If Walls Could Talk

Ronnie Mincey

Hello, everyone. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Oak Grove. I am a two-room school building in the Sharps Chapel area of Union County. Let me tell you a little about myself.

If you were to search for records on me, about the oldest you would find are from the registers kept by teachers. These registers were and continue to be legal documents. Still in 2018, registers are often used to verify a birthdate for a former student who has no birth certificate and needs proof of birth for social security, disability, and other benefits.

Many fascinating facts are recorded in the registers. Every Tennessee public school teacher was required to keep a register of his/her class, and each principal had to keep one for the entire school. The earliest registers contained detailed information on a number of students (e.g., attendance, age, grade to which assigned, grades given for subjects, graduation information, parents and their places of employment/occupation, addresses, phone numbers) and school related items (e.g., inventories, condition of the building, square footage, date of construction, value of property). At the close of each school year, every teacher and principal was required to sign and have notarized an affidavit located on the first page of the register that the contents were accurate to the best of their knowledge. All registers for the Union County Public School System are on file at the Union County Board of Education Central Office in Maynardville.

These earliest register for me is for the school term beginning July 25, 1932 and ending March 10, 1933. I’m so old that my memory sometimes fails me, so I will consider these registers as my “diaries”.

The student who lived farthest from me was a third grader who lived two and one-half miles away. A school day for him would have included a five-mile walk, round-trip. In the early days, there were lots of small schools located within walking distance, for motor transportation to and from school was not widely provided by either families or the district until the years following World War II. As district-provided public transportation to and from school for every child became more widespread, it became cheaper to consolidate many smaller schools into one larger school. This is what happened to me and three of my sister schools (Union, Rush Strong, and Big Sinks). The four of us were closed as schools and our student bodies consolidated into the brand-new Sharps Chapel Elementary School in the fall of 1965. The last register for me was for school term 1964-1965, when I ceased to function as a school.

But thanks to those registers, my memories are recorded. In 1932-33, my teachers were Mr. and Mrs. H. E. and Duetta Anderson, who lived in the Sharps Chapel community. There was no what is now called “Kindergarten”—we had “Primer” classes. Ms. Anderson taught 61 students in Primer through fourth grade (14 dropped and 11 were retained or “held back”). Mr. Anderson served as principal for the entire school and taught 56 students in fifth through eighth grades (17 dropped and 18 were retained) and served as principal.

And this, what would in 2018 be called “chronic absenteeism” and “high dropout rate”, signified the times. The United States was in the midst of the Great Depression, and most of my students were from poor families that seemed to have more mouths than there were hands to feed them. Lots of students had to quit school to help work the family farms just to provide enough food for the family to survive. You will notice the dropout rate was higher in the upper than the lower grades, and attendance was better when there was less planting and harvesting to be done. That was why school started in July and ended in March—between spring plantings. Fall harvest continued to pose a problem for the attendance rate.

Teachers, along with doctors and lawyers, were considered in those days as some of the most highly regarded and well-paid members of the community. It was not considered nice to discuss money matters in those Depression days, but Tennessee public school teacher salaries were (as they are now) public record as they were paid with tax dollars. For the 1932-33 school term, Ms. Anderson was paid $75.00 per month, and Mr. Anderson $82.50. Only preachers shared the level of respect of these professionals, though they usually earned no salary at all, living on donations from the members of the flocks they served.

As will be noted later, the Andersons did not return to teach the following school term. Mr. Anderson did not list my original date of construction in his “Teacher’s Annual Property Report”, though his successor Nelson Chesney noted it to be 1895. Though at the time Mr. Anderson completed his report I was only 38 years old, he described my condition as dilapidated. I had two rooms, 1,008 and 740 square feet. Though my walls were described as “very good”, my steps “good”, my windows “fairly good” and my flues or chimneys “fair”, my floor was described as “poor”. My roof leaked in the valleys and had no gutters. Mr. Anderson called my doors “makeshift”. I had neither basement, ventilation system, nor paint at all. Mr. Anderson described my underpinning and foundation as “rocks and blocks of wood used for piers”.

I was heated with an “ordinary” stove; obviously, there was one in each room, as Mr. Anderson noted that one stove grate was needed in room two. The ratio of glass to floor area was listed as 1:13 in room one (Mr. Anderson noted that room one needed more windows) and 1:8 in room two. Both rooms had light from two sides.

My furnishings in 1932-33 otherwise consisted of 15 single and 42 double “patent” desks. Mr. Anderson described them as “new seats, good, old seats, great many (broken).” There was also one bookcase, six chairs, two recitation seats, 12 erasers and two coal buckets.
There were 18 square yards of blackboard, described by Mr. Anderson as “board painted and cardboard”.

In answer to, “What precaution has been taken for the safety of furniture, equipment, and supplies?”, Mr. Anderson wrote, “The windows and doors have been securely fastened.” He also noted on his affidavit page at the close of the school year: “The west door is locked and should be opened by the teacher next year. The other doors and windows are nailed.”

The source of water for the students and teachers was a spring not on the grounds (which consisted of one acre valued at $50 for the grounds and $150 for the building and heating plant discussed above). Arrangements for drinking were individual drinking cups and common dippers. There were no toilets for either boys or girls.

In summary, Mr. Anderson recommended more windows in room one, 48 additional square feet of blackboard, toilets, and “a new house” as the repairs and improvements needed at the end of the 1932-33 school year.

Times were going to get better for both me and the students I housed. Next week I’ll share how this happened.




Sharps Chapel Quilters Honor a Legacy

Sharps Chapel Quilters work on a quilt started by a woman who passed away due to cancer.

A kind-hearted group of quilters in Sharps Chapel finished a true labor of love this summer. The Norris Lake Quilting Bee, who meet in Irwin's Chapel United Methodist Church, completed a quilt started by an Ohio woman who passed away due to cancer and returned the completed quilt to her husband, Jeff Sutherland.

I Am Not A Robot, I Create

"My Mothers Hands Made With Love" by Anne GlenSherrill Third Place, Three Dimensional

We are all unique with the capacity for creativity and artistic expression. Through purposeful creation we form physical manifestations of our uniqueness. Of course, there is not simply just one correct way to do anything and with that idea we find that there is infinite strength in individualism. What one person may envision and create given a blank canvas can be, and often is, vastly different from another person's creation. That was greatly displayed at the Union County Heritage Festival's Art Show on Saturday, October 6, 2018.

Talk about the Boogerman or Boogerwoman

By S. K. Hensley

With Halloween coming up, it is time for us to talk about the Boogerman/Boogerwoman.

At the time I was growing up, child psychologists were unheard of. In most cases, no one even got to a doctor unless they were seriously ill. I don’t remember any “cures” dealing with behavior. These were the common cures and most could be bought at local grocery stores:

In the World, Not of the World Part 4

Archie Wilson

Last time, we discussed the statement from 2 Corinthians 6:17 about being a separate people and how this separate means different. Christians are in the world but not of the world, so we are set apart in that we do not follow our own path but rather the path of our Savior. A Savior who purchased our sins and gave His Righteousness to us. (See Jerimiah 23:6) He had to do this because of our inability to keep God’s Law. Our sin nature made it impossible for us to make atonement for our failures. (See Romans 3:23, Isaiah 64:6)


Watch Out How You Use Those Words

Ronnie Mincey

Mincey’s Musings
Year One, Week Forty

I have for some time been writing down words that people use in “quirky” ways. I find it interesting the way people often misspeak words unintentionally, often rendering thought provoking meanings. A few examples follow.

A country woman had an opportunity to eat in a fancy restaurant. Trying to impress her companions, she ordered a “ward off” salad. Though that was not on the menu, the waiter directed the lady to the Waldorf salad as an excellent choice to ward off unwanted calories.

Truck Mating Calls

Brooke Cox

This zesty adventure started late one evening as I was walking in the dark by myself. I had just dug my cell phone out of the floorboard of my husband Tim’s truck. Being an old geek, I was gazing up at the stars. It dawned on me that I hadn’t locked Tim’s truck back after retrieving my phone. Without taking my eyes off of the night sky, I tossed my hand back and pressed the lock button on the clicker. Ka-Click. The truck beeped.

Ka-KAW Ka-KAW rang out.

I came to a dead stop and stood there alone in the darkness. Goose bumps ran up my arm.

Chiropractic Therapy for Back and Neck Pain in the Military

Chiropractic Therapy for Back and Neck Pain in the Military

Back pain, especially chronic back pain, can make life miserable; this condition is quite common in the military. Randomized trials have found that spinal manipulation can be effective for lower back pain. One 2013 study specifically compared chiropractic therapy to general medical care in military personnel, 18-35 years old. The results suggest reduced pain and improved physical wellbeing and function as compared to patients who only received the standard care.

Autumn Colors


After a long hot summer my favorite time of year is finally here, with its balmy days, cool nights, and eventual forest color display that everyone looks forward to. If you ever wonder why leaves change color, here’s the latest scoop.


Black Walnut Drops

Black Walnut Drops

Anyone who knows me knows of my taste for black walnuts. When my kids were small and money was tight, I would load the three youngest ones in the pickup. After a fall's hard freeze, we would head for my favorite walnut trees along country roads. Each child would have his or her own pail. “Pick 'em up as fast as you can,” I would yell.

Sometimes, neighbors took offense with our picking up the walnuts, even if the walnuts were out in the roadway. We did get run off occasionally, but it didn't take long to fill the pickup bed with the ones we could get.

Homemade Corn Salsa

Homemade Corn Salsa

I like corn salsa. It is best made in the summertime with fresh vegetables. Red tomatoes in the winter don't taste as good as tomatoes fresh from the garden. That goes for sweet corn, too. We like sweet corn freshly cut from the cob and fried with butter, salt and sugar. Oh well, that is another dish. For this salsa, canned whole kernel corn can be used as well. I learned to appreciate red onions while working at Arby's in Halls. I was introduced to jalapeno peppers when we moved to Tennessee. Before that, I only used the yellow hot banana peppers.


Area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders

Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 07:30
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!" For more information please contact Kathy Chesney at 865-566-3289.

Union County Board Of Education

Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 18:00



1. Discuss School Trips

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

3. Discuss TSBA Recommended Changes to Board Policy (Due for Approval on Second Reading in October, 2018): School Bus Seat Restraint Systems —Lenny Holt

4. Discuss Capital Projects—Dr. Carter

5. Discuss Contracts—Lenny Holt

6. Discuss Teacher Tenure—Dr. Carter

Haunts & History

Friday, October 26, 2018 - 15:00
Museum of Appalachia

Haunts and History October 26-27 3pm- 9pm

Haunts and History will feature old-fashioned treats along the pioneer trail, with homemade and vintage candies, as well as local storytellers sharing true and inspired stories about our Appalachian ancestors. Guests can also enjoy hay rides, live music, blacksmithing, pumpkin carving demonstrations, and festive snacks.

For an additional charge, attendees can pick pumpkins from the patch or choose a pumpkin to paint and take home.

Advance Tickets may be purchased by October 15:


Glen thomas Kitts

Glenn Thomas Kitts, age 91, of Knoxville passed away on Thursday, October 18, 2018. He Served his County well as a United States Marine during World War II era. He retired from the Knoxville Transit Lines after 52 years. He coached little league at Fountain City Ball Park for ten plus years. Preceded in death by wife Barbara Jean Kitts; Sons Martin Thomas Kitts and Gary Steven Kitts; grandson T.J. Lewis and Chris Turner; parents Arlie and Jessie Kitts; four brothers; and four sisters.

Kenneth "Kenny" David Coffman

Kenneth “Kenny” David Coffman, age 48 of Luttrell, Tennessee went home to be with the Lord on October 18, 2018. He is preceded in death by his grandparents Maynard & Eva Coffman and Millard & Cora Munsey. He is survived by parents Rev. Donnie and Lola Coffman; brothers Ricky (Sharon) Coffman and Donnie (Sherry) Coffman; nieces Kayla (Jamie) Moore and Danielle (Matt) Tindell; nephews Brandon (Miriah) Coffman and Josh (Mary) Coffman; great nephews Brylan, Wesley, Brentley, Hudson, Branson and Bobby; great nieces Ellis and Emersyn. Also survived by uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends.

Dewey Keck

Dewey (Merl) Keck-age 74 of Corryton, born October 18, 1944 passed away Friday, October 19, 2018 at his home. Preceded in death by parents, George and Mary Keck.

Survivors: wife, Joyce Keck; daughters, Robin Carringer; Doris (Greg) Selvidge; grandchildren, Ashley White, Tiffany Grooms; great-grandchild, Brayden Chaney.

Rueben Scott Holloway

Rueben Scott Holloway-age 55 of Luttrell passed away Wednesday night, October 17, 2018 at Select Specialty Hospital at North Knoxville Medical Center. Preceded in death by parents, Bill and Sarah Holloway; wife Darla Holloway; children, Amber, Willie, Erin and Reanna Holloway.

Survived by best friend, Trusty; sisters, Jackie (Jerry) Clapp; Brenda (Tim) Wyrick; brothers, Russell (Mary) Holloway and Paul Holloway; friends, Linda Waggoner and Violet Ward. Special aunts, Brenda Stone, Beulah Hayes, Carolyn Langley and Susie Langley. Several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Catrina Kailynn Maggard

Catrina Kailynn Maggard-age 18 of Knoxville passed away Saturday morning, October 13, 2018 at U. T. Medical Center as the result of an automobile accident. She was a graduate of Gibbs High School, 2018 Class. She was a loving daughter and friend, full of life and always had a smile on her face. Preceded in death by grandfather, Frank Maggard; great-grandmother, Grace Lynn.

Deborah Marlene Lynch

Debra Marlene Lynch
April 26, 1959 – October 2, 2018
Debra Marlene Lynch was born in Detroit, Michigan to Helen and Nolan Graves on April 26, 1959. -Marlene’s parents meant the world to her. Her father, Nolan was her personal hero and her mother, Helen was her measuring stick for how a Christian woman should live. Marlene had one sibling, Keith Graves. She loved her younger brother very much and often spoke of Keith’s big heart.

Lowen Denver Foust

Lowen “Denver” Foust – age 82 of Maynardville, passed away at his home on October 16, 2018, surrounded by his family. He was a Korean War Veteran and served in the United States Navy. He was a member of First Baptist Church of Maynardville.

Glen Wayne Yadon

Glen Wayne Yadon of Luttrell was born on October 29, 1954 and went to be with Jesus on October 15, 2018 peacefully in his sleep. Glen was a member of Nave Hill Missionary Baptist Church. He loved big! He had a heart of gold, never met a stranger and would help anyone that he could.

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