Tag Archives: Robert Bailey

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.

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 YouTube.com.

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

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.