News Updates
SUMMER 2005 Update

Confederate Cemetery discovered in East Tennessee

Historic Homes being threatened

The Tennessee State Flag celebrates its Bicentennial

The Making of a Memorial


Confederate Cemetery discovered in East Tennessee

By Ed Hooper

JACKSBORO, Tenn. - For generations, a small plot of land lay undisturbed and fading into the recesses of time and the forest that sought to reclaim it, but an 84-year-old woman didn’t forget about the place known as Delap Cemetery. Alice Coker said she used to visit the cemetery in the 1960 and often wondered about the sunken graves and who was buried in them. She was once told by caretaker Bob Delay that there was a Civil War encampment at the foot of Pine Mountain near a big spring and he had heard that many of the soldiers had got sick and died.
Two years ago, North Carolina native Lena Cornett dropped by the Campbell County Historical Museum and told Sara Chariott she believed she had an ancestor buried in the old cemetery. She was sent to see Alice Coker and showed her records of the 58th Regi-ment of the Confederate Army of North Carolina that listed their burial at Delap ceme-tery. The news confirmed what she had heard from the caretaker 40 years earlier and Mrs. Coker went to work.
She contacted Campbell County Deputy Sheriff and Environmental Officer Glennis Monday and asked if he could help clean up the cemetery. Monday began the slow ardu-ous process of clearing the ground. He utilized local prisoners from the county jail to help. More than 80 loads of brush were removed from the cemetery and graves sites cleaned.
County Veterans’ Service Officer Bob Andreas made arrangements for fifty new military headstones and the project was off and running.
The news spread quickly through East Tennessee and western North Carolina. Tennes-see’s Sons of Confederate Veterans’ Longstreeet-Zollicoffer Camp # 87 took the lead on the project and was soon joined by Western North Carolina’s Brigade along with mem-bers of the Lake City Boy Scout Troop. They have joined forces with Campbell County to help restore the cemetery and bring it back from the edge of oblivion.

The Longstreet-Zollicoffer Camp, which is the largest SCV camp in the Tennessee Divi-sion, raised the money for memorial stones and donated them for each of the graves. They continue to work on the site. Campbell County historians say the project has en-joyed overwhelming support from the small community since work began earlier this year.

“We got the initial headstones set on March 5,” said Campbell County Civil War Ceme-tery Committee Chairman Gerry Myers, and will have a third set to put in place on May 7. All in all, we have124 names of those buried in the cemetery from both the 58th North Carolina Regiment and members of other units from Alabama, Tennessee, etc. The SCV has been a tremendous help in restoring the cemetery. We are hoping this will be the start of Campbell County developing a Civil War heritage trail. There is a lot about this region that is little known except among historians and it would be good to be able to showcase the region’s Civil War history to visitors.”

Myers said the restoration of the Delap cemetery would go beyond the placing of head-stones. They hope to place three flags in the cemetery, a memorial garden and a historical plaque. S.C.V. Camp #87 has already laid the foundations to erect two 20-foot and one 25-foot flagpole on May 7. The rediscovery of the site and subsequent work to restore it has also attracted the attention of the Tennessee Historical Commission, who is planning on visiting the cemetery and seeing what has been done to restore it. Campbell County is hopeful the Commission will see fit to erect a historical marker at the site.

“When the Campbell County Historical Office started asking around about the cemetery, we were told it couldn’t be Confederates because this was primarily Union territory, but the Cornett family in North Carolina changed that perception. The men buried at Delap Cemetery could have come from the local hospital,” said Myers. “One was located in Jacksboro during the Civil War from Aug 1862 to April 1863. Confederate units based here were tasked with guarding Cumberland Gap. What we’ve uncovered researching shows about a thousand soldiers were camped in the LaFollette area on a regular basis during that time.”

The Longstreet-Zollicoffer Camp will host a special Confederate Memorial Day cere-mony at Delap Cemetery on June 11. The Tennessee Division Commander Ed Butler and Tennessee United Daughters of the Confederacy Division President Diana Bryant are expected to attend.

“We’re still in the early stages of planning Memorial Day activities at this point,” said Camp 87 Aide-de-Camp Earl Smith. “This is a once in a lifetime event for SCV mem-bers. We’ve got people coming in from North Carolina, Tennessee and other places to attend the ceremonies. I expect it will be one of the year’s biggest Confederate Memorial Days, especially in Tennessee.”

The discovery of the Confederate cemetery has changed the historical landscape of East Tennessee for historians and many people are working to make sure the site is never for-gotten again. The county has set up a special fund at to help pay for the costs of restora-tion and future upkeep of the cemetery. If you would like to donate to it, you can send checks to: Peoples Nation Bank, Civil War- Delap, 2300 Jacksboro Pike, P.O. Box 1221, Lafollette, TN 37766.




Historic Homes being threatened

A historic home being threatened is not a new phenomenon, but the culprit isn’t always local governments or commercial development. It is fast becoming thieves, who are stripping furnishings and fixtures to sell to a growing market for homebuilders seeking vintage artifacts.

The problem is so bad most state preservation offices are no longer disclosing the locations of buildings they’re restoring or those they’re listing on the National Registry of Historic Sites. The fear is they may be providing road maps for thieves. The historic homes at most risk are those generally located in rural areas and it isn’t just the homes themselves. Churches, schools and old farmsteads are also being hit. In many cases, lumber, mantels, chandeliers and other items from generations past is being taken for people to use in the construction of new homes or in remodeling projects on their present residences.

“Items theives would steal from these places would not be cause to “delist” or hurt a property’s chance of being listed on the registry,” said Tennessee Public Historian James Jones. “It is an issue preservation officers across America must make themselves aware of and try to find ways of preventing the thefts from happening.”

Historical officials say the rise of online auctions sites has unknowing contributed to the problem. Under the home decor sections on a few of the sites, hundreds of items are displayed under the “vintage” category. While most are legitimate, experts say more and more are items that have been taken from historic homes without permission or outright stolen.

Thefts from historic homes are hard to prosecute as police give them low priority and it is impossible to track items.

The Tennessee State Flag celebrates its Bicentennial

The Tennessee State Museum is celebrating a milestone this year. The official Tennessee state flag turns 100 years old. Johnson City native and Tennessee National Guard Captain LeRoy Reeve designed the flag and it was adopted as the official flag by the Legislature on April 17th, 1905.

When Reeves delivered the design on the flag he explained the three stars in the middle of the represented the three grand divisions of Tennessee. They are in a circle on a blue background, meaning they are bound together as one. The crimson background outside the circle, with a blue bar down the right side was designed to prevent too much crimson from showing when the flag was simply hanging on a pole. Reeves had commissioned two other flags at the time he made this one.

The Tennessee State Museum will host a special display all year on the Tennessee State flag and feature more than 400 flags connected to the state’s history, including the origi-nal flag designed by Reeve and his sword. This year the North American Vexillological Association will hold its national conference in Nashville from Oct. 7-9. The organization is dedicated to the study and preservation of flags.

The most common mistake people make is in the flying of the flag. It design is to have two stars upright and the third one on the bottom. In 2000, a resolution was passed by to make sure that manufacturers of official Tennessee state flags must have a “top” designation to show those hoisting the flag the proper side to raise.

The Making of a Memorial

By Jerry K. Price

Back in 1998 at a meeting of the John B. Ingram Camp of the Sons of Confederate Vet-erans, Jackson, Tennessee, Jerry Lessenberry who was the Commander at the time brought up the fact that our camp needed to pursue the State of Tennessee Monument at Shiloh National Battlefield here in Tennessee.
I requested permission to respond and informed the members of the camp present at that meeting that I had a friend in Pampa, Texas who was an accomplished Sculptor and might be interested in helping us out. The camp gave permission and took a vote for me to contact Mr. Gerald Sanders to see if he was interested.
I called G. L. Sanders the next morning and told him about the problems and delays which had been occurring for the last few years in getting a memorial monument erected on Shiloh Battlefield.
I told him how the State of Tennessee had passed a bill and had given $125,000.00 to the United Daughters of the Confederacy for a monument at Shiloh and how the project was at a stalemate and there had been little or no activity on the project in a couple of years.
The UDC had the $125,000.00 and had raised an additional $30,000.00 from private sources but they could not get the U.S. Park Service and the State of Tennessee to ap-prove a design that was in keeping with the existing monuments. I ask G.L. Sanders as a friend if he would get this project off high center so we could move on and get a monu-ment and a memorial erected in memory of the thousands of Southern soldiers buried unnamed in the seven mass graves at the park. Gerald said he would consider it an honor.
In the early 80’s I had an office in Houston, Texas, and when the Southwestern Bell Phone book was published with a picture of the lineman
“After the Storm” it brought back a lot of memories of the Ice Storm of 1952 for me for you see at the time I had just turned 11 years old and I was the son of a telephone line-man, John H. Price.
Our schools were out in 1952 for three weeks and I would go out to the job with my dad. I could look into the face of that figure on that phone book and relive ever cold miserable hour those linemen were out on those poles in among the broken poles and wires getting the toll lines repaired from Memphis to Chicago.
I framed the cover of the Phone book placed it on my desk and cut out the information about the artist and placed it in my billfold where it stayed for 8 years.
In 1991 I was on a business trip that took me from Ponca City to Amarillo and I had told myself that I would stop in Pampa to visit with this lineman turned artist.
I arrived in Pampa about three in the afternoon and found Wells Street and the address show on the tattered piece of paper in my pocket. I spent the next three hours in the stu-dio with G.L. Sanders never thinking that some day I might be responsible for him being chosen to do the design on “Passing of Honor” the Tennessee monument at Shiloh.
Over the next few years Mr. Sanders and our friendship was limited to a few cards and letters and an occasional phone call, until the morning after the SCV meeting.
In a few weeks there was to be a re-enactment at Shiloh and our SCV camp thought we should invite G.L. to attend we called him and he said he would come to Tennessee. The SCV camp asks him to bring along some of his work and we would make arrangements for him to have a small show at the Jackson Tennessee Art Center. Seven of his pieces were shown that night, but the highlight of the evening was a wax model of what he thought the monument should look like to capture the emotion and reverent mood of the ground where it was to be placed.
G.L. and his family came to Jackson and they left the wax model at my house so it could be kept cool until Saturday morning the day of the re-enactment. They traveled to Shiloh with me that morning, when we arrived at the visitor center Mr. Woody Harrell the Park Ranger was coming out of the side entrance of the visitor center just as we drove up. I was taking the wax model out of the vehicle and had set it on the hood of my vehicle. When Mr. Harrell saw what G.L. had in mind for the design his eyes began to tear and he said, “That is what I want for this park and the people of Tennessee and this nation”
This was the start of a battle, which has lasted longer than the Civil War itself. The SCV now had the design but the UDC had most of the money and had paid an artist for a de-sign that the USPS would not approve. G.L. and I meet with the UDC about three months after the re-enactment and by now I had been made chairman of the monument commit-tee. The head of the UDC was shown the wax model and said they would be glad to join with the Jackson SCV camp since by now their artist design had been rejected, their artist wanted to retain the copy rights which was unacceptable since it would belong to the whole country, it was in fact being placed in a national park, but they wanted the SCV to raise the additional $125,000.00
The draw back for John B. Ingram SCV camp in Jackson was that we were a small or-ganization and to raise the additional $125,000.00 was near impossible.
I say near impossible Jerry Lessenberry and I started knocking on doors and burning up the phones looking for the funding to get this project off and running.
The John B. Ingram SCV camp had just raised $10,000.00 to be place in a fund for the USPS to maintain the Confederate Flag which flies 24/7 over one of the burial trenches at Shiloh but to raise an additional $125,000.00 this might be a problem, but not impossible.
We found that Senators Thompson and Frist, representative Van Hillary, the U.S. Park Service, The State of Tennessee were all sympathetic with our desire to see this project move forward.
Mr. Jerry Lessenberry was able to get the necessary funding to match the amount that the State of Tennessee had given to the UDC and to get the UDC to return the funds to the State of Tennessee so we had the necessary funds available to go forward with the G.L. Sanders design for the Tennessee monument at Shiloh.
If it had not been for the John B. Ingram SCV camp in Jackson, Tennessee, desire to see a Tennessee Memorial to those thousands of confederate dead at Shiloh and the efforts of one Gerald L. Sanders of Pampa, Texas this monument would still only have been a dream.
The groundbreaking took place on Confederate Veterans Day in June 2004 and the monument molds are now in Landers, Wyoming for the pointing up. This is where the original model by G.L. Sanders is expanded from 15 inches to 9 feet high. The final sculpting will be done in early fall, the bronze casting will begin once the molds are made.
The monument will be complete by late spring 2005 and will be dedicated on Confeder-ate Veterans day June 3, 2005. The monument will be set at a site at White oak Pond near the site of the mass burial trenches.
The members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans John B. Ingram Camp 219 here in Jackson are proud of this accomplishment but also of our Riverside cemetery walk through the history of Jackson, Salem Cemetery and Britton Lane Battle Sites here in Madison County.
Our camp is dedicated only to preserving civil war history. Membership is open to sons, grandsons or great grandsons who had a relative who fought for the south.

Hooper named ‘Bard Laureate’ of Tennessee

Linda Lewanski
Star Journal managing editor

KNOXVILLE – The annual Reagan Day Dinner in Knoxville was a little disappointing when congressional candidates scheduled to appear got held up in Washington on the Homeland Security bill, but turned into a memorable evening for the more than 600 who attended the event.
This year’s dinner was a salute to American veterans of Tennessee featuring Special Forces’ Medal of Honor recipient and Department of Defense consultant Col. Lee Mize, USA, ret. as the keynote speaker.
Star Journal news editor Ed Hooper was asked to deliver a tribute to the veterans of Tennessee at the annual dinner. Before he began, however, he was called to the stage where State Representative Jamie Hagood (R-Knoxville) and the Knox County delegation presented him with the legislation naming him the state’s official Bard Laureate – citing his "Looking Back" column, his work on WVLT-TV of Knoxville and his other efforts in radio and the Internet documenting the stories of Tennessee’s veterans, his efforts ensuring that the graves of the state’s Medal of Honor recipients were properly decorated and his coordination of numerous educational exhibits on the state’s military heritage.
"When we asked the veterans of Tennessee who they wanted to deliver a tribute," said South Foundation spokesperson Keitha Kelley, "they unanimously chose Ed Hooper and were responsible for assisting the Knox County delegation in him being named Bard Laureate of Tennessee. The other honors that followed were a surprise to everyone, including us."
Colt Firearms C.E.O. Gen. William Keyes and U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Tennessee) presented Hooper with a W.W. II-era Colt. 45.The firearm was accompanied by an official letter from the Colt Historians’ office authenticating its manufacture for the event.
"We present this commemorative W.W. II model .45 to Ed Hooper in recognition of his dedicated work as a broadcast and print journalist in documenting the lives of Tennessee veterans," said Gen. William Keyes, "... We join those here tonight in congratulating and commending Mr. Hooper on his efforts and achievements in preserving the memories of the brave Americans who have so honorably served this nation."
The most surprising moment in the pre-speech ceremony came from the Ireland House of Lords, who sent a letter congratulating Hooper on his being named Bard Laureate.
"Since ancient times, the title of Bard was bestowed only on those rare individuals who proved themselves to be proper custodians of our people’s culture and heritage," said Lord John Laird of Artigarvan, Ireland. "Your work as a broadcaster and journalist is to be commended by both our nations for assisting in preserving a shared heritage that has bound our peoples together for more than 300 years. We extend our grateful appreciation for your efforts and on this momentous occasion and on behalf of the Ireland House of Lords congratulate you on this hard-earned honor."
U.S. Special Forces’ Col. Lee Mize, MOH Korea, in a rare show of emotion, hugged Hooper as he took the stage to deliver his keynote address. Col. Mize has spoken at numerous events in Knox and Sevier County and is regarded as one of the nation’s most decorated soldiers.
"Ed is a great friend of mine and a reporter who helped keep the flames of patriotism alive long before Sept. 11," said Col. Mize. "If people really knew how much he has done with so little to see that the stories of Tennessee’s brave men and women who served this nation are not forgotten, they would feel the same way."
"I really don’t know what to say except I am honored," said Hooper, "and hope I can continue my work. A problem today is that everyone is telling and retelling the same stories of a few American veterans and overlooking the heroes in our own state. The lives of these brave men and women are some of the greatest stories ever told."

Knoxville residents fight to save historic
J. Allen Smith home

KNOXVILLE – The Knoxville City Council and Cherokee Country Club are locked in a battle over the historic J. Allen Smith home, which sits next to the prestigious Knoxville club.
At issue, is the club’s desire to tear the house down to add a parking lot and a putting green.and Knoxville officials who want to find a way to preserve the structure. Mayor Victor Ashe, who is a life long resident of the area, sides with the preservationists in wanting to save the home from destruction by declaring it a historic landmark – a move which angers officials with the Cherokee Country Club, who stated recently that the home has no historic value that should prevent them from tearing it down.
J. Allen Smith was a prominent Knoxville businessman who started the White Lilly Flour Company in Knoxville. The flour became a staple in Tennessee and across the South and was named in the 1990s as the most sought after gourmet flour by some of America’s most prominent chefs in New York City.
Smith was also a major figure in the industrial and economical development of Knoxville and Tennessee in the early years of the 21st century. He was from the era of such prominent businessmen as Westin Fulton, who made Knoxville one of the South’s most prominent cities. Smith’s official portrait hangs in the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville and, while his company still operates in Knoxville, there is little recognition of him in his hometown.
There has been numerous ideas put forth as to what the home could be used for in the city, but none has taken root as the city finds itself facing court action to try and save the structure.
"My hope is that arguments are not made to save the house solely on its ‘architectural styling’," said one preservationist. "Too many times when the ‘professional historians and preservationists’ get involved, the human story and accomplishments are lost or minimized to the point that the real reason to save a structure are lost. What could happen is, instead of seeing the house be preserved properly and proper historical interpretation done to honor J. Allen Smith and the business people of that era, it could end up like Episcopal Rev. Thomas Humes’ old home – sitting in a city warehouse somewhere numbered brick by brick by Knoxville Heritage and no plans to ever rebuild it. Once that is done, you lose the nuances that could make it a popular historical landmark."
Knoxville is joining a long list of cities fighting to preserve old historic structures and homes from encroaching development. Many are being torn down or falling into decay and preservationists are being overwhelmed trying to save them. Rising property taxes and the costs of refurbishing and maintaining the old homes scares off many potential buyers, who can take care of the structures. The battle is expected to continue to preserve the Smith Home and those Knoxville city officials in favor of it are hoping the matter can be resolved that suits both the interests of the Cherokee Country Club and historical preservationists.
On Tuesday, July 9. the Knoxville City Council passed on second and final reading an act that would give the home "historic overlay" and protect it from destruction. Officials say now the next step for the Cherokee Country Club may be to file suit against the city.

Tennessee Historical Commission could face
cuts in staff and funding

NASHVILLE – One of the agencies who made appearances before the legislative committees in the financial budget battle was the Tennessee Historical Commission. The Commission received $1.5 million last year from the state’s massive budget. The THC is part of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and in the past years has served as funnel for dispersing more than $500 million dollars aimed at protecting and preserving the state’s historical sights and heritage.
One of the plans put forward would not abolish it, but would cut the staff of the Commission back to one person. Many historical preservationists say that cutting the staff to one member would be a huge blow to Tennessee’s developing heritage tourism industry and make it impossible for any Tennessee counties to get funding from the National Park Service, who distributes grants through the Historical Commission. In addition, a powerful lobbying voice in making sure moneys promised tot he parks and other projects get to where they are needed rather than being shuffled around in the massive National Park System.
Numerous historical sites are already operating on reduced budgets and placing donation boxes in the areas to give a way for those who visit them to offer support and some are looking at laying off staff to make sure the money collected will be used to preserve the sites’ historical integrity.
"Heritage tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry that the state is just now beginning to take advantage of," said state preservationist Jerry Lessenberry, "and, if the legislature is going to work to save the Department of Tourism, then they need to do the same for the Historical Commission. Both of these agencies are in their own way money-making entities for the state. Some say if we lose preservation funds, tax write-offs for the renovation of historic buildings will disappear and that would be disastrous for Tennessee. Between the Historical Commission and the Tennessee Museum, this state preserves and holds some of the nation’s most valuable historical treasures and to see them all locked away, projects to preserve battlefields and houses stopped and the ceasing of collecting artifacts in the future would be a tragedy this state could ill afford and a bad judgment call."
Many say the scare that the Commission will be severely reduced in staff or eliminated is extremely low.
"At this time," said one Senator, " everyone is trying to scare people and state agencies into thinking that they are going to be eliminated or crippled by cuts in order to build support for this plan or another. I will agree that all agencies need to be looked at and some changes made to make them more efficient or more capable to do what they are supposed to, but eliminating key agencies that aid this state in making money is cutting off our noses to spite our face. In a worse case scenario, I would want to see the Historical Commission made capable of taking on more responsibilities not less. There are parks and such that they could probably better manage and interpret in ways that would attract more tourists."

Melungeon mystery remains unsolved

KINGSPORT– People of Melungeon heritage gathered in Kingsport last week to learn about some new results of D.N.A. tests on what anthropologists have called the greatest anthropological mystery in the world.
The "Melungeons" was first reported in 1690 by French trappers and later rediscovered by John Sevier when he was on a scouting party in the late 18th century. The people described by both did possessed European features, but had been living in the Appalachian mountains prior to European colonialization. They had developed peaceful and intricate trading relations with the Indian tribes in the region and the Cherokee oral history described them as unusual in that "they lived in log cabins and prayed three times a day at the ringing of a bell," which led many to believe they could have been descended from Islamic moors who had been exiled from Spain during the Inquisition. In addition , old photos of Melungeon cabins showed an architecture heavily influenced with Moorish styles.
Studies by Dr. N. Brent Kennedy, who was diagnosed in the 1980s with a rare disease common only to Mediterranean peoples and reportedly an affliction among the Melungeons was thought to have been a major clue to the mystery that researchers have tried to answer for more than 200 years.
Dr. Kevin Jones, a biologist at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise who unveiled the results of the latest D.N.A. analysis, said the mystery of where exactly the Melungeons originated still survives. The biologists conducted a study of descendants using D.N.A. samples to compare with other ethnic groups around the world.
The results show a mix of ethnic backgrounds, including Native American, African and European.
Their history is one of racial discrimination and they were often described as "free persons of color" prior to the War Between the States. Because of their appearance, the Melungeons often faced discrimination and tended to settle in isolated communities like Hancock County’s Sneedville, Stone Mountain in Wise County, VA and other settlements in Campbell County, TN and the Carolinas.
They were an independent lot, who once took up arms to ensure their right to vote and, like most people in the region, served on both sides of the War Between the States. In fact, Harrison Collins of Sneedville received the Medal of Honor for his actions under fire in West Tennessee – making him the only Melungeon in history to ever receive the nation’s highest award.
In recent years, the Melungeons have been identified by anthropologists as "tri-racial isolates" – an amalgam of European, African, and Native American ancestry.
The event was called "Fourth Union: A Melungeon Gathering," where those of Melungeon ancestry gathered to share old family photos and hear a variety of speakers, including Vardy Collins of Sneedville and Dr. N. Brent Kennedy, who wrote the book "The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People; An untold story of ethnic cleansing."
Kennedy’s publication of the book and his ensuing research helped form the Melungeon Heritage Association, which encourages Melungeons, who often remained silent about their history, to come forward and try to help preserve the culture. Since their founding, the organization has held numerous genealogy workshops, chat sessions with featured Melungeon scholars and have even started some archaeological excavations around known Melungeon homes and settlements. Wayne Winkler, who now serves as President of the Melungeon Heritage Association, says he the mystery remains and probably won’t be completely solved for many years.
"The D.N.A. study announced was the highlight of the Fourth Union and a milestone in Melungeon research," said Winkler, " but does not solve the mystery entirely. While it tells us a lot more than we know at present, there are variables that modern technology has not learned how to explain with D.N.A. and intermarriage since the Melungeons were first discovered with Native Americans and other Europeans have to factor into the results of those who were tested."
Other present at the Fourth Union say they are skeptical of the results because of succeeding intermarriages with the families and the overwhelming circumstantial evidence that exists showing that they could have very well been the first successful colonists to make it in North America.
"Because oral history among the families was often not shared with succeeding generations, a lot has been lost that could have helped answer many questions," said Terry Goins. "As to African DNA, that is easily explained if we are of Moorish or Portuguese descent. I think Dr. N. Brent Kennedy’s personal work on the subject is more believable to me and the fact that many suffered from the same disease he did and it went undiagnosed until he was able to identify it. As to intermarriage with Indians, that stands to reason since the first Melungeon colonists had to survive and options were limited in those days."
In 1998, the Melungeons of Tennessee stormed out of a meeting of the then-operating Tennessee Indian Commission when they found themselves labeled as Native Americans – stating that those who had tried to put that label on them had no knowledge of the Melungeon peoples and, if they did, would know that they were not Native Americans.

Shiloh repairs expected to be completed soon

SAVANNAH – The United States Army Corps of Engineers is nearing completion on it’s work repairing the battlefield causeway and Mississippian Mound at Shiloh National Battlefield Park.
The rising and falling levels of the Tennessee River over the years had all but washed away the battlefield causeway and cut away half of the largest of a collection of Mississippian Mounds located at the back end of the Park. The problem went unresolved until 1996, when a group of concerned citizens led by the John Ingram Camp of the Tennessee Sons of Confederate Veterans and representatives from Native American tribes took up the issue and began an intense lobbying campaign working with the Park Superintendent to get national attention focused on the problem. U.S. Rep. Van Hilleary (R- Spring City), U.S. Rep. Ed Bryant, Senator Fred Thompson (R) and Senator Bill Frist (R) guided legislation through their respective houses and secured the funding that is seeing the Park and Mississippian Mound brought back to their original condition. In addition, Shiloh Park officials have been working to create and extend the historical interpretation of the Park, which runs from the battlefield in Savannah to Corinth, MS.
Once the work is completed there will also be something new in the Park, which will mark for the first time in Tennessee a proper monument is erected to honor Tennessee Confederate soldiers who fought and died in what historians call "the bloodiest battle of the American War Between the States."
Shiloh National Battlefield Park will be the only NBP in the state with such a monument that will stand equal to those erected by New York, Ohio, and other states represented in the battle.
"This battle in American history is still one of the most studied in the world," said preservationist and John Ingram S.C.V. commander Jerry Lessenberry. "The battlefield is one of the most popular for staff rides from Fort Campbell and other military bases and installations and the Park has seen it’s tourism numbers increase dramatically over the years. Repairing the battlefield back to it’s original condition was our first priority and seeing that a good historical interpretation of both the battlefield and the mounds was developed. Then we went to work making arrangements to see that a proper monument honoring those Confederates from Tennessee who fought and died here was erected. The history that took place on this ground affected and influenced American history for generations afterwards and should be treated with the respect of other battlefields in Virginia. It would not of been possible without our congressmen and senators and their staffs making sure the problem was addressed on the national level by those who could do something about it."
Officials and historical groups are planning an event to mark the completion of the work done by the Army Corps of Engineers and to recognize the efforts of those who have fought to preserve and repair the Park.
"Lessenberry and those citizens who took up this issue deserve recognition," said South Foundation spokesperson Keitha Kelly. "They fought for every inch of print space and every second of air-time to get this story out to Tennesseans and the American people about the plight of Shiloh National Battlefield Park helping to forge a multi-cultural coalition of Native Americans and historical groups and were flexible enough to hold those relationships together through succeeding changes to get it done. Starting a movement is one thing, but hanging in there dealing with the inevitable changes and dynamics that occur in these kind of projects and getting the job done is commendable. These are the kind of volunteer projects that go largely unnoticed and that should not be the case."

Preservationist protest state plans to
exhume bodies at historic cemetery

SEVIERVILLE – Tennessee archaeologist Nick Fielder walked into a hornet’s nest of protest two weeks ago when he came to describe the reinterment of remains at the historic Forks of the Little Pigeon Cemetery. His opening remark stating "some people think of cemeteries as sacred ground" drew immediate comment from the more than 30 protesters attending the meeting.
"His opening statement didn’t offer much hope," said Daughters of the American Revolution member Helen Allen, who’s ancestors are buried in the cemetery. "I a part of that group of ‘some people’ who thinks of cemeteries as sacred ground. We wanted Mr. Fielder and the others to know that we were going to do everything we can to preserve this historic site. Sevier County’s heritage is so intertwined with those buried in the cemetery and I find it disgraceful that public officials would turn their back on it. With so much interest in Sevier County history, you would think the city or the county would take an active interest in helping to preserve it or create a heritage trail in the county that would showcase this region’s contribution to America’s past. There is more to this region than theme parks or go-kart tracks and we wanted to make sure that Mr. Fielder, Sevier County, TDOT officials know it."
In the meeting, Fielder gave a slide-show presentation of other remains being prepared for removal from cemeteries and explained the procedure for removing remains under a law passed in Tennessee is 1928. According to the legislation, the state has to show that the cemetery has been abandoned or neglected. The only right relatives have to their families’ remains is to be notified where they will be moved. The don’t have to ask permission of the family to move them.
According to Fielder, the removal under the plan should take eight to ten weeks. Duval and Associates, who worked on the site this past winter, will be the company chosen to remove the remains from the site. Fielder avoided questions on the actual project itself and whether or not the road was needed – pointing out that he represented the Department of Environment and Conservation and not the Tennessee Department of Transportation. As to the question of if bodies would be ‘stacked,’ Fielder said no at first, but later admitted that remains would probably be placed on top of one another as there are estimated to be more than 200 graves in the cemetery, of which the majority will have to be moved.
"I almost felt sorry for Nick Fielder in this instance," said N.A.I.M. spokesman Carl ‘Two-Feathers’ Whitaker. "He thought he was coming into a situation where the issues were settled and there was no debate. He had no idea there was this much protest to removing the remains and was clearly misinformed and you could see he was frustrated by it, even saying to us at the end of the meeting that he was tired of having to come in a clean up TDOT’s messes.
This cemetery hold’s the remains of children, Native Americans and some of this region’s founding families in addition veterans that have served this nation in it’s earliest conflicts. We stand beside the Sons and Daughters of The American Revolution and the Daughters of the War of 1812 in defending this historic site. As we have said from the start, this is a sacred ground for many reasons and we will do what it takes to protect it."
The protesters on hand at the meeting with signs and photos of their ancestors buried in the cemetery still question the need for the road and the reaction from local officials.
"It bothers me that there is only a token presence by city officials at this meeting," said one protester. "We have seen many of them in evening gowns and suits at a party next door while the citizens are here trying to save a historic site from destruction. I agree with those who are going to get politically active over this and, if this road goes through, I will do everything I can to see that we turn some of these officials out of office. The fact that they would turn their backs on the citizens who put them in office and go ahead with this ridiculous project is unbelievable. The state of Tennessee would not putting this road in without local officials’ approval. "

U.S.S. David R. Ray decommissioned

McMINNVILLE– More than 300 sailors and civilians gathered last February in the coastal city of Everett, WA as the destroyer U.S.S. David R. Ray was officially retired from naval service.
The 8,800-ton Spruance-class destroyer was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, MS and commissioned on Nov. 19, 1977.
David Robert Ray was the son of a pharmacist, who grew up in the middle Tennessee town of McMinnville and attended the University of Tennessee, enlisted in the Navy in 1966 and became a medical corpsman.
In 1969, Hospital Corpsman Second Class David R. Ray and the Marine battalion he was assigned to came under attack in the Quang Nam Province in Vietnam. Although injured in the initial attack, Ray stayed at his post and ignored orders to care for the severely wounded in the sick bay and instead ran into the thick of the fighting to start retrieving wounded comrades – many of whom were in the middle of hand-to-hand combat with the Viet Cong.
Although a medic, Ray fought his way to the heart of the action and began pulling the wounded marines to safety. He was struck by enemy fire more than four times, but is credited with personally saving at least seven men and pulling them to a safe position, where he began applying first aid and getting them to the rear to receive medical attention.
His actions drew the attention of the Viet Cong and two soldiers were dispatched to attack his position. During the fire-fight that ensued, Ray killed one and wounded another. He held his position firing and attending the wounded until one of the enemy soldiers rolled a grenade into the bunker where he was working. Being unable to toss it out in time and without a thought for his own safety, HC2C David R. Ray threw himself on the grenade and used his body to absorb the blast and protect the wounded marine he was attending. His actions under fire saving wounded marines and fighting the enemy so impressed his commanders that they Tennessean was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. His father was presented the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony.
The Spruance-class destroyer, which was named in his honor, served the U.S. Navy for 25 years. At the decommissioning ceremony, many former sailors, who served on the U.S.S. David R. Ray described the event as a funeral of sorts. Retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Wayne Babb, however, who was Ray’s commanding officer in Vietnam, spoke eloquently of the Tennessean saying Ray’s actions in Vietnam " went above and beyond the call of duty and the man for whom the ship was named was truly an American hero."
The U.S. Navy and the ship’s crew maintained an Internet site on the ship for the last few years, which was used by numerous school children in Tennessee as well as family members of those serving aboard her. David R. Ray is honored in his hometown with an elementary school and a highway in Warren County named in his honor.
The ship is now sitting in the mothball fleet in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton.
This isn’t the first ship named after a medical corpsman. The U.S.S. John Harlan Willis was named after Columbia, TN native Medal of Honor recipient John H. Willis, who was serving as a Pharmacist Mate at the Battle of Iwo Jima, when he was killed retrieving wounded marines from the battlefield.
National legislation, which was sponsored by Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), passed the House and Senate a couple of years ago clearing the way for another ship to bear the name of another Tennessean. Marine Corps Gen. Clifton Cates, who served in W.W.I and W.W.II, rose to the rank of Commandant of the Marine Corps and successfully fought to keep the military division its own fighting force following W.W.II when then-President Harry Truman wanted to see the Marines absorbed back into ranks of the U.S. Navy.

Gatlinburg Highland games celebrates 21 years

GATLINBURG – Cold weather, rain and mud didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the 21st annual Gatlinburg Scottish Festival & Games this past Saturday at Mills Park in Gatlinburg. The honored clan at the year’s festival was Clan Campbell.
"The viewing stands are the best place to be this year," said Gerald McKay "but everyone has to wander around and see the vendors and clan tents and the rain has made it very difficult. The cold weather is a shock somewhat as I don’t ever remember it being so chilly and the mud is unbelievable, but everyone seems to be having a good time."
Officials say the annual event has seen its attendants ebb and flow over 21 years, but the recent upsurge of interest in family genealogy has seen the festival grow tremendously over the past three years. More than 50 clans had tents at the games to share their family history and offer information on helping others research their Celtic heritage.
"This region is idea for more festivals like this and I would like to see some also held on British, Irish and Welsh culture, " said Mary Stewart, "especially with the tremendous amount of immigration here from the British Isles. The Scottish Festival and Games is a long-standing tradition in Gatlinburg and I have been to practically every one held here. This one is somewhat of a mess because of the mud, but I had to laugh when one of the Scottish traditional musicians said this year’s games reminded him of being home in Scotland."
The Gatlinburg Scottish Festival and Games featured highland dancing, Scottish heavy athletics and an all-day field Ceilidh with musicians from Scotland and across the United States. In addition, there were pipe band competitions featuring bagpipers from across the country and numerous Scottish agricultural displays. There were also numerous vendors offering Scottish goods and samples of native cuisine. New this year was the Kids’ Kastle, which had numerous activities for children.
The Scottish Festival and Games are held across the nation with the biggest one being held each year at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.
Officials say they hope next year’s festival and games is a little drier, but that plans and preparations are already underway for 2003. For those interested in being a part of the annual games, you can contact the local Scottish Society in Knoxville or at numerous on-line web sites on Scottish culture and genealogy.

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