Anyone interested in history, in particular, the history surrounding Kentucky rifles as they were used in the Great Smoky Mountains, is invited to attend the next quarterly meeting of the Blount County Genealogical and Historical Society at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, in the Sharon Lawson Room at the Blount County Public Library, 508 N. Cusick St., Maryville.
Randal Pierce will present the program, “Kentucky Rifles of the Great Smoky Mountains,” and will have examples of the pistols and rifles on display.
According to information provided by Pierce, the Kentucky rifle was a necessary tool for the pioneers and settlers of the Smoky Mountains. The presenter will answer such questions as what is a Kentucky rifle, who made them, how were the rifles used in the early pioneer days in these mountains and what, if any, significance does the Kentucky rifle have today?
Some might have seen the exhibit of the same name at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend, where 20 rifles and pistols representing Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina were represented. GSMHC and the Kentucky Rifle Foundation, with support from Blount Partnership and Kentucky rifle collectors, partnered to present the exhibit, which will end Oct. 25.
You can find more information on the exhibit by calling 865-448-0044 or visiting the GSMHC website at gsmheritagecenter.org. Pierce is one of five members of the Kentucky Rifle Foundation Exhibit Committee and the local exhibit coordinator.
There is also a recently published book documenting the exhibit. The rifle on the book cover was built by Baxter Bean, of Jonesborough, and brought into Cades Cove by George Rowan in the 1830s. It remained in Cades Cove until the family was moved out with the formation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The rifle and accessories remain in the eighth generation of the Rowan family.
Randal Pierce is a native Tennessean and grew up in the Johnson City area. Now a resident of the Wildwood Community of Blount County, he is a retired professional educator and trainer who taught 40 years at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also is a longtime collector of early Americana and is especially interested in handmade Kentucky rifles, their accessories and the tools used to build them.
The Kentucky Rifle Foundation is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Kentucky rifle through educational programs and exhibits, museum assistance and the publication of books and CDs related to the history and significance of the Kentucky rifle.
The nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation is funded by contributions, the sale of educational materials, fundraising events and endowments and is the educational arm of the Kentucky Rifle Association. Learn more by visiting the Kentucky Rifle Foundation’s website at http://kentuckyrifle foundation.org and the Kentucky Rifle Association’s website at www.kentuckyrifleassocia tion.org.
On another note, the Blount County Genealogical and Historical Society will have a representative from Family Tree Maker coming to demonstrate and help participants train on the latest version of its family tree software at 7 p.m. Nov. 6, also in the Sharon Lawson Room at the library.
The interactive presentation is open to the public and will be offered at no cost. For more information, and to learn more about the services offered by BCGHS, visit the website at www.blountcountytngeneal ogy.org.