The East Tennessee Historical Society just opened a special exhibit on Lloyd Branson, one of this region’s most prominent artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The exhibit runs through March 20 and then heads to the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve encountered Branson’s work before. The banner image running along the top of this website is from his painting of the Overmountain Men’s muster at Sycamore Shoals, the event that started the march leading to the Battle of King’s Mountain. The original painting is part of the Tennessee State Museum’s collection, but it’s on loan to ETHS for this exhibit.
Some sources—including yours truly—have reported that Branson also painted the Battle of King’s Mountain itself, but that this work went up in flames when a Knoxville hotel burned down in 1916. But it looks like the lost King’s Mountain canvas might not have been a Branson work after all. Adam Alfrey of ETHS tells the Knoxville News-Sentinel that contemporary newspaper reports attributed the painting to James W. Wallace, one of Branson’s students.
That’s not much consolation for the torched painting, though, because Wallace was a fine artist, too. He did a number of works on regional and historical themes, including a really nice painting of the signing of the Treaty of Holston. I’m dying to know what his depiction of King’s Mountain looked like.
On March 2 at 2:00 P.M., the East Tennessee Historical Society will host a screening of the documentary Civil War: The Untold Story, followed by a discussion with the film’s director and NPS historian James Ogden. Admission is free.
If you can’t make the screening, the film will be airing on public television this year, so keep an eye on your local listings.
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.
In 1863 Nov. 29 fell on a Sunday instead of a Friday, but it was a pretty black day nonetheless, at least for the hapless Rebel soldiers who launched a disastrous assault against Fort Sanders at Knoxville. Those twenty bloody minutes ended Longstreet’s effort to re-take the city for the Confederacy, following its occupation by Burnside that September.
The attack on Ft. Sanders was neither a particularly big battle as far as Civil War engagements went nor as consequential as what was going on down in Chattanooga. But it’s a pretty big deal for history buffs here in my neck of the woods, so here’s another anniversary link-fest for you.
The Tennessee State Museum’s traveling exhibit on the War of 1812 is now at the East Tennessee Historical Society, and will be in Knoxville through May 19. Looks pretty cool!
Here’s an interesting event for all you folks in Knoxville:
“The Welsh of Tennessee” is the subject of a Brown Bag Lecture and book signing at the East Tennessee History Center at noon on Friday, December 7. Dr. Eirug Davies, associate member of Harvard University’s Celtic Department, will discuss his new book and the remarkable story of how the Welsh helped develop East Tennessee’s fledgling iron and coal industries after the Civil War.
The Welsh presence in East Tennessee goes back to the very beginning of white settlement in this neck of the woods. One of the region’s most prominent early settlers was Evan Shelby, an immigrant from Wales who moved from Maryland to Sapling Grove (present-day Bristol) in the early 1770’s. He served in Dunmore’s War and in a number of other campaigns against the Indians, and his son Isaac was a soldier and statesman who’s appeared on this blog before.
If you’re looking for something to do this Saturday, check out what’s happening in downtown Knoxville. They’ll have demonstrations, reenactors, Civil War and historic home tours, and vintage film screenings. And the whole thing’s free!