Tag Archives: Harriman

Ben Gann – District 3 – Oct 2018

Ben Gann, a lifelong resident of Roane County, grew up in Harriman and later Oliver Springs where he graduated from high school. Gann works as a Health and Safety Specialist for the DOE complex and lives on a small farm with his wife of seven years, Heather Gann, in Dickey Valley. Ben believes growing up in Roane helps him understand and relate to the needs of his rural neighbors in District 3. Eager to serve the people of the third district, Gann ran for County Commissioner with a local perspective and a progressive vision with the goal of promoting growth and investments in Roane County. Gann knows that Roane County has a lot to offer and encourages his fellow residents to join him in getting involved in our community.

Allen Hickman – District 2 – Oct 2018

Allen Hickman, born in Harriman in 1983, graduated from Harriman High School in 2001 where he was elected as the senior class vice-president and captain of the Blue Devil football and basketball teams, earned all-district and all-region recognition. Hickman continued his leadership training at Tennessee Technological University where he majored in Civil Engineering; A member of the speech and debate team, member of the University Programming Council and was the first president of the Intramural Sports Council. Later, Hickman graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Degree from Roane State. The Harriman Middle School Boy’s Basketball team won 3 District Championships in the four years Hickman Coached, and he was named Coach of the Year in 2015. In April of 2016, Hickman was hired as Director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Harriman.

Hickman and his wife Ashley, proud parents of Xavier, Avianna, and Jaylah, attend St. Mary’s Missionary Baptist Church where he has served as Associate Minister since 2014. Hickman attributes his “faith in God and love for his community” as his inspiration for seeking to represent District 2 as County Commissioner. He believes that we were all “created for a greater purpose than our own and feels led to a life of service to the people of the this great Roane County.”

Allen Hickman 2018

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.

The Killer Poet

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

The hands of justice sometimes moved slowly in the history of Roane County. One of the best examples is the killing of Thomas Galbreath in September 1884. It took 25 years before anyone was tried for the killing, in spite of the fact that the murder took place in broad daylight in front of several witnesses. Willis Maberry was Tom Galbreath’s brother-in-law and according to the records found in the Historic Roane County Courthouse archives, including a transcript of the trial in 1909, the shooting took place in Old Oakdale in Roane County (now renamed Elverton) located between Harriman and Oliver Springs.

Testimony reveals that Thomas Galbreath was in the front yard of his brother’s home with two other men when Willis shot him with a shotgun hitting him in the left side, on the arm, the back of the neck and through the leg. Lucy Galbreath was sitting inside the house peeling apples when the shot rang out. She rushed to the door, saw Maberry with a gun in his hand pointed at Tom and called him not to shoot any more since he had already killed her pig. Maberry offered to pay Lucy for the pig and did not shoot again. The pig died instantly and Tom died about 24 hours later. Some of the shots also went through a fence and Lucy’s feather beds which were drying on the fence. Witnesses testified that Maberry shot from an ambush under porch steps of the house across the street. The musket was found near the steps and had recently been fired.

Another witness, John Staples, testified that Maberry had told him some months previous to the shooting that he was going to kill Galbreath “if powder will burn for cutting (stabbing) him”. Other witnesses said the two men were close friends, but deputy Sheriff, W.C. Lyles, testified that Maberry told him he had been “cut” by Galbreath and was angry about it. Maberry took the stand on his own behalf and denied everything. He did admit that he left Roane County soon after the killing “but not until after the funeral” and traveled extensively for about 25 years, working in places in St. Louis, MO., Baltimore, MD., Cincinnati, Ohio, and Nebraska.

According to relatives, Maberry came back to Roane County in 1909, after the death of his father to claim part of the family’s property and was arrested for the Galbreath killing. He was convicted for the crime in the historic courthouse in Kingston, and sentenced to life imprisonment. The case was appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court and upheld. He was sent to the state prison in Nashville but the story doesn’t end here.

While still being held in jail in Kingston, (pictured at the left) he began writing a poignant poem which was entitled “Roane County Prisoner.” He later finished the poem, it was set to music and became quite popular after the turn of the century under the title, “The Hills of Roane County.” Many Roane County residents remember hearing it played on the radio in the 1930s and 40s. The words to the song vary slightly, but the following is believed to be the first rendition:

In the beautiful hills, in the midst of Roane County,
There’s where I have roamed,
for many long years;
There’s where my poor heart’s been tending most ever,
There’s where my first steps of misfortune I made.
I was thirty years old when I courted and married,
Amanda Galbreath was then called my wife.
Her brother stabbed me for some unknown reason;
Just three months later, I’d taken Tom’s life.
For twenty years this old world I rambled;
I went to old England,
I was captured and tried in the village of Kingston.
Not a man in that county would speak a kind word.
When the jury came in with the verdict next morning,
A lifetime of prison were the words that I heard.
The train it pulled out; poor Mother stood weeping.
And sister, she sat all alone with a sigh.
The last words I heard were:
Willie, God bless you;
Willie, God bless you,
God bless you; goodbye.
The train left the shed at about eleven thirty;
The chains they did rattle,
The handcuffs were tight When Sonny Gibson took the throttle
The engine one-thirty was soon out of sight.
In the scorching hot sun I’ve been toiling;
Just working and worrying my poor life away.
You can measure my grave on the banks of old Cumberland
After I’ve finished the rest of my days.
No matter what happened to me in Roane County;
No matter how long my sentence may be,
I love my old home way back in Roane County,
Way back in the hills of East Tennessee.

Maberry became ill while in prison, Was released and returned to his home in the hills of Roane County. Exactly when he was released is not known, but apparently, he suffered from poor health for the rest of his life. He lived alone and his Galbreath kin folks made sure he had care and enough to eat. He died on October 30, 1925, in Knox County, TN and was buried in the County Cemetery. Sources for this article are: “The Rockwood Times”, newspaper, September 9, 1909; The State vs. Willis Maberry Loose Papers, Historic Roane County Archives; Oral history taken by Mrs. Andy Harvey from Richard Louis Galbreath, Tom Galbreath, Jr. (son of Tom Galbreath), and Frankie Galbreath Eskridge; Loose Papers, Historic Roane County Archives.

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

The Hills of Roane County

The East Tennessee Normal and Industrial Institute

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

The East Tennessee Normal and Industrial Institute was organized in August 1898 in Harriman, under the name of Harriman Industrial School. It was created “for the training of Colored… Young Men and Women.” Started by John W. Ovletrea, a graduate of Tuskegee Institute, he had hoped to establish a school in Harriman along the lines of Tuskegee. In the 1902 Harriman Industrial Supplement, its mission was described as “to prepare colored young men and women for practical usefulness by giving each one who enters and remains a sufficient time a knowledge of some useful trade, in connection with a thorough English education thereby teaching the dignity of labor and enabling each to help himself by becoming a useful citizen; to so correlate industrial with literary education that the student cannot get the one without the other. The demand for intelligent and competent education is far greater than the supply. The man who can do something is the man sought after. It is the aim of the school to send young men and women out into the world who can produce as well as consume.” A farm was purchased for $1,000, $500 of which was due up front while the remainder was to be paid over time. On this farm was the home of William Barnett, a former slave owner, and this home became the first main building. It was used as the boys’ dormitory and for industrial development. Later a domestic science building was constructed along with an assembly hall called the Jamieson Central Assembly Hall. The entrance fee was $1.50 while the board per month (which included furnished room, laundry, lights, fuel, etc.) was $8.00. Students were given an opportunity to work out $2 or $3 of the expenses per month, leaving only $5 or $6 to be paid in cash. With a good outfit of clothing, $45 or $50 was sufficient cash to carry an industrious student through the nine-month school year. All students were required to work one day a week and every other Saturday. Unfortunately, the school ended up in debt and was closed about 1911 or 1912.

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

Main Streets in Roane County Cities Still Used

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

In Roane County, all the main streets in the history of these cities are still being used. In Kingston, Race Street was part of the roads going west which included the Great Road and Stagecoach Road. It is the legend that the road got its name from horse races but there is no documentation of that. In Rockwood, Rockwood Avenue (also known as Rockwood Street) led to the Roane Iron Company furnaces for which Rockwood was created. In Harriman, Roane Street is the main street in and around which the city grew. In Oliver Springs, it is Main Street, for which buildings such as the Seinknecht building still exist.

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, June 2016.

How Dyllis Got Its Name

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Sometimes it is very difficult to find the origin of the names of the many rural communities in Roane County. However, we know the origins of the Dyllis Community. It was named after Dyllis Hendrick, the daughter of Claude Hendrick. Claude was the Mayor of Harriman (1901- 1915) and the Harriman City Treasurer (1895-1901). He also served on the Harriman City School Board. He was also involved in the Railroads. A railroad line was run from Harriman to Dossett, and an excursion was made from Harriman to Knoxville. One of the stations was called Dyllis, and the other station was named “Elsa” after Claude’s wife. Today it is known as Elsa Gate.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, May 2015.

Roane County’s Ugliest Man

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

The person who was given that title was Wesley M. Featherly. In Walter Pulliam’s, “Harriman, Tennessee, The Town That Temperance Built,” the late Judge Elmer Eblen was quoted as saying Featherly “was not exactly the handsomest person you ever saw. Matter of fact, some thought he was the ugliest man they ever saw.” Originally from Michigan, he came to Harriman from Florida and purchased what became “The Harriman Record” newspaper in 1900. He ran the newspaper until 1919 when he moved to California. In 1923, he appeared as the King’s Chancellor in the movie Robin Hood with Douglas Fairbanks and also appeared in about a dozen other movies. It is said that he capitalized on his ugliness to get his roles in Hollywood. In 1923, he was severely injured while playing the role of a traveling salesman in the film version of Dante’s Inferno. He never fully recovered from his injury and died in 1925.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, March 2015.

Burt’s Hair Reviver

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

There are two bottles in the collection of The Roane County Heritage Commission that are embossed “Burt’s Hair Reviver, Harriman, Tenn.” An advertisement in the Harriman Industrial Supplement of “The Harriman Record” in 1902, states that the product “Invigorates the Hair, Restores its Natural Color, Cures Dandruff, Prevents Falling Out, Cures Eczema and all diseases of the scalp.” On the box, it also says that it “contains no poison, not a dye” and “the only non-poisonous, clean, healthy preparation for restoring Gray or Faded Hair to its life-like original color and beauty and promoting the growth of young hair.” The product was sold by Friend H. (F.H.) Burt who had come to Harriman from West Virginia before 1900. He was born in New York, and the 1900 Roane Census lists him as a real estate agent living on Cumberland Street. Like most products of those days, it probably contained alcohol. It is interesting to note that about 10 years earlier, Emma Burt, the wife of F.H. Burt, sent letters to the saloons in stating that they are “not to sell, give, furnish or procure for my said husband, who is a habitual drunkard, any intoxicating liquors, whether spirituous, vinous, malt or mixed liquor or liquors.” So, did F.H. Burt stop drinking or did he find a different way to get alcohol by drinking his hair reviver?

Burt’s Hair Reviver, Harriman, Tenn, U.S.A.

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, February 2015.