Claiborne County Progress, February 7, 1934

OPEN FOREM

 

Editor Progress:

I was deeply impressed by your wonderful editorial concerning the hallowed building known as the Presbyterian church house in that easy-going little town, which ancient building was erected by the Scotch-Irish settlers of that vicinity, the Grahams, the Fulkersons, the Houstons, the Buchanans, the Kellyes, the Sewells, the Oteys, and others of the sturdy pioneers.

This building has stood throughout the years as a monument to the zeal and grit of those beloved souls who now rest in the Irish cemetery west of the burg.  They were men in those days, men worthy of any foreman’s steel.

I am reminded of what our good friend, now gone, George W. Montgomery, once said:  “The first time I beheld Tazewell and the Presbyterian church spire, from the top of Walden’s Ridge, I thought it was the biggest town in all creation, which also reminds me I was born not far from this church, about 63 years ago, and on an occasion before the Spanish-American War, Rev. Franky Jackson conducted a revival service there under the pastorate of Rev. James K. Wolfe, and I gave my heart to the Savior and joined the Methodist church.  At that time there was conducted in the church a union Sunday school and my good friend, Ed Eppes, was superintendent and also a leader in the Christian Endeavor Society.  Prof. Charles F. Kelley was a teacher; also Miss Sallie Evans, Miss Fannie Fulkerson, Mr. Ben Schultz, Miss Lonnie Wolfe, H.Y. Hughes and others I cannot remember.  It was a very successful Sunday school and did much good in the community.  On Wednesday evenings prayer meetings were held and the venerable Rev. C.K. Coleman is remembered as he poured out his soul in supplications to the throne of grace.  And Tom White usually led the choir on those occasions.  Miss Annie Cardwell often played the organ.

This sacred old building, which has been a beacon, throughout the years, deserves a better fate than it seems is about to befall it, and your public-spirited citizens should get together and restore it to the former beauty and usefulness.  No doubt with the proper appreciation those descendants of our pioneers who now live in the west and elsewhere, along with local aid, would result in enough popular subscription to restore this hallowed building.  It was, to me, in my childhood a genuine inspiration and a shrine wherein to worship the Giver of all good gifts.  Away back when I was a “shaver” a Community Christmas tree was set up in this hallowed spot and not a child or an adult in all the town but what was remembered with substantial Christmas gifts – I mean shoes, hats, coats, and those things dear to us all when winter’s chilly breezes blow.  At this time a play, “Handy Andy” was presented, and my good friend Thomas Fulkerson, now gone, essayed the role of “Handy Andy” and he played it well, supported by a class of no mean histrionic ability.

Another ancient and honorable building nearby always filled me, as a youngster, with awe and veneration.  The corner stone and the “Evening Star” filled me with awe and admiration, and a high resolve to explore the mysteries enveloped in that building, some day.  Since then I have solved the problems locked up in that to my childish fancy, most wonderful and awe inspiring, mysterious building, and true to my vow, when I witnessed Bobby Taylor’s wonderful funeral procession, I am now a Sir Knight Templar Mason, and I wouldn’t part with that secret and that great honor of millions of dollars, poor as I am in worldly possessions.

And I was chagrined to learn my cherished ambition to see old Tazewell College restored as a memorial to Rev. B.G. Maynard, has finally been decided in the negative these hallowed bricks used for commercial purposes.  There, indeed was another ancient landmark that should have stood, even to the tenth generation.  It was indeed, to me, another hallowed and glorious temple – a temple where mankind in years past has freed his mind from those things that mar the beauty of holiness and right living and the memory of the man who made it known across the continent ought to be kept alive in the form of a memorial building or shrine or a building to be used for historical scientific, or other use and educational purposes.  I am regretful, Mr. Editor, that I am not a millionaire so that I might make these scenes and associations of my childhood to “shine like new money.”  I would consider it the best investment of my life and I have handled thousands of dollars since I left old Tazewell, first in 1888.

And, another subject, Mr. Editor, now is the time of all times for Claiborne County to get one Government institution, which I suggested to Mr. Reece when he was in his first term of Congress.  There are scores and scores of Union and Confederate soldiers buried on breastworks hill.  Since the Government is to establish cemeteries to contain the dead buried where the dam will submerge them, why not Tazewell’s wide awake get together and have a national cemetery established on and back of the old hill.  I have written, several letters to your paper on that subject, but “nary” a “cheep” have I read in rely by those who remembered the incidents of the interments during and right after the Civil War.  I certainly would like to see Claiborne County recognized one time by the Federal Government and if any of your people have the least bit of stamina concerning the matter I think that through Senator McKellar and Congressman Reece, now is the opportune time to move for this wonderful institution which would be visited by persons from one end of the country to the other.  All who second the motion rise up and proceed to get busy on this proposition.

Yours, for Tazewell and Claiborne County, now, and evermore, with the wish that all will maintain a lasting pride in its ancient landmarks and institutions, and the many prominent men it has sent forth to establish a higher and better civilization and a more honest type of Christian citizenship.

 

JAMES M. FREEMAN- A descendant of John Thomas (Rev) Freeman Jr. b: 07/25/1813 in Greene Co. TN

Route 10, Knoxville, Tennessee

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