Bits of stone for Sept. 2, 2012
BITS MISSING SOME FOR WORK ON BLOUNT MEMORIAL HISTORY
Thanks for the calls and inquiries about the recent absence of the Bits of Stone column. It’s good to be missed. Before too long I will be back on schedule, but for now I am spending most of my time on a Daily Times book recording some of basic history of Blount Memorial Hospital.
Following our usual schedule, the basic contents will be printed as a part of The Daily Times in mid-October. Then in time for Christmas presents, probably the week before Christmas, bound volumes of our community hospital history will be available at The Times. Copies of earlier books are available at The Times.
We have had excellent help from hospital employees, former employees and community individuals, all volunteers, who share in their pride of our excellent local institution. More contributors are involved than in the seven previous Times books I have done on local history which makes the project a little more complicated.
Because of its scope, an average Bits column, including reading, research and writing requires an average of about eight hours, time now being used on the new book. I felt you would understand and in the long run prefer we save the hospital history.
As you are aware, Blount Memorial Hospital is observing its 65th anniversary, having opened the year after I began work at The Times. Though I knew all the key founders personally, it has proven difficult to establish even brief biographical sketches. Another 65 years and that as well as other key historic events might be totally forgotten so I think the effort is of value to our entire community.
POST WORLD WAR II BATTLE OF NEARBY ATHENS IS RECALLED
A recent issue of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) magazine retold the 1945 story of the ex-GIs’ battle for the ballot when they overthrew a political machine in the nearby McMinn County seat of Athens.
McMinn County, like Blount County, voted against secession prior to the Civil War and both had become Republican strongholds politically. As was some times the case, the very weak statewide Republican party aligned itself with the powerful Democrat party headed by “Boss” E. H. Crump of Memphis. Such was the case in Athens.
Veterans returning home from a war to defend American principals to find widespread corruption among the Republican officeholders and the law enforcement officials who were firmly aligned with the Crump machine.
Despite considerable shooting, cars overturned and fires, no one was killed and the veterans gained control and established an honest government.
17 OF REVOLUTIONARY WAR MOTHER’S 20 SONS FOUGHT FOR OUR FREEDOM
Richard and Charity Powell of New Jersey had 21 children, all but one were boys. Of the 20 sons, 17 brothers fought the British. And for a brief time Richard Sr., the father, served in the war. An experienced sergeant he had fought with George Washington in the French and Indian War. Three did not survive.
New Jersey was a pivotal scene with 296 battles, earning it the titles of “Crossroads of the Revolution” and the “Military Capital of the Revolution.”
Sunday, Sept. 30, is Gold Star Mothers Day. Congress has authorized the recognition since World War I. During war, mothers have traditionally placed in a front window a small rectangular flag with a blue star in the middle of a block of white, surrounded by red. When a member in service is killed it is changed to a flag with a gold star, indicating the loss of a family member. While it is a loss for the entire family it is known as a Gold Star Mother’s flag.
Looking back at the Civil War: The Sept. 17, 1862, battle at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Md., was the deadliest day of battle in our nation’s history. In 11 hours, 6,500 died. The 7,058 at Gettysburg was over three days and the 6,992 at Iwo Jima was over 36 days. At Antietam Creek there were 40,000 men in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and 90,000 in the Union Army of the Potomac. A Texas unit had an 82.3 percent casualty rate.
STATE’S FIRST BLACK MAYOR WAS APPARENTLY MARYVILLE’S SCOTT
Recently some misinformation which was quoted from local sources in The Times needs to be set straight for the sake of those interested in history.
To the best of our knowledge, Maryville’s William Bennett Scott Sr. (1821-1885) was the first black mayor in Tennessee, serving in 1869-70. At the time, he was one of four blacks on the seven-member council. The other blacks were Allen Garner, Thomas Lilliard and Oscar Wilson.
Scott is unquestionably the first publisher of a black newspaper in the state, the Colored Tennessean in Nashville. For a decade he was publisher of the only newspaper in Blount County. He is a member of the Tennessee Newspaper Hall of Fame.
As related in Vol. III of The Daily Times’ “Snapshots of Blount County History,” Scott was born of a black father and white mother in North Carolina and was free prior to the Civil War. About 1847, as tensions grew, he came to more racially friendly East Tennessee. For about 13 years he developed his saddle and harness business in the Quaker village of Friendsville.
However, shortly before the start of the war area hostilities toward free blacks increased and he moved to Knoxville where he was sponsored by a minister who arranged for him to learn the printing trade. Immediately after the war, he and his son moved to Nashville where he founded the first newspaper in the state published by a black. Within little more than a year he and his son moved their printing operation to Maryville.
In 1868 he published the Maryville Republican which in 1878 became the Maryville Democrat because he thought that would promote more harmony between races.
He was instrumental in founding Freedman’s Institute, one of the first schools for blacks in East Tennessee. Built to train black teachers, the 10-room, three-story brick building later housed Maryville High when it was moved to its present location from Fort Craig in 1928. Scott continued an active civic leader. He is buried next to his wife in the New Providence Presbyterian Cemetery at the corner of West Broadway and South Cates Street.
Dean Stone is editor of The Daily Times.