Bits of Stone
Early certified physicians added to ‘Blount Memorial Hospital History’
We, and those who worked with us, are very proud of the new Daily Times “Blount Memorial Hospital History” book. Like anything produced by humans, it is not perfect. We did not plan an article on certification of medical care givers but a statement in one article was perhaps misleading.
There were numerous ways of specializing after earning a medical degree. In earlier days there was some confusion. In later years, the American Board Certified Specialists lists several certified specialists practicing in Blount County earlier than those indicated.
Among them were Dr. John Yarborough and Dr. James N. Proffitt, surgery; Dr. R. W. Laughmiller Jr. and Dr. C. B. Howard, pediatrics; Dr. Norman A. McKinnon Jr. and Dr. Sam Lambeth, obstetrics/gynecology, and Dr. William Christofferson, anesthesiology. We regret this omission.
Two book signings for “Blount Memorial Hospital History” in the week ahead:
• 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, at the lobby of Blount Memorial Hospital.
• 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, hosted by Blount County Genealogical and Historical Society, in the Blount County Public Library.
Copies of all eight of The Daily Times Books will be available at the signings.
As a special treat, Jack Hurst, author of three major books on the Civil War, will be at the Dec. 20 signing at the library. He will have available copies of his Civil War books and willing to autograph them.
A Maryville High and Vanderbilt University graduate, Hurst began his writing career in The Daily Times newsroom before becoming a national columnist and a top authority on the Civil War.
In addition, Thursday night the Blount County Genealogical and Historical Society will have available copies of Inez Burns History of Blount County and back copies of its regular Blount Journal of local history. A special price of $25 for this event only is available on Inez Burns’ book.
There are a number of members in the local Blount County Civil War Roundtable who will enjoy visiting with Hurst. The Blount County Civil War Roundtable meets at 7 p.m. the last Thursday of each month at the Sam Houston Schoolhouse.
Valuable American Chestnut Trees are returning to Appalachian area
The American Chestnut Foundation has announced the planting of 200 potentially blight-resistant American Chestnut Trees in Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina. It is in the area near Waynesville, just east of Cherokee, N.C. Nantahala is the Cherokee word meaning “land of the noonday sun,” very appropriate for some of the area where sunlight only reaches the floor of the canyons at high noon.
American chestnut trees, which once made up 25 percent of the eastern hardwood forests, were nearly wiped out by the chestnut blight in the 20th century. There are numerous advantages for restoring the chestnut which will benefit the health of the forests by creating more diverse ecosystems and providing nutritious food for wildlife.
Once considered “king of the eastern forests,” it was frequently referred to as the Redwoods of the East, as we wrote in Volume V of “Snapshots of Blount County History.”
Asian blight invaded America in 1904
Discovered in 1904 in imported Japanese or Chinese nursery stock, in fewer than 50 years, the blight killed 3.5 billion chestnut trees. It changed the composition of the forest landscape. The disease does not affect the roots of the trees which results in small understory trees that sprout back from original roots but rarely become sexually mature. Cross-pollination of two flowering (blooming) chestnut trees is required for the formation of seed (chestnut).
The chestnuts were a major food source for black bears, turkeys, squirrels, deer and an important cash crop for many families. The blight resulted in billions of dollars of losses. It was one of the best trees for timber, growing straight and often branch-free for 50 feet. The bark was rich in tanic acid, being ground and used in the tanning of animal hides for leather at plants such as the Schlosser tannery in Walland in the early 1900s.
The trees grew to 120 feet tall in its range from Maine to Georgia. One tree in North Carolina had a diameter of 17½ feet. Several trees in the Blount-Sevier section of the park measured 10½ feet in diameter (across).
In 1934, Dr. A. J. Sharp measured a stump in Greenbrier that was 13 feet across at ankle height. (Largest poplar tree recorded in the same area was 16 feet across and contained 3,300 board feet of lumber, enough to build an average five-room house!)
Wormy chestnut wood much sought
Most of today’s residents who have any knowledge of chestnut wood are familiar with the expensive and highly popular “wormy chestnut.” That is wood from dead chestnut trees after the worms got into the wood. We have heard of one or two rare cases in which the owner of “non-wormy” chestnut lumber had it drilled with holes resembling wormy chestnut wood because it is more highly sought and expensive.
Many residents enjoy eating the raw chestnuts, roasting them at Christmas time or using them in holiday recipes. They are better than Chinese chestnuts which are sweeter. Others consider American Chestnuts only as wildlife food.
In 1983, a dedicated groups of scientists formed The American Chestnut Foundation and began a special breeding process, which in 2005 produced the first potentially blight-resistant tree. Now, assisted by nearly 6,000 members and volunteers in 23 states, the organization is undertaking planting the new tree in select locations throughout the eastern United States.
Notes of interest:
• Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first, was established in 1872. It is home of 330 geysers, approximately 53 percent of the world’s total.
Yellowstone appears to be losing the battle to preserve some of the enjoyment of its pristine winters of snow and wildlife. For the current winter the flawed policy on snowmobiles allows up to 480 per day, twice the current number entering the park. The saddest part is the result of tests which show that one manufacturer’s new best-available technology omitted more than 20 times the amount of carbon monoxide of its earlier model. Another company’s newer model had higher emissions of every exhaust gas sampled, including five times more hydrocarbons.
There are now 58 national parks in the United States where the National Park Service cares for nearly 400 park-type units.
Copying America’s “Best Idea,” Sweden was the next country to establish national parks with nine in 1909. Europe now has approximately 360 national parks.
Dean Stone is editor of The Daily Times.