An Appalachian Ulster Scot’s St. Patrick’s Day reflections

Thomas Fitzgerald was born at Kerry, Ireland His wife, Hannah Pyne Fitzgerald, was born at Cork, Ireland Burial: Calvary Catholic Cemetery Knoxville, Tennessee

Did you remember to wear something green on St. Patrick’s Day? If not, quite likely you were pinched. Among the mountain youth of the 1970s, St. Patrick’s Day was mostly an excuse for pinching those who forgot to wear green. Teachers would make scissors and green construction paper available so that pupils, who forgot to don the green, could cut out shamrocks and attach them to their clothing.

As a word of caution, I would warn against pinching transplants to the Mountain South, not attired in green, on St. Patrick’s Day. Several years ago, I learned that a female security guard at the East Tennessee History Center, unfamiliar with Appalachian customs, was unaware of the practice. I am glad that I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to pinch her first. Obviously, pinching those who do not wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, is not as a widespread practice as I would have assumed.

That St. Patrick’s Day is not an important holiday in East Tennessee is not surprising. The Scotch Irish Protestants, who settled the Southern Highlands, were a distinct ethnic group apart from the Roman Catholic Irish. Descendants of Vikings who settled on the outcroppings of Scotland hundreds of years ago, they resettled in Northern Ireland, before making the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World. Here in the mountains of Southern Appalachia we have remained a unique tribe forged in Ulster.

Mostly isolated from other Roman Catholics throughout much of their history, Coastal Georgia’s Irish have also remained a unique tribe. Living through, observing, and somewhat participating in their St. Patrick’s Day festivities at Savannah was both educational and exciting for me.

Spring itself, of course, comes earlier in Savannah. After a much shorter dormant season than we are accustomed to here in East Tennessee, spring is definitely in the air when St. Patrick’s Day arrives at the oldest city in Georgia.

The festivities, including a major parade, turn automobile traffic into gridlock. The only practical way to move about town for several days is on foot.

The trek from my Reconstruction Era apartment to the souvenir shop, where I worked along the old wharf on River Street in the year 2000, was adventurous in itself as I crisscrossed grass carpeted city squares that had seemingly become a healthy bright green overnight. Water that flowed through decorative public fountains was dyed green and the dome atop city hall was spotlighted in green.

An organization called the Jasper Greens holds an observance at Savannah’s Catholic Cemetery in Savannah around St. Patrick's Day each year. I didn’t attend the event but read about it in the Savannah Morning News.

After I left the East Tennessee History Center on what was a markedly lowkey St. Patrick’s Day, compared to Savannah’s celebratory occasion, I drove east in hope of recapturing the experience at Knoxville's Catholic Cemetery. I was expecting, or at least I had hoped, to find shamrocks and greenery. Instead, I found faded Christmas decorations.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Roman Catholic Irishmen came to East Tennessee to build the railroad. With so many Irish names inscribed in stone, one could easily imagine for a moment that he was in Ireland.

Adjacent to the Potter’s Field and the Confederate Cemetery, the Catholic Cemetery on Martin Luther King Avenue (formerly East Vine Avenue) was established in 1869 at what was then some distance from town. Most likely, the rear entrance, now closed to traffic on the old road to Rutledge (presently Bethel Avenue), was the original entrance.

Before the Catholic Cemetery was established, Irish Catholics buried their dead in the northwest section of Gray Cemetery (presently Old Gray Cemetery) in a section that continues to be known as Little Ireland. The residential area where the Irish lived east of Crozier Street (presently South Central Street) was once known as Irish Town.

Immaculate Conception Church, East Tennessee’s first Roman Catholic Church, was built in 1855 on the crown of nearby Reservoir Hill overlooking the railway below. The present building was completed in 1886. Confederate Army Chaplain, Father Abraham Ryan, author of The Conquered Banner that became the requiem for the Lost Cause, pastored Immaculate Conception Church in the early years of reconstruction. Father Ryan High School in Nashville is named for him.

Perhaps Ryan inadvertently gave inspiration to the post-war political slogan Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion affixing blame for the American Civil War on the Democratic Party.




The Balanced Budget

The Balanced Budget

Historians will record 2018 as the second year in a row of a balanced budget for Union County; likely the most significant legislative accomplishment of the County Commission in a generation. Union County’s budget is one of the most important pieces of public policy the Commission enacts every year.

A New Family Addition

Leyton Taylor Campbell

“God’s most beautiful gifts bloom into children.”

Jordan and Allison Campbell recently received a new blessing to their family. Their son, Leyton Taylor Campbell, was welcomed into the world on Saturday, July 7, 2018 at 12:42 pm at UT Medical Center.

Keepin' the Old Ways

Macedonia Methodist Church at Andersonville

In order to appreciate how it is or how it might be, our youth need a lesson in the “Old Ways.” Understanding what our ancestors endured will instill a greater respect for their survival and how they prospered.

Pounding Down the Well

Pounding Down the Well

My husband's widowed mother married her former brother-in-law in our living room. Uncle Charlie had hurt his leg putting down our well on the property of what was to be our new home, closer to my husband's work. The minister said it wasn't written anywhere that you had to stand to be married. We were all seated.

Back to the well. The water table was high at the new place. We didn't need to drill a well, Uncle Charlie said. He would help us pound down a well. It was cheaper to do than drilling a well. The three of us could do it.

Fearless Running

Fearless Running

Some spices I am privileged to experience from the side line.

That spring evening, my daughter Sara’s softball team was playing the number one, undefeated team in their league. The other team were all 12 years old whereas Sara’s teammates were barely 10. We went in with no illusions of victory. If we were lucky, we may get one run.

At the top of the third inning, Sara went up to bat. At this point, none of ours girls had made it to first base, which was no surprise. At least they looked cute in their red, white, and blue outfits.

The pitcher threw. Sara swung.

Chicken Biscuit Stew

Chicken Biscuit Stew

I remember when I worked full time in a sewing factory. My mind would wander while sewing. After you do the same stitching over and over, it doesn't take all your attention to do the job. My mind would wander to wondering what I would fix for supper that evening. My kids were in the lower grades in school and came home about the same time I did. They had a long bus ride.

Snake Bit


When you run across a snake, their normal reaction is to get away. But if they feel threatened enough all snakes will bite defensibly. If you are bitten, here are some recommended first aide treatments.

Try to determine if it’s venomous or not. If you’re confident it’s not you can treat the bite like you would a puncture wound. Check with your doctor to see if you might need a tetanus shot booster.



Music Jam

Music Jam ~Featuring Dixie Nicely & Wendal Sturgill Saturday, July 21, 6:30 -10:00 p.m.

Narrow Ridge invites our friends and neighbors to join us for our open music jam on Saturday, July 21 at our outdoor stage just up the road from our Mac Smith Resource Center at 1936 Liberty Hill Rd. We are happy to announce that local artists, Dixie Nicely and Wendal Sturgill, will kick off the festivities from 6:30 to 7:00 pm. 7:00 will begin the open mic/jam portion of the evening when we invite guests to share their talents in a forum that provides equal time to all who wish to participate.

Area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders

Area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders

"We invite all area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders to come together on the last Thursday of each month at Hardee's at 7:30 am. This is to be a time of fellowship, prayer, and discussion about how we as a community of Faith can work together to have a positive impact on our county. All are welcome!" Margaret Chesney

Union County Board Of Education


The next regular workshop and meeting of the Union County Board of Education will be held on Thursday, July 26, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. at Union County High School. The workshop will begin at 6:00 p.m. with the meeting immediately to follow.



1. Discuss School Trips

· None at Time of Publication

2. Budget Amendments and Transfers/Director’s Monthly Report—Ann Dyer

Community Worship & Revival

On February 22, 2018, A Call To Prayer was made in the Luttrell Community. Several community pastor agreed to go back to their respective churches and call on their members to pray for the Lord to guide in an effort to unite our churches with a common goal of a Community Worship & Revival leading folks to Jesus the only begotten son of God.


Benjamin "Benny" Reece King

Benny went to sit on the lap of his LORD and SAVIOR Saturday July 14, 2018 at children's hospital.

Benny our sweet angel is the son of April King. Grandson to Sherri and Matt Bridges. Benny was also a brother to Kyle King and Jesse Perry. Great Grandchild of Barbara Brown along with Ronnie and Tina Bridges. Benny was the nephew of Alley King, Jacob King, Ethan Muehliesen, Leah Bridges, Isaiah Bridges, Faith Bridges and Noah Bridges.

Proceeded in death by great grandfather W.L. Carmon Our love for our sweet Benny will forever be. Always our sweet Angel!!

Donald H. Norris

Donald H. Norris-age 64 of Maynardville passed away Monday morning, July 16, 2018 at his home. He was a member of Cedar Grove Baptist Church. Preceded in death by parents, Roy and Maude E. Norris; brother, David Norris.

Barbara Kay "Momma" Burkhert

Barbara Kay “Momma” Burkhert, age 72, went to be with the Lord on July 15, 2018. She had 3 kids, John J. Viglasky, Liesa Canupp, and Greg Viglasky. She also had 3 grandkids Ashley Taylor, Stacey Canupp, Taylor Viglasky, as well as, 4 great-grandkids. Family will receive friends 5:00-7:00pm Thursday July 19, 2018 at Mynatt Funeral Home Halls Chapel with service to follow. Family and friends will meet 10:45am Friday July 20, 2018 at Fort Sumter Cemetery for and 11:00am interment. Please leave online condolences at

LaVerne McLain Cummings

LaVerne McLain Cummings, of Knoxville, suddenly went to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Wednesday, July 11th, 2018 at Parkwest Hospital. Preceded in death by parents Ed and Mildred McLain, grandson Chad Breeden, and sister Sandra Leach. Survived by loving husband Harlan J. Cummings, daughter Angelia (Bob) Love, son Brent Cox, grandson whom she raised Matthew (Amber) Cox, granddaughters Amanda Dykes and Brittney Russell, sisters Faye (Roger) Neff and Burlene Tolman, as well as 6 great grandkids. She was looking forward to seeing her great grandson Grantley expected in August.

Michael Ernest Smith

Michael Ernest Smith – age 53 of Maynardville, passed away suddenly Saturday, July 8, 2018.

Michael is preceded in death by his parents, Ernest and Mary Smith; and sister, Barbara Smith. He is survived by his son, Daniel; sister, Debra (Stacy) Lynn; special niece, Emily; special nephews, Derrick and Aaron Lynn; several aunts, uncles and other nieces and nephews.

Barbara Carol Spradlen

Barbara Carol Spradlen, age 68, of Powell, passed away on July 8, 2018. She was preceded in death by father, Andrew M. Vanover and mother, Betty Ann Galloway; special great aunt, Bessie L. Galloway Johnson and her husband, Harrison "Hat" Johnson Jr., and their daughter Helen Jean Johnson York.

Jackie Owen Carpenter

Jackie Owen Carpenter, age 83, passed away at home on July 9, 2018. Jack was born October 28, 1934 in Claiborne County and graduated from Claiborne County High School in 1952. He served in the U.S. Army from 1957-1960. He earned his BA from University of California, Northridge in 1972. Jack accepted Christ at an early age and was a member of Salem Baptist Church, where he taught Sunday School for many years. He retired in 1998 from Harrison-Chihowee Baptist Academy (The Kings Academy) after 22 years of working as Business Manager.

Carolyn Lee England Underwood

Carolyn Lee Underwood-age 52 of Maynardville went to be with the Lord, Monday, July 9, 2018 at her home. She was a member of Grace Full Gospel Baptist Church. Preceded in death by husband, Richard Williams; grandson, Richard Dylangaddy.

Survivors: daughters, Alicia Williams, Chassitty Williams; son, Cory Underwood; husband, Randy Underwood; sisters, Charlene Gouldie, Sandra Bryant, parents, Alice and Robert England; two granddaughters, Mackenzie Mixon and Alyssa Gaddy; many nieces, nephews and a host of friends.

Steven James See

Steven James See, age 35 of Knoxville, went to be with the Lord July 6, 2018. He was a member of Bethlehem Baptist Church. Steven was always a friendly, outgoing young man and always had a smile on his face. He loved going to church and enjoyed fishing with his friends. He was a great uncle to his niece and nephews, as well as, a wonderful step-dad to Courtney and Austin. Preceded in death by father Steve See; grandmother, Bobbie Franklin; uncle Jack McClain.

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