How Warm My Bed

How Warm My Bed

Mincey’s Musings
Year One, Week Two

How Warm My Bed

Today is January 8, 2018. The first week of the New Year has ended, and the second has begun with a small icing that has closed schools throughout East Tennessee and caused several wrecks. The New Year began with a week of bone chilling cold felt throughout most of the United States, particularly in the East and South.
I began my New Year with some reading. One thing I found was a reference to the location of beds in homes. This caused me to do some pondering and reminiscing.
In the early days of our country’s history, especially in log cabins, the entire living area consisted of one room. Some of the more advanced log cabins had lofts, where children’s beds were reached by climbing wall-embedded pegs. These cabins had only fireplaces for heating, regrettably allowing much of the heat to escape “up the flue”. In the wilderness cold everyone wished to be as close to sources of warmth as possible; therefore, it was not only customary, but desirable, for beds to be located as close to fireplaces as practicable without fear of bedding catching fire.

In later years, log cabins (partly through necessity, partly through fashion) were replaced by frame or weatherboard houses. At their debut, clapboard houses were a sign of wealth. Nails were often costly and hard to come by, and many log cabins were constructed entirely without nails. The advancement of industry made nails more readily available and construction of larger homes easier. To be fashionable, some cabin dwellers covered their beautiful exterior logs with weatherboards. Log cabins with exposed exterior walls, once necessary, then frowned upon, later nostalgic, are again fashionable. Ironically, it is now a sign of luxury and wealth for a family to own a log cabin!
Early frame houses, though larger, often were no warmer in the cold winters than their log cabin predecessors. I was privileged to live from ages six through almost nineteen in the two story frame house that was the Burl Warwick family farmhouse. The Warwick farm included what is now Green Acres subdivision and several acres on both sides of what is now Luttrell Road. Mrs. Burl (Mary) Warwick’s maiden name was Waddington, and that family’s estate connected to the Warwick holdings, extending through a portion of the Walker Ford Valley closest to the City of Maynardville.

The front porch step of the Warwick house was a quarried rock slab. The foundation was comprised of huge rocks that also appeared to have been quarried. Huge beams were laid on top of these foundation stones, and flooring and framing was nailed to these beams.

The partially finished room over the living room revealed framing constructed of actual 2 X 4 sawmill lumber, the unpainted inner side of the weatherboarding, the roof support, and the chimney.

The strength of the interior pine tongue-and-groove boards nailed to actual 2 X 4s provided increased strength, allowing the span of exterior framing to be greater than the customary 16-inch centers of current construction. The inside walls continued after decades of seeping sap on the hottest days.

The outside weatherboarding was unpainted until my family began living there in 1971, at which time it was painted white. The house did not have gutters, so when the roof received a coat of metallic silver paint that quickly washed off, the rocks along the foundation to prevent mud and splashing received the benefit. While the downstairs rooms endured several coats of paint over the years, the unpainted stairwell and upstairs exhibited dimly penciled names and dates of farmhands.

The house did not have trussed roof supports, only rafters attached to a ridge board at top, additionally supported by collar beams. The roof had one leak at the front gable over the window in the unfinished upstairs room. My father had a huge barrel there, and frequently he would open the window and empty the barrel.

The kitchen had one chimney that extended through the roof for a cook stove. The main chimney was located in the middle of the front part of the house. It was constructed of field stone to approximately half the height of upstairs, finished with brick that protruded just above the ridge of the roof. There was no provision for heating upstairs, but two fireplaces on the ground floor shared the chimney—one in the living room and one in the bedroom. As in log cabins, most of the heat escaped through the “flue”. Jack Warwick once told us that his mother would set her milk and eggs next to the living room fireplace, and they would still freeze on the coldest nights. The contents of chamber pots also froze during such weather.

At the time my family lived there, the fireplaces were covered with tin and the house was heated by a coal or wood stove located in the living room. The soot that accumulated at the bottom of the fireplace once caught fire, proving a fire hazard. Thereafter, occasionally the tin would be pulled back so the soot could be removed.

My father insisted in having his bed in the room with the heating stove. This was inconvenient, as Dad went to bed early and insisted that everyone else in the house be in bed no later than 9:00 p.m. I never got used to Dad’s bed being in the living room. I can remember two previous houses where we lived, both located in the City of Maynardville. Though they were also heated by coal or wood stoves located in the living room, Dad had his bed in the bedroom closest to the living room. Both of those houses had sheetrock walls, and perhaps Dad thought they were warmer.

The Jack Warwick house was technically located in the Maynardville city limits, but not “downtown”. Also, the walls were plank, and daylight could be seen through the walls on the sunniest and clearest of days, and that probably made Dad feel colder. One thing all those houses had in common—none ever saw one day of insulation. It was warm close to the stove, even hot, but the extremities were slightly warmer than the outside temperature.

Sometimes, my own bed was in the living room. From roughly Christmas break to mid-March every year, Dad insisted that I sleep on a “rollaway” cot at the foot of his bed in front of the stove. I put myself to sleep many nights watching the flames cast shadows on the ceiling as they shone through the damper in the stove’s door. (Dad would be surprised if he knew how many nights I now choose to sleep on the loveseat in the living room!)

While it seemed nothing could be done about the cracks in the walls, Dad would duct tape and fill each crack in every door and window leading from the living room and kitchen with rolled newspaper to “keep the cold out”. Doors so “weatherized” were only opened for infrequent visitors, to store or bring in the cot, to go to school, church or the store, or to get more coal or wood.

The house had electricity when my family lived there. The living room and kitchen each had two double outlets, the downstairs bedroom one. The kitchen had two double outlets and one plug for an electric stove. Each of the two rooms upstairs had one electric light with a pull chain—no light switch. There was neither light nor electricity in the stairwell, though the closet under the stairwell accessed from the living room had a light on an extension cord. (I never knew where or how that cord was connected.) The front and back porch had ceiling lights. An extension cord ran from the back porch light to the outhouse. Observant neighbors might know that if the back porch light was on after dark that some form of elimination might be occurring!

But electricity has little effect on heating a house without insulation. I once tried to heat the bedroom after Dad’s death with a portable 110V electric space heater, but all I did was manage to melt an extension cord and almost burn the house down. Needless to say, I love propane fireplaces and heat pumps!

I do not know when the Warwick farmhouse was constructed, though I assume in the late 1800s or early 1900s. After we moved, the house received some upgrades, including an indoor bathroom and a dryer connection. The building endured years of wonders, weather, and woodpeckers. Sadly, the house burned on August 21, 1997, resulting in the deaths of four children. I loved living there, but all I have left are memories, a few pictures, and one piece of the weatherboarding and the front porch step I retrieved after the fatal fire.
Next week I hope to share another winter tale.

(A special thank you to Connie Buckner for providing me with older pictures of the house and owners and to Doug Osborne of Cooke-Campbell Mortuary for providing the date of the fire.)




Making Notes

Making Notes

So you think you don't have enough memories to write your life story? You are wrong. They just need to be brought out to the here and now. There is an excellent way to do it, take notes. It will take time, but you will see results.

There is nothing to stop you from writing your memories down on a note pad or in an exercise book. But memories rarely arrive in chronological order and when you start writing your book of life stories, you will be forever flicking backwards and forwards through the pages trying to find the note that you want.

Who Were the Longhunters?

Who Were the Longhunters?

Robert Kato, a Longhunter reenactor, speaks at the June 9, 2018 meeting of the Nicholas Gibbs Historical Society.

Groups called Longhunters [18th century explorers and hunters] were the first to blaze the trails into the American wilderness across the United States. Elisha Wolfe led a group of Longhunters as early as 1761-1765.

Augustus and the Norris Reservior

Augustus and the Norris Reservior

Years before Harry Potter inspired older children to keep reading, Augustus inspired me, late in the primary grades, to keep reading. We were about the same age when we met at the school library. Eventually I grew up, but I never forgot him. In my imagination, he will always be out there somewhere on the Mississippi River with his kind, well meaning, but somewhat dysfunctional family.

Augustus' family not only lived in a houseboat on the river, but also lived off the river. What could be more exciting to an eight-year-old boy?

The Miracle of Plants

The Miracle of Plants

As an amateur naturalist I have a curiosity to know how things work. In college I once saw the chemical reactions involved in photosynthesis laid out on a large poster. This all-important method plants use to make food for themselves (and ultimately us) was incredibly long and complex. It is so complex that it’s tempting to simply say that plants bring in carbon dioxide and water, add sun energy, then a miracle happens and out comes oxygen and food. While there is truth there, let me elaborate on the miracle part.


Spine Osteoarthritis Patients and Those Under 65 More Likely to Use Opioids to Manage Pain

Spine Osteoarthritis Patients and Those Under 65 More Likely to Use Opioids to Manage Pain

A large percentage of patients with knee, hip and spine osteoarthritis use opioids to manage their chronic pain, especially those who are younger or have symptoms of depression, according to new research findings. Osteoarthritis, or OA, is the most common joint disease affecting middle-aged and older people. It is characterized by progressive damage to the joint cartilage—the cushioning material at the end of long bones—and causes changes in the structures around the joint.

Milk and Cornbread

Milk and Cornbread

We all have that one special treat that we look forward to having. For me, it’s a tossup between something chocolate and somebody doing the laundry. My Mamaw Jo had a treat that I could never understand: milk and cornbread. In all fairness, I did try it, but I didn’t like it. For one thing, milk and I don’t get along.

Blackberries and Dumplings

Blackberries and Dumplings

I spent my early years in Michigan. The last thirty years I have been here. If I had known how wonderful Tennessee was, I would have been here long ago. Don't fault me for being from Michigan. We all have to be from somewhere. I will try to keep the secret of how wonderful East Tennessee is. After all, there is only so much room for former Yankees down here.

Commission Approves 2019 Budget, No New Taxes

Union County Commission

Passing a budget and setting a tax rate in June has now become best practice in Union County. For two consecutive years, Ann Dyer, County Finance Director, and County Mayor Mike Williams have diligently worked with County Commission led by Chairman Gary England and the Budget and Finance Committee to complete the budget process before the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1. Their combined efforts have solidified the budget process into a transparent, accountable, and responsible fiscal practice that has set Union County on a course toward improvement and maybe even prosperity.

Cyn Taylor joins Authors Guild of Tennessee

Cyn Taylor

Local author Cyn Taylor was recently vetted by the Authors Guild of Tennessee and welcomed as a new member of the group in May.

A Knoxville native, Taylor writes Southern Contemporary Romantic Suspense staged in the Smoky Mountains and surrounding area. Smoky Mountain Mist is Taylor's first series. Blue Mountain Sky, Red Morning Glory and Dawn's Gray Light are the three books completing that series.



Meet-the-Candidates Tuesday, June 26 6PM-8PM

Dear Candidate:

Thank you for being a candidate for public office!

You are invited to participate in a Union County Meet-the-Candidates evening gathering on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, at 6 PM - 8PM at the Union County Senior Citizens Center.
This event is intended both to help our citizens cast an informed vote on August 2 (or earlier) and to help introduce you to your voters. Palm cards, written materials are welcome. (A surrogate for the candidate who cannot attend is welcome.)

Union County Board Of Education


The next regular workshop and meeting of the Union County Board of Education will be held on Thursday, June 28, 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

County Commission will meet in Special Called Session

County Commission will meet in Special Called Session

The County Commission will meet in Special Called Session on Thursday, June 28, at 7:00 to finalize the budget amendments and transfers of the current budget to facilitate the filing of the Annual Financial Report. The public is encouraged to attend.


Thursday, June 28 2018 – TIME 7:00 P.M.


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.

2018 Luttrell Music festival

2018 Luttrell Music festival

An exciting event will happen in Luttrell once again this fall. Thanks to organizer Mayme Taylor. The Luttrell Music Festival will return September 8, 2018. Taylor has accomplished quite the feat with her headliner band, Ricochet, as well as acquiring sponsors and donors.

Ricochet will take a brief time out from a busy tour season to perform at the festival. Along with band performances, the festival will host a kid’s music competition, a cruise in, barbeque, food vendors, baked goods and craft vendors.


Brenda Ann Hall

Brenda Ann Hall-age 59 of Maynardville passed away suddenly Wednesday, June 20. 2018 at North Knoxville Medical Center after a brief battle with ovarian cancer. She worked and served faithfully as an LPN at Willow Ridge Center for the past 8 years and was beloved by both her patients and co-workers alike. Brenda was preceded in death by father, Gerald W. Hall; nephew, Stefan Hall.

Harold D. Dotson

Harold D. Dotson-age 83 of Maynardville passed away Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at Willow Ridge Center. He was a member of New Fellowship Church. Harold retired from the U. S. Navy with 20 years of service and was a Vietnam Veteran. Preceded in death by parents, Frank E. and Ada Francis Dotson; son, Frank E. Dotson, II; all of Harold’s brothers and sisters preceded him in death; James Dotson, Herman Dotson, George Dotson, Bobby Lee Dotson, Fae L. Simpson, Gayenell Stanley and Ines Bevins.

George Taylor Brooks

George Taylor Brooks, age 90, of Thorngrove, passed away on June 20, 2018 at Oakwood Senior Living in Knoxville. He was preceded in death by his wife, Grace Bridges Brooks, parents Joe “Frosty” and Hattie Hickman Brooks, sister Ida Huffaker, and brother John Elmer “Toad” Brooks. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Cathy Jo and Jim Norris of Thorngrove. Special friends include Bob Petty, Donnie Crawford, Glyn Underwood and his little buddy Grayson Huffaker. He leaves to cherish his memory a large extended family of sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws, nieces, and nephews.

Rev. Earl Ray Johnson

Reverend Earl Johnson – age 82 of Union County, went to his Heavenly home on June 19, 2018. He was a member of Ailor Dale Baptist Church and former pastor of several churches. Earl was a dedicated man of God with the strongest faith. He was always caring and giving to everyone, always putting others needs before his own. He will be sadly missed by all that were lucky enough to know him.

Edna Mae (Beeler) Shoffner

Edna Mae (Beeler) Shoffner, Age 97 of Sharps Chapel was born on November 23, 1920 and went home to be with the Lord on Monday, June 18, 2018 at her home surrounded by her family. She was a member of Oak Grove Primitive Baptist Church.
Edna is preceded in death by her loving Husband Charlie Shoffner. Daughter: Wanda Brown, Son: Tom Shoffner and Grand-Daughter Gabrielle Shoffner. Parents: Mack and Lennie Beeler. Brothers: Tommy, Otis, and Clarence Beeler. Sisters: Mert, Lelia, and Georgia.

Teresa Ann Greer

Teresa Ann Greer, age 44, of Maryville, TN passed away peacefully on June 16, 2018. Preceded in death by mother Judith Ann Greer. Survived by children, Courtney Ann Thomas and fiancé Brandon Yeaman, Justin Joe Bradburn, and Madison Ann Bradburn; father Bobby Joe and wife Deborah; grandchildren John Mason and Eli Blane.

James Paul Myers, Jr.

James Paul Myers, Jr. age 70 of Knoxville, passed away June 15, 2018. James was a Vietnam veteran. He was of the Baptist faith and pastored many churches in his life. Preceded in death by wife Janet Myers; parents James P. Myers, Sr. and Juanita Myers; sister Helen Wrinkle. Survived by sons Jay Lloyd Myers and Stephen Myers; very special brother David Myers; several nieces and nephews. Family will receive friends 6:00p.m.-8:00p.m. Wednesday June 20, 2018 at Mynatt Funeral Home Fountain City Chapel with service to follow, Rev. Clyde Lakin and Eddie Myers officiating.

Anna Mae Shelby Davis

Anna Mae Shelby Davis-age 78 of New Tazewell passed away Friday morning, June 15, 2018 at U. T. Medical Center following a long illness. She was a member of Raccoon Valley Baptist Church. Preceded in death by daughter, Kathy Ann Davis; parents, Jim and Louella Shelby; brothers, Willis Shelby, Troy Milton Shelby; sisters, Grace Shoffner and Viola Shelby.

Gary Lynn Anderson, Sr.

Gary Lynn Anderson, Sr.-age 72 of Luttrell passed away Thursday morning, June 14, 2018 at U. T. Medical Center. He was preceded in death by parents, Rev. Frank J. and Mildred (Hundley) Anderson; brothers, Robert (Bob) Anderson, Paul Anderson; sister, Cheryl Tyson; grandson, James Thompson; great-grandson, Skyler McClure.

Betty Jane Patterson

Betty Jane Patterson-age 91 of Maynardville passed away Sunday morning, June 10, 2018 at Beverly Park Place, Knoxville. She was a member of First United Methodist Church of Sevierville. She also enjoyed square dancing and was a member of Good Times Square Dance Club. Preceded in death by her husband, Clinton Patterson, Sr. in 1998; three sisters, Dorothy, Jean and Alla.

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