthouse, the homecomers attended a large public barbeque and listened to addresses by public officials.  Washington County Day ended with a recital by Edward Brigham, a popular speaker and entertainer whose program included songs and dramatic readings. 

 

WENDY

Wait, not the Edward Brigham?!

(insert dramatic squeal and faint here)

 

ANNE

Everyone involved agreed that Homecoming was a success.  Former residents from Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida, and West Virginia returned to Washington County for the event.  The Jonesborough business owners who sponsored homecoming activities reported brisk profits all week. Residents wrote to the Herald and Tribune asking if homecoming would become an annual event. 

 

WENDY

Did it?

 

ANNE

Not exactly, but Jonesborough rolled out the red carpet again on July 4, 1930, for its Sesquicentennial celebration. There was a parade and concerts, speeches, and the unveiling of a drinking fountain monument to Major Jesse Walton that still stands on Courthouse Square. Major Walton played an integral role in the settling of Jonesborough. The parade that day included 150 floats.

 

WENDY

150 floats?!

 

ANNE

Yep. There was also an original song written especially for the occasion by Miss Will Allen Dromgoole, literary editor of the Nashville Banner. The “Walton” referred to in the song is none other than Major Jesse Walton who was Dromgoole’s distant relative. The song was written to the tune of “Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! the Boys Are Marching,” also known as “The Prisoner’s Hope,” written by George F. Root in 1864.  Here now, is a cutting from “The March of the Years.”

 

WENDY

“Don’t you hear the passing years, with their mighty sweep and swing,

          Marching, ever marching down the aisles of Time?

Like the passing of a dream, like a deeply-flowing stream,

          Like the softly muted music of a rhyme.

Tramp!  Tramp!  Tramp! the Years are marching,

          Marching down the aisles of Time,

Like the passing of a dream, like a deeply flowing stream, 

          Like the softly muted music of a rhyme.

 

Oh, the rugged, rugged Years, Oh the golden, gracious Years,

          Ever calling to the sons of men to come;

Here the gallant Walton stood, braving beast and bush and flood,

          Read the vision of the Years and called it “Home.”

Tramp!  Tramp!  Tramp! the Years are marching,

          Mighty messengers they come;

And the vision of that day, lights for men the loftier way,

          And with thankful hearts they proudly call it Home.

 

Here the sons of dauntless sires lit their lonely cabin fires,

          On the battle fields their hardy courage shown,

And the proud hills lift a voice, and the valleys shout “Rejoice!

          Hallelujah!  Hallelujah! marching on.”

Tramp!  Tramp!  Tramp! the Years are marching,

          With their visions, hopes and fears,

And we’ll greet them one by one, with our faces to the sun,

          Marching onward, Hallelujah, with the Years.”

 

ANNE

That would have made Edward Brigham proud.

 

PHYLLIS

Hold up. I’ve done the math, and Jonesborough was 150 years old in 1929, not 1930.

 

ANNE

You are correct, but they couldn’t do the party in 1929.

 

PHYLLIS

Why not?

 

ANNE

Because they were installing new water lines and Main Street was all torn up.

 

PHYLLIS

Man, sometimes the past isn’t even the past.

 

ANNE

No, it’s not. And this year, we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of Jonesborough Days, even though last year was technically the date, but it wasn’t safe to gather last year, so the party had to wait, but it’s nothing Jonesborough hasn’t done before. And it’s amazing, the number of festivals that are celebrated today throughout the area, from the Corazon Latino Festival, to the Apple Festival, to the Rhododendron Festival, the Umoja Festival, Tri-Cities Pride, our very own Storytelling Festival, and so many more. There are so many ways you can celebrate your community and your place in Northeast Tennessee. What does home to mean to you? The answer is wide open, and as we’ve learned tonight, your celebration can include a BBQ and a speech or two.

 

JULES
Thank you, Anne. It is so good to know that throwing a good party has ALWAYS had a place in Jonesborough’s history. And do you know what also always has a place in our history?

 

KATY

Hats?

 

JULES
Oh, Katy, I so want to say no to you, but the answer is actually yes. It’s not the answer I was going for, so let’s just hold one second on that, but to answer you, yes. Jonesborough has had fine goods, including haberdashers, since its earliest days. 

 

CATHERINE

Courthouse and lawyers, remember? We were the fancy ones. 

 

JULES
Exactly. David Deaderick’s store had hats and pantaloons and spectacles. So, yes, but now. I was going for something else. Something Jonesborough has ALWAYS had bu is especially known for now.

 

SADIE
I know, Stories! 

 

 

JULES

Yes, Sadie. Leave it to the children to know the important answers. We know ourselves and our history, and our place in history, from our stories. Yes, we are home of the storytelling festival, the Jonesborough Storytelling Guild, all the StoryTown programs, like our annual play, radio show, podcast, story collectors, young film makers. And we also have ourselves. We are each one of us- you, me, our community cast members, we each hold a place in Jonesborough’s story. So tonight, we thought it might be interesting for each of us to share a little bit of our own place in Jonesborough’s history, and what living in Jonesborough means for us. 

 

BRETT

 

CATHERINE

 

CALVIN

 

GARY

 

ANNE

 

LINDA

 

KATY

 

BRETT

 

MARCY

 

MIRIAM

 

JONATHAN

 

STEFANIE

 

PAUL

 

WENDY

 

GUERRY

 

PHYLLIS

 

SADIE

 

JULES
Like I said, leave it to the children to say what is important. 

 

Thank you for tuning in tonight to hear stories about our place in history, and to learn a little about our own. We’d love for you to drop us some lines in the chat bar or on our page, and tell us your story about your place in history. We’d love to hear from you.

 

KATY

We’d like to thank our sponsors tonight, for letting us be part of Jonesborough’s History. The Tennessee Arts Commission, the Wild Women of Jonesborough, and Gary and Sandee Degner.

 

JULES
And we say thank you to the Heritage Alliance for being our monthly sponsor. And a big thank to you, our audience. We sure look forward to seeing you again. And we will. Next month, our shows will have limited seating here at the McKinney Center, to celebrate our tenth anniversary. Tickets are on sale now, just $10 for the show and the gala afterwards, featuring live music and refreshments. Join us for a gala under the stars and an in-person performance. We can’t wait to see you again. GO to Jonesborough.com for tickets. And I hope to see you in July. Goodnight everyone.