Tag Archives: Roane County 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.

Rachel Rose Parker

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Rachel Rose Parker, of Kingston, passed away February 16, 2017. She was Roane County Historian from 1994 until 1996, when she resigned, and I (Robert Bailey) became the county historian. Rachel and her husband, J. Clyde “Babe” Parker, the banker at Kingston Bank and Trust, were very much interested in Roane County’s history. Rachel and “Babe” were instrumental in saving the Old Roane Courthouse and preserving the Fort Southwest Point site. They also collected many photographs and historical records which are now stored at the Old Roane County Courthouse. She was born “south of the river” of which she was proud. She married “Babe” in 1939 in Loudon County, and they had one son, Frank Parker. Except for a short time during the depression when her family moved to Ohio, she lived her entire life in Roane County. She was very much interested in politics. She ran for Kingston City Mayor in 1973 and lost to Jim Henry. From there, Jim Henry went on to serve in the Tennessee House of Representatives and is currently deputy to Governor Haslam and chief of staff. Those who knew her know that she lived a full life, probably enough for 20 lives. She will be remembered for all of her adventures and stories that Babe told about her including the time that she almost got arrested in Russia and the time that she won a pig in a contest held by Brownie Ellis. She made Babe hold the pig in the back of the car while Rachel drove. Fortunately, her father was able to take the pig to his farm. She was a special lady.

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

First Official Roane County Historian

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Marilyn McCluen, age 98, passed away on August 8, 2016. She was appointed the first official Roane County Historian in 1969 when the Tennessee State Legislature authorized counties to appoint county historians. In 1965, she, along with Mrs. Willis Hutcherson, began organizing the County’s loose papers, books, and all kinds of records dating back to 1801, the date Roane County was established. These records had been stored for decades in the attic of the Old Roane County Courthouse and were scattered among dead birds and whiskey bottles. She was involved at the beginning of The Roane County Historical Society and with others was involved in the saving of the Old Courthouse which had been slated to be torn down in 1974. This led to the creation of “The Roane County Heritage Commission” which was given the responsibility of preserving one of the seven antebellum courthouses still standing in Tennessee. Among many other things, she was also involved in the first historical sites survey in Roane County. Roane County was very fortunate to have had Marilyn as she worked tirelessly to help preserve Roane County’s history. Her legacy of work will ensure that future generations will know about their history.

Marilyn McCluen Center

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, October 2016.