More Rhododendrons

More Rhododendrons

Since our plans for an early morning trek to Cades Cove were dashed by the area being closed to motor traffic, as it every Wednesday and Saturday from early May to late September (I’m sure this is cool for bikers and hikers, but it eliminated our possibility of seeing wildlife, who like to hide well before 10:00.), we decided to start the day with retracing our steps around the short loop of Roaring Fork Road.  We wanted to see the beauty of the flowers in the sunlight.  We drove around for a short time and were overwhelmed again by the beauty of this little area.  In the hectic world in which we live, a little peace and beauty go a long way. After we were done, we decided to head into Dandridge to check out some places special to Davy Crockett and see the second oldest city in Tennessee.  Because I teach history, we thought it would be a good idea to see what was available.

Bush Bros Cafe, Museum, and Store

Bush Bros Cafe, Museum, and Store

Mom had discovered that the Bush’s Beans Museum (Bush Bros Cafe, Museum, and Store) was located along the way in Chestnut Hill (so small, you need to put Dandridge in the GPS to find it). We decided to stop, and I’m glad we did.  We did not check out the cafe, though I’m sure it had great food.  Instead, we headed to the museum and gift store.  After browsing through the collection of–what else?–canned goods, along with braided rugs, general store candy, stuffed Duke dogs, and various other souvenirs, we toured the museum.  Since this was just a side stop, we didn’t spend a lot of time, but it gave me a new appreciation of Bush’s Beans.  I didn’t realize they had been a major supplier during the World Wars, had created staples to help out in the Great Depression, and were otherwise great citizens helping out their community in a variety of ways including buying shoes for the school children of their community.  It really is an amazing story of this company that now corners 80% of the bean market!

Jefferson County Courthouse

Jefferson County Courthouse

From there, we headed to the Jefferson County Court House–part of Historic Dandridge.  We made our first stop the Courthouse, where there is a small town museum, seemingly displaying anything old the town had to donate from Confederate currency to weaponry, to books, eye glasses, family Bibles, etc.  The museum is currently being rearranged, but there is definitely an interesting collection there.  We headed down to the visitor center and picked up some brochures from the kind, mostly deaf man who misunderstood everything we said, but gave us free postcards and a variety of information.  We had been recommended by the greeter at Bush’s Beans to check out the Tinsley Bible Drug company (Words I never expected to see in the same sentence.)  This little drug store boasted an old-fashioned lunch counter where you could grab a small meal or an old-fashioned Milkshake.  Mom and I chose to try the chocolate peanut butter shake.  You know a milkshake is homemade when no two taste alike, and even though mom and I got the same shake, they tasted slightly different.

Hopewell Church Cemetery 1785

Hopewell Church Cemetery 1785

On our way to the drug store, we had noticed a neat old cemetery.  We found out it dated back to the American Revolution era, and was the original cemetery of the Hopewell Presbyterian Church–the oldest church in Jefferson County.  Unfortunately, the gravestones are so worn or are just regular stones, so there’s no way of telling who’s buried here (though they may have some kind of burial records somewhere.)  The cemetery itself was small, but beautiful with lovely flowers and stone benches.  Definitely a peaceful place! One of the proprietors at the courthouse had recommended we check it out (as she was a lover of old cemeteries herself.)  I’m sure there was more to see (There are 38 stops on the Dandridge walking tour), but we wanted to check out more about Davy Crockett, so we headed to Morristown to the Crockett Tavern.

Crockett Tavern

Crockett Tavern

The Crockett Tavern was actually smaller than we were anticipating, but well worth the $5.00 admission fee.  Located on the site of Davy Crockett’s boyhood home, the site boasts a reconstruction of the tavern Crockett’s parents owned.  Our guide was a wonderfully knowledgeable woman whose name I missed.  She took us through the house and shared a great deal of information about all things Davy related.  It was interesting to learn about things like the fact that his father actually indentured his children out to pay his debts.  Davy was indentured to a number of people and did everything from tending cattle to working on a shipyard.  While any of these trades could have taken him off the course of being an American hero, they did serve to shape his character and give him survival skills that would be incredibly useful in his later life.  One sad story was of Davy’s sister who was indentured to a farmer at age 14.

Covered wagon

Covered wagon

Apparently, she got pregnant by someone on the farm and was sent to live with a Baptist pastor and his family.  Unfortunately, both she and the baby would end up dying within the year.  Our guide also shared a number of fun family tidbits about Davy’s political career, as well as his break with Jackson over the Indian Removal Act.  It’s a bit surprising, given the fact that Davy’s grandfather was murdered by Native Americans, and he helped fight alongside Jackson against the Creeks, but Davy was against kicking out the Native Americans.  He thought they were well enough assimilated.  This stance cost him his political career, though interestingly enough, shortly after Crockett’s defeat, his son John Wesley would take office.  Crockett, however, moved to Texas, and the rest, as they say, is history.  She also shared the theory that Davy did not die on the wall of the Alamo, but rather was captured and shot.  One of those things we may never know.

General Longstreet Museum

General Longstreet Museum

Our wonderful tour guide did us the kindness of calling over to the General Longstreet Museum in Russellville to see if Linda would be willing to wait on us for a little while.  (It was 4:30, and the Museum closed at 5:00)  She said that she had to leave for church at 6:00, but would be glad to stay to let us in and show us around.  True Southern hospitality. In the first room, we discovered that Longstreet was told about this place at the depot and ran a telegraph line from the depot to the house.  (It should be mentioned that the house has been added onto, and is not even in its original location, though much has been done to preserve it in the condition it was.)  Linda shared many stories of Longstreet’s life and military experience.  One fun thing for us to learn was that Longstreet had an artillery commander named Peyton Manning.  (After whom the football star is named, not Walter Payton as it’s traditionally believed.)

Longstreet and his staff help man the guns of Captain MB Miller in the apple orchard, painted by Dale Gallon (Photo Courtesy of the Civil War Talk)

Longstreet and his staff help man the guns of Captain MB Miller in the apple orchard, painted by Dale Gallon (Photo Courtesy of the Civil War Talk)

Another cool story Linda told was about a painting that hung in the hallway.  At Antietam, Longstreet led his command with a slipper on his right foot due to a boot blistered heel.  Both Linda and I loved the fact that painter Dale Gallon knew the history and included it in the picture (Shown right.)  Linda also shared that, despite current belief, Longstreet loved Lee and would not have maligned him intentionally.  The two disagreed–especially at Gettysburg where Longstreet had advised Lee to push Meade’s men to them instead of marching towards them in Pickett’s charge.  Lee, unfortunately, didn’t listen.  Longstreet had his own mistakes, though, and this didn’t change his respect for Lee.  He wrote his memoirs well after the war, so he may have embellished details more than he would have imagined.

General Kershaw's Office

General Kershaw’s Office

Finally, Linda shared with us about Longstreet’s wounding in the wilderness.  It sounded a lot like Stonewall Jackson’s, and was fairly close to the same place (4 miles away) and only four days past a year from when Jackson was shot.  Longstreet was also shot by friendly fire, though through the shoulder and throat.  His arm would never recover and later pictures show it either tucked in his jacket like Napoleon, or supported by something.  He was sensitive enough after the wounding to cover his face with his hat to shield him from the view of his men, and he assured those who saw him that he would be back, but it was a long time coming.

The museum also boasts a display from the Nenney family, who lived in the house until the 1960’s.  Finally, the museum has purchased and moved the office used by General Kershaw, a general under Longstreet, to this location.  He had used The Green family’s office (originally located about a mile away) as his during the war.  All in all, we learned a great deal and look forward to seeing the continued restorations made by the Museum.  Having had a full day, we headed back to the resort to pack for home where I will pack again for my next great adventure:  Poland!  Stay tuned!

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