Tag Archives: Roane County Court

History of the High Schools of Roane County

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

In Roane County’s history, four high schools were created by Roane County Court (now the Roane County Commission). Those were Roane County High School, Wheat High School, South Harriman High School, and Midway High School. The schools of Harriman, Oliver Springs, and Rockwood were created by the respective cities and were independent of the Roane County School system in their beginnings. Roane County High School had its origins as the Rittenhouse Academy and was the first high school created by the Roane County Court in 1905. Wheat High School started out as the Poplar Creek Seminary and later as Roane College. It came under the Roane County Board of Education in 1908 and closed in 1942 as part of the government acquisition of land for the building of Oak Ridge and the Manhattan Project. South Harriman High School was the third county high school to be created by the Roane County Court. The resolution was passed in 1915 and became effective in 1916. The school closed in 1963. Midway High School was opened in September 1947. It was the last high school to be created by the Roane County Court. It replaced Fairview and Paint Rock High Schools, which were organized as two-year or junior high schools in the 1920s. Harriman High School began in 1891. Beginning in 1922, Harriman High School was reported by the county superintendent as a county high school in order to receive more state recognition for funding, and the graduates of the school received state high school diplomas. As a city high school as opposed as a county high school, it was not recognized by the state until the county listed it as a county high school. It became part of the Roane County School System in 2003. Oliver Springs High School had its beginning about 1895. In 1925 the first four-year high school was organized. In 1935, the Oliver Springs Independent School District was dissolved, and it became part of the Roane County School System. Rockwood High School’s first graduating class was in 1892. In 1922 it was recognized as a state-approved high school. In 1935, both the Rockwood High School and Campbell High School became a part of the county system. Campbell High School was the only high school for blacks in Roane County. It started out as the Rockwood Colored School in 1920 and later became Campbell High School. It closed in 1965.

Wheat High School started out as the Poplar Creek Seminary and later as Roane College

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

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, May 2013.

How Kingston Was Named

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Kingston became a town before Roane County became a county. It was created by an act of the Tennessee State Legislature on 23 Oct 1799. It is about the eighth oldest city in Tennessee. It is named after Robert King who gave the land for the creation of the city. When Roane County was created in 1801, as Kingston was the only town in the county, it became the county seat.

In 1807, Kingston became state capital for one day. This was to fulfill the requirements of a treaty with the Indians in which the land around Fort Southwest Point was ceded to the State. The State Legislature met at the home of James Gordon which was located on the corner of Race and Third Street across from the current courthouse. The Roane County Court made many improvements to the house in order that it would be adequate for the state legislature to meet. Unfortunately, after meeting in Kingston for one day, the state legislature voted to return to Knoxville, the former state capital. It is interesting to note that in 1844, Kingston was considered again for the state capital. The Senate voted for Kingston while the House voted for Murfreesboro. As a compromise, Nashville was chosen as the permanent state capital.

Throughout its history, Kingston has had many ups and downs. When the river was king, steamboats traveled from Kingston to Knoxville and Chattanooga. Also, many of the roads leading west passed through Kingston. However, when the railroads became a major part of transportation, the river declined. At least two times in the 1870s and 1880s, the citizens voted to dissolve the city. Rockwood and Harriman had surpassed the importance of Kingston. One of the main reasons that Kingston survived where other towns have disappeared is that Kingston was still the county seat. In the 1890s there was a move to make Harriman the county seat as it was difficult to get to Kingston because of the rivers. At that time the only way to get across was through ferries. In dry weather, one could also ford across the Clinch River. County Court then decided to build a bridge that connected to the other side. With the coming of Oak Ridge and T.V.A., Kingston became a bedroom community. The coming of Interstate 40 also created more traffic in Kingston.

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, August 2013.

Roane County’s School History

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

In Roane County’s history, four high schools were created by Roane County Court (now the Roane County Commission). Those were Roane County High School, Wheat High School, South Harriman High School, and Midway High School. The schools of Harriman, Oliver Springs, and Rockwood were created by the respective cities and were independent of the Roane County School system in their beginnings. Roane County High School had its origins as the Rittenhouse Academy and was the first high school created by the Roane County Court in 1905. Wheat High School started out as the Poplar Creek Seminary and later as Roane College. It came under the Roane County Board of Education in 1908 and closed in 1942 as part of the government acquisition of land for the building of Oak Ridge and the Manhattan Project. South Harriman High School was the third county high school to be created by the Roane County Court. The resolution was passed in 1915 and became effective in 1916. The school closed in 1963. Midway High School was opened in September 1947. It was the last high school to be created by the Roane County Court. It replaced Fairview and Paint Rock High Schools, which were organized as two-year or junior high schools in the 1920s. Harriman High School began in 1891. Beginning in 1922, Harriman High School was reported by the county superintendent as a county high school in order to receive more state recognition for funding, and the graduates of the school received state high school diplomas. As a city high school as opposed as a county high school, it was not recognized by the state until the county listed it as a county high school. It became part of the Roane County School System in 2003. Oliver Springs High School had its beginning about 1895. In 1925 the first four-year high school was organized. In 1935, the Oliver Springs Independent School District was dissolved, and it became part of the Roane County School System. Rockwood High School’s first graduating class was in 1892. In 1922 it was recognized as a state-approved high school. In 1935, both the Rockwood High School and Campbell High School became a part of the county system. Campbell High School was the only high school for blacks in Roane County. It started out as the Rockwood Colored School in 1920 and later became Campbell High School. It closed in 1965.

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, May 2013.

The Harvey H. Hannah Highway

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

If you drive along the highway from Harriman to Oliver Springs, you’ll notice that Highway 61 is called the “The Harvey H. Hannah Highway.” The highway was named after Harvey H. Hannah of Oliver Springs who for 30 years was the Tennessee Chairman of the State Railroad and Public Utilities Commission. He served in the Spanish American War becoming Colonel of the 4th Tennessee Volunteers. He also became a Military Governor of a Cuban province. Cordell Hull who became United States Secretary of State served as a Captain under Hannah. Besides being a lawyer, military officer, and politician, he was well known as a great orator. He served as Adjutant General under two Tennessee Governors from 1903-1907. This was where he acquired the title “General.” In 1922, General Hannah was a candidate for Governor in the Democratic primary but was defeated by Austin Peay who would become Governor. On Nov. 8, 1936, Harvey H. Hannah died from a throat condition. Governor Hill McAlister visited Hannah before his death and asked, “Harvey, is there anything that I can do for you?” He replied, “Hill, I know that money is hard to get, but I hope that you will find enough state money to finish the Oliver Springs-Harriman highway.” The Governor did find enough money, and the highway was named in Hannah’s honor. Harvey Hannah is buried in the Oliver Springs Cemetery, and his tombstone is said to be the tallest monument in the Oliver Springs area.

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, January 2013.