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.




Falling for Fall in Tennessee

Falling for Fall in Tennessee

October may be gone but with the colors of fall hanging around a bit longer this year why not head out for a day trip to one of Tennessee’s well-loved local areas or a beautiful state or national park. While the Great Smoky Mountains are a forever favorite, locals can bypass many of the crowds for other beauty within a day’s drive.

Decorate the Town

Decorate the Town

The cool air is wisping through Union County as November peeps around the corner. With the cool air and festivities surrounding the town, excitement for the upcoming holidays begins. As lights are strewn up in window seals and trees become aglow, the county will glisten with Christmas spirit. Opportunities will arise for a car ride through town with the family, Christmas carols on the radio and hot peppermint cocoa in hand to gaze at the town through the frosty windows and admire the holiday decorations.

When Blood Runs Thicker than Water

Jay Ricketts and John Cabage standing near the burial site of Alfred Gallatin Rickets in Cabbage Cemetery

The Bonds of Brotherhood
(When Blood Runs Thicker than Water)

The Civil War was raging and Albert Gallatin Ricketts, aka Gallie, of Cabell County, West Virginia, had turned 18. He felt compelled to join the Confederate Army. I’m sure he felt strongly that if he didn’t join he would most likely be conscripted under less desirable circumstances.

Chiropractic Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease

Chiropractic Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease

The goal of chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease (DDD) is to improve joint mechanics by improving spinal motion and reducing inflammation. The chiropractor may also work on improving the function of the intervertebral discs—but that’s only if you do not have advanced disc degeneration.

Baking with Cocoa

Baking with Cocoa

These days, there are a number of types of chocolate to use in our dessert making. For instance, we use Baker's Sweet Chocolate for making German Chocolate Cakes. A variety of chocolate chips find their way into our candy and cookie recipes. But I like baking with cocoa.

Back in the day, cocoa was cheaper than chocolate baking squares. On a limited budget, cost was everything: almost. I could get more mileage from a box of cocoa than I could from those skimpy chocolate squares. It had a longer shelf life as well. That made cocoa a winner for me.

Corn Producers VOTE!

Corn Producers VOTE!

The Tennessee Corn Referendum will be held on Wednesday, November 28 and Thursday, November 29 from 8am - 5pm. The question on the referendum ballot will be “shall the producers of corn assess themselves at the rate of one cent ($0.01) per bushel of corn sold”. If passed, the funds will be paid over to the Tennessee Corn Promotion Board to finance programs of research, education, market development, marketing, advertising and other methods to promote the increased production, consumption, use and sale of corn products.

Armistice Day

Armistice Day

What a difference a generation makes. I grew up thinking of November 11th as Armistice Day. After all, it celebrated the end of the Great War, World War 1, as signed on that date at Versailles in that boxcar in France. I still think of it that way.

Deer Hunting Weather

Deer Hunting Weather

In order to survive, animals have instinctive reactions to the weather, migrating birds being just one example. By knowing how game animals react in differing weather conditions can up a hunter’s chances of a successful kill.

Deer depend heavily on scent to protect themselves from predators. They usually respond to a strange scent by bugging out before hunters get close. Deer move into the wind to better pick up scents. To take advantage of this, a hunter must move and stay downwind of his prey. This can be determined by the old wet finger trick.


Green Eyed Monster

Brooke Cox

It’s amazing how other people’s words can hit us with such force.

I was out with some lady friends and we were discussing prayer. One friend was one of those people who was as beautiful inside as she was on the outside.

She told us about an experience she had a few years ago. God told her to spend a day in prayer with Him. He didn’t want her to ask Him for anything. All He wanted her to do was to worship Him in prayer. She did and she was so blessed by it. It was an uplifting experience that changed her life. Every woman at that table was touched by her story.



Back before television, when you only needed your ears and imagination to follow a story on the radio, there were card games. Some were played alone, but others needed more players. I remember when we were first married in the late forties, when my husband and I were part of a Pinochle Card Club. There were six couples in our club. We met once a month on a Friday night at one of the group member's home. We were all young couples, most newly married, trying to get started in life. Money was in short supply. We needed a way to entertain ourselves that we could afford.


UCBPA Meeting

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 12:00

UCBPA meets the second Tuesday of each month for approximately one hour. Membership is $25 annually. The meeting begins at noon at Hardee's in Maynardville. Anyone interested in making Union County a better place to live, work, worship, or play may attend.

Lego Club

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 16:00

Kids school age and up can enjoy a movie and the fun of playing with Lego's and making friends! We usually have a theme or specific thing to build as well as a movie to watch while building!

Facebook 101 for Direct Farmers

Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 08:00

Taught by UT Extension Marketing Specialist, Megan Bruch Leffew, and Area Information Technology Specialist, David Yates, the workshops will be held:

• November 14 in Kingsport
• November 15 in Knoxville
• November 28 in Jackson
• November 29 in Nashville
• December 5 in McMinnville

Exact location information will be emailed to registered participants the week prior to workshops. Participants can bring their own laptop or tablet or use a tablet provided by the instructors. Because of the hands-on nature of the workshop, space is limited.


Richard Lewis 'Bud' Richardson

Richard Lewis “Bud” Richardson-age 57 of Maynardville, born October 16, 1961 passed away suddenly Saturday morning, November 10, 2018 at North Knoxville Medical Center. Preceded in death by parents, E. R. and Mary (Anderson) Richardson; brother, Eddie Richardson.

Survivors: children, Jason, David and April; four grandchildren. Sisters, Patsy (Billy) Humphrey, Vickie Shope; brothers, Jeff and Jessie (Jessica) Richardson. Several other family members and a host of friends.

Wanda Lee Eldridge

Wanda Lee Eldridge-age 77 of Luttrell passed away Friday evening, November 9, 2018 at her home. She along with her late husband were the owners of the former Mark’s Market in Luttrell. Preceded in death by husband, Alvin A. “Mountain Man” Eldridge; daughter, Robbin Fortenberry; granddaughter, Misty Leann Childress, parents, Samuel and Nana Lane Seivers; brothers, Robert and Bobby Seivers

Curtis Nathan Case

It is with great sadness that the family of Curtis Nathan Case announces he was received into the arms of the Lord after a brief illness Friday, November 9, 2018 at the age of 53 years. Curtis was preceded in death by his father, James Edward Case, mother, Dorothy Ann Case, brother, Michael Case, father-in-law, Ross Miller Sr., brother-in-law, Ross Miller Jr.

Lucy M. Grigsby

Lucy M. Grigsby – age 93 of Luttrell, went home to be with Jesus on Monday, November 12, 2018. She was a lifelong member of Cedar Ford Baptist Church. Lucy made an impact on the community through her service to Luttrell Elementary School and her church.

Rev. William Darrell Brewer

Rev. William Darrell Brewer-age 77 of Maynardville went to be with the Lord Friday, November 9, 2018 at his home. Preceded in death by parents, William O. Brewer and Imogene Sherritze Brewer; sister, Janice Robins.

Survivors: wife, Jean M. Brewer; daughters, Charlotte (Robert) Jones, Elaine (Tim) Smith, Sandra (Rich) Griffith; step-children, Boyd (Mindy) Peters, Eric (Connie) Peters, Kelly (Donnie) Wiggins, 15 Grandchildren, 20 Great-Grandchildren. Brother, Mike; sisters, Kay, Sue and Kathy. Special friend and caregiver, Rebecca Collins.

Linda Sue Wilkerson

Linda Sue Wilkerson-age 71 of Corryton passed away Thursday morning, November 8, 2018. She was a member of Hoitt Avenue Baptist Church. Preceded in death by husband, Harold G. Wilkerson; daughter, Deborah Atkins.

Survivors: children, Mark, Denise, Lonnie and Gabriel; ten grandchildren, Josh Atkins; Suzanne, Amber, Dexter and Steven Bolden; Jake, Riley, Maddy, Jackson and Delilah Wilkerson; six great-grandchildren, Hayden, Hayley, Haylynn, Hadley, Jasper and Emilee. Special aunt, Hettie Paul; special cousin, Ricky Vance.

Evelyn Grace Helton

Evelyn Grace Helton of Knoxville went to be with Jesus on November 6, 2018. She was the newborn daughter of Cynthia Helton and granddaughter of Jo Ellen Helton and Fred Anderson Helton; niece of Kristen Boisbert. Service will be private. Mynatt Funeral Home of Fountain City is honored to serve the Helton Family. Online condolences may be left at

DeAnna Alexi

DeAnna Alexi, age 47, of Knoxville TN, daughter of Tony and Margo Alexi, of Knoxville, went home to be with the Lord on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, under the care of the amazing staff at UT Medical Center, with her family holding her hands at her bedside. DeAnna had been under the care of UT Hospice at home prior to hospitalization. She was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, Gertrude and Herman Cruze of Knoxville TN and her paternal grandparents Anthony and Betty Oleksy of New York. She was born in Silver Springs, MD on January 30, 1971. Survivors are her husband Christopher L.

Betty Jean Cross Rutherford

Betty Jean Cross Rutherford-age 76 of Luttrell passed away peacefully 5 a.m. Thursday, November 8, 2018 at her home with her husband, Jim by her side. She was a member of Hudson Grove Church of God. Preceded in death by her parents, Harvey and Edith McBee; brother, Sonny McBee and wife, Edna; sister, Carolyn Gibson.

Joseph "Joe" Smith Jr.

Joseph “Joe” Smith, Jr., age 88 of Knoxville, went to be with the lord on November 6, 2018. He was a member of Texas Valley Baptist Church. He is a veteran of the United States Army and served in the Korean War. He is preceded in death by daughter, Jo Ann Smith; wife, Roxie Ann Smith; brother, Robert Smith; sisters, Edith Grattis, Sarah Smith and Margaret Gray. He is survived by his brother, Bill Smith (Wanda); niece, Wanda Mulligan; great-nephew, Tyler Mulligan; many extended family and friends.

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