Jan 3 2007
12:28 am

My favorite Christmas present this year was Snapshots of Blount County History, Volume II from my brother. Edited by Dean Stone, it's a collection of annotated photographs from the archives of the Maryville-Alcoa, Tennessee Daily Times.

Read more after the jump

One picture shows the David Jones (no relation) brickyard in the Fort Craig area. I knew a bit about him, and this expands on his life even more. Jones was a Welsh immigrant, brickmaker, and master builder who built the last downtown courthouse. He built a beautiful brick home a block away from the brickyard. On his death he left his house to the church, which expanded it into the current Highland Presbyterian Church at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Lamar Alexander Parkway. Nearby Jones Avenue is presumably named for him.

Jones's bricks were used to build New Providence Presbyterian Church, the original Fort Craig School, the Freedmen's Institute, and the Friend's Church (now St. Andrew's Episcopal). His bricks also built Anderson Hall, the most widely-recognized building at Maryville Colllege.

Bricks for some other Maryville College buildings were made onsite. From another source, I've read that an alumnus named Kin Takahashi raised half the money for the construction of Bartlett Hall and supervised the students who made the 300,000 bricks used to build it. As a student Takahashi introduced football to Maryville College in 1889 and was the coach, captain, and quarterback of the college's first football team. Their first game was against the University of Tennessee.

Other interesting highlights

  • Country music legend June Carter married first husband Carl Smith in 1952 on a house "across Louisville Road from Pistol Creek, just beyond the former Blount County Library Building (soon to be the Blount County Health Department). The road has since been renamed McCammon Avenue." The Maryville/Alcoa city limits is right there, so it's hard to say which town it was in. There's also a picture of June and her second husband Johnny Cash filming "Trail of Tears" in Cades Cove.

  • Speaking of Cash, his song "A Boy Named Sue" was based on Judge Sue K. Hicks. The Monroe County native was a circuit court judge who served Blount and was one of the prosecuting attorneys in the 1925 Scopes "monkey trial" in Dayton, TN. Hicks had spoken to a bar association meeting in Gatlinburg, TN, which town is mentioned in the lyrics.
  • There's a photo and history of the Tremont Hotel, which was three miles upstream from the current Tremont Institute in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • An early native of the Tremont/Middle Prong area, "Black" Will Walker, had 26 children by three wives, each of whom had her own cabin. He justified his polygamy on his reading of the Bible. A farmer, beekeeper, miller, and hunter, he reportedly killed more than 100 bears in his lifetime and owned 5,120 acres, some of which he sold when he was late in life to Colonel W.B. Townsend.
  • Will Walker was cousin to John Walker, five of whose daughters became the cohabitating spinsters known as the Walker Sisters. The Walker Sisters were one of the households whose property was purchased by the federal government when the park was created, but who were allowed to live out their lives in the park. Their cabin and farm, landscaped in yucca and boxwood, are phenomenally well-preserved and make for an outstanding short hike from the one-room Greenbrier schoolhouse.
  • Alcoa native John T. Johnson is co-founder of oceanic recovery and exploration firm Oceaneering International, Inc. Among their successes they raised the Confederate proto-submarine the H.L. Hunley as well as the Liberty Bell 7 space capsule and recovered the safe from the Andrea Doria. The bathysphere you see on the left side of the road as you enter Townsend from Maryville is sister to the one that raised that safe. I always did wonder why there was a bathysphere in Townsend.
  • There's an excellent history of the Friendsville Friends' (Quakers') contribution to the underground railroad which helped escaped slaves fleeing the South and photographs of Cudjo's Cave, which was used as a hiding place.
  • Other highlights include a map of Blount pioneer forts and massacres, accounts of major building fires, and histories of New Providence Presbyterian Church, Proffitt's department store, and early hospitals (the two-story building at Ellis and South College was originally opened as Doctor's Hospital in 1943).
Rachel's picture

Hey, Les, thanks for the

Hey, Les, thanks for the overview. I need to get this book. The Walker sisters were my grandmother's first cousins - which means their grandaddy was my great-great granddaddy. He was Tom Walker - known as Devlin' Tom, and is buried in the Mattox cemetery in Wear Valley just over the mountain from the Walker sisters' cabin. The Walkers go back to around 1800 in Blount County.

Our family tries to visit the cabin periodically to make sure NPS is taking good care of it (they are, BTW).

Les Jones's picture

My wife is fascinated by the

My wife is fascinated by the Walker Sisters. She's the one who first got me to hike to the cabin. She just discovered that book about them and is dying to read it.

Hey, Les, why don't we just call each other assholes and get it over with. - Somebody on the old (if that was you, claim your quote and win net.fame!)

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