Tag Archives: Rockwood

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

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.

Aunt Lize Whittenburg

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Aunt Lize Whittenburg was born a slave on the farm of Jesse Roddy of Rhea County and took the Whittenburg name when Roddy’s daughter married a Whittenburg. According to her obituary, she moved to Rockwood about 1869 and “was the first cook at the Roane Iron Company’s negro boarding house.” She died in 1926 in Rockwood. In 1955, an article written about her stated ” ‘Aunt Lize’ was very popular, well known and much loved by the entire citizenship of Rockwood. She is fondly remembered for her colorful dress and the fact that she never knew a stranger.” She was known to have worn three skirts at the same time and marched in every parade in Rockwood. She is the only known person to appear in a commercial postcard in Roane County.

Aunt Lize Whittenburg

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

Roane Iron Company Mine Explosions

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Working in a coal mine was and still is a dangerous job. In the 1920s there were several mine explosions that occurred in the Roane Iron Company mines in Rockwood that cost many lives. On April 29, 1926, two men lost their lives. A major explosion occurred on July 16, 1925. In that explosion, ten men lost their lives. Those men were;

  1. Claude Tindell,
  2. Raymond Watkins,
  3. Sam R. Doughty,
  4. Thos. G. Green,
  5. John W. Green,
  6. Sam L. Givens,
  7. Roy Limburg,
  8. Wm. J. Snow,
  9. Jas. Wilson,
  10. Thos. J. Sullivan.

However, the worst disaster happened on October 4, 1926. In that explosion, 27 miners lost their lives. Those who died, with the family left by each, were as follows:

  1. Will Rodgers, married, 5 children;
  2. H.M. Griffis, married, 4 children;
  3. A.J. Griffis, single;
  4. Ben Gibson, single;
  5. Sam Taylor, married, 3 children;
  6. Lee Jolly, married, several children;
  7. Ira Nelson, single;
  8. Van Kirby, married, 4 children;
  9. P.C. Craven, married, 2 grown children;
  10. S.P. Whittier, married, 6 children;
  11. Harry Lingo, married;
  12. Will Teague, married, 7 children;
  13. Arthur Teague, married, 5 children;
  14. W.C. Elliott, single;
  15. C.B. Davis, married, 1 child;
  16. Philip Galyon, married;
  17. Jess Dale, married;
  18. Walter Cunningham, married, 2 children;
  19. E.G. Smith, married, 1 child (is son-in-law of Will Rodgers);
  20. Clyde Teague, single, son of Will Teague;
  21. Will Armour, single;
  22. Frank Boles, single;
  23. Hector Smith, single;
  24. J.A. Freels, married, 4 children;
  25. G.C. McCoy, married;
  26. Frank Hinds, married, 3 children;
  27. Dave Brummett, married, 6 children;
  28. George Riddle, married, 6 children.

The cause of this disaster was given as the ignition of gas in one of the rooms.

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

Watts Bar TVA Grave Removal

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

In preparation for the building of Watts Bar Dam, some single graves and entire cemeteries were removed because those areas would be flooded by the backwaters created by Watts Bar Dam. To move the graves, TVA required a family member to approve the grave to be moved. If no relative was found or the family did not wish for the graves to be removed, TVA left the graves there, and they were covered by the backwaters. Two cemeteries, the Jackson Cemetery, and the Perry Cemetery, both located in the Tennessee River, are now located on islands. In the Jackson Cemetery (located across from Boyd Woody’s house) there are 35 graves, and in the Perry Cemetery (which is located on Thief Neck Island) there are six graves. In all, about 100 graves were moved. The most graves that were removed from a single cemetery were forty-seven graves which were located in the Kendrick Cemetery near the New Hope Community. The graves that were removed from the various cemeteries were relocated to several different cemeteries. Some were removed to the Oak Grove Cemetery in Rockwood, Luminary Cemetery (South of the River), Eagle Furnace Cemetery, and Cedar Grove Church Cemetery near Paint Rock among others. Some graves were removed to cemeteries in Rhea and Meigs County. New roads were also created to provide access to other cemeteries in which the old roads were covered.

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

Which County Official Had 18 Children

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

May is the month in which mothers are honored on the second Sunday. Although it would require much research to find the mother in Roane County who had the most children, there is one who definitely would be up there, and that was Clara Fulks, who also happened to have been a county official. Mrs. Clara Fulks, the Roane County Circuit Court Clerk from 1947 to 1962, had 18 children, 15 who lived to adulthood. There were nine boys and nine girls in all. Her husband, Josh Fulks had been the Circuit Court clerk from 1930 to 1947 when he passed away. Among her children, Madge (Maggie) Fulks Sneed served from 1962 to 1966 as the Roane County Circuit Court clerk like her parents. Maggie was also Register of Deeds from 1972 to 1982. Josh and Clara’s last surviving child, Betty Lou Fulks Jenkins, passed away on July 4, 2011. Clara died on Nov 19, 1974, at the age of 80 years. At that time all fifteen of her adult children were living. She also had at that time, 31 grandchildren. Both she and her husband are buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Rockwood.

In the photo which is from 1955, Clara Fulks is the third from the left in the second row. Her daughter Edith Sitzler is next to her. Her daughter, Maggie Sneed is in the first row the first from the left.

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

Molyneux Chevrolet Company

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

The Molyneux Chevrolet Company was founded by John Molyneux and his son Harry Molyneux, in 1916 in Rockwood as the City Garage. Its name was changed in 1928 to the Molyneux Chevrolet Company, and it was recognized as the first Chevrolet dealer in Tennessee and one of the first in the South. John Molyneux was born in Bolton, England in 1853 and came to America in 1881, settling in Morgan County. He moved to Rockwood in 1906. He was also the founder of the Molyneux Lumber Company in Rockwood. In 1935 Frigidaire appliances and RCA radios were added to the business, along with Speed Queen Washers.

Molyneux Lumber Company 1939

Molyneux Chevrolet Company

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

Chief Hailstorm

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Jarrette Talmadge Van Noy “Chief Hailstorm” was born Dec 21, 1891, in Rockwood, Roane County, to Henderson and Sarah (Edmondson) Van Noy. He married Sep 24, 1921, in Zurich, Switzerland, Maria Emma Alvine Tewes (born Oct 15, 1899, in Wincheringen, District of Palzen, Prussia). It is not known when he assumed the name of “Chief Hailstorm”. On the marriage record, he states that his occupation was “Artist, Cherokee Indian Chief of Rockwood.” The only problem with this was that there was no Cherokee Tribe in Rockwood at this time. The Cherokee Indians that had lived in Roane County were first removed to Alabama and then were removed to Arkansas and Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears. He started out with Buffalo Bill and was in movies with Tom Mix in 1914 and 1915. His most well-known part was in a western movie called “The New Medicine Man.” In passport applications in the 1920s to Japan and European Countries, he listed that he performed theatrical work. His niece, Billie Van Noy Olinger of Rockwood, taught at Campbell High School, the only black high school in Roane County. “Chief Hailstorm” died in 1976 and was buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, October 2014.

Rockwood’s First Christmas

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Captain William McElwee, a noted historian, wrote an article about the first Christmas in Rockwood. Rockwood was created as a company town by the Roane Iron Company in 1868. The first furnace was put into place in the summer of 1868 and was put into operation in December of that year. It was the first furnace south of the Ohio River to make iron using coal. As Christmas was approaching, it was decided that there must be a celebration for both the Holiday and the success of the furnace.

The only place large enough where people could assemble was the sawmill. It was here where the first sermon was preached, and the first Sunday School was organized. Laurel and ivy vines were used to create a cave to represent the cave where the Baby Jesus was born. [It should be noted that some believe that Jesus was born in a cave and this is what Captain McElwee believed]. Sawed logs and wood planks were laid out as the table for the meal. A large meal with a large roasted turkey and some chickens with other sides were made by Mrs. White of the hotel. When all was ready, Rev. Mr. Chasteen spoke on the subject of excuses for many who were invited but didn’t show up. One excuse was that that the one man had “married a wife could not come” and “she had not been axed, and he could not go without her.”

When supper was over Captain James Harris, the man in charge of the coal mines announced that there had not been a marriage in Rockwood and “that the year must not go out without giving the women a chance.” Because it was a leap year, women could propose marriage. Four eligible young men stepped forward and sat on the “I am willing bench” who were willing to get married. Two men, Tobe Brown and Alex Gossett were the final choices. No women stepped forward to accept the proposal, and it was decided that the women draw straws. The “winner” was Margaret White, the daughter of the boarding house owner. Margaret then chose Alex Gossett. Bill White, her father, objected and as the Courthouse was closed, it was decided to have a vote about delaying the marriage until a license could be procured. As Bill White owned the boarding house and said that he would break up the boarding house, every border who feared losing his boarding house voted for postponement. Eventually, Alex Gossett and Margaret White got married and had eight children.

Roane Iron Company

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, January 2014.