I recently re-read my “about” page for this blog and remembered that one of the things I intended to present to you was summaries of historical commemorations and demonstrations. I’m afraid that’s one area of the blog that I’ve been less successful with. Today we’ll change that.
Last Saturday, The Soddy Daisy and Montlake Historical Association hosted a History Fair which I was able to attend and it was surely worth the time. I wish I could detail for you the contents of every booth and list the names of every person willing to spend their Saturday talking history with complete strangers. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even able to meet them all.
All of East Tennessee has a wealth of Civil War relics and there were lots on display at the fair. There were lots of musket balls, metal-jacketed shells, even cannon balls not to mention belt buckles, pocket knives and a bayonet.
Coal has long been a mainstay of Tennessee’s economy and there were some great exhibits from the industry. One booth even had miniature replicas of coal cars sitting on rail lines. There was a description of coal’s formation and the types of coal found in East Tennessee.
And there were pictures. Pictures of homeplaces and children in front of houses; pictures of church groups and school children and a pre-Civil War portrait of a full-blooded Cherokee woman.
All of these exhibits were wonderful and a joy to see but the real treat were the people. They know their stuff. They spend their leisure time digging through historical documents, walking cemeteries and pouring over aged maps. That passion gives them a level of expertise that’s often hard to find in local history.
This was a great event and I want to applaud the work of this association for taking steps to preserve our local and oral history. I know there are a number of historical associations in the region and if they are sponsoring similar events, I sure hope to be a part of them.
So here’s the funny story of the day. I have a big Cherokee history project I’m wanting to research and write about. There was a great booth about Cherokee roots and I wanted to ask the gentleman there how he would explain all of the Cherokee blood we still have in the area despite the 1838 removal and Trail of Tears. I told him a little family legend about an ancestor who as a young man, was able to escape the soldiers and was taken in by a local farmer and given refuge. He pointed to an adjacent, now empty, table and said, “There was a man set-up over there that you need to talk to. He told me just about the same story. His name was Doil Harvey.” I actually squealed. Doil is my cousin and I hated that I missed seeing him there. But how exciting to know that he’s the resident expert.