Reborn and Still Kicking

Ronnie Mincey

Mincey’s Musings
Year One, Week Thirty-One

Hello, everyone. My name is Oak Grove. I am a two room school building in the Sharps Chapel area of Union County.

For the past two weeks my “scribe” Ronnie Mincey has written articles about me, detailing pertinent points of my history for school terms 1932-1933 and 1934-1935. His main source for information has been the old registers on file at the Union County Board of Education’s Central Office, my “diaries”.

I have reminisced about teachers H. E. Anderson, Duetta Anderson, Belvia Anderson, Maggie Stiner Walker, Mary Irwin, and Nelson Chesney. Another teacher who taught in my first building was Lelia(?) Whited (1934-1936).

As I mentioned previously, the registers date my original construction as 1895. An untold number of students and teachers taught and attended school in my first building prior to 1932 when the earliest registers for my school are on file at the Union County Board of Education Central Office.

The earliest registers on file record the condition of my building as in definite need of improvement. After 41 years of service, my first building was replaced with a brand new Oak Grove School in 1936.

The first register on file after my “rebirth” containing a “Teachers’ Annual Property Report” (To Be Made Out by the Principal Only) was for school year 1937-1938. It was completed by Teaching Principal O. F. Cook, who taught at Oak Grove in both my first and second buildings and certainly appreciated the improvement in educational conditions that the new building provided.

The 1937-1938 register did not require as much detail as this same report did in prior years. My new building was described as a frame structure heated by an ordinary stove. Three rooms are listed; rooms one and two each had 720 square feet, and the third room had 280 square feet, total 1,720 square feet.

The new building had “window board” ventilation and contained 24 single and 22 double patent desks. Water was provided by a sanitary well on the three-acre grounds valued at $300. Mr. Cook listed the value of my playground equipment as $25, while the building and “heating plant” were valued at $1,000.

At the beginning of the 1937-1938 school year, Mr. Cook recorded no usable books in the school library; one set was added during the school year at a cost of $65. Interestingly, Mr. Cook’s report stated there were no books at the end of the school year, though one hundred books were secured from state traveling libraries during the school year.

Mr. Cook’s register for 1937-1938 listed the following Daily Program of Work:

8:00 to 8:15 Chapel
8:15 to 9:30 English
9:30 to 10:00 English 8th
10:00 to 10:15 Recess
10:15 to 11:15 English 7, 6, & 5
11:15 to 12:00 Reading 8, 7, 6, & 5
12:00 to 1:00 Noon
1:00 to 1:30 7 + 8 Combined, 5 + 6 Combined
1:30 to 2:30 Geography (7 + 8 Combined, 6th)
2:30 to 2:45 Recess
2:45 to 3:00 Geography 5th
3:00 to 3:40 History 8th, 7th & 6th alternated)
3:00 to 4:00 Spelling

A note followed this schedule: “Practically all written work. This Program was not followed strictly as there was alternations in Health, History and Music.”

Mr. Cook’s “Record of the Year’s Work” is somewhat difficult to follow, though it includes the words “complete” or “completed” sixteen times. Obviously the curriculum in those days was dictated by the textbook, and the goal for the year seems to have been to complete each book for each subject in each grade. The “Record of Year’s Work” mentions “Arithmetic” and “Civics”, though the subjects are not listed in the “Daily Program of Work”.

In his “Teacher’s Record”, Mr. Cook described himself as an unmarried white male born on October 9, 1907 who was a permanent resident of Sharps Chapel. He listed his certification as “Permanent”, “Four Year” and his “Examination” as “Four Year”. He was both an elementary and high school graduate, with 122 college credits from the University of Tennessee and 12 college credits earned in the summer of 1934 from “S.T.C. Johnson City” (Dr. Mincey assumes this means “State Teachers College” located in Johnson City, Tennessee). Mr. Cook reported that he was “specifically prepared to teach . . . upper elementary”. In 1937-1938, Mr. Cook was serving Oak Grove as both the fourth through eighth grade teacher and principal of a “2-Teacher School”. Mr. Cook had six years prior experience earned in four different locations. Listing his number of dependents as “one” (Dr. Mincey assumes this would have been himself), the “length of term expected” was eight months with a monthly salary of $83.

A great number of teachers would serve parts of their careers at Oak Grove. The registers on file include the following teachers and the years taught:

Lelia Whited (1934-1936) O. F. Cook (1935-1938)
Lou Baker (1936-1940; 1942-1943) Lewis L. Bridges (1938-1941)
Vera Anderson (1940-1941) Billie Bailey Myers (1941-1942)
Edna Malone (1941-1942) Ruby Baker (1942-1943; 1957-1959)
Gwendolyn L. Lynch (1943-1944) Sarah Williams (1943-1944)
Glen Seals (1944-1945) Thomas Cole (1944-1946)
Ella Jean Davis (1945-1946) Anita Malone (1941-1942)
Mae Woods (1946-1948) Leon Dyke (1946-1947)
Georgina Moore (1948-1950) Emerson Ellison (1949-1950)
Maxine Clawson (1950-1951) Vera Stiner (1950-1956; 1963-1965)
Betty Sharp ((1951-1953) Allena Heath [Sharp] (1953-1956)
Esther Lou Shoffner (1956-1957) Alma Jean Kivett (1956-1957; 1961-1962)
Jo Anne Ellison (1957-1958) Louisa Riley (1958-1960)
Clyde Ellison (1959-1961) Wilma Lou Cole [Tolliver] (1960-1965)
Davis Wright (1962-1963)

Many of these teachers served Union County in other capacities. Additional information and pictures of teachers who served Oak Grove may be found in The Last Echo: A Pictorial History of Horace Maynard High School, Maynardville, Tennessee (Including Historical Data to 1997), compiled and edited by Kathleen George Graves and Lois Campbell Hartsell and 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 were at one time many one- and two-room small schools spread throughout Union County. Over the years, one by one we all closed, our teachers and students “consolidated” into the larger brick and cinder block schools. My last year of service as a public school was 1964-1965. The last teachers to teach at Oak Grove were Wilma Lou Cole Tolliver and Vera Stiner. Beginning in the fall of 1965, all students and teachers from Oak Grove were moved with those from Union, Big Sinks and Rush Strong schools into the brand new Sharps Chapel Elementary School which still serves the Sharps Chapel community today.

I served the Sharps Chapel area as a school in my first building for forty-one years and in my second for twenty-nine years. For many years my second building remained virtually unused. Through the efforts of Preservation Union County and untold hours of work and labor donated by many individuals too numerous to list here, my second building has been renovated and was dedicated to the public on September 30, 2017. Presently, one of the two former classrooms serves as the Sharps Chapel Book Station.

So, that’s my story. I’m 123 years old, on the first renovation of my second building, still serving the Sharps Chapel community. I have been so fortunate to have so many people who have loved, cared for and preserved me. So many of my brother and sister two room schools either no longer exist or are in a sad state of repair. But whether we live or die, old schools always live on in the memories of those who learned and worked there.

Please feel free to come and see me, and check out the Sharps Chapel Book Station. I love to entertain company and remind the public of the glories of the happy school days gone by.

So long for now. Next week, Dr. Mincey will be on his own again and will share a tail of fright and wonder.



Truan Targets Cumberland

Pictured, seated L-R: Dalton Truan, Cathy Norris, aunt; standing L-R: Cumberlands head wrestling coach Travis Barroquillo, UCHS head wrestling coach James Ramirez, UCHS head football coach Larry Kerr and UCHS assistant football coach Josh Kerr.

Pictured, seated L-R: Dalton Truan, Cathy Norris, aunt; standing L-R: Cumberlands head wrestling coach Travis Barroquillo, UCHS head wrestling coach James Ramirez, UCHS head football coach Larry Kerr and UCHS assistant football coach Josh Kerr.

Union County High School senior Dalton Truan signed to wrestle with University of the Cumberlands Patriots April 10.

“Dalton is the hardest working guy, day in, day out,” said UCHS head wrestling coach James Ramirez.

Local Youths Succeed in 4-H

Pictured - Raven Walker with her Blue Ribbon Lemon Drizzle Muffins

March is Extension Month in Tennessee. Established in 2015 by a proclamation from the Tennessee General Assembly, Extension Month celebrates the educational outreach, service, and economic impact achieved by Extension across the state. Over these past three years since Extension Month began, county offices across the state have used the month as a way to showcase their programs and attract new clientele. Union County Extension took March as an opportunity to celebrate successes, tell stories, and show new and current audiences the value that Extension brings to their lives and communities.

Self-Assessing Back Pain by App Just as Effective as Traditional Methods, Study Shows

Patients can assess their own back pain using an app on their phone or tablet as effectively as current paper methods, a new study has shown. The study demonstrates that digital versions of established measurements for assessing back pain are just as reliable and responsive, opening the possibility for their use by patients for routine measurements and clinical trials.

The researchers see this study as a necessary first step in the greater use of digital media in clinical settings, in light of recent calls for greater use of such technology by healthcare providers.

Smelling Vinegar

I know it sounds weird, but I enjoy the smell of vinegar. It brings back some awesome childhood memories of Easter.

When I was growing up, we always used the PAAS® kits to die Easter Eggs. My mom dropped the colored tablets into coffee cups and poured a certain amount of vinegar onto each one.

Musical Money

Ronnie Mincey

Those who know me well probably won’t believe this, but the first money I remember earning was for singing.

When I was about four or five years old my family rented a house on Academy Street in downtown Maynardville. The yard did not have much grass in either the front or the back.

Poke Salad, a Mountain Tradition


A family tradition my mom kept was to seek out young poke sprouts in the spring and make poke salad, a king of cooked green. Back before grocery store chains and refrigeration, country folk came out of winter craving a fresh green to eat, and poke was one of the newly sprouted plants that were sought out, along with “creesies” or spring crest.



Public domain file photo. Kudzu growing in Atlanta.

Who, in the South, doesn’t know kudzu? And usually curses it.

It has several names: The Vine that Ate the South, Mile a Minute Vine, and Foot-a-Night Vine. Whatever you call it, we commonly see it along the roadsides, covering bushes, trees, and telephone poles. Where did it come from?

What is Life?

Sophia the Robot

Back in 1989, an episode of the television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, aired that posed an intriguing question. It’s a question that thirty years later generates even more head-scratching. The title of the episode was “The Measure of a Man.” At the focus of the story sat an android who represented the pinnacle of contemporary artificial intelligence.


College & Career Fair

Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 12:00
Union County High School

We are having a College & Career Fair at Union County High School on April 18th from noon until 3pm. This is not only for the high school students it is for the community too. I have a flyer that I can send to you with all of the information.

Wine and Design

Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 18:00

This month, join us for a fun Wine and Design event.
During this class, get ready for Easter by painting and crafting a bunny wine bottle and a flower sign. The class is only
$25 and includes all the materials needed as well as a glass
of wine. Tickets must be purchased in advance by calling The Winery at (865)745-2902.

Need A Ride To Church

Sunday, April 21, 2019 - 10:00
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


Samuel Charles Talbott II

Samuel Charles Talbott II age 42 passed away unexpectedly Monday morning April 15, 2019. Preceded in death by father, Samuel Charles Talbott; daughter, Kaylie Talbott. He is survived by mother, Patty Talbott (Danny Baker); son, Hayden Bailey; sister, Lisa Armentrout; nieces, Alyssa Hawkins (Brandon) and Abby Armentrout; great-nephew, Dalton Hawkins; special friend, Tandy Vanzant; many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Sammy was a graduate of Horace Maynard High School. Like his father, he never met a stranger and made friends everywhere he went.

Eastridge, Doris Ann

Doris Ann Eastridge – age 73 of New Tazewell, passed away peacefully at her home on April 15, 2019. She was a member of Carr’s Branch Missionary Baptist Church. Doris was retired from the Claiborne County School System.

Curits E. (Kurt) Russell, II

Curtis E. (Kurt) Russell, II-age 44 of Knoxville passed away suddenly Sunday, April 14, 2019 at his home. Kurt was a member of Beaver Dam Baptist Church attending First Comforter Church. He was a 1992 graduate of Halls High School. He loved playing the guitar; singing and recording at Songwriters Studio. Many years he took guitar lessons from Ed Wing and voice lessons from Terri McClellan. His dad taught him to enjoy U. T. Football at an early age. He loved life, his family and friends.

Thurman "Truman" E. Davis

Thurman Eugene Davis-age 70 of Knoxville, known as T.D. to his friends went home to be with the Lord Sunday morning, April 14, 2019 at Tennova North Medical Center. Thurman proudly served his country in the Army 1969 – 1975. Preceded in death by his loving wife, Susan Diane Davis; parents, Cody and Nettie Davis; brothers, Hubert, Carlos, R. V., Hobert and Hessie Davis; sister, Margie Davis.

Ray Buckner

Ray Edward Buckner-age 80 of Maynardville passed away Sunday morning, April 14, 2019 at Willow Ridge Center. Preceded in death by father, Frank Buckner; mother, Susie Waggoner Buckner; brothers, Frank Buckner, Jr.; Paris Kitts; sister, Mildred Kitts Loy.

Survivors: sons, Jeff Kitts of Maynardville; Tim Kitts of Knoxville; daughter, Brenda Kitts of Knoxville; brother, Billy (Todd) Buckner of Maynardville; sister, Jean Fields of Knoxville. Several nieces and nephews.

Helen Arnold

Attoway Helen Arnold-age 76 of Washburn passed away Wednesday morning, April 10, 2019 at Morristown-Hamblen Hospital. She was born June 15, 1942 the daughter of the late John and Bessie Hensley and is also preceded in death by son, Richard Arnold and grandson, Jaylynn Singleton.

Iva Geraldine (Gerry) Tipton

Iva Geraldine (Gerry) Tipton, age 84, Corryton, TN went home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on Friday, April 12, 2019. She was a faithful member of Ridgeview Heights Baptist Church. She was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Preceded in death by parents Fred and Bonnie Webber, brothers Lawrence and Briscoe Webber, sister Mary Lett and son-in-law Steve Griffith.

Von C. Merritt

Von C Merritt went to be with his Savior April 12, 2019. He was a member of Fountain City United Methodist Church. Preceded in death by parents George and Hazel Merritt, and Brother Ron Merritt. Survived by wife Mary Ann Merritt, brothers and sisters-in-law Jim and Delsie Merritt, Al and June Merritt, sisters and brothers-in-law Marie and Jack Rhyne, Janice and Bob Pendergrass, Almeda and Steve Lewis, and sister-in-law Maudella Merritt. The family will receive friends from 5:30 - 7:30 pm on Monday, April 15, 2019 at Mynatt Funeral Home Halls Chapel.

Pauline "Polly" Lucille Hodson Smith

Pauline “Polly” Lucille Hodson Smith age 68 of Knoxville passed away on Friday April 12, 2019, surrounded by her family. Polly retired from First Tennessee Bank after 30 years of service. She spent her retirement years serving as a teacher for the Parents Day Out program at Union Baptist Church and also enjoyed working for Purple Plum Estate Sales, when not at work she loved spending time with her Terry Point Campground family. Preceded in death by her parents, Ralph and Helen Hodson; brother Dennis Hodson.

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