Friday, August 31, 2018

Tennessee Blue Book: A History of Tennessee - Student Edition

We're excited to announce a brand new resource for students of Tennessee history! Presented online, the Tennessee Blue Book: A History of Tennessee - Student Edition is written for students in upper elementary and middle school who are studying the history of our great state.

The text aligns with the Tennessee social studies curriculum standards and features helpful terms and definitions as well as primary sources that complement the text. Teachers and students will find this Student History of Tennessee at If you have questions or would like to provide feedback on the site, please contact us at

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Friday, August 24, 2018

Documenting Our Religious Heritage: Church Related Resources at the Tennessee State Library and Archives

By Dr. Kevin Cason

In 1857, Dr. William S. Pitts composed a song about a church in a valley near Bradford, Iowa entitled Church in the Wildwood. In the song, Pitts expresses his love for the church with the lyrics: “There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood; No lovelier spot in the dale; No place is so dear to my childhood; As the little brown church in the vale.” While the song was written many years ago, the memorable tune and the love of the community church is something that still resonates with people. For many Tennesseans and other Americans, churches and spirituality have been an important part of their lives.

At the Tennessee State Library and Archives, there are a wide variety of resources that document the religious heritage of Tennessee. Some of the resources pertaining to church records are very beneficial for genealogical research. These records can be useful because they often contain information such as membership lists, baptisms, confirmations, marriages and burial records. The church records that are found on microfilm represent different counties and denominations in Tennessee. For example, researchers can find “First Cumberland Presbyterian Church Records” from Bradley County that date from 1837 – 1986, “Methodist Episcopal Church Records” from Coffee County that date from 1815 – 1940 and “First Baptist Church Records from Henry County” that date from 1833 – 1983.

Register of Members, Mt. Pleasant Methodist Episcopal church Records, 1815-1916.

In addition to genealogical information, there are church related photograph collections that can be useful for historical research. For example, the “Robert E. Bell, Jr. Churches of Tennessee Photograph Collection, 1950 – 1970” consists of 606 photograph negatives of church buildings and church related events that took place in Nashville, Middle Tennessee and West Tennessee. There are also a wide variety of church related images that are part of the Library Photograph Collection. Some of the church images are historically significant such as the “Sinking Creek Baptist Church” in Washington County that was established in 1783 and is the oldest church in Tennessee. Other photographs depict distinctive architectural styles such as an 1892 image of “St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church” in Memphis. There are also photographs of churches that are currently part of park landscapes in Tennessee such as the “Primitive Baptist Church” that is located in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Sinking Creek Baptist Church, Washington County, Tennessee
Library Photograph Collection

St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, Memphis, Tennessee
Library Photograph Collection

Primitive Baptist Church, Cades Cove, Tennessee
Library Photograph Collection

While photographs offer valuable visual historical insights, there are also manuscript collections for church research purposes. For example, the “Willard Harris Blue Papers” has resources such as church bulletins, sermons and diaries related to a Methodist minister in Tennessee from 1915 – 1960, while the “Charles Henry Boone Papers” contains materials dealing with the African Methodist Episcopal Church for which Boone served as a minister and officer.

With a wide variety of resources to choose from, the Tennessee State Library and Archives’ church related records can be beneficial for genealogists and historians who want to research religious institutions and connect with the past. For more on the church related resources available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives see the “Guide to Church Records at the Library and Archives:”

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Jacob Kimberlin Lones Family Papers now available

By Lori Lockhart

What makes a collection interesting? It is different for every collection that is processed at the Library and Archives. Sometimes, manuscripts surprise you. What you think will be the most exciting items end up being more run of the mill and unexpected materials are found with significant historical value. Take the Jacob Kimberlin Lones Family Papers for instance. Lones was captain of Company C, 1st Tennessee Cavalry, USA. There are extensive military records in his materials. However, they mostly consist of average quartermaster forms and reports. There really is nothing out of the ordinary there. But, the overall collection contains a treasure trove of exciting things like a tiny folding knife.

Small folding knife contained inside a soldier’s housewife, 1860s. The knife is shown with a quarter for scale.
Jacob Kimberlin Lones Family Papers, Tennessee State Library and Archives.

To better understand his collection, we need to know more about Lones’ life. Jacob Kimberlin Lones was born on July 18, 1842, in Knox County, Tennessee. He was the son of Rebecca Johnson (June 16, 1822-Aug. 26, 1863) and Charles Lones (1812-May 24, 1888) and the grandson of Mary Reinhart Kimberlin (Feb. 26, 1801-Jan. 2, 1873) and Jeremiah Crockett Johnson (Feb. 25, 1791-Oct. 11, 1859). Lones enlisted in Co. C of the 4th Tennessee Infantry, USA, (which became the 1st Tennessee Cavalry in Nov., 1862) on April 1, 1862, at the age of nineteen. His brother, Jeremiah J. “Jerry” Lones (Jan. 12, 1844-May 22, 1863) also enlisted in the same company. Jerry was 17 at the time of his enlistment. Jacob was promoted to 2nd lieutenant on Aug. 1, 1862, and to 1st lieutenant on Dec. 16, 1862. Jacob took command of his company and received a promotion to captain when his then captain, Elbert Cannon, was killed at Mossy Creek. He received his official commission to captain on Feb. 1, 1864. Jacob survived the war and mustered out of service on April 4, 1865. Jerry was not so lucky as, according to family lore, he contracted pneumonia during the Second Battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River) and died in May of 1863. After the war, Jacob married Pauline Sharp (Dec. 19, 1849-Dec. 3, 1939) on Jan. 31, 1871. They had seven children. He died in Knox County on Feb. 7, 1929, and is buried in Highland Memorial Cemetery in Knoxville.

Tintype of Jacob K. Lones with two unidentified members of his company, 1860s.
Jacob Kimberlin Lones Family Papers, Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Now, let’s talk about some of the fascinating items in the collection. There is a poignant note to Jacob from his mother, Rebecca Lones. It is dated March 10, 1862. In the missive, Rebecca tells her son that “on earth I never expect to see eny (sic) more.” She also expresses her concern that he and “Jerry” might not return home again. The message is accompanied by two copies of a list of strictures that are not signed but appear to be in the same handwriting and on the same blue stationary as the communication from Lones’ mother. It is probable that Rebecca made each of her sons a list of admonishments to carry with them when they went off to war. The following advice is conveyed in the censures:

1 We want you to place your souls in the hand of Almighty God 
2 Never drink Spirituous liquors unless advised by a doctor 
3 Never go into gaming with cards or other win 
4 Never associate with the druncard (sic) or lude (sic) 
 5 Take care of all you earn and never keep more than $5.00 on hand 
6 Stay together till you return or separated by Death 
 7 If either of you should die or be Killed I want the boddy (sic) put in a metallic coffin by the other and carfully (sic) put a way so that it can be removed home at some future day 

This is our dying request to you

Rebecca died in August 1863 before Jacob returned from the war. She was 41 years old. It is feasible that Rebecca knew she was dying when her sons left for war as evidenced by the language in the note and strictures.

List of strictures probably written by Rebecca Lones to give to her sons, 1862.
Jacob Kimberlin Lones Family Papers, Tennessee State Library and Archives.

A published “History of the First Regiment of Tennessee Cavalry” is included in the collection. The booklet was written by William Thurman and published by Hart and Mapother Printers (Louisville, Ky.) in 1865. (This should not be confused with W. R. Carter’s 1902 publication.) A particularly moving passage conveys information related to the regiment’s part in the abolition of slavery:

“When you entered the service, three years ago, in obedience to your company’s call, a poor servile class of African origin were trembling and laboring under the lash of cruel masters throughout the Southern States, not receiving the smallest compensation for all their toils. You have labored in common with the friends of freedom, to liberate them from that state of brutal bondage, and in so doing you have perpetrated the most noble act of your lives.”

Circular song sheet with words to the ballad “History of the Arrest of William Honeycutt,” after December 1888.
Jacob Kimberlin Lones Family Papers, Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Some interesting songs are included in the collection. One is a rare circular song sheet with words to the ballad “History of the Arrest of William Honeycutt.” The tune tells the story of Thomas Goodson (April 10, 1850-Dec. 1, 1888) and the man convicted of his murder. Goodson was a United States deputy marshal who was murdered while trying to serve warrants on moonshiners. According to contemporary newspaper accounts, his body was found approximately 10 days after his death “in a laurel thicket in Carter County, Tenn., near the foot of Roan Mountain.” Honeycutt was a neighbor of Goodson. He was tried for first degree murder with a penalty of death. Honeycutt was convicted of murder in the second degree and sentenced to 10 years in the penitentiary. After the verdict was read, a mob attempted to lynch Honeycutt but their efforts were thwarted. He appealed his case to the Supreme Court and his case, William Honeycutt v. State, is included in the Tennessee Supreme Court Records. Honeycutt proclaimed his innocence to the end and even sent statements to the newspapers of the time. An article in the October 10, 1889, edition of “The Comet” (Johnson City, Tennessee) details some of Honeycutt’s statements of guiltlessness:

“Now, I wish this published before the public’s eyes for I am a poor innocent man, and I feel satisfied if the killing of Thomas Goodson was looked at in the right light the guilty party would be found out among those who are now thirsting for my blood. All I ask is a fair trial this time, which I hope will be given me by the good people, for God knows I am innocent and don’t wish to be punished for a crime that was committed by someone else.”

Handwritten lyrics to “Pretty Saro,” a well-known American folk song popular during the American Civil War, 1863.
Jacob Kimberlin Lones Family Papers, Tennessee State Library and Archives.

A few handwritten songs are also included. There are lyrics to “Pretty Saro,” a well-known American folk song popular during the American Civil War. The lyrics are dated June 7, 1863, and have the name “John Fields” written at the end of the last verse. Lyrics for “The Absent Lover” are dated April 10, 1864. This is a variation of the song “Susan’s Lamentation” (other regional titles of the song include “The Unfortunate Lady of Kentucky” and “Nancy Wilson”) which was sung to the tune of “Though Far beyond the Mountains.” Perhaps the most notable ballad is “Wheeler’s Raid.” The lyrics are dated April 25, 1864. They are signed “Jacob K. Lones, 1st Tenn Cav” and were written from a “Camp near Cleveland Tenn.” It is noted that the song is to be sung to the tune of “The Bonnie Blue Flag.” The stanzas detail the events of Wheeler’s 1863 raid through southeastern Tennessee during the Civil War. This appears to be an original work as extensive research has turned up no other existent copies. It is likely that the lyrics were written by someone in Company C of the 1st Tennessee Cavalry as they refer to themselves as “Brownlow boys.” While it is not known who authored the words to the song, it is unlikely that it was penned by Jacob K. Lones himself as the other included songs were popular songs of the day copied by Lones. There is also a line missing almost as if Lones was reproducing the song and skipped over a line in his transcription.

Excerpt of first page containing handwritten lyrics to “Wheeler’s Raid,” 1864.
Jacob Kimberlin Lones Family Papers, Tennessee State Library and Archives.

The Jacob Kimberlin Lones Family Papers are now processed and open to the public for research. We welcome you to visit the Tennessee State Library and Archives to explore this rich collection. For more information on the contents of this collection, please see our finding aid here.

To find out more information about William Honeycutt v. State and explore other Supreme Court cases, please see the Tennessee Supreme Court Records online database here.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Friday, August 10, 2018

Old Hickory Gunpowder Plant

By Jack Humphrey

Just over a century ago, in January 1918, the United States Government signed a contract with the DuPont Engineering Company to build and operate a smokeless gunpowder plant, located northeast of Nashville at Hadley’s Bend along the Cumberland River, for the Allied War effort. The government agreed to cover construction costs, a figure somewhere in the region of $83 million to $90 million, while DuPont received one $1 in compensation. While this might seem low, DuPont “realized profits on its expenditures for the plant and its operation.” When the Armistice was signed Nov. 11, 1918, the plant was just shy of completion and producing over half a million pounds of smokeless powder per day. The plant, which was the largest munitions plant in the world at the time of operation, was a remarkable feat of engineering, which has shaped the region of middle Tennessee.

After the contract was signed, plant construction began almost immediately. In February 1918, workers cleared land, “macadamized” roads, and laid miles of train track. On March 4, 1918, workers broke ground for the plant and by July 2, 1918, powder was being manufactured. DuPont hailed this achievement stating that “a new world’s record for speed was established. This was 116 days after breaking ground.” By the time of the Armistice, the plant was 96 days ahead of schedule, a feat DuPont noted was “truly a wonderful record.” To appreciate the sheer scale of operations, the plant’s seven steam turbo generators had the capacity to produce more electricity than Nashville required “for all its lights, power and street railways.” Moreover, the refrigeration section of the plant, which at the time was the largest of its kind anywhere in the world, had the capacity to make 3.2 million pounds of ice every 24 hours; an amount “sufficient to supply a city of 1 million people.” Simply put, the Old Hickory gunpowder plant was a massive operation.

Panoramic image of the Power House on Cinder Road. In the foreground are segregated outhouses.
Image courtesy of the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

In order to accommodate the tens of thousands of laborers, both domestic and foreign, who built and operated the plant, DuPont arranged the construction of what became known as the “village,” which featured both temporary and permanent housing. The former was reserved for unskilled/common workers while the latter for skilled/senior workers. It is important to note that housing was segregated according to race. For instance, the Mexican workforce and their families lived in the “Mexican Village” away from African-American, Native-American and white workers. In total, there were 3,867 buildings in the “village” including schools, churches, mess halls, an open-air theater, hotels, a bank and YMCA; again, many of these facilities were segregated along racial lines. In order to impress the size of workforce, in August 1918, the “village” mess halls served over 1,000,000 meals, which was “as large as that of the Commissary Department in the Panama Canal Zone during six months when the Canal Construction work was at its height.” While the government had acquired 5,600 acres of land at Hadley’s Bend, for the plant and “village,” it appears that only 4,706 acres was developed. Regardless, this was a massive undertaking whereby so much was accomplished in such a short space of time.

An image of employee housing southeast from Hadley & 12th.
Image courtesy of the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

While it appears that there were relatively few accidents and fatal injuries during the construction of the plant and “village,” one of the deadliest train disasters in American history involved plant workers. On the morning of July 9, 1918, two trains collided near Haring Road in Nashville, Tennessee, resulting in tragedy. According to the Nashville Tennessean 121 people died while another 57 were injured. Victims included First World War veterans and predominantly African-American plant workers.

Front page of the Nashville Tennessean July 10, 1918.
Image courtesy of the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

After the war, DuPont ceased powder production at Old Hickory. In 1920, the Nashville Industrial Corporation acquired the plant for around $3.5 million, a deal which ultimately saw Ernest C. Morse, the Director of Sales for the War Department, “indicted by a grand jury for fraud.” In 1923, DuPont returned to Old Hickory purchasing the plant site and a large part of the “village” The production of rayon began in 1925 while cellophane production began toward the end of the decade. DuPont renamed the community Old Hickory in honor of Andrew Jackson and operated it as a company town.

An aerial view of the DuPont facilities at Old Hickory taken some time during the 1930s.
Image courtesy of the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Anyone eager to learn more about, or see stunning images of, the Old Hickory Gunpowder Plant need look no further than the Tennessee State Library and Archives, which has an online collection of photographs in the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA). During the summer of 2018, I was fortunate enough to be involved in the creation of this collection. It was truly remarkable to understand more about the origins of the present-day community of Old Hickory and appreciate the impact the region had on the Allied war effort.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett