Category Archives: Historian

An Unexpected Time Capsule

{Robert Bailey, Roane County Historian}

Recently, a circular hole appeared on the lawn at the old courthouse near where the old jail once stood. It was about three feet wide and about two feet deep. The exterior was made of up of old bricks which were similar to those used when the old courthouse was built in 1854. The bricks had been burned at the top. Inside it looked like it had been lined with concrete. We weren’t sure what it was until research was done that revealed that it was a cistern that probably had served the jail. It turns out that it was not lined with concrete but with plaster. Because it was burned on the top level of bricks it indicates that it was there with the jail burned in 1885.

A cistern is like an underground tank used to collect and store rainwater coming off the roof of a building. It was thought rainwater was purer and therefore healthier than groundwater. It is different than a well which is not made waterproof.

When a cistern is no longer used it is filled up with rocks, dirt, trash and other debris. Often it contains artifacts from the time period that it was filled up. It is not known when this one was stopped being used. It appears that with all of the rain we have had, the dirt that was used to fill it in has shifted and caused it to appear. It has been sealed back up and it may be excavated in the future.

TheRwhich was built about 1886 and torn down in 1976. The cistern may have served this jail or the previous one which burned in 1885.

Know Your Roane – March 2019


2) Roses are red, violets are blue, I didn’t get vaccinated, and now I’ve got the _____.

3) Many Roane County residents remember hearing a song on the radio in the 1930s and 40s. The song was written about the murder of Thomas _________.


1) The founder of the Sierra Club once wrote, “Every tree, every flower, every ripple and eddy of this lovely stream seemed solemnly to feel the presence of the great Creator.” while hiking through Roane County.

4) This charitable Harriman club succeeded after many others failed to sponsor the opening of the Roane County Park.

5) Before the 70s in Roane County, citizen experiencing a medical emergency that required transportation, wouldn’t get a ride in an ambulance. They would ride in a __________________.

(answers can be found in past and present newsletters)

Answer HERE!

Roane County Hosiery Mills

{Robert Bailey, Roane County Historian}

The hosiery mills in Roane County provided many jobs for women and men and was one of Roane County’s most important industries throughout the years. James F. Tarwater was a major creator of hosiery mills in Roane County. In 1905, Captain James F. Tarwater and his associates established the Rockwood Hosiery Mill, which is still in existence as Alba Health. The building sits on its original location on Gateway Avenue. Rockwood was created as a Company Town and as such, it controlled everything, including the Company Store, where the employees could only use the script that they were paid. The hosiery mill was one of the first competitors to the Roane Iron Company. In 1912, James F. Tarwater decided to open up another hosiery mill in Harriman, called the Harriman Hosiery Mill. There was another mill in Harriman at that time called the Harriman Knitting Mill which started about 1903. At one time, the Harriman Knitting Mill employed several children about the age of 11 or 12 years. Other factories did also. In 1916, James A. Huff, who was the manager of the Rockwood Hosiery Mill, came to Kingston to locate a branch site for a mill. In 1919, it moved into permanent quarters. J.C. Stinnett, was the supervisor of the plant from its beginning until it closed in 1951. After it closed the building was used as a bowling alley and skating rink. It was located behind what is now Kinser Drug Store. It employed about 200 people over the years.

Harriman Hosiery Mill

Rockwood Hosiery Mill

Rockwood Hosiery Mill – Inside

Kingston Hosiery Mill

A Town Called Adams

{Robert Bailey, Roane County Historian}

Currently, Roane County has five cities (or towns as I like to call them). However, there were others that were created but no longer exist. Among others, Cardiff, Post Oak Springs, Wheat and Emory Gap are towns that no longer exist. The town of “Adams” was also one of those that began with high expectations but has been lost to history. The following article appeared in The Chattanooga Daily Times, Mon., 26 June 1899, Vol. XXX, No. 193, p6.

“New Town In Roane County:”

Adams Will Be the Name and It Will Be a Creature of the Central. A new town is being laid out in Roane County, Tenn. at a point near the Roane college and Wheat post office. J.B. Dickinson, a prominent farmer and real estate holder of that section being the promoter. Mr. Dickenson (sic) was in Chattanooga yesterday. To a reporter for The Times, he stated that several good-sized farms had been acquired, through which the Tennessee Central will run. The townsite is above Poplar Creek and is said to be an admirable place for a little city. There is a large mill on the creek, owned and operated by J.H. Adams and we expect to call the town Adams. It is our intention to have the place surveyed at once and cut the land into town lots. There is a big spring coming out of the ridge above the site, and we expect to furnish cold spring water to the city without a pumping station.

Roane College, later Wheat High School near the K-25 plant

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, February 2019.

University of Tennessee vs American Temperance University

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Even though it is a few months away from the start of the football season, it is interesting to note that the University of Tennessee football team played a game in Harriman, Tennessee. The American Temperance University in Harriman, under Chancellor John A. Tate, fielded both a football team and a baseball team beginning in 1903. From 1903 to 1906 the football team played the University of Tennessee three times.

In Knoxville, on October 7, 1905, the teams met, and the final score was 104 for the U.T., 0 for the American University. The next year the teams played again in Knoxville, and surprisingly enough U.T. only scored 10 points. Unfortunately, the American University didn’t score any points.

Fifteen days later another game was played between U.T. and the American University. This time it was in Harriman. It was to mark the dedication of the football field at Harriman. A fight broke out during the game, and the American University players walked off the field and refused to play. The game was forfeited when the American University players would not come back onto the field. U.T. was declared the winner by 6-0 by virtue of the forfeit. After this, the teams never played again.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, July 2017.

American Temperance University

1903 Tennessee Volunteer Uniform


Florence E. and B.J. Campbell

{Robert Bailey, County Historian}
Prof. B.J. Campbell – Prof. B.J. Campbell was born in Cleveland, Tennessee and died Jan 24, 1926. When young he moved with his parents to Knoxville and later he taught in the city schools of Knoxville. He married Florence E. Smith in 1893 and moved to Harriman and became principal of the Harriman Colored School for about fifteen years. In 1914, Prof. Campbell and his wife moved to Rockwood, and he became the principal of the Rockwood Colored High School, and she became a teacher there. The Rockwood Colored High School later became Campbell High School (which was named after him) and was the only high school for all black students in Roane County.

His wife, Florence E. Smith (1872-1922) was the first black teacher in Harriman having come to Harriman in 1891. She was born in Canada and was convinced to come to Harriman from Maryland to teach by her father, John A. Smith, who came to Harriman in 1890 because he was a strong prohibitionist.
























































Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, December 2018 and February 2016.

Thomas N. Clark, One of the First Seven Commissioners

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Thomas N. Clark, Sr. – Thomas N. Clark, Sr. was born 1763 May 5, probably in Scotland and died 1847 Oct 21 in Roane County. He married Susannah Randolph Payne (1768-1842). Clark was one of the first seven commissioners of Kingston of 1799. He was a charter member of Bethel Presbyterian Church in Kingston and a Trustee of the Rittenhouse Academy. He rented the ferry across the Clinch River at Kingston from an Indian named Doublehead for $600 per year. At that time only Indians could own ferries and toll gates into the Indian Territory which was West of the Clinch River at that time. It later became known as Clark’s Ferry. Clark’s “Big Spring” supplied the water of Kingston until the building of Watts Bar Dam. In many ways, he is considered the father of Kingston. He and his wife are buried in the Bethel-Kingston Cemetery.

Thomas N. Clark Sr.


Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, November 2018.

Is the Old Roane County Courthouse Haunted?

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

We may never know if the building is indeed haunted, but several people employed in the Old Roane County Courthouse have reported unusual activities. The first part of the courthouse was built between 1853 and 1855, and the East side of the building was added in 1938. Apparently, the 2nd floor of the addition is the most popular place for our ghosts. The ground floor vault of the addition was used for the Register of Deeds to store valuable Roane County documents, photographs, and other historical artifacts. The vault contains documents which date back to the year our county was created in 1801, and thousands of photographs of Roane County, including the T.C. Farnham collection. When in the vault (usually by yourself), there is a noise that comes from the second floor that sounds like a marble dropping and rolling on the floor. Though Jere Hall, Darleen Trent, Jamey McLoughlin, and I have likely spent the most time in the building, several others besides us have also heard the noise. Each time the marble drops the second floor is empty. If the ghosts are playing marbles on the second floor, they have not invited humans to play. One report of a banging noise coming from the second floor could be heard from the back of the hallway of the first floor. The banging would migrate to the third floor when witnesses said the banging moved to the third floor. Another report of loud noises coming from the second floor and the ceiling of the first floor could be heard while sitting in the library at the desk on the other side of the building. The noises would come and go, though the addition’s concrete, steel, and tiles, though there was nothing corporeal on that side of the building, nothing that could make that noise. The sounds started about the time Darleen Trent’s brother, Butch, died. Darleen and her sister Mary believed that it was Butch making those noises, probably letting Darleen know he was o.k. since they were very close. Then as sudden as the noises started, they quit and haven’t been heard since. While most report hearing noises, there have been a couple of visual sightings in our building. One involved seeing a lady walking down the hall in a long white dress. Another involved seeing an older man who appeared to check the doors to make sure they were locked. If there are ghosts in the Old Roane County Courthouse, they are friendly and have never caused harm. Ghost-Hunters have been allowed once in the building. See their video at

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, October 2018.

John Muir on Roane County

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

John Muir, (1838-1914), was a well-known conservationist and naturalist. In 1892 he founded the Sierra Club and served as president until his death. Muir helped to establish the Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks. In 1867, he began what was called “the thousand-mile walk to the Gulf” collecting plants and passed through Roane County. The following is from his journal about his trek through Roane County:

“September 12 [1867]. Awoke drenched with mountain mist, which made a grand show, as it moved away before the hot sun. Passed Montgomery [which was the county seat of Morgan County at that time], a shabby village at the head of the east slope of the Cumberland Mountains. Obtained breakfast in a clean house and began the descent of the mountains. Obtained fine views of a wide, open country, and distant flanking ridges and spurs. Crossed a wide cool stream [which would have been the Emory River], a branch of the Clinch River. There is nothing more eloquent in Nature than a mountain stream, and this is the first I ever saw. Its banks are luxuriantly peopled with rare and lovely flowers and overarching trees, making one of Nature’s coolest and most hospitable places. Every tree, every flower, every ripple and eddy of this lovely stream seemed solemnly to feel the presence of the great Creator. Lingered in this sanctuary a long time thanking the Lord with all my heart for his goodness in allowing me to enter and enjoy it. Discovered two ferns, Dicksonia and a small matted polypod on trees, common farther South. Also a species of magnolia with very large leaves and scarlet conical fruit. Near this stream, I spent some joyous time in a grand rock-dwelling full of mosses, birds, and flowers. Most heavenly place I ever entered. The long narrow valleys of the mountainside, all well watered and nobly adorned with oaks, magnolias, laurels, azaleas, asters, ferns, Hypnum mosses, Madotheca, etc. Also towering clumps of beautiful hemlocks. The hemlock, judging from the common species of Canada, I regarded as the least noble of the conifers. But those of the eastern valleys of the Cumberland Mountains are as perfect in form and regal in port as the pines themselves. The latter abundant. Obtained fine glimpses from open places as I descended to the great valley between these mountains and the Unaka Mountains on the state line. Forded the Clinch, a beautiful clear stream, that knows many of the dearest mountain retreats that ever heard the music of running water. Reached Kingston before dark. Sent back my plant collections by express to my brother in Wisconsin. September 15 [1867]. Walked all day across small parallel valleys that flute the surface of the one wide valley. These flutings appear to have been formed by lateral pressure, are fertile, and contain some fine forms, though the seal of war is on all things. The roads never seem to proceed with any fixed purpose, but wonder as if lost. In seeking the way to Philadelphia [this was in Monroe County, near the Roane County line. It became a part of Loudon County in 1870], I was told by a buxom Tennessee ‘gal’ that over the hills was much the nearer way, that she always went that way, and that surely I could travel it.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, August 2018.

Hagler Cemetery Moved

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

The only known cemetery that was removed in Roane County during the creation of Oak Ridge was the Hagler Cemetery, which was located where the Graphite Reactor is at the Oak Ridge National Lab. It was removed in 1943 to a location off Hen Valley Road near Oliver Springs. Unfortunately, the cemetery has become very overgrown. There are ten graves that have markers. It is not known how many unmarked graves there may be. There are five Union Civil War soldiers buried here. The oldest marked grave is of Charles Magill who died in 1859.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, July 2018.

Nancy D Magill

Harriet N. Evans Hagler

Evan Evans

Jane Matilda Evans Wyatt

Archibald L. Evans