Re-Tracing Our Ancestors Tracks

Re-Tracing Our Ancestors Tracks

Each year the Martin Luther Miller Historical Society meets in Knoxville, Maynardville, and those more curious go down Norris Lake in the vicinity of the Clinch River prior to the impoundment of Norris Lake. I’m always invited to this history brain picking. The adventurers depart Beach Island Boat Dock bright and early the third Sunday every July to document the Global Position System (GPS) readings of some historic places and to pause a little while to honor those early settlers that carved their niche in what would become Union County, Tennessee. The first site we discussed at the 2010 gathering was a tannery near the mouth of Tumbling Run Creek. (If anyone has information about this tannery, please let me know–687-3842.) The tannery's GPS is 36.19.21N, 83.46.83W.

The next stop was the M. S. Cook Cemetery beautifully kept in the lawn by the Phillips family. These were Glen Miller’s grandparents, and Glen came from Colorado as he does every year to pay his respects. The cemetery is on the old Sylvester Needham place between Cave Springs Branch and Cave Springs Road. We then discussed the Old Hwy. 33 Bridge, pausing near the south abutment of the old bridge. Glen and Wade Miller remember a small plane of the “barnstormers” flying under the bridge, which was a daredevil feat since the bridge was so low. Before the lake, the barnstormers landed in a hay field below the bridge–GPS 36.18.89N, 83.47.93W. The bridge had been built at the Hurst Ford (later called Millers’ Ford). Miller Academy was located nearby, and Virgie Perry’s story on Rootsweb took place right here!

The Hickory Valley CCC Camp on Fall Creek was built in the 1930s as a part of the New Deal. What wonderful things those boys did for Union County and our country! The CCC camp was close to Point 26.

On down the river we came to the R. Eli “Dixie” Miller home place with a spring above the house. This was near Fall Creek at GPS 36.18.62N, 83.48.24W. This year it was all under water, but a few years ago I saw the foundation of the Miller house and sticking up out of the water–a cane brake still preserved some 75 years after the impoundment of the lake. Allen Hurst lived on land adjoining Eli Miller. There he operated an iron furnace called Green Grove Iron Furnace–GPS 36.18.32N, 83.48.26W, a grist mill and saw mill–GPS36.18.37, 83.48.17. The iron furnace would have been about even with the private marina at the Hickory Pointe development.

Legend has it that an event was held at the Hurst's to celebrate the election of Andrew Jackson as President of the United States. This included a cannon shoot; however, something went wrong with the loading process and the cannon blew up. This cannon, molded at the Green Grove Iron Furnace, or fragments of this cannon were passed down through the family. At last account it was in the possession of descendant, the late Jessie Russell Seals. Eska Miller, a Hurst grandson, inherited the Allen Hurst property; which, was eventually taken by TVA for the Norris Dam project. The Allen Hurst home was built in 1898 and fronted on the Old Hwy. 33. Doug Miller, James Elbert Miller’s grandson, remembers a stone fence or wall running along side the old highway.

The Eska Miller house and Eska Miller Hollow are at GPS 36.18.89N, 83.48.70W across from Tanglewood development. The old Hwy. 33 bridge, Hurst Ford, Miller’s Ford and Miller’s Ferry are all very near this same spot–GPS 36.18.99N, 83.48.075W. Many years ago, Winnie Palmer McDonald recalled going by boat to the old Cooktown School without adults going along. The children just paddled across the narrow part of Clinch River to school and back at the end of the school day.

The Hurst mineral rights and a sulphur spring are on the north side of Norris Lake in the vicinity of Tanglewood. The old Riverview School and Isaac Cook’s store were at GPS 36.19.06N, 83.48.11W. Our crew stopped for lunch in Clersie Graves “Ma” Cook Hollow, where Casper Graves was killed by Oscar Cook September 3, 1934–GPS36.19.37N, 83.47.56W. Clersie was the daughter of Henry Morgan Graves and Nancy Miller Graves. Gap Branch feeds into “Ma” Cook Hollow.

The Union County Poor Farm, a county government-supported place for the homeless and disabled, was on Clinch River –GPS 36.19.64N, 83.47.53. The Martin Miller home place was on Big Hunting Creek where it drains into the Clinch River, but is under water at Lakeview Boat Dock–GPS 36,20,13N, 83.47.17W. Martin’s orchard was on the hillside where the trailers are now–about GPS 36.19.97, 83.47.29W

On the north side, at the south end of the present Hwy. 33 bridge was the James David and Anna Reynolds Miller place. Wade Miller and some of his siblings, their grandchildren, were born at their home on the Miller place–GPS 36.20-504N, 83.47.251W. Wade is the son of Rufus Miller and the grandson of James David and Anna Miller.
Josiah “Si” Russell, Wash Russell’s father, was hung nearby by Bill Barker, a Sargent in the Union Army who was married to Lucinda Needham –but he didn’t die–Si’s wife, Sarah Johnson Russell, rushed out and cut him down!

The Doctor P. A. Palmer family lived at Palmer’s Junction, and his steps would be at about GPS 36.20.87E, 83.44.76N near the old Hwy. 33. Presently the steps are under about 20 feet of water, but occasionally when the water is down the steps surface and can be seen at Palmer’s Junction.

Memories are made of days like this. These families were for the most part self sufficient. They farmed the land, grew their vegetables and fruits, kept cattle and horses, hunted squirrel, rabbit, deer, quail, dove, pheasant, wild turkey grouse, gigged frogs and turtles and fished the streams. They gathered herbs for medicine, grew flax for linen, grew a little cotton and sheared sheep to spin into wool. The women picked geese for making pillows and feather beds. They “holed up" root crops for use during the winter. When the river froze in winter, they harvested blocks of ice, packed it in straw in a stone or block house that kept it frozen to August or September to service their ice boxes or perhaps make a few runs of homemade ice cream.

There’s much more history to be documented and refined. What we did is pretty close. When the water is down again, several people want to take to the water again to refine these GPS readings and document more sites. Many thanks to Jeri White Lett who brought along her camera and GPS equipment to record these sites.

Picture captions: The old stone fence or wall running along the first Hwy. 33
The M. S. Cook Cemetery. L to R: Wade Miller, Jeri White Lett and Glen Miller reading his grandfather’s stone.




A Union County Perspective on the Civil War

Civil War Map of East Tennessee

East Tennessee geographically is situated almost in the center of the late rebellious states; Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and the Middle and Western Divisions of the state on the west. The question arises why it should stand out almost alone in its devotion to the Union. When the state cast its fortunes with the Confederacy through the dominating influence of the civil and military authorities, a large majority of the people of East Tennessee adhered to the Union cause.


James Heiskell Celebrates 51 Years in Business

Keith, James and Jason Heiskell

A lot of traffic has gone past the intersection of Highway 33 and Ailor Gap Road since 1968, a lot of cars and a lot of people with stories to tell, but one business has been there through it all. Heiskell's Service Center has used a lot of names over the years. It's been a Boron, an Exxon, a Gulf and a BP. But one thing has remained constant, and that's the dedication of owner James Heiskell to making this Union County landmark a success.

Fifty-eight Years of Giving

Patricia McKelvey

Union County native Patricia McKelvey has spent most of her life sharing her knowledge and aiding the students of Union County. A college graduate at the young age of nineteen, McKelvey viewed her future as a chance to give back. Raised in Union County by a widowed mother of three who was also a teacher, McKelvey is no stranger to hard work.

“I started working right out of high school at American Clothing Company making $20 a week,” said McKelvey. “Once all of us kids were out of the house, my mother went back to school and got her degree in Education.”

Paint the Town

Cadie Chappel Painting Li'l Jo's for Paint the Town

The Union County Art Council has sponsored a project called “Paint the Town” and several local businesses have jumped on board to participate. Union County Property Assessor Randy Turner was the first to have UCHS Senior Cadie Chappel to paint the windows of his office at the UC Court House. After telling the Art Council what he hired Cadie to do with the windows in his office, the Art Council came up with the “Paint the Town” Project. He said “he gets compliments all day” on his windows.

What Do You Really Think?

Ronnie Mincey

Two weeks ago I shared an instance in which I let the preconceived notions of others affect the way I felt about my work study supervisor. Last week I shared instances in which I have incorrectly judged a person to be kind. This week I will relate instances where impressions have come into play for (and against) me.
Sometimes I am around those who give their honest opinions about various things and people. I have myself said of some, “If s/he was standing on a stack of Bibles shaking hands with Jesus himself I wouldn’t believe a word s/he said.” I always find it amusing if someone then asks me, “What’s your real opinion?”

Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips

Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips

Has there ever been an Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips place around here? I consider their fish the best ever. I read on Facebook that there is one located somewhere in Ohio. That won't help my yearning for their fish triangles. But I do have the recipe that I will share with you.

You know, copy-cat recipes are published for popular restaurant dishes from time to time. Usually, they only taste somewhat like the desired item. There are even cookbooks published that claim to have prized recipes. This is the only recipe I have ever found to be as good as the original.

Lunch at Kresge's

Kresge's Menu

When you lived in the country, shopping in town was an all day affair. You would plan to eat lunch there. For me, it was the highlight of the trip. I planned my route and time to take me to my favorite spot for lunch. Isn't that a deliciously sounding word - “lunch”? I made a list of my shopping needs. I knew which store sold what at the price I could afford. I always planned to afford lunch.

The Spring Green Light

Sun Face

For all you warm weather people out there, your time has come. The vernal (spring) equinox is upon us, which is the official beginning of Spring, arriving this year on March 20.

The event is not only a promise of warmer weather, it also plays a key role in determining what date Easter occurs, which can move around quite a bit year to year.


A Faithful Witness Will Not Lie

Wash Smith Monument

"Tonight perhaps a happy mother sits on the threshold of her humble cabin and sings a lullaby to her babe or perchance has the children at her side and tells them stories about father’s return. Anxiously she listens for the clashing of the horse’s hoofs upon the road, she awaits the ring of the chains upon the front gate heralding her husband's approach-she listens in vain. The shadows of night veils that home in darkness, a flickering candle is placed in the window to guide his footsteps when he returns: the mountains cast their gloom over the place.

Runt And The Luttrell Fox Hunters

Runt Kits 1984

My Papaw Kitts, known as “Runt,” was a fox hunter. He was my mom’s dad and the oldest of ten kids. His real name was Samuel Ernest Kitts, otherwise known as “S.E.” or just “Runt” Kitts. He had a brother, William Cloyd Kitts, known as “Poss” Kitts, who also shared this love of fox hunting – east Tennessee style.



Small Business Expo At Maynardville Public Library

Maynardville Public Library along with the Union County Business and Professional Association and The Canton of Hochwald will be hosting a Small Business Expo on Saturday March 24th from 9am until 1pm at Maynardville Public Library 296 Main Street, Maynardville. The Expo is for all small businesses in the county and everyone is welcome to attend this event! This is a FREE event where patrons will be able to visit businesses and purchase from them if they desire. The Farmers Mkt. will have a popup here come check them out.

Music In March

Music in March

Hello March, I have Big Plans For You...
Music in March at The Winery!!

2 Amazing Bands and Delicious Food Truck

Live Music From:
The Lick Skillet Band Noon-3:30pm
KUDZU: The Band 4- 8pm

Delicious Food From:
Cubish Food Truck

Please consider carpooling if at all possible. Parking is limited. The parking crew THANKS you in advance.

Need A Ride To Church

Need A Ride To Church

Fellowship Christian Church located at 746 Tazewell Pike Luttrell TN 37779 will pickup anyone in the local area needing a ride to church. Call Sam at 865-607-3741 to schedule a ride.

Worship Services

Sunday School 10:00 AM
Sunday Worship Service 11:00 A.M
Sunday Evening Service 6:30 P.M
Wednesday Service 7:00 P.M

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

U.C.B.P.A. Prayer Breakfast " 2018 Second Chances"

U.C.B.P.A. Prayer Breakfast " 2018 Second Chances"

Prayer Breakfast Good Friday March 30 @ 8:00 am, Aaron Russell will be the speaker. Breakfast is by Teresa's Bakery with all the fixins . Tickets are $10.00 each .
Prayer Breakfast--Besides the obvious benefits of prayer and words of inspiration, proceeds from the Prayer Breakfast fund donations to Lion's Club, Friends of Maynardville Public Library, UCPS Music Department, 4H, and Union County Children's Charities (Under the Tree). Come and be a part of this celebration on Good Friday at 8:00 at the Senior Center in Maynardville. [$10] March 30

Bake Sale

Bake Sale

Let the WMU ladies of Alder Springs Baptist Church do your Easter baking for you! We will be having a bake sale on Saturday, March 31st from 9:00 A.M. - Noon. Three locations: Oakies Pharmacy, Guided by Grace Boutique, and Union Farmers Co-op. All proceeds goes to WMU projects.


Charlotte Alana Ridenour

Charlotte Alana Ridenour-age 69 of Knoxville passed away Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at Ft. Sander’s Regional Medical Center. Preceded in death by son, Randy Ridenour; parents, mother, Eula Vee Ridenour; fathers, Lillard Ray and Wade Ridenour; sisters, Pat (Spooks) Ricker; Bobbie Ray; brother, Jack Painter. Charlotte was a loving mother and grandmother.

Anna Mae Mason

Anna Mae Mason – age 91 of Maynardville, was called home at 1:18 p.m., Tuesday, March 20, 2018. She was a longtime member of Hubbs Grove Baptist Church.

She is preceded in death by husband, William Berl Mason. Anna is survived by sons and daughters-in-law, Gerald and Debbie Mason and Kenneth and Shelia Mason; five grandchildren; eight great grandchildren; sister, Margaret Ellen Williams; brothers, Tommy Perry and Fred Perry; and several nieces and nephews.

Brenda Kiser

Brenda Gail Kiser – 68 of Maynardville, went to her Heavenly home on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 after a courageous battle with cancer. She passed away at home surrounded by loved ones. Brenda was of the Baptist faith.

Michael Shane Guinn

Michael “Shane” Guinn age 40 of Knoxville passed away March 18, 2018. He was a loving son, brother and uncle. He was preceded in death by his father William “Randy” Guinn survived by mother Kathy Quinn, sister Jessica Guinn, niece Brittany Thomas, nephew Michael Woody and great niece Breelyn Gordon. The family will receive friends 5:00p.m. until 7:00p.m. Wednesday at Mynatt Funeral Home Fountain City Chapel. Please leave online condolences at

Paul Douglas Corum, Sr.

Paul “Doug” Corum, Sr.-age 68 of Luttrell passed away Sunday evening, March 18, 2018 at Willow Ridge. Preceded in death by son, Dudley Corum, Jr.; father, Luther Corum; mother, Edith Corum; brothers, Leslie and Jerry Corum; sister, Naomi Corum.

Allan Buck Smith Obituary

Allan “Buck” Smith, age 77, went to be with the Lord on March 15, 2018. He was a member of The Church at Sterchi Hills and was retired from KUB. He was preceded in death by wife, Judy Smith; parents, Paul and Carrie Smith; sisters, Joanne and Lois; brother Ed. He is survived by son, Neil Smith (Tina); brother Tommy; sister, Sylvia; granddaughter Kaitlin and numerous extended family and friends. The family will receive friends at Mynatt Funeral Home Halls Chapel on Sunday, March 18th from 6-8pm with a service to follow.

Ruby King Obituary

Ruby King, age 95, of Knoxville, Tennessee, went to be with the Lord on Thursday, March 15th, 2018. She was a wonderful mother who will be greatly missed. Ruby was preceded in death by her husband of 45 years Pinkton “Pink” Tolbert, son Donald King and daughter Peggy Seavers. She is survived by daughter Pat Bradley, 8 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, 4 great-great-grandchild, and numerous extended family and friends. The family will receive friends on Monday, March 19th, 2018 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Mynatt Funeral Home, Fountain City Chapel.

Steven Powers

Steven Powers, age 68, of Knoxville, TN, passed away on Thursday, March 15th, 2018. He was preceded in death by parents Lewis and Mary Powers, grandmother Anna Arnold, aunt Laura Henderson, uncle Joe Church, brother-in-law Kenneth Trent, niece Michelle Durbrow, great-niece Holland Durbrow. He is survived by sisters Debra Trent and Diane Vineyard, brother-in-law Donnie Roach. The family will receive friends on Sunday, March 18th, 2018 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Mynatt Funeral Home, Fountain City Chapel. Family and friends will meet at 12:45 p.m.

Frank Hayes

Franklin Danny Hayes – age 75 of Maynardville, Tennessee passed away at home surrounded by family on Thursday, March 15, 2018. He was born March 31, 1942 in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was saved in 1956 at the age of 14 during a revival at Hines Creek Baptist Church and is a member of Community Baptist Church. Frank retired from Coca-Cola after 25 years of service and enjoyed working outside, sports, and his grandchildren.

Jonathan Michael Whitson

Jonathan Michael Whitson – age 45 of Maynardville, passed away on Thursday, March 15, 2018. He was of the Baptist faith.

Michael is preceded in death by his father, Johnny Whitson; and grandparents, Virgie and James Whitson. He is survived by his sons, Jonathan Nicholas and Jaylan Shane Whitson; mother, Rita Grahl; sisters, Chaunta (Chuck) Boggs and Angela (Billy) Wilkerson; brother, Darren (Kim) Whitson; nieces, Hannah Whitson and Kaylee Wilkerson; and nephew, Hunter Collins.

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