All posts by Jim Tumblin

Fountain City’s mystery garden

Jim Tumblin
History and Mysteries

Each Memorial Day in historic Fountain City Park at Honor Fountain City Day there is an opportunity to renew friendship with longtime Fountain City residents. Andrew Whitaker is one you always look forward to seeing. He is a master mason and is always involved in interesting projects, such as the work he did at the Foundry in World’s Fair Park.

It was Andrew who, during his teen years, when Fountain City Lake was drained and restored (1985-86), found a veritable treasure of glassware and bottles for his collection buried in the muck in the lakebed. The treasure included many “pop” bottles from bygone days.

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Life in railroad’s gilded age

Abraham Kingsley ‘King’ Macomber (1875-1955)

Jim Tumblin
History and Mysteries

“It was the flower of the golden age of passenger equipment. … no perquisite of wealth and importance will ever achieve the distinction of the dark green private varnish car that for half a century rolled splendidly over the nation’s railroad system.”

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Goddard’s service helped defeat Nazis

Jim Tumblin
History and Mysteries

Lewis Frelan Goddard, was born on May 9, 1924, in Proctor, Vermont. His parents were Carlyle J., then employed in the Vermont marble industry, and Elva Emmons Goddard.

The Goddards moved to Knox County in April 1927 and Carlyle Goddard was employed as a draftsman and later as an engineer for a series of marble and construction companies.

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Gen. Lawrence D. Tyson (1861-1929)

Jim Tumblin
History and Mysteries

Lawrence Davis Tyson was born on July 4, 1861, the first son of Richard L. and Margaret Turnage Tyson, in Pitt County, N.C., near Greenville. The Tyson ancestors had been in Pitt County since the 1720s and, by 1860 at only 25 years of age, Richard Tyson owned a sizeable cotton plantation.

By the end of the Civil War (1861-1865) the family’s net worth was markedly diminished but was still well above average.

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R. Cliff White: soldier, entrepreneur, leader

Jim Tumblin
History and Mysteries

Raymond Clifford “Cliff” White, born on June 5, 1892, was the son of Frank A. White (1854-1937) and Angeline Murphy White (1863-1941). Cliff was raised on his parents’ farm in the Hendron’s Chapel Community of Knox County near the Sevier County line, the seventh of the nine children who lived to adulthood.

He had barely completed his education in the local schools and begun his life’s work when World War I, one of the deadliest conflicts in history, began in Europe in July 1914.

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Swiss-Americans call Fountain City home

Jim Tumblin
History and Mysteries

By 1850 the Swiss comprised the largest European ethnic group in Knox County. The so-called Swiss Colony began with the 1848 arrival of the Rev. Adrien Chavannes and his family who settled on a 275-acre farm five miles north of Knoxville. During the next 65 years over 75 families settled in the Knoxville area, engaging in various agricultural and business pursuits.

Fleeing religious persecution, these immigrant farmers, dairy owners, ministers, teachers and government officials included those who came from the Canton of Vaud in the Lake Geneva area (the French-Swiss) and from several cantons bordering Germany (the German-Swiss).

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Bert’s-eye view gave ‘Strolling’ power

Jim Tumblin
History and Mysteries

San Francisco had Herbert E. “Herb” Caen (1916-1997). Memphis had Anthony James “Jim” Cortese (1917-2006). Chicago had Michael “Mike” Royko (1932-1997). And Knoxville had Bert Vincent.

Each of those authors wrote daily columns for the leading newspapers in their respective cities and discussed local events, social gossip and politics and frequently covered offbeat stories.

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The John Adair Oak Tree

Jim Tumblin
History and Mysteries

Highly respected local arborist, William James “Jim” Cortese, ISA, recently used his expertise to age the stately white oak tree (Quercus alba) which stands a lone sentinel just behind Food City in Lynnhurst Cemetery on West Adair Drive.

There has long been speculation about the age of the tree and whether John Adair’s reinterrment in 1926 was under the shade of that tree for a reason.

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History and Mysteries

Jim Tumblin
History and Mysteries

Oliver Perry Temple
(1820-1907)

A mere 316 votes may have altered the course of history. When he was only 27 years of age, Oliver Temple challenged the acknowledged political leader in East Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District, Andrew Johnson.

Democrat Johnson was in his prime and thought to be invincible in his race for a third term in 1847. His “stump speeches” were effective in the 1:1 debates then in fashion. He had won previous elections by as much as 1,500 votes.

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