Eight Tennessee sites have joined the National Register of Historic Places, including Crockett Tavern in Morristown, just down the road from my hometown. Davy Crockett’s family moved to the site when the famous frontiersman was still a boy. The present structure is a replica built in the 1950s, during the Crockett craze whipped up by the Disney series.
I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t been there yet, but I’m going this year, as soon as they re-open for the spring. It’s not that uncommon for history buffs to spend years driving all over the country to visit sites and let the ones in their own backyards fall through the cracks, but the fact that I’ve gone this long without crossing Crockett Tavern off my bucket list is downright scandalous.
Also, the East Tennessee Historical Society is hosting a Brown Bag Lecture on Jan. 16 at noon about an interesting archaeological site in downtown Knoxville: the home of Peter Kern, a remarkable guy who turned a run of bad luck into a fortune in the food business. Kern was a German immigrant who settled in Georgia and signed up to fight for the Confederacy. Wounded in Virginia, he went back home to recover. While returning to the front by train, he ended up in Knoxville just as the city fell into Union hands. Stuck in town for the duration of the war, he made the most of his situation and established a bakery and ice cream parlor. Kern’s bread business was quite a success (you can still buy baked goods with the Kern’s label here in East Tennessee) and he stayed in Knoxville, running successfully for mayor in 1890.
So on behalf of my fellow East Tennesseans to whichever Yankee soldier managed to knock Kern out of the action—thanks for all the awesome sandwiches.
Here’s an interesting article on David Crockett’s public image during his own lifetime. It’s written by Bob Thompson, whose Confederates in the Attic-style road trip book on Crockett hits stores next month.
…this Saturday at the 2010 East Tennessee History Festival in Knoxville, sponsored by the East Tennessee Historical Society. From the looks of the schedule, there’ll be something for everybody—reenactors, live music and craft demonstrations, special tours of area historic sites and buildings, films, weapons demonstrations, and a birthday party for Davy Crockett.
Here’s an interesting news story, via a blog devoted to John Brown, about an event attended by descendants of Brown and his followers. One of the attendees was Brown’s great-great-great granddaughter, Alice Keesey Mecoy of Allen, Texas.
For some reason the notion that I’m sharing the planet with John Brown’s great-great-great granddaughter struck me as pretty darn cool.
I had a similar feeling a few years ago when I saw a local TV spot here in East Tennessee. It was a campaign ad for Andrew Jackson VI, who was running for a judgeship in Knox County. The background music was an instrumental version of “The Battle of New Orleans.” I had no idea there was an Andrew Jackson VI, and I certainly didn’t know he lived in Knoxville. But lo and behold, it was true.
Technically, of course, he’s not a biological descendant of Andrew Jackson, who fathered no kids of his own; he’s descended from Rachel Donelson’s nephew. But Old Hickory adopted the nephew and named him Andrew Jackson, Jr. That’s good enough for me.
I actually met a John Sevier descendant once. She was a delightful lady, and strikingly resembled the Peale portrait of him.
I decided to see what I could find out about people who are carrying history around in their genes. Web browsers make it a lot easier to indulge this kind of idle, unproductive curiosity.
- News story about the release of the John Adams dollar coin, with a picture and quote from a seventh-generation descendant. I think he looks more like Sam Adams than John, but that’s just me.
- Jefferson descendants have their own organization. Benefits include burial at Monticello. Last I heard there was a Hemingses-need-not-apply policy, but that might have changed by now.
- Madison’s relatives also have a group of their own, with a spiffy website.
- There’s also a group for Washington relatives, although His Excellency (like Jackson) had no biological children of his own, and thus no direct descendants.
- No Lincoln descendants left either, though if I had one of those John Adams dollar coins for every time somebody told me they were in Abe’s direct line, I could buy an original Gettysburg Address. But here’s an item about a modern-day Abraham Lincoln who claims a distant relation. Imagine the trouble this guy has passing checks.
- Back in May, a Virginia reporter caught up with U.S. Grant’s great-great-grandson—who’s a Confederate reenactor.
- A fellow named David Morenus has a website on his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandma, Pocahontas.
- Davy Crockett’s descendants and relatives are taking applications for new members at their website.
- If you’re one of the millions of Mayflower descendants, maybe you’ll be interested in joining this group. Given the math, though, this is about as exclusive as having your name listed in the white pages.
- Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., direct descendant of both Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, runs a foundation that opposes modern-day slavery, which seems very appropriate.
- Here’s an old news item about an event with appearances by various relatives of Ohio’s presidents. One of the guests of honor was a guy named Rick Taft, great-grandson of you-know-who. According to the news item, he’s a lawyer and software developer. Here’s a picture and blurb from his company’s website.
- The same event also hosted Stephen Hayes, great-great-grandson of Rutherford B. He’s a consultant with one of those firms which have really impressive-sounding names, the kind for which you see commercials on television that never actually explain what service they offer. I think this one finds people to run companies. (Wouldn’t it be easier to just promote somebody from the ranks?)
And finally, for the rest of us whose family trees are undistinguished, weep no more.