More Sounds from the Walls

Ronnie Mincey

Mincey’s Musings
Year One, Week Thirty

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 more about myself.
Last week my “scribe” Ronnie Mincey wrote an article about me, detailing pertinent points of my history for school year 1932-1933. He submitted that article to Mr. Aaron Russell for his next Historic Union County magazine. As of this date that magazine is at the printer, and Mr. Russell says he plans to publish that article on this website after the magazine is published. You will have to read that article to find out about my school year 1932-1933.
In this article, Dr. Mincey records events mainly from my school term 1934-1935. His main source for information is the old registers on file at the Union County Board of Education’s Central Office, as was discussed in the previous article. I consider them my “diaries,” and Dr. Mincey has found them fascinating and wishes to share some of their information with you.
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. You must remember I am speaking to you from “The Great Beyond”, what some of you might now consider “the dim, dark past”. I led you to believe from the previous article H. E. and Duetta were married, but since then Dr. Mincey has conducted a little research.
In Bonnie Heiskell Peters’ book Union County Schoolday Memories: A Pictorial History of Union County Elementary Schools from the Mid-1800s to the 1960s (published in 1999), there is a picture on page 295 of H. E. and Belvia Ousley Anderson, identified as teachers at Rush Strong and Stiner’s Ridge Schools. There is another picture of Mr. Anderson (though not as clear) on page 311 captioned “A Sharps Chapel Group on their Way to Union County High School”, date not listed. The group is standing in front of a bus with “Union County High School” written on the side. Mr. Anderson is listed on page 333 of Ms. Peters’ book as having taught at Oak Grove again in 1940-1941, at Rush Strong from 1933-1935 and at Union (date not listed).
Belvia Ousley Anderson is photographed on page 25 as a student at Big Springs School (circa 1916). She is included on page 18 in a long list of teachers who taught at Big Sinks School and on page 209 is mentioned as having taught at Oak Grove with Maggie Stiner Walker in the early 1920s. A picture on page 274 shows the old Rush Strong Schoolhouse in Lead Mine Bend before the Norris Dam Project in which teachers Edgar (H. E.?) and Belvia Anderson are pictured on the lawn. On page 333 in Ms. Peters’ book, Belvia Ousley Anderson is listed as having taught at Oak Grove in 1932-1933 and at Rush Strong in 1934-1935 and 1938-1940.
Duetta Anderson is only listed one time in Ms. Peters’ book as having taught at Capps Creek in 1935-1936 and at Rush Strong from 1936-1938 and “1956-37” (this is obviously a typographical error in Ms. Peters’ book—Dr. Mincey thinks the date is 1936-1937, though it could also be 1956-1957).
Too many years and too many Andersons have passed for me to be sure of family relations. Any reader who can provide further information to Dr. Mincey will be appreciated.
My teachers in the old Oak Grove building for the school term August 7, 1933 to March 16, 1934 were Mary Irwin and Nelson Chesney.
Ms. Peters’ book has a picture of a Mary Irwin who was a student at Loyston Junior High School from 1926-1927; there is a picture of the Loyston Junior High School tenth grade from 1934-1935 that also has a Mary Irwin. As Mary Irwin is listed on page 341 as a teacher at Oak Grove from 1933-1935, the first picture would seem to be the Mary Irwin in question. A Mary Irwin Chesney is listed on page 4 of The Last Echo: A Pictorial History of Horace Maynard High School, Maynardville, Tennessee (Including Historical Data to 1997) as a contributor to the research for this excellent volume compiled and edited by Kathleen George Graves and Lois Campbell Hartsell. Mary Irwin is identified on page 28 of The Last Echo as a member of the Horace Maynard High School graduating class of 1928 and as teacher at Horace Maynard High School in 1936.
The Last Echo lists Nelson Chesney as a member of the Horace Maynard High School class of 1929. Page 18 lists Mr. Chesney as a Horace Maynard High faculty member from 1942-1943 and as principal in 1944. Ms. Peters’ book contains photographs on pages 33 and 34 that include Nelson Chesney as a student at Brock School in 1920 and 1927-1928. He is pictured on page 106 as an attendee of a singing school held at the old Hubbs Grove School (date not provided). Another picture on page 282 shows Nelson Chesney as teacher at Shady Grove School in 1935. On page 336 of her book, Ms. Peters lists William Nelson Chesney as a teacher at the following schools and terms: Union (1932-1933); Oak Grove (1933-1935); Rush Strong (1934-1935, 1940-1941); Shady Grove (1935-1937, 1950, 1953); and Hickory Valley (1937-1938).
In 1933-1934 at Oak Grove, Ms. Irwin taught 62 students in Primer through fourth grade (15 were retained or “held back”). Mr. Chesney taught 52 students in fifth through eighth grades (14 were retained).
There were four students who lived two and one half miles away, the farthest recorded distance from the school for any pupil. These students most likely walked five miles per day, round-trip, just to attend.
For the 1933-34 school term, Ms. Irwin was paid $85.00 per month, and Mr. Chesney $62.50 (his salary increased the following school term to $77.50 per month).
Mr. Chesney noted my original date of construction in his “Teacher’s Annual Property Report” as 1895. The ratio of my glass area to floor area as a whole was 1:11. Though there had been no toilet facilities the previous school year, Mr. Nelson noted in his report that one “insanitary toilet” was provided. Mr. Chesney listed the value of my building and heating plant as $200 (a $50 increase from the prior year) and the grounds as $100 (also a $50 increase from the previous year).
Mr. Chesney reported that my school library had four (4) books valued as a whole at $2, none added or lost during the school year. No books had been secured from circulating libraries. Neither Mr. Chesney nor Ms. Irwin were married, and neither lived in the Sharps Chapel community. Mr. Chesney listed the cost of his room and board as $10 per month, Ms. Irwin as $12.
In his 1934-1935 register, Mr. Nelson noted there was no playground equipment, though he valued (instructional?) equipment at $100. Inside the back cover of that same register, Mr. Nelson noted, “Two waterbuckets, two dippers, two coal buckets, one shovel, one broom, and the door key were left at Issac Shoffner’s. Erasers left in loft. Practically no coal left.” Mr. Nelson penciled a note on the front cover: “Sorry I held out on you so long, but I hadn’t been home and didn’t know you wanted it at once until today. Been ready for some time, but I was just waiting until I [cam] home. Hope it get in in time. Yours, N. I will get a notary to ‘John Henry’ it when I come out.” The register remains unnotarized to this day.
It doesn’t seem that conditions improved at Oak Grove very much from 1932 through 1935, but brighter days were on the horizon. Times were going to get better for both me and the students I housed, and for future generations of Sharps Chapel citizens. Next week I’ll share how this happened.



Help Needed for Under the Tree

Krista Cooke and Marvin Jeffries with the toys collected at American Business Services

Since 1985, there has been a grassroots effort to make sure that every child in Union County has gifts from Santa on Christmas morning. That effort started out under the name Union County Toys for Tots and operated under the Union County Business and Professional Association. Now, it's called Union County Children's Charities Under the Tree, and this year it will serve 427 children right here at home.

Teacher of the Month Mrs Hayley Sexton

Hayley Sexton

Teacher of the month is quite the honor to win. Who wouldn’t want the special recognition, especially out of the many wonderful teachers here? Our very own Mrs. Hayley Sexton accomplished just this. She started teaching biology at Union County High School about two years ago. During her interview, Mrs. Sexton explained how one wins teacher of the month, as well as what brought her to become a teacher. What really caught my eye about her interview was how humble she was about the accomplishment. Anyone can tell she genuinely cares about the children she teaches.

Next Generation Fiber Optic Broadband – Now, It’s All Up to YOU

Next Generation Fiber Optic Broadband – Now, It’s All Up to YOU

A $3.5M grant to bring next generation fiber optic broadband to the Sharps Chapel Community of Union County was submitted by Sunset Digital Communications to the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Grant Program. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) will announce the grant recipients in March 2019. A public comment period on all grants submitted begins on 28 November and ends on 20 December. YOU can help!

Extension Gives Back

Extension Gives Back

The true spirit of the season is giving and doing for others with no expectation of return. The simple act of kindness can work magic on a person’s heart. Gifts are not always in the form of an item but more so in the love that it takes to make or volunteer to do something. Being oriented in service learning, this season UT Extension Union County groups are in a giving spirit.

Preserving Union County's History and Honoring Our Veterans

Preserving Union County's History and Honoring Our Veterans

A community shows its strength when it works together to do good things. That's what Union Countians are doing. When the new bridge opened over Clinch River/Norris Lake on State Highway 33 between Maynardville and Tazewell and the old continuous truss bridge was being taken down, Preservation Union County worked with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to salvage pieces of the old structure. On May 24, 2016, we met with TDOT District 18 Specialist and the contractor that was removing the steel and acquired several pieces of wind bracing beams and bridge railing.

Local Author Jim Hartsell Book Signing

Jim Hartsell

Knoxville TN: Local author Jim Hartsell will hold a book sale and signing at the Ijams Holiday Market Sunday December 9 for his Boone series of novels, Pushing Back, Matching Scars and Keeping Secrets. The books will be rereleased with new covers through a new distributor December 1. The genre is coming of age Appalachian Fiction.


Union County Election Commission Meeting

Thursday, December 13, 2018 - 14:30
Union County Election Commission

Union County Election Commission meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 2:30pm in room 101 of the Union County Courthouse to conduct election business which comes before the commission pursuant to its duties listed in, but not limited to TCA $2-12-116, and to conduct any other business that may come before the election commission at that time. Union County Election Commission, 901 Main Street, Suite 108, Maynardville, TN 37807, (865) 992-3471


William Ralph Mink

William Ralph Mink went home to be with the Lord on December 8, 2018. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his loving wife Peggy of 58 years and his children after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Ralph was born on October 23, 1938 to Buford and Addie Mink from New Tazewell, Tennessee. He attended Hiwassee College where he met Peggy and later attended the University of Tennessee where he received a degree in Pharmacy. His 46-year career as a pharmacist included 36 years at Appalachian Regional Hospital in Middlesboro, Kentucky.

oy L. Southers, Sr. (R.L)

Roy L. Southers, Sr. (R.L), age 86, passed peacefully on Tuesday, December 4, 2018. He was preceded by parents, Worley and Gracie Southers; brothers, Gene, John and Frank Southers; and sister, Anna Ruth Chapman. He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Christa Sparre’ Southers; children, Daniela Pinkerton, Roy Jr. and wife Kathy, Rickie and wife Rhonda Southers and Randy Southers; grandchildren, Jesse Pinkerton, Justin and Austin Southers, Morgan Southers and Remington Brown; and many family and friends. Roy was a loving, humble and honest husband, father and friend.

Leona J. Lankford

Leona J. Lankford, age 88, of Corryton, passed away on December 6, 2018. She was a member of Friendly Chapel Baptist Church. She was a loving and devoted mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Her family and her faith were the most important things in her life.

Leona was preceded in death by husband Grant Lankford; and son Stanley Lankford.

She is survived by children Diane Baxter, Tracey Rucker, Mark Lankford, and Terry Lankford; sisters Betty Hancock and Connie Beja; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Joseph Lance Morton

Joseph Lance Morton, age 48, of Knoxville passed away Monday, December 3, 2018. He enjoyed being a chef and was previously employed for many years by the Chop House. He was a loving husband, father, son, brother, nephew, cousin, and friend. He will be remembered as a kind and caring man with a big heart. He will be sorely missed.

Mary Belle Wilkerson

Mary Belle Wilkerson – of Halls, passed away peacefully Tuesday, December 4, 2018. A lifelong resident of the Halls Community, “Mimi”, as she was lovingly known, was a member of The United Methodist Church of Halls, and beforehand, for many years, was an active member of The Church of the Good Shepard. She was involved in many organizations which included the DAR, Halls Women’s Club, and was a Worthy Matron in the Fountain City Eastern Star. For the past three years she was a happy, active resident of Elm Croft Assisted Living in Halls.

Wanda Lee Key Wright

Wanda Lee Key Wright. She was 75 years old of Knoxville, Tennessee entered the Heavenly gates to be with her lord and Saviour on Dec. 4th 2018 of natural causes. Proceeding in death by Parents Frank and Nena Key of Harriman, Tennessee and brothers Rodger, Earl, Blaine, James, Donald, Ferrell, Steve Key. Also proceeding in death Daughter Pamela. Survived by sister Shelia Alcorn and husband Darrell Self. Survived by Harry Phillips of a 12 year relationship. Children: Melissa Evans, Crystal Hughes, Robert Wright (Bobby) and Gary Wright.

Thelma Ramaglia

Thelma Elizabeth Ramaglia – age 90 of Washburn, passed away on December 4, 2018. Thelma was a member of Saint Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Church.

She is preceded in death by husband, John Ramaglia. Thelma is survived by daughters, Susan Ramaglia and Judy Ramaglia; sons, John (Denise) Ramaglia and Richard Ramaglia; five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren with one expected in July.

Edward Leo Oliver

Edward Leo Oliver, age 82, of Corryton, went to be with The Lord on December 1, 2018. He was a member of Emory Valley Baptist Church. He was a 50 year member of Corryton Masonic Lodge #321, P.M. twice and held many positions during his time there. Leo proudly served our country in the U.S. Army during a two year tour of duty overseas and was honorably discharged in 1958. Leo fully retired in 2002 from Plasti-Line, Inc. after 14 years and more than 23 years at Tucker Steel Company. He enjoyed gardening, college and professional football and Nascar racing.

Wendy Turner

On Saturday, December 1, 2018, Wendy Turner, wife, mother, daughter and sister passed away at the age of 51. Wendy will be forever remembered by her loving husband and best friend of 28 years Johnny Turner; their wonderful son, Brandon Turner (Sage); father, David Cooper (Brenda); siblings, John Cooper (Elizabeth), Darrell Cooper (Jennifer), Nina Goode (Roger) and Amanda Shaffer; she will forever be remembered by her numerous nieces (4), nephews (5), and extended family and dear friends.

Marie (Rutherford) Kidwell

Marie (Rutherford) Kidwell, age 91, passed away on December 2, 2018. She was a member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
Preceded in death by husband Swan Kidwell; parents Tom & Rova Rutherford; sister Edith Flatford and infant brother Arthur Rutherford.
Survived by sister Bernice Flatford; special friends Lawrence & Ethel Weaver and Karen Hawks; many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
Family will receive friends 6-8pm Thursday at Mynatt Funeral Home Halls Chapel, with funeral service to follow at 8pm, Rev. Mike Keck officiating.

The opinions expressed by columnists and those providing comments are theirs alone, and may not reflect the opinions of Russell Computer Systems, Inc or any employee thereof.