Okay, here are two quick things I’d like everybody reading this blog to do.
First, as you may recall, we’re doing a special fundraising drive on behalf of Marble Springs State Historic Site this year in commemoration of the bicentennial of Gov. John Sevier’s death. We’ve just set up a new, super-easy way to contribute to this campaign at GoFundMe, so if you haven’t made a donation yet, please take a minute to do so.
Of course, you can still contribute via PayPal at the Marble Springs website or by sending a check in the mail. If you can’t afford $200, feel free to contribute whatever you can. We’ll gladly accept donations of any size. When it comes to small historic sites, every contribution makes a big difference.
It’s a tough economic climate for smaller historic sites and museums, and some of the funding sources we regularly depend on are shrinking, so I strongly encourage everybody who loves Tennessee history, the American Revolution, and preservation to pitch in.
Second, there’s a historic home here in Knoxville in danger of being lost to development. You can show your opposition to demolishing this historic property by adding your signature to the petition at Change.org.
As regular readers of this blog know, I have the honor of serving on the board of the Governor John Sevier Memorial Association. GJSMA supports the programming and operations at Marble Springs State Historic Site, Sevier’s final home in Knoxville, TN.
This year marks an important anniversary in Tennessee history. It’s the bicentennial of John Sevier’s death. To commemorate the occasion, GJSMA is undertaking a special fundraising initiative for 2015, called “$200 for 200.”
We’re asking folks who love history, museums, and Tennessee’s heritage to make a $200 donation to support our programming, in recognition of the 200th anniversary of Sevier’s death. Donors who make this special bicentennial gift will be recognized on our $200 for 200 web page, and will also receive these benefits for one year:
- Free site tours for two adults and our children
- Free admission for two adults and four children to our special John Sevier Days event in September
- 10% off gift shop purchases
- Discounts for our special workshop events
- A discount on site rentals
It’s a great way to support a fantastic historic site and do something meaningful in recognition of an important Tennessee anniversary. If you’d like to join our $200 for 200 effort, you can donate via PayPal at the Marble Springs website or send a check to Marble Springs, P.O. Box 20195, Knoxville, TN 37940.
I know that a lot of you folks who read the blog appreciate Tennessee’s history and its historic places, so I hope you’ll consider a donation. Thanks!
Here’s a little archival item to end one year and ring in a new one. My mom ran across this vintage Marble Springs postcard and gave it to me as a Christmas present. I don’t know the date of the photo, but somebody mailed the card from Knoxville to the tiny town of Godley, TX in 1910. That was thirty-one years before the state purchased the property. As you can see, the place needed some work.
I’ve seen this same postcard image online, and something about it has always befuddled me. If the building in the picture is one of the extant structures on the site, it could only be the kitchen, which is attached to the main cabin by a dogtrot.
Since the main house is a good half-story taller than the kitchen, you should be able to see the gable end over the kitchen’s roof on the postcard. But from the postcard, it looks like there’s no building on the other side of the kitchen. Somebody evidently retouched the image to replace the main house with trees. I have no idea why anybody would do this, unless the smaller, dilapidated kitchen cabin better fit some postcard maker’s notion of what an Appalachian homestead should look like.
I did a little poking around online and ran across a slightly different version of the image from UT Special Collections, dated 1921. Here the main house is clearly visible, as it would be if you were standing there in person. This version, however, also looks heavily retouched. Did somebody try to clean up an earlier, already retouched version and produce this result? I don’t know enough about early photo manipulation to tell precisely what’s been done to the images.
Anyway, it’s an interesting glimpse at a place that’s changed a lot over the years, and one where I’ve been privileged to spend quite a bit of time.
I’ve been reading Massacre at Cavett’s Station by the eminent Tennessee archaeologist Charles Faulkner. The titular massacre was one of the uglier episodes in the long history of white-Cherokee conflict on the Tennessee frontier. It took place on September 25, 1793 when a massive war party (contemporary reports put their numbers as high as 1,500) headed for the territorial capital of Knoxville heard firing from the town and feared they’d lost the element of surprise. Instead, they fell on Cavett’s Station several miles to the southwest, killing the thirteen men, women, and children who were there.
Remarkably, the Indians had managed to approach Knoxville without detection by John Sevier’s militia, but retaliation was not long in coming. In what would prove to be his last Indian campaign, Sevier marched into Georgia and caught some of the perpetrators at Etowah, near present-day Rome. The Indians were in a position to oppose the militia’s crossing of the Etowah River at the town, but when a party of the whites moved south to cross elsewhere, the Indians followed them and left the fording place near the town undefended. The militiamen galloped back to Etowah, dispersing the defenders and putting the town to the torch.
Apparently Sevier decided that defeating the Indians wasn’t punishment enough, because he decided to up the ownage by sending them the following message, a copy of which is preserved in his journal:
Your murders and savage Barbarities have caused me to come into your Country Expecting you would fight like men, but you are like the Bairs and Wolves. The face of a white man makes you run fast into the woods and hide, u see what we have done and it is nothing to what we shall do in a short time. I pity your women & children for I am sure they must suffer and live like dogs but you are the Cause of it. You will make War, & then is afraid to fight,—our people whiped yours mightily two nights ago Crossing the river and made your people run very fast.
To the Cherokees and their warriors if they Have Any.
Ouch. Not much for the niceties of spelling and punctuation, but the guy definitely knew how to twist the rhetorical knife.
We’re getting ready for our next quarterly board meeting of the Governor John Sevier Memorial Association, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to encourage all you folks to join the GJSMA, if you haven’t already. Memberships start at just $25, and carry some great benefits. It’s a fantastic way to support Marble Springs State Historic Site here in Knoxville.
And if you’re looking for a nifty place to have a wedding, family reunion, company picnic, or other event, Marble Springs is an excellent choice.
We just had our annual John Sevier Days Living History Weekend at Marble Springs, along with our “Sevier Soirée” fundraiser. Thanks to everybody who stopped by; I think both events went over really well.
It gave me a good excuse to take a brief respite from doctoral work and do a little public history. I really enjoyed the time I spent working in museums, and interpretation was always my favorite part of the job. Part of me has always missed it, so it was nice to get to do it again this weekend.
Plus, there’s nothing like sitting on the step by the door of the Sevier cabin and listening to an afternoon rain shower. Rain doesn’t do much for visitation, but something about the way it sounds against a two-hundred-year-old roof is just wonderful.
We’re throwing a bash at Marble Springs State Historic Site in three weeks, and you’re all invited. Here’s the deal.
Sept. 20-21 is our annual John Sevier Days Living History Weekend. On Saturday from 10:00 to 5:00 and Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00 we’ll have reenacting, demonstrations, crafts, food, historic presentations, and tours of the buildings. Admission is $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for kids aged seven to fifteen; kids six and under get in free.
Saturday night there’ll be a little something extra. We’ll be having our second annual Sevier Soirée fundraiser on Sept. 20 from 6:30 to 8:30, with a BBQ dinner, open-hearth appetizers, live music, and a silent auction. Tickets to the soirée are $50 per person. Reserve your seat before Sept. 15 online, by mail (P.O. Box 20195 Knoxville, TN 37940) or via phone at (865) 573-5508.
It’ll be a blast. Hope to see some of you there!